Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Rescue Me "Torch": Third Degree

In a season that has rekindled the spirit of the first, "Torch" stands out even more, in that it didn't even rely on the 9/11 storyline, which the series' best episodes (until now) found their inspiration from. The episode is book-ended with Tommy dealing with children in heartbreaking situations, both amazing in their own way.

The scene of Tommy cleaning up the burnt child thrown from the car was gripping in it's patience both with how it was framed and in it's willingness to let the scene breath without little or no cuts. The journey Tommy takes to get to the final scene is allowed to develop at it's own pace as well. The long drinks of whiskey followed by the third degree Tommy gets from his ghosts lead to the self-inflicted damage of the torch. (Was that a cadaver in place of Tommy's leg, or did they do that via CGI?) The ghost of Tommy's Da points out, "The only thing gets through that thick Irish skin of his is fire." It makes sense that Tommy is a masochist, given his exploits, but it was still jarring seeing him take that turn. The pain seems to work for Tommy, as he finds a way to feel something again -- even dry-humping Sheila on his wound. I don't see Tommmy putting on a happy face for the cancer kids without him experiencing some sort of change in feeling, as the earlier scene points out, Tommy's lack of feeling is what makes him able to clean up the burnt kid.

The final scene of him playing with the kids (pictured above,) was done to Cat Power's re-imagining of "New York, New York," which I took to be a comment on where Tommy has ended up. "If I can make it there, Ill make it anywhere." Being able to turn on the compassion to play with the kids suffering through leukemia is a triumph for Tommy. The looks on the other firefighters is interesting contrasted w/ how they looked (albeit, out of focus) in the first scene. If it is a breakthrough for Tommy, it obviously won't last, this is still Rescue Me after all.

You know what else won't last? Lou's Civil War chess set and coin collection. Oh, Candy... I hope I'm wrong, but given the rest of tonight's plot, I have to assume Tommy burning himself is a parallel to Lou figuratively burning himself as well, by letting Candy back in.

Enjoyed what appears to be the final musical number with Steven Pasuale, but it's definitely time to move on now, and, even if it felt awkward at times, it was nice seeing Teddy and Maggie's stories finally intersect with the Tommy's (even if somewhat peripherally).

Song: "New York" - Cat Power

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