Now that’s the ‘Rescue Me’ I remember! While the first four episode of this season were all pretty decent, they’ve also all felt a little like the series has been treading water, repeating themes and storylines that had been covered already. Even if some of the show’s characteristic humor was present, that darker edge that has marked ‘Rescue Me’ at its finest hadn’t yet reared its head. I don’t know that least week’s episode, ‘Blackout’, really brings much new to the table from a thematic standpoint, either. However, it brings out the darkest of dark humor in spades, and rides that dangerous line between black comedy and overwhelming tragedy like no other show on television can.
The basic plot of the episode plays like a twisted version of ‘The Hangover‘. After last week’s misunderstanding about Janet and Franco, Tommy goes on a bender. A really bad bender. And he takes daughter Colleen with him. He wakes up the next morning with no memory of the night’s events. Then comes news that Colleen is missing, and everyone’s pissed at Tommy. The crew spends the day trying to piece together Tommy’s activities of the previous evening to find Colleen.
On the one hand, this episode may be the funniest of the season. The jokes come fast and hit hard. Tommy realizes that he’s wearing a thong, and he has no idea whose it is. Colleen’s phone (which Tommy has, though he doesn’t know why) is loaded up with photos, including cheesecake shots of Black Shawn. Tommy’s hazy memories of scoring with a hot MILF turn out to be not terribly accurate. Sean, Mike, and Damien canvas bars that might have been in Tommy’s path, and wind up getting drunker and drunker as the day goes on. Honestly, there’s a lot of downright hilarious stuff going on there.
And yet, the entire episode is laced with the expectation that Colleen may be dead, and Tommy would be to blame. Janet is terrified. The later the day gets, the less and less likely that they’ll find the girl alive. Even the funniest scenes are tinged with an ever-present dread.
Fortunately, Colleen is eventually found unconscious on a beach, in bad shape but alive. After this relief, Mickey and Teddy admit that they had laced the bottle of liquor they gave Tommy, hoping to drive him to rock bottom so that he’d learn a lesson and sober up. Tommy certainly did hit rock bottom, but he’s been there before. Now that he knows that it wasn’t the liquor alone that got him there, the likelihood that he’ll clean up his act seems pretty remote.
‘Blackout’ is easily the best episode of the season so far, and up there with some of the show’s best. In the midst of everything else going on, the writers even manage to drop a bombshell in our laps, in the form of a revelation that Mickey has been sleeping with Sheila. For how long, we don’t know. After six seasons, I didn’t think the show still had any big surprises like that in it. I’m glad to be proven wrong.