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Rescue Me: Fighting, Jumping, Drinking and Sour Candy

rescuemeGreat writing is when you present a scene that is both surprising but also feels inevitable at the same time, like it was always going to happen and viewers should have been expecting it. This week’s episode—which is scripted by Denis Leary, Peter Tolan and frequent head writer Evan Reilly, and directed by Tolan—achieves that remarkable feat no less than three times.

There’s no Janet or Sheila this week, and I can’t say that I mind, especially because you know next week’s season finale (how can the season be over already?) will be loaded with both of them. We open this week at Franco’s bout/dyke-and-proud-of-it freak show. In the moments before the fight begins, as he sizes up his opponent, who looks like more of a man than Mike Tyson, Franco starts to get cold feet. Lou and Needles try to psyche him up, telling him that they’ve trained for this and imploring him not to be afraid to hit her. “I’m not afraid of hitting her,” Franco tells them, “I’m afraid of her hitting me.”

Meanwhile Tommy spots Kelly once again putting the moves on Damian, so he goes over to confront her because not only does he not want her putting the moves on Damian, he wants her putting the moves on him. But Kelly wants the easy way out, she wants Damian because he’s safe and easy, and Tommy is chock full of inner demons. “I’m not in to boyfriends and you got boatload of boyfriend written all over your David Bowie face,” she tells him. I guess that’s a more specific, personalized version of “it’s not you, it’s me.” Personally, I’ve come to really like Kelly (and Maura Tierney) in the last few episodes. She’s fun and mysterious and unpredictable, but not mentally unstable like Sheila or a petty vindictive bitch like Janet. She’s like Gina Gershon’s Valerie from last season, but with more going on upstairs. I’m glad Tommy is trying to make something happen with her, she’s a much better choice.

Of course all this dancing around is interrupted by the start of the fight. Franco is getting his ass kicked (further proof that the show is not sexist, in spite of what some small-minded and ignorant people claim), but when a drunken Mickey picks a fight with another dyke in the crowd, the whole arena erupts into a brawlfest. It’s so intense that Franco and his opponent actually stop their fight to watch everyone else’s. Franco decides he’s done with boxing because it brings out the worst in people. His opponent says that she’s done with “the whole lesbo thing” for the same reason. Franco asks if she wants to go get a drink. She declines. “Good fight,” he says.rescueme3

From there, the guys get called to a very different, yet equally chaotic scene: a guy threatening to jump off a bridge. “Isn’t this like a cop thing?” Damian asks. Well yeah, except Lou discovers via radio that the police negotiator isn’t going to be there for another ten minutes because he was working a job uptown. Where’s Martin Riggs when you need him?

Black Shawn volunteers to try to talk to the guy, since he’s the only one with any experience in this sort of thing. It seems he talked his brother out of jumping several years ago, although there’s more to that story that we don’t find out until later. I won’t tell you the outcome of the scene, but I do want to mention how beautiful the cinematography is. Rescue Me has always shot digital, but there’s always so much texture to the image, and the lighting here is just breathtaking, the bridge lit dimly by the city lights reflecting off the black water. Also, as a result of this scene, we get another one that gives Tommy and Black Shawn a chance to bond a little bit.

Mike has his audition, but of course there’s not a happy ending for him. Frankly, I don’t really care. I’m much much much more interested (and delighted) with a big development that happens between Lou and Candy. No one was more surprised than I was (well, except maybe Lou) that Candy showed up this season after robbing Lou’s money and his heart all the way back in season two. When their relationship started progressing, I thought I was going insane. When she proposed marriage, I couldn’t believe it. On the one hand I was really rooting for Lou to find happiness because, well, he’s pretty much had nothing but crap thrown at him throughout the entire series. But I was also thinking, how could this possibly work? My question got answered this week, and in a way that not only wasn’t sad, but a way that had me cheering and jumping up and down like a maniac. I’m not sure what it will mean for Lou in the long run, but I’m sure glad what happened happened. Go watch!

Oh yeah, we also get a cliffhanger involving Teddie’s floozie wife Ellie, who he met when he was in prison in season three for killing the guy who ran over Tommy’s son. And we finally find out what’s in Kelly’s secret box this week, and it’s not a doomsday device, but something very personal. It turns out she and Tommy have more in common than either one would probably like to admit.

Next week is going to be great. It better be, because I just read that Stallone offered Denis Leary a part in The Expendables but he couldn’t do it because it interfered with the Rescue Me shooting schedule. The season four finale of Rescue Me, while dramatic, lacked the kind of surprise oh-my-sweet-jesus-did-that-really-just-happen energy of the first three, and Tolan and Leary acknowledged that, so I’m positive they have something truly worthwhile cooked up for this year. Until next week…

For another take on this episode, check out The Game Plan by Jaimie Campos.

Season 5, Episode 21: Jump (Originally aired August 25, 2009)

For more on Rescue Me, click here.

Tuesdays at 10pm on FX

Photograph courtesy of FX and IMDbPro

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