‘Rescue Me’ Series Finale Review & Discussion

Published 4 years ago by , Updated February 10th, 2012 at 12:23 pm,

rescue me series finale1 Rescue Me Series Finale Review & Discussion

Following up the heartbreakingly shocking penultimate episode of Rescue Me, Denis Leary and Peter Tolan beautifully conclude their hit television series with the same grace and gravitas that has wonderfully been present throughout tenure of Rescue Me’s run.

It goes without saying this review will contain MAJOR SPOILERS for the series finale of Rescue Me – read on at your own risk.

With a flurry of questions running through the viewer’s mind after witnessing the majority of Ladder 62 being caught in a seemingly unsurvivable explosion, it takes but mere moments from the beginning of the episode before the first upsetting images appear. Tommy, Sean (Steven Pasquale), Franco (Daniel Sunjata), Mike (Mike Lombardi) and “Black Shawn” (Larenz Tate) – the familiar characters have brought so many hilarious moments to the series – did not survive the blast. Somehow, the ever reliable (unless it’s with letters and fire) “Lou” survived with minor injuries, and now he must proverbially ferry his fallen comrades to the other side.

In a speech that not only exemplifies the truly masterful handling of words that Leary and Tolan possess, but also elicits tears in what may be the episode’s most emotional moment, John Scurti (as Lieutenant Kenneth Shea) delivers a performance so solid, so complete, so earnest, that one could easily mistake this to be a scene from an award winning film.

…and then Tommy wakes up.

Proving that Rescue Me is not beyond its familiar tricks of faux imagery filled with imagined actions, the reality and truth of what actually happened is finally revealed. All of the previously mourned characters are, for all in intents and purposes, safe. Unfortunately, as the appearances of characters once thought dead, it soon becomes apparent that someone is missing: Lou.

As Tommy relives the events that transpired during the course of last episode’s explosion, the shocking truth that “Lou” didn’t survive the blast is shown to be the one and only loss that Ladder 62 incurred.

Despite the fact that a week break separated the penultimate episode from the Rescue Me series finale, the ability to elicit an emotional response from those watching for the entirety of the series’ cast – even if only a single member actually died – is a wonderfully poignant and commendable endeavor – one that could only be competently handled by someone with the talent and dedication to the series and its fans.

rescue me series finale 2 Rescue Me Series Finale Review & Discussion

When a longtime series such as Rescue Me comes to an end, the audience wants to – on some level – be able to say goodbye to the characters they watched for so many years. Often times such series end with the simple knowledge that the characters will be fine – and while that’s a commendable approach, it doesn’t provide the same emotional finality that many seek.

This is it; this is the moment – if there was ever a time when a beautifully planned rollercoaster of emotional confusion is welcomed, it’s in the final episode. While some may say the opening half of the Rescue Me series finale is not an earnest approach to such an expected conclusion, one cannot deny that the handling of this specific plot doesn’t fit perfectly within the confines of what Rescue Me has always presented as its brand of storytelling – a brand of storytelling that became the reason why many people initially tuned in.

Of course, given that all of the aforementioned scenes occurred within the course of the first half of the finale episode, there’s still an entire second half left to go – and if there was a place to critique the handling of events, this would be it.

rescue me series finale 3 Rescue Me Series Finale Review & Discussion

Following the shocking revelation that “Lou” is dead, and after emotionally draining the majority of those watching, the notion that we’re simply pantomiming appropriate emotional progression can undoubtedly be felt. The laughs, while still present, aren’t nearly as funny as they were in previous episodes; the intent, while plainly laid out, doesn’t carry the same emotional weight that it should; and the scenes, while still as competently executed as always, somehow feels flat.

Whether it be the aforementioned emotional drain that was the opening of the Rescue Me series finale, or the feeling that the series had come to an end before its allotted episode time was up, much of what occurs as the Rescue Me series finale comes to an end feels like the last chapter of a book that should have ended 20 pages sooner.

Despite these noted grievances, the Rescue Me series finale was still a wonderfully adept conclusion to a series that, in and of itself, has been nothing short of a masterful rollercoaster of emotional intrigue through the life of one brilliantly troubled mind and his family, friends and co-workers.

Rescue Me aired Wednesdays @10pm on FX

You can follow Anthony on Twitter @anthonyocasio

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  1. I think most people agree that while Rescue Me began a decline in later seasons, it still stayed a good show for its entire run. I can’t say I was a huge fan of season 7 and the finale felt a little long and didn’t feel really emotional or funny. It was a great series but it’s the right time to end the show.

