After all the heartache and near-tragedy that has befallen him recently, things finally seem to turn around for Tommy in last week’s ‘Rescue Me’ episode, ‘Forgiven.’ Relatively, anyway. He wouldn’t be a Gavin if life were actually easy.
After nearly drowning Colleen in booze at the end of the previous episode, Tommy was hauled off to jail. He starts out there in ‘Forgiven,’ and has a visit from the ghosts/hallucinations of Jimmy and his son Connor (whom he continues to picture as an adult). He usually only gets these visits when he’s drunk, so this is pretty unusual in itself. They refuse to speak to him. But, in a funny moment, he tells Connor he loves him, which is overheard by a presumed-sleeping cellmate and a guard.
Tommy makes bail and goes home to find that, amazingly, no one is upset with him. He’s still sober, and now Colleen is too. The baptismal incident may have even cured her of the taste of alcohol. She gets violently ill at the mere smell of it, even wine. Janet is so pleased that she agrees to go on a dinner date with Tommy, and may even let him get lucky afterwards.
In less good news, the fire house has been closed down. It’s one of seventeen houses cut as a result of the FDNY’s budget crisis. While Tommy’s arrest certainly may have played a part in the decision, Mike and Sean also stupidly sent a nasty email to HQ complaining about the way that Pat Mahoney had been treated, which of course wound up rambling into tangents that even they realized weren’t a good idea. Naturally, rather than hit Delete, one of the boneheads mistakenly hit Send.
Damien tells Tommy that he was thinking of quitting anyway. He’d proven what he wanted to prove, and wants to do something different with his life now. Tommy is clearly disappointed, even though he’s supposed to be working with Sheila to get the kid to quit anyway.
This totally means that Damien’s going to die soon, doesn’t it? It looks inevitable.
The neighborhood is so upset by the fire house closure that a bunch of people launch a protest. Unfortunately, the media has been spread so thin that no news coverage shows up. However, when word comes that a nearby school is on fire, Tommy and the crew race over in their cars and on foot. They know that they can get there before the West Side Wildmen, and that this will be a huge PR opportunity that could get the house re-opened. With no equipment other than baseball bats and hockey sticks, they rush into the fire to pull some kids out, all the while Mickey and Sheila record the events on a cell phone camera.
Peter Gallagher is also on hand again as Father Phil. He’s instantly smitten with Sheila, who he (correctly) pegs as a “Collar Chaser.” While she watches, he puts on a show of helping the guys carry kids out of the school.
Everyone gets out safely, and in a good mood. Franco apologizes to Tommy over the Janet incident, and even makes peace with Black Shawn. Things are looking up for everyone.
That night, Tommy goes on his date with Janet, but flubs it pretty badly. His impatience with a pretentious waiter bothers her, and she finds herself aggravated by every little thing he does. She’s reminded why their marriage fell apart in the first place. The two of them have a fight and make a big scene in the restaurant, which is only cooled off when they recognize one of the busboys. He was a friend of Connor’s, now 17. Seeing him reminds them of their loss, and everything they hoped Connor would be. They go home quietly.
The episode ends back at the apartment with a very sad, touching moment in which Tommy and Janet let all their petty arguments go and fall back into each other.
It’s precisely this ability to ride an emotional rollercoaster from joy to anger to tenderness all in the blink of an eye that sets ‘Rescue Me’ apart from just about any other show on television.