Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Rescue Me

Rescue Me
Episode 7: Butterfly
By: Carlos Uribe

Rescue Me is about firefighters in New York City. It aired from 2004 until 2011 on FX.

Spoilers Ahoy!

Therapy has always been a popular profession for writers to develop their characters. It provides a perfect situation for a character to reveal what they are thinking without it seeming forced. The therapist can reveal his thoughts on the matter, often revealing new insights into a character. The issue is getting the character to talk to a therapist. On a normal show, that can easily be accomplished. Even if a character doesn't think that they need therapy, they can easily be forced by other characters to attend. This isn't a normal show in this case. The characters in this show have been shown to mock therapists and they seem like the kind of characters that wouldn't open up to them. In order for the writers to use therapy to develop the characters then it must find a way to get them to voluntarily open up while at the same time keeping it true to who the characters. This means that there's no actual therapy sessions in this episode. The poor therapist stuck hearing people's problems isn't paid for his time and it bothers his work. He offers no actual opinions on what he's told, but they do reveal what they are thinking.

For instance: Tommy. While Roger hasn't given up fighting to win back Janet, the relationship between the two is over. The slim chance that Roger had was dashed when Connor backed Tommy up in one of his lies. Roger is kicked to the curb and Janet is now alone. This leads Tommy to believe that even though he blew it at the end of last episode, he still has a chance of getting back together with Janet. It's through his talks with the shrink that Tommy reveals his belief that Janet is on the verge of taking him back. When she shows up drunk to his home, ready to have sex with him, this is only a further sign that they're going to get back together. He doesn't know whether he should sleep with her, and after asking the therapist he does. This ended up being the wrong decision and Janet has to tell him that they're not getting back together. This leads Tommy to venting out his frustration on the poor therapist. Tommy isn't willing to accept the blame that he took advantage of Janet but he blamed someone else for his failure. It was terrible advice from the therapist, but it's not like Tommy was actually a client of his. If anything it's the other way around as the therapist had hired Tommy and his crew to help build a porch for him.

Tommy's love life remains complicated. Janet sleeps with him but sends him confusing signals if they're going to get back together. Sheila shows up and even though they both don't want to admit it, they are attracted to each other. The ghost of Sheila's husband, Jimmy Keefe, almost discovers that the two have been making out. Tommy even comes out with a lie that it's some other guy whose been trying to get Sheila to move on. It's an interesting love triangle that the show has set up: a ghost who doesn't want his living wife to move on, the man he entrusted to watch over his wife, and a widow who hasn't completely gotten over his husband's death. This love triangle isn't taking into account the Janet-Tommy romance, which only makes things more twisted and more juicy. It'll be interesting to see how the show handles this moving on.

There's also another major development when Mike has a threeway with the life of the man that he saved and his fiance. Mike had fled that plot but it catches up with him in this episode. The man isn't cool that Mike just ditched them in the restaurant and forces him to go to his girlfriend's place to apologize. Mike goes but then quickly gets into bed with her. Everything seems to be going fine until he gets handcuffed into the bed. It quickly becomes a threeway. Mike feels violated since he didn't want the guy to join in. The story was handled well up until the point that the guy joined in. While I had called it, the way the series did it was a bit odd. It simply didn't feel organic and felt a bit forced by the episode's director.

Rescue Me had a pretty good episode and it used the character of the therapist to help guide Tommy towards his continual self-destruction. The episode hit a bit of a rough spot during the threeway sex scene but the build-up to that spot was well-done. I'm going to note that one of my favorite aspects of this show is the theme song. I'm not sure if I've commented on it before, but it fits the series very well and it helps to make the opening memorable. One critical aspect that many new shows seem to fail to realize is just how important an opening sequence can be. It can be the defining aspect of the show that helps people to recognize it.

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