Every season on Rescue Me they have at least one firefighting scene that transcends television viewing. Last night's opening scene is the one that tops them all. Truck 62's reputation of being the heroes' heroes is laid on the line from the start as babies and toddlers are being thrown from a third story window by a desperate mother. The situation eerily echoes Toni Morrison's novel Beloved, as a mother decides which death she wants her children to endure. It's this decision of a parent to take drastic matters into her own hands which helps factor into the episode's cliffhanger of an ending.
The scene was set hauntingly against the stark backdrop of The Twilight Singers' song "The Lure Would Prove Too Much," which has singer Greg Dulli blurring the lines between desire for an old flame and the drugs he thinks he desperately needs. It's themes like this that make Dulli one of Denis Leary's favorite artists (and a good drinking buddy). And as the camera panned over the seven tiny cloaked bodies lined up on the sidewalk, I instinctively picked up my sleeping one month-old baby to hold throughout the rest of the episode.
The "baby fire" (as it's quickly christened by the local news media) has repercussions both surprising and (understandably) dark. Lou finds that he now wants to have children, and because his ex-nun girlfriend hates children, they're breaking it off (Lou's apparently already eaten all her edible panties anyway). Meanwhile, Alicia's back in town (which means more Susan Sarandon!) with Franco's daughter, and the fire has him thinking of finding a way to have his daughter back in his life permanently (even at the expense of his engagement to Natalie).
But the real aftermath, and the plot point the series has been building towards, is with Tommy (Leary) and his (still unnamed at six months old) son. Or rather, as everyone in the family has now accepted, his brother's son (why no one's bothering to take a test to find out for sure is beyond me). Tommy's already wrestling with religion, convinced since 9/11 that God is absent from the proceedings. He's also habitually reading his Hazelden 24-Hours a Day prayer book. So when cousin (and defrocked priest) Mickey offers that God might have been sparing those children from a far worse fate, it gets Tommy thinking about Sheila's offer to take the baby. Postpartum Janet's still stuck to the sofa, getting Baby to sleep with a Benadryl and Jameson cocktail, so maybe the child would be better off somewhere else (or perhaps Tommy needs to take some vacation days and get Janet some mental help, but don't get me started).
Left alone with Baby, Tommy decides to take a ride to the Hudson to think and there he is confronted by his brother Johnny's ghost, who encourages him to put the poor kid out of his misery. As Amy Winehouse's "Some Unholy War" plays in the background, Tommy envisions what life would be like for the child with Sheila, then with Janet, and then picks up Baby and dangles him over the railing, like Jacko in Germany. We're meant to think that Tommy might do it, and it might be that I still had my young son in my lap, but I didn't believe it for a second. Amy doesn't believe it either, as she echoes my sentiments by singing "I refuse to let him go." Back to Black indeed.
Previously: All Hail the Jew Chief (Episode 405)
More: Whatever happens with Baby, Janet's not happy, as the previews have her knocking Tommy out with a frying pan to the head.