Entertainment Magazine

Review #2344: Rescue Me 7.4: “Brownies”

Posted on the 06 August 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Edmund B.

The explosion promised at the end of the previous episode did go off in “Brownies”. But, in a not surprising development, the blast winds up being directed inward. After all the efforts to hush up their post-Jimmy private life, it turns out reporter Pam Kepler wants to goad Tommy about the FDNY’s internal problems post-9/11, particularly racism. She gets the desired rant, which, however impolitic and self-destructive, has its essential truth very ably demonstrated by the end of the episode.

Review #2344: Rescue Me 7.4: “Brownies”

Between those bookends, various aftershocks ripple through the threads of this season. Early on, I feared the writers were going over the top strictly for shock value, but they delivered enough substance to justify the histrionics. Franco’s challenge to the power structure escalates a long-brewing conflict. How he fares in his quest for promotion may provide a more nuanced view of internal racism than Pam Kepler’s clumsy probing. It certainly appears Chief Feinberg may not his best choice for a champion. It’s hard to call in a favor, if the favorer can’t remember granting it.

Another face of racism shows up in the latest chapter of Colleen and Black Shawn’s wedding. After the dress comes the hall, where anti-Irish prejudice joins up with the already-aired mixed-race issues. While the set-up was predictable, with Colleen showing up later to provoke the confrontation, the resolution was not. Like Franco’s surprisingly self-aware advice about the proposal, Uncle Teddy’s gracious and magnanimous defusing of the situation was a welcome, mature change for a character usually played as a buffoon. The fact that it didn’t provoke an unrealistic, made-for-TV reversal was even better.

The overt humor continues to reside in the able hands of Garrity and Silletti. I was surprised the writers didn’t mine the comedy gold of Emily misunderstanding Garrity’s orientation and intentions, which seemed tailor-made for Steven Pasquale’s talents. The decision to accelerate the relationship, and find humor in its noxious aftermath instead, was a more realistic development. And after the horrors of the Maggie marriage, it’s good to see Garrity finally finding some happiness, however follicle-ly fraught.

As I’ve come to expect, Tommy’s scenes with Ellen are the heart of the show. In an episode full of outbursts, hers, prompted by burning the titular baked goods, is both the most heartfelt and spectacular. It seems to come out of nowhere, and is then brilliantly explained as the rage at what to do when the cancer that’s defined your existence is declared gone. This is an incandescent performance from Maura Tierney, full of open, raw emotion, intelligence, and black humor.

Tommy’s earlier scene with Lou (in addition to some hilarious Godfather channeling by John Scurti) seemed to open the possibility of a romantic entanglement with Ellen. Taking them to the brink of same, before Ellen’s non-plussed rejection was a very well-played feint . Her matter-of-fact assessment of Tommy’s lack of power and oh-so-succinct appraisal of what he should be doing had me whooping in my chair.

I don’t know if budget issues had dictated the earlier fire drought, but if they were saving their pennies for this episode’s finale, it was worth it. The rescue of Franco was one of the more harrowing sequences in a show famous for them. It showed the brotherhood in action, refuting the earlier accusations, while its aftermath highlighted the fractures that do exist. Getting caught in a house of cards was an apt metaphor for what got them here, and, perhaps, where they’re going to wind up.

Acting: 2/2
Writing: 2/2
Direction: 1/2
Style: 3/4

Final Rating: 8/10

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog