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'Rescue Me' recap: The last fire for Tommy and the crew?

September 1, 2011 |  6:13 am

Dennis Leary of 'Rescue Me'
This week's episode of "Rescue Me" was defined by three cringe-worthy elements: champagne binge drinking, piles of racist jokes and a deadly explosion that may have just incinerated everyone that's left to care about on this show.

Ironically, the episode begins with what should've been one of the sweetest moments so far in the show's final season.

Finally, Tommy Gavin's oldest daughter, Colleen, is about to walk down the aisle to marry Black Shawn, a ceremony that few could've been predicted when actor Lorenz Tate joined the cast in Season 4. Had it been almost any other family, this beautiful, sappy day of love, roses and wedding vows would've gone off without a hitch. But before it even begins, Tommy's insistence on stealing his daughter off her Uncle Teddy's arm to walk her down the aisle threatens to derail the ceremony. Everyone seems to be betting on Tommy to screw up the wedding (literally, a $300 wager), and he does swoop in at the last minute for an amazingly awkward attempt to co-usher his daughter down the aisle, fainting with anxiety before he can even give her away -- a predictable father-of–the-bride comedy shtick you saw coming from a million miles away.

What wasn't really so predictable was the enthusiasm with which the firefighters of 62 Truck push the racism envelope at Black Shawn's wedding, firing off a whispered barrage of Mexican and black jokes.(Anybody else guess that Black Shawn's mother was Mexican?) The bad jokes were almost as off-putting as Chief Needle's decision to come to the wedding wearing that weird jacket that made him look like an Italian kung-fu master. Race jokes are nothing new on this show, but this episode was a little over- the-top offensive.

For further proof, see Tommy's and Janet's cringe-worthy encounter with Black Shawn's parents at the reception. Hint: When you accidentally use the word "Mexipuss" to describe your son-in-law's mom, it doesn't bode well for future family gatherings.

And thanks to the Gavin family's hollow promise to stay away from booze at the wedding, the train wrecks just keep coming. Chief among them was Sheila's champagne-soaked rant at the reception dinner. That lady is one hot mess. You'd think the person who paid for the whole wedding would have a big stake in ensuring things go as planned. Instead, her microphone-wielding monologue has her breaking dishes and breaking down in front of everyone.

In general, the wedding party, while fun and cute, offers a bunch of hurry-up endings that don't seem destined for long-term success. Tommy and Janet renew their wedding vows at the reception. Sheila gets back with Tommy's cousin, Mickey (who not only comes to the wedding but presides over it). Garrity asks his girlfriend, Emily, a.k.a. the farter, to marry him -- a move for which his nostrils will never forgive him.

But all the new beginnings and promises appear to go up in smoke with a drastic shift in the very next scene, when Tommy and his crew are called to knock down a fire at an abandoned warehouse that turns out to be an arson-sparked death trap. As soon as they pull up and talk to a strangely apathetic bus driver who reported the blaze, it's a given that someone's going to die. The final minutes of the episode unfold like hours as fire and explosions escalate and the crew uncovers the arsonist's trap that started the blaze.

For a while, it seems like the audience is being reimbursed for the lack of death-defying action the last few episodes. Everything ends with a major cliffhanger, when the roof exit the crew is using to escape turns out to be walled over, which they find out after grabbing a couple of kids stuck in the fiery building.

The look in Tommy's and Lou's eyes is pretty crushing as they realize that their lives and the lives of their friends and crew mates are probably about to end. Then, BOOM! -- a crazy explosion obliterates the roof just before the credits start to roll.

Just for the record, if for some ridiculous reason all of them somehow survive that blast, the last two episodes will officially be unwatchable. Then again, can you really kill all the firefighters in a show about firefighters before it's even over?


"Rescue Me" recap: Lou goes from Jeter to Judas

"Rescue Me" recap: 9/11 memories provide lessons for the living

"Rescue Me" recap: Loud and angry vs. silent but deadly

-- Nate Jackson

Photo: Dennis Leary as Tommy Gavin on "Rescue Me."  Credit: FX