Entertainment Magazine

Review #2911: Rescue Me 7.2: “Menses”

Posted on the 23 July 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Edmund B.

In the previous episode, Sheila told Tommy, “You guys have the brotherhood, so we have the mother-hood.” This time, Tommy finds himself on the outs with both, thanks to the appearance of a news crew at the firehouse. They are filming a tenth-anniversary 9/11 tribute, featuring cousin Jimmy. Despite the acquiescence of the crew and the OK from HQ, Tommy isn’t having any of it. His knee-jerk reaction is couched as rejection of anything that exploits the fallen, as was his confrontation with the city councilman in season five. (By the way, with that history, that cameraman should be fired for not having his camera running from the git-go!)

Review #2911: Rescue Me 7.2: “Menses”

However, the undercurrent here smacks more of Tommy’s need to control that image and legacy. Tommy has been flitting in and out of AA throughout the show, with its major tenet of accepting your inability to control your life. This tribute appears to be a prime driver for the season arc, and loosening his grip here may mark the beginning of a real road to recovery. Of course, given the show’s cavalier approach to rehab over the years, that might be too much to hope for. But Tommy learning a bit more perspective and self-awareness would still be a good thing.

On the home front, Tommy doesn’t fare any better. The motherhood is firmly entrenched, now extending to include his daughters. (However much that might be a by-product of cycling. This episode is titled ‘Menses”, after all.) His attempts at bluster and insistence have never rung more false, especially in the face of Sheila’s actual, legal control of the story. All his efforts drive him to, perhaps, the committed man’s most dreaded chore: alone in the aisle with the list of feminine hygiene products. Inappropriate hijinks, and a visit from the security guard, ensue.

And here the episode, and perhaps the season, gets turned on its head. Maura Tierney returns to the show as Kelly McPhee, one of the few people with whom Tommy actually seemed to bond. Now battling cancer, as Tierney is in real life, she rescues Tommy from the store, and, over coffee, provides a strong hint that she just might help save Tommy from himself. She is certainly the only person who manages to sway him, however briefly, from his intransigence about Jimmy. Her frank, unsentimental attitude about her situation and appraisal of her prospects and legacy were easily the highlight of the episode. How and where this relationship develops could be the highlight of the season.

A close second is the continuing tale of Colleen and Black Shawn. It was a great move to expand the show into Shawn’s world, as Colleen tracks him down at his Harlem local. His late introduction to the show, even if intended as a parody of tokenism, has always left his character underdeveloped, and this scene started redressing that. Their relationship has often been played for laughs (how will Tommy react, why is Colleen so ‘experienced’, etc), and it was refreshing to see the issues they face as a bi-racial couple addressed head-on.

The aftermath of that scene brings us to the weakest part of the show, to date: the firehouse. Shawn asking for Tommy’s blessing felt predictable and pro forma, as did Lou’s physical. It’s nice to see John Scurti and the guys get more airtime, but it’s starting to feel like the crew are becoming more like the Buy Morons in ‘Chuck’. They’re an amusing sideshow that feels divorced from the main action. While they’ve always been the source of juvenile humor, the writing felt lazy here, lapsing into toilet humor. The misunderstanding between Needles and Franco, in particular, invoking the familiar trope of homophobia, felt tired and all too convenient a solution.

In the end, like the fire drought, the sequence lapsed into incredulity by the final review. No doctor could have looked at Lou and believed those numbers. It could have been easily fixed by a highly distracted final doctor, focused only on his papers, as foreshadowed when they began. Or, perhaps, a mention of the difficulty keeping qualified men post-9/11, to justify the blind eye and resonate with Chief Feinberg’s issues. At least Franco did bring up the danger Lou placed them all in, so I hope the more serious side of this development will rear its, probably ugly, head later. Tommy’s journey is showing great promise. I hope the rest of the crew are allowed a similarly fruitful path, as the show winds down.

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

Final Rating: 6/10

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