Tuned In

Rescue Me … From Spoilers?

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This is as good a time as any to discuss the spoiler policy of this blog. It used to be that once a TV show aired, whoever wanted to watch it, had. But, as David Bianculli recently discussed in the New York Daily News, we live in the era of time-shifting. People use TiVo, they watch the multiple weekly reruns of cable shows, they wait for the DVD. One of these people is eventually going to learn a key plot point here, and they will be deeply offended. Subscriptions will be cancelled. Pets will be threatened.

I sympathize. I have TiVo–couldn’t imagine doing my job without it. I have spent many a trepidatious day trying not to find out who got booted from America’s Next Top Model because I watched Lost instead. And I’ve learned that, in such situations, it’s my job to be very careful reading websites about TV–like, say, this one. The world, I realize, is not required to stop turning until I have cleared my TiVo backlog. So while I’ll try to be considerate and give fair warnings, do us both a favor and watch that Rock Star: INXS finale before you visit me.

That said, this post contains some spoilers about the second-season finale of Rescue Me. (Which, yes, aired two whole days ago — like I said, I have TiVo.) Like other FX shows, especially Nip/Tuck, it has always had the problem of having too damn much happening too fast. This season alone, Denis Leary’s alcoholic firefighter, Tommy Gavin, has had an affair with the widow of his cousin killed on 9/11, lost the child she was carrying for him through a miscarriage, reunited with and re-broken up with his wife, and, cruelly, lost his only son, Conor, who was killed by a drunk driver. (This after nearly losing a daughter the first season in a different accident.)

But the show’s emotional response, has been pitch-perfect, combining dark drama and irreverent humor. The scene in which Tommy confronts his former mistress’ abusive lesbian lover and lets her beat him up, to work out his own guilt over his son’s death, was Emmy-worthy. Just as moving was the subplot in which one of Tommy’s coworkers, seeking answers in church, believes he sees a statue of the Madonna weep; later, we learn that her "tears" were water runoff from a potted flower over the statue. After Tommy learns who his son’s killer is, he has a friend agree to shoot the guy; then he has a conversation with a laid-back, slacker Jesus (along with Mary Magdalene, He’s been appearing to Tommy in hallucinations all season) who persuades him that revenge isn’t the answer–moments too late to stop the killing. There have been few TV series so overtly big-c Catholic in their themes, or little-c catholic in their emotional range, and I eagerly await its third coming.