    • I don’t think most people would agree that it declined in later season. Most people I’ve talked to would say the only weak season was season 6. 1-5 were fantastic and IMO season 7 was very good as well.

  2. Rescue Me is this generation’s MASH. The story is reality. It’s tragedy that we have lived through. I think that in it’s own little way, Rescue Me has helped not only let the nation mourn together but maybe even heal a little.

  3. gonna miss this one more than nip/tuck…

  4. I still don’t get it

  5. My husband being a firefighter, we watched the show, have enjoyed every episode. Sad to see it go. I will be watching tonight!!

  6. I don’t agree with this review at all. The ash explosion in the car was hilarious!!!! However, no one has netioned how during 9/11 they were covered in ashes and here they are again covered in the ashes of a comrade.

    This last episode ended like the show has always been, about real life. It’s not a final episode, it’s just the next day in the real lives of these fictitous characters. It’s not a Hollywood ending, it’s exactly what the show has always been.

    I will miss these characters immensly.

  7. I thought it was more a sort of “Rashomon” – two different endings, pick the reality of your choice. The first scene looked very much like a real firefighter funeral; the second version, with Lou dead, was more unrealistic, with all five surviving with no serious injuries, Tommy’s wife giving birth in what, 90 seconds, the ash explosion, the ghost of Lou appearing (as so many ghosts and apparitions appeared before). So my belief is that ALL were killed – the Tommy, the Seans white and black, Bill, Franco and Lou. And the show was about what they all might have been thinking in those last seconds of life they had.
    Great show, great series. One of the best ever.

    • Oh, stop trying to read things into it that aren’t there! Lou died and the others survived. There’s no “deeper meaning” or “final thought before they all died.” The final episode was plain and simple. Why can’t hipsters like you ever accept that?

  8. What makes you think he/she is a hipster? Why attack someone for their creative and interesting approach at interpreting something? Don’t be bitter just because some things in this world are sometimes too complex for your own intellect.

  9. hey guys, i was wondering, I have a friend that plays bagpipes and he wants to know if anyone can tell im what the bagpipes player was playing in the beginning episode of Ashes as the caskets were being wheeled down the isle.

    • The piece played at the large funeral at the beginning was a spiritual called “Goin’ Home.” It also appears in a symphony by Antonin Dvorak.

      • A quick correction: “Goin’ Home” is in fact an arrangement of the slow movement of Dvorak’s Symphony “From the New World”, rather than the reverse.

        It was never a negro spiritual. That is just a popular myth regarding the theme. The lyrics were added by one of Dvorak’s students years later, and some of the music was slightly rearranged to make a more satisfying single “song” format. However, again, it is NOT, and never was, a spiritual. It is the Largo movement of Dvorak’s 9th Symphony, subtitled “From the New World” (and often abbreviated to “New World Symphony”).

        If you’re wondering about the title: it was composed while Dvorak was visiting America (1892-1895). The lyrics were added by William Arms Fisher.

  10. I know when shows go on to long they tend to dip in quality a great example is scrubs. Sadly I’m the type of person who would rather see a show dip in quality and then end because I just can’t let go. Rescue was still great here in season 7 and I’m gonna miss it words can’t express how sad I am to loss it especially so soon after losing what in my mind was the greatest show ever made The Shield. All the best shows are ending and while there are still plenty of shows I like around none of them are as good as Rescue me or The Shield were.

    • Daniel F. I agree. The Shield was what led me to watch FX. I got into Nip/Tuck then Rescue Me. The only shows I watch on there now is SOA and Justified(which I think is close to my favorites as well). I believe the ash sequence was hilarious! Shawn getting caught at the end of it was great! The only thing I felt was missing was the actual firefighter ceremony for Lou (as with the beginning of the finale) It would have been great to see all the pomp and circumstance for him. His character was such a hard luck type it would have been great. I will really miss this show that is for sure!

  11. I have watched this show from day one. Yes, some seasons were not as good as others. I loved the final episode! The guys at the firehouse showed how close a dept becomes. My dad was a fireman, ex-husband a fireman and I am a retired EMT. I respect and admire all first responders! I am looking forward to buying all 7 seasons of Rescue Me!

  12. I was disappointed, wanted it to be more serious than slapstick–did not like the Lou ash thing at all. Did not cry and did not see Tommy cry, think emotion should have been put in the finale. Even though that is not the normal tone for the show.

  13. Nobody is mentioning the week long promo that was a complete tease. I thought it was going to end with all dying, but just another dream sequence (should have known).

    Anyway, season seven was better than six, but nothing compares to the first 2 or 3. The show isn’t the same when Tommy isn’t drunk and breaking things.