B

Rescue Me: "Breakout"

Before we begin, I would like to thank you all for your comments last week. It appears my passive-aggressive self-trolling finally paid off!

Scene 1: I'm starting to develop this thought that Rescue Me is all about the stuff that happens BETWEEN the interesting stuff. Like, last week, we see Lou lying on the floor of the firehouse, and instead of seeing him get rushed to the hospital or seeing the doctors trying to revive him, he's just OK! And he's cracking jokes with the nurse, who takes time to insult every one of the guys personally! Hurrah! Now, I don't mind this approach. I certainly don't need another show where a whole episode is spent on doctors trying to save a main character in danger, only for him to resurrect at the end, and I definitely don't need another show where the regulars sit in a waiting room and feel concerned for their friend. Indeed, I quite liked this scene. But when the show feels listless, I wonder if it isn't supposed to, if it's not trying to capture the weird rhythms of life and just failing to make that feel vital. Grade: B+

Scene 2: Another meandering scene, but another scene that's fun in spite of all of this. Father Peter Gallagher shows up at the house after the guys have been bantering about assorted topics (mostly about how they're going to break Lou out of the hospital almost a week early to compete in the cookout, which ... what?), and he asks if the fire department has a reimbursement program, as he's trying to get the chink in Virgin Mary's ass repaired. The guys, lapsed Catholics filled with guilt, for the most part, all pull  out their wallets until they see the bill is $40,000. There's some talk about how both group's institutions are debt-ridden (the firehouse because of the recession; the church because of child molestation cases, though the show is careful to make Father Gallagher sympathetic by having him hate the molestors, rather than those bringing charges, like many authority figures within the Church seemed to), and then he gives a prayer, and Black Shawn doesn't know what to do with his hands. Again, not a great scene, but a very funny one. Grade: B+

Scene 3: A cancer patient wants Sean's help in breaking out of the hospital. Also, the guys are dressed in hospital gear, which is fitfully amusing. I still have plenty of good will from the prior two scenes, and I'm amused enough by how the guys look in scrubs and doctor coats. But there doesn't seem to be much point to this scene other than introducing this cancer guy, and I hope the show doesn't incorporate him into the escape. That would be stupid. Grade: B

Scene 4: Damien's on a date while everybody else is busting out Lou. Why? Who knows? But his date knows all about his dad, for some reason, and then the scene turns pretty sweet, as she talks with him about how he's probably proud of his son after Damien expresses his guilt that he didn't share good time with his dad while his dad was alive. He's not proud, Damien says. He's dead. It's a pretty nice little scene between one character I don't care about and one I've just met, exceeding my expectations. Grade: B

Scene 5: Hm. They are going to break out cancer guy. It's a part of the fireman's code. But cancer guy coughs a lot, so it will be hard for him to be quiet. This could all end disastrously! How wacky! Grade: C+

Scene 6: I'm combining three scenes (technically) into one because they're all part of the same "breaking Lou out" sequence. The best thing about these scenes? The show uses Sheila as a voice of reason, reminding us that, yeah, the women on this show don't need to be virulent nags all of the time but can, at times, be fun and involving people that you could see these men wanting to hang out with or even marry. Andrea Roth and Callie Thorne are great actresses, and when the show remembers that they're human beings and not plot points, it can have fun with their characters, as it does here when Sheila is the first to cough after the "swine flu" lie. Also, Mike and Sean break out cancer guy, and he nearly gets hit by a taxi. But that's ... pretty much it for this story, I guess? Grade: B+

Scene 7: The guys are stopped by a doctor in the lobby. Will they get Lou out in time?! Instead, Franco goes to work on her, and the guys admire his way with the women. A short, fairly inconsequential scene that mostly just tells us something we already know, but, again, I'm riding high on goodwill. Grade: B

Scene 8: Oh, I guess cancer guy is going to continue to be a thing? Sean is in his room when he wakes up in the morning, and they have a nice conversation. I was wondering if this was going to loop back around to Sean's cancer scare from last year, and while it doesn't seem like that's going to become the focus, it's pretty obvious just why Sean is investing so much time into this guy. Grade: B

Scene 9: This is the first scene this season that really made me sit up and take notice of the show in the way I used to. Lou is cooking up a storm for the cookout (which still baffles me as to its prominence within the storylines, much less as a reason to RISK A MAN'S LIFE, but whatever), and when Tommy comes in to talk to him, Lou gives a detailed description of his heavenly near-death experience. Like Rescue Me's Hell, it's a succinct, somehow earthly image, that nonetheless seems supernatural and effective. Lou remembers sitting in his childhood kitchen, eating cupcake icing off a spoon, watching his mother and feeling her ruffle his hair. And then he turns it around on Tommy, wanting him to make a moment that nice on Earth for his kids. It's a great scene, largely because John Scurti delivers a great monologue in pitch-perfect fashion. It gives me hope that this is all going somewhere. Grade: A

Scene 10: OK, I really liked this scene too. Father Peter Gallagher (I refuse to call him anything else) is a surprisingly good character, and it seems like he's going to become Tommy's moral voice moving forward. The nice thing about this season is that it understands that change can't come in a day, that when you're a person as messed up as Tommy, it might take years of painful growth. At least Father Gallagher is more willing to help him move forward than his own family and friends are, and the scene, where the two talk about disappointments and hell and Janet, is again more effective at humanizing Janet than the series has been recently. I don't expect the show to give up on its Janet vs. Sheila catfight shenanigans any time soon, but this is a nice little scene, nonetheless. Grade: A-

Scene 11: Franco and Janet are in her apartment. He's fixing something. There's nearly a moment between them, but it passes. Tommy comes home from his talk with Father Peter Gallagher to ... suspect them of hooking up. Lord, what a stupid scene, though I liked the long close-up on Tommy's face. Grade: C

Scene 12: Musical montage for the week. Tommy futzes around in his car, looking at a photo of Janet and drinking as music plays. Not bad. Not good either. Just kind of there. But I almost always like when the show does wordless stuff like this, so I'll give it a nice grade. Grade: B

Reviewer's tilt: In general, a marked improvement, but I did NOT like that ending twist. Grade: B

Actual average score: B

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