I admit that I tend to wax ecstatic about Rescue Me in general, but if I’m making that concession, I’d also have to admit that I happen to be right most of the time.  Tuesday the 12th’s sixth episode of the fifth season, entitled “Perspective,” bears me out big-time.  It’s one of the best episodes of the series.  Did I say that last week?  This episode was twice as good as that brilliant hour.


Why?  The emotion ran high.  It does that on a regular basis on this show, but most of the regular characters were pushed to unusual flare levels at some point during this episode.  Here’s most of what happened (I can’t even list it all):



Tommy and Janet lead off the episode with another one of their slap-battles/ groping-sessions.  Their upcoming road trip to visit Katy ensures more of the same.


Franco’s insistence on pursuing 9-11 conspiracy theories put him at odds with his brothers in the firehouse, even as they back him up against the punch-happy crews that come looking for him.


Sheila confronts Franco, surprisingly calmly, but making the case for the widows and the families in the face of all these conflicting theories.


The pressure of keeping his mounting health issues private led the normally-easygoing Garrity to explode at an inopportune time.


Needles Nelson was provoked by the guys into a short series of monologues that completely justify Denis Leary’s predilection towards casting Adam Ferrara, and actually will make him one of your favorite characters.


Sheila and Jimmy’s son Damien, Tommy’s godson, enters the ensemble on what looks like a regular basis, in a storyline that I predict will not end well for him.


Tommy and Lou got into an epic shouting match, which was as legitimate as it was Honeymooners-hilarious.  Their tiff lasts the entire episode.


Most importantly, Tommy does something that changes the game.  It’s heartbreaking because it means things are about to get very bad for a lot of these characters, and if next season really is the show’s last, I doubt we can expect a happy ending.  On the reverse point of view, things are dangerous again, and the comedy of the tragedy isn’t going anywhere.



Amazingly, despite all of the combustiveness of this episode’s drama, it ended on a simple conversation:  Tommy Gavin and Genevieve, the French journalist, debating the global significance of 9-11 in an unusually civil tone.  On one hand, there’s the first-hand emotionalism of Tommy, the American, who speaking for us all, wanted revenge for that day.  Then there’s the calmer European perspective, arguing the logic and the rationality of the point that these catastrophic events, while rare or unique in the States, are hardly that in the rest of the world, and the way that the U.S. mishandled ourselves after that day could be seen in almost as tragic a light.  A very sobering scene, very much worth considering and talking about and commending Denis Leary and Peter Tolan for writing.



If you’ve never seen a Rescue Me episode, you could do worse than watch “Perspective.”  It won’t catch you up on what’s gone before, but it will do everything to explain to you why so many people love this show.