I won’t lie, I’m easily disappointed. I’ll still be disappointed and watch a TV program, but it’s the disappointment that lowers my rating from 'rave' to 'raving mad.' Last night's Rescue Me season finale falls somewhere in the middle of that spectrum, approaching 'beginning to unravel.'
The good: The cast is excellent, the writing is funny and touching at turns, and intentionally so. Denis Leary is able to do both ends of the spectrum wonderfully and is great to watch here, doing something he really cares about. John Scurti handles the vast majority of the humor and is able to turn the most mundane moments into pure hilarity. From time to time, Scurti is given the opportunity to make the emotional, moralistic plea, and it was true last night as the crew was standing in front of the Firefighters Memorial at Ground Zero.
However, that scene at the memorial highlights one of the problems with the show. It feels as though, when they discuss 9/11, they use it as a way of excusing their bad or odd behavior. Unquestionably, there are still open wounds and I in no way intend to minimize anyone’s pain or suffering, which is clearly real. However, in Rescue Me, it often seems to serve as an excuse for doing the wrong thing.
This, though, was a minor upset for me. The major upset was the deus ex machina used to tie up all the plotlines this season. Everyone seems to be leaving the station house. It’s been talked about all season long. Several episodes have been used to convince the audience of three different characters’ desire to retire or transfer out. Each of these three characters' desires ended in single scenes in the finale. Turns out Kenny Shea doesn’t have “sea legs” and so he can’t be the first mate on a boat. Franco Rivera decides he was only trying to become a lieutenant for his daughter, and since she’s now gone, he doesn’t want to do it anymore. Mike Silletti is simply called on his bluff of transferring. It’s all too pat; it’s all too simple.
And then there are Franco’s problems with his daughter being semi-abducted by Alicia (Susan Sarandon). Mainly, the problem here is that Franco doesn’t confront Alicia, or, at least, he does not do it on camera and doesn’t discuss it with anyone else, either. I would have to assume this is because they couldn’t get Susan Sarandon to come back for another episode. But if the story arc couldn’t have been wrapped up, it shouldn’t have been done.
While it’s often gritty and usually well made, the season finale of Rescue Me was a letdown. The story lines for the entire season were wrapped up in far too abrupt a fashion to satisfy the viewer.
My final verdict? As long as you’ve come this far, you may as well watch the finale, too, and it’s certainly not bad enough to stop me from watching next season.