‘Rescue Me’ draws to a close after seven seasons

By Jeff Mitchell

Daily Collegian – Sept. 9, 2011 | Daily Collegian – Sept. 12, 2001

Courtesy of MCT
The fame finally flickers on the men of 62 Truck. On Sept. 7, the series finale of “Rescue Me” aired as a farewell to the seven-season run.

The series focused on central firefighter Tommy Gavin, played by Denis Leary, as he struggled with alcoholism and self-destructive tendencies to cope with tragedy of Sept. 11, when he lost many good friends, including his cousin. This takes a toll on his wife, children and even his fellow firefighters. In addition to portraying the main character, Leary is also one of the executive producers for the show.

Throughout the series, many events have been covered, both comically and seriously. The show has touched upon the illnesses of firefighters from the cleanup of ground zero, bureaucracy in the FDNY, racism, homophobia and the various means of mourning. The series also has very memorable guest roles, including Michael J. Fox, Marisa Tomei and Susan Sarandon.

It is fitting that this show should end on the 10-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. In trying to make amends with the people and problems in his life that have been so thoroughly detailed since the show’s pilot episode, Tommy tries to move on in this final season and put some of his demons to rest as he prepares for the arrival of a new child and his daughter’s wedding. After visiting ground zero, Tommy thinks about being remembered and writes letters to his closest loved ones.

This season, Tommy is not the only man of 62 Truck who looks toward the future. His friend Lou struggles with weight and looks to make changes in life, while Franco begins to set his sights on trying to make a name for himself and move up in the FDNY. Sheila also begins to come to terms with her son Damien’s injury and understands that he will never truly walk again. These are only a few of the side stories that the men have to deal with as the series has drawn to a close.

This season has differed from most previous ones. It has been much more retrospective with a noticeable absence of sex and booze and a stronger focus on family, friendships and legacy.

Obstacles still stand in the way as Tommy realizes that his daughter has begun to drink again and a recorded outburst in a Sept. 11 interview could be detrimental to the longevity of the firehouse. However, it is difficult to tell where it ranks exactly amongst previous seasons.

“Rescue Me” is choosing to leave while being remembered well by fans rather than trying to brutally squeeze any more seasons from it.

The style of coupling humor right next to grotesque gut-wrenching scenes is done so well because it mimics reality. While “Rescue Me” might be looked back on for its crude dirty humor, the illustrious sexual appetites of the firefighters and the raging infernos, the final season displays that the show is not actually about any of these things.

As people look to remember “Rescue Me” they will recall that it is a show that is truly about chaos. Not just any type of chaos, but the one that comes from loss and despair, where people who live still feel dead on the inside and cannot seem to cope with the grief around them.

“Rescue Me” showed that Sept. 11, 2001 was more than a day in American history. It was an event that will last a lifetime in the hearts and minds of all the men who were there, as well as their families.
The series showed the bond of brotherhood is something that can be tested again and again, but only grows stronger when tempered with flame.

Jeff Mitchell can be reached at [email protected]