When I sat down to watch Rescue Me Wednesday night, I didn’t initially realize it was the next-to-last episode. That dawned on me about five minutes in, and my stomach hurt for the next hour.
It didn’t hurt because I would miss the show. Over the course of seven seasons, the show has gone from a hilarious black comedy, to just a dark, dark show. This season was better, but last year provided very few laughs to balance out the drama. Rescue Me had gone the way of Nip/Tuck, a show great in the opening seasons, but lasting too long to keep that quality high.
No, my stomach began to hurt because I realized with an ending date firmly in sight, we were at the mercy of Denis Leary.
Leary said once, early in the show’s run, his dream ending to the show would be for the entire cast to die, mid-episode. Just go to a commercial, and never come back. The show has been shocking before, sometimes appropriately, sometimes just for the sake of adding another shock to the show.
The wedding was a touching moment, the kind that would have been a good ending for any other show. But Rescue Me has to go one step farther.
And so the wedding scene panned up, the camera shot dissolving into one of a burning building. An empty building fire turned quickly into an arson, and then a explosive situation. The men of 62 Truck found themselves narrowly escaping certain death, but pushing themselves farther and farther into the burning building. The roof was the only safe escape, but when they made it to the top, the exit was bricked over.
The show ends with a rooftop explosion and collapse.
Watching them work their way through the burning building, I didn’t think about the last few seasons of the show. I remembered the first few years, when the show was at its peak. Suddenly, those were old friends walking headlong into almost-certain death in that building.
Leary obviously knows the ending everyone has expected for Rescue Me. I think the only hope for survival is his insistence on playing against cliche.
We’ve seen the promos for next week, and a coffin being walked through a funeral. That could be Tommy Gavin’s coffin, or perhaps the nameless firefighter we saw on the roof trying to help. No one knows, and Leary is too unpredictable to assume.
The show will end September 7, 2011, which is as close to the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 2001 as they could get in their timeslot. That was done on purpose, obviously, as the show began in the shadow of the terrorist attacks, and was always at its strongest when framed against them.
Next week we’ll find out if for Leary’s final show ends with his own funeral.
— Reid Kerr always loved the “Sensitivity Traning” episode best of all. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook.