Rescue Me Final Episode, “Ashes”
Rescue Me is a television show based on New York City firefighter’s after the tragedy of 11 September 2001. Quite often, names of those who fell that day are mentioned on the show to honor and memorialize them. The series also shows, in a dramatical sense, the daily lives of a firefighter at work and at home.
The last episode of the final season, appropriately titled “Ashes,” starts out with the scene of tragedy. A ladder truck from 62 Firehouse is sitting amongst a rubble ridden ground. Two firefighters stand nearby with sadden faces, staring at the ground and shaking their heads.
A few moments later, the scene changes to show flag covered caskets being wheeled down the aisle of the church as bagpipes play.
Lieutenant Kenneth Shea, also known as Lou (played by John Scurti) walks to the podium to give his eulogy, “Today we are gathered, together, here to honor five men. My men. My brothers. Five men who were given a choice. To run. To flee for safe ground. To seek clean, fresh air. Knowing the danger…” He continues his speech as if it was the scene going up for an Emmy Award nomination. It was followed by a roar of applause, cheers, and a standing ovation.
Tommy Gavin (played by Denis Leary) opens his eyes and I realize I was a witness to another one of Tommy’s avid dreams. Chief ‘Needles’ Nelson (played by Adam Ferrara) reminds Tommy that since he was the acting lieutenant and the senior officer, he is now appointed lieutenant. The first thing he has to do is write the report for headquarters on the accident he was a part of — the same accident that took his best friend, Lou Shea, life. It also means that he has to relive the accident all over again.
Tommy has been plagued with the horrors he has gone through as a firefighter. The victims he could not rescue haunt him now and then. The only relief from his ghosts was drinking. He managed to get sober, now, and the ghosts have not returned, and the horrific dreams are not as often as they were.
The rest of the crew, Franco Rivera (played by Daniel Sunjata), Mike Siletti (played by Michael Lombardi), Sean Garrity (played by Steven Pasquale), and Bart ‘Shawn’ Johnston (played by Larenz Tate), looking beaten and battered from the accident, sit around the firehouse’s kitchen table wondering if they should stay, find a new job, or transfer to a different firehouse. Meanwhile, Tommy has filled out his retirement paperwork and turned them in. Tommy soon learns that he might not be cut out for civilian life, which his daughter Katy (played by Olivia Crocicchia) and his wife Janet (played by Andrea Roth) can only concur.
Lou’s funeral benediction was given by Father Mickey (played by Robert John Burke), whom is also Tommy’s cousin. Many of Lou’s family and friends each spoke kind words and shared memories that they had of Lou. Tommy then reads a letter he found in Lou’s locker, written by Lou, a few memories he wanted to share of his time on earth. “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” by Iron Butterfly is played on bagpipes as Mickey and Tommy scatter Lou’s ashes over a cliff into the sea below.
The episode ends ceremoniously as the first episode of season one began; new firefighter recruits standing at attention, yet again. Tommy lectures them at how underserving the new recruits are to be standing in front of a flag with 343 firefighter’s names on it. He goes on to tell them how those 343 men fell as heroes on 11 September 2001. Just as in Tommy’s dream of Lou’s eulogy, they could have fled for safer ground but instead, they went in to save lives, even though it cost theirs.
I am truly amazed at the acting talent in this show. There are a few big names but many are unknown. This episode was written by the show’s creator’s Denis Leary and Peter Nolan. The series began airing in 2004. Each episode gives an insight of what a firefighter deals with in his day to day job, the calls he goes on, the stress he goes under, and the emotional impact it has on each firefighter. Not to mention, every other episode 11 September 2001 is brought up and how many men gave their lives. Each fire house has a small memorial, a plaque hanging on the wall, with those names of the fallen. Each firefighter in the show has each had some emotional connection to the tragedy. Some of them lost brothers, cousins, and or best friends. Some of them were even there at Ground Zero helping out.
I have really enjoyed watching the show and continue to re-watch each episode on DVD. My grandfather was a firefighter and retired after twenty five years of service. I can understand what a firefighter goes through and commend them each on their service and braveness. I also had a small participation in the tragedy. I was stationed on board the USS George Washington CVN 73 as it was ordered by President Bush to make haste to New York’s harbor. We arrived later that night and patrolled the harbor for several days.
The language of this television show may not be suitable for children, but I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a fast-paced drama TV show.