Rescue Me Series Finale Review: Gone But Never Forgotten

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After seven years and 93 episodes, the firefighter doors of the fantastic television show, Rescue Me, have fittingly closed - mere days before the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

It was a drama that focused on aftermath of such a tragic event and the ways in which its characters struggled to overcome obstacles and simply live out some form of a normalcy. Love, sex, life, and death were key themes that surrounded the crew of Truck 62, and, even at the end, "Ashes" managed to uphold the show's particular style and pace in effortlessly blending drama and comedy.

Rescue Me Series Finale Pic

The episode's introductory tease/fake out sequence continued the somber and mournful attitude that last week's "Vows" ended on. Even though it was only a dream, there was still an emotional moment in watching those flag laden coffins moved down the church's center aisle.

Lou's heartfelt speech about bravery and heroism made the moment that much sweeter and I believed every word he spoke. "I shall see you on the other side," struck a chord that made the dialogue more sincere and honest. It was a far better scene than the ones in "Jeter."

As much as it was sad that Lou was the chosen character to meet his death, he was also the right character to push the others forward towards something positive. He really was a glue that kept them all together.

It was his letter to the guys that expressed the positivity in each of them and allowed them to reconsider staying at the house. Sure, all of them carried their own specific flaws, but working together made them something special. It was a letter that got to Lou's core and illustrated the bond that they had created and has made watching them all these years worthwhile.

Of course, using a sappy and overly mournful funeral sequence just wasn't the show's style. In fact, Lou's exploding ashes in the car was so darkly wrong, it made it so truly right.

I couldn't stop laughing at the sheer ridiculousness of it all and the crazy discussion on how to fix the problem. Red velvet cake to replace the ashes? Only Tommy and the gang could come up with that brilliant idea.

The absurdity of such an event didn't detract, either. Rather, it enhanced the moment and kept the feelings real, no matter how exaggerated or outrageous the circumstances. It was just another prime example of the show's ability to go to the extreme, express that life isn't perfect, and move forward despite all the ups and downs.

I was very pleased that Tommy un-retired (despite his humorous attempts at being Mr. Mom) simply because firefighting is his calling. His final speech to the brand new probies was reminiscent of a similar moment in the very first episode at the exact same location.

This time, Tommy has clearly grown. He knows that you can't drink or screw your way to understanding why people die or don't die. Life happens. Death happens. And in the profession of the firefighter, it's bound to happen a lot.

Even his reiteration of remembering the fallen 343 on 9/11 was an emotional backdrop. Each thought and sentence Tommy spoke flowed together perfectly as if fitting all of the final puzzle pieces together. It was the ideal way to close out the show.

Indeed, Tommy has come a long way before finally being "rescued" and he's managed to find that glimmer of light, even if he still doesn't understand why certain things happen. After all, it's a far better place than being swallowed by the fires of grief and despair.

Imagine if the show really did end with Tommy dying or never overcoming his demons. It would send a rather bleak and despairing message about life.

This rather hopeful ending not only concluded what's been a great seven years, but illustrated that any character can grow, no matter how flawed. Life goes on. Sure, Tommy still sees ghosts, but his outlook is far more pleasant than damaging.

It's great to see him find the right path.

Could I say that I was disappointed that the rest of the characters' storylines seemed to wrap up quickly or disappear (Chief Feinberg's Alzheimer's perhaps?) or that Tommy delivering Janet's baby was too unreal even if it did bring them together? Sure, but nitpicks like that get away from the heart and core of the greater story that Rescue Me aced with blazing glory.

In the end, it's a bittersweet feeling knowing it's all over. Yet, one thing remains for sure: Rescue Me will never be forgotten.


Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (106 Votes)

Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.


I love this series and am sad it's over. Finally watched it all on DVD.
What are you doing now Denis???


I loved every second of it. True, epic show finale. I laughed and cried at the same time. Not every show was able to achive that. Thanks to the creators and wonderful cast, Rescue Me will truly be missed...


We didn't see Jimmy, I believe, because Tommy didn't drink AT ALL in the Finale. But we saw Lou, which I loved but doesn't fit with the show logic. "Hey guys, tell them I'm not taking a shit..." (total silence)


I was about to be angry at the fakeout dream. It was too on the nose, and I knew it couldn't be true. The promos were too fakey, (especially Janet collapsing) and the scene that told me that many survived was Feinberg and Needles saluting...It was just too sombre for this show....It was a rip off and was a lousy cheat....
...But things got better with everything else. The "Blue Shovel" incident I would have had myself, and may have one day, cause those folks is nuts. Lou's ashes and the car incident was similar to something that ACTUALLY HAPPENED to me once with my Mom's ashes, so was pretty funny (No, I didn't have to wiggle Mom ash outta my crack....Love you, Mom. She'd find it funny)
There were lots of plot threads left dangling I agree. Feinberg's Alzheimer's was a big one because they brought it in, themselves, this season. Shawn's smelly wife, I thought. Mike's search for happiness, I thought. Instead they went for increasingly more douche baggy Franco getting a promotion. I expected some call backs, but was okay that they didn't do them (you'd think Lou's ex wife would show, for instance, or Laura.)... I don't completely buy the fast turnaround that the family had because Tommy had shovel issues. What did they think he was going to do, take pottery classes and learn "Downward Facing Dog"? That was overly convenient, I thought. And Sheila's pay off was lousy. Kudos, again, to an actor who has to play almost an entire season doing nothing but sitting in a chair, as well. After all was said and done though, I think it was a pretty good Non Ending Ending. Those are good in shows because you can imagine that those characters are still having adventures that you don't get to see. I prefer that far FAR more than "Everybody dies". That speech brought a tear, even though I KNEW Lou would be sitting in the truck. I was hoping to see Jimmy too, though. I'm really going to miss this show. Franco's gonna be an asshole Lieutenant. Douchebags. I thought it was a decent ending.


I think it was a horrible episode. I loved Lou. I thought that everything with his ashes was awful, and not at all funny. up until last season it was the best show on TV. but these last tos easons have just been sad.


I absolutely LOVED the finale! The whole episode was amazing, except for when Janet went into labor out of the clear blue. But, the scene when Lou's ashes blew all around was so twisted it was funny. And, if you all paid attention, when Lou said "Go Tommy! We'll be all right," he was referring to Tommy trying to find an escape route, which he did after the building blew up. Needles said it was a miracle Tommy got them out. But, I'm assuming the kids stuck in the building died.


Who survived?????? The ending was ambiguous--is it up to the viewers to determine the ending? I'm disappointed with the final episode of such a fine series.


That scene in the truck with the ashes and the follow up including correct use of the word vortex and getting caught with pants down was the funniest thing I have scene on tv in a long time.


I am so sorry to see this show end. Denis Leary's dark humor has always been the way Tommy Gavin dealt with his life. Of course there were unbelievable scenes with Lou's ashes and the baby being born but I think one thing was made perfectly clear when Tommy was at the park with the children and all the rules these people had. There was no way in hell he could be just a regular guy and retire. The rush of life or death every day outweighed stupid things like sharing toys in a park. Firefighting was his calling. I agree with Brian in regards to Lou telling Tommy to go and they will be alright. I think it was in reference to 9/11 and Lou made that decision for them both. Unrealistically, how could Lou be the only one who dies in that rooftop explosion? But I think was a great opener and almost had me in tears thinking they all died but Lou until Leary opens his eyes. And when he went to the desk to write his retirement papers the devil was placed before him, alcohol. It was a great scene because I believed it at first, but so glad it turned out the way it did. He was Rescued...


What a great episode to end on and a great review of it. Incredible balance of drama and comedy which has what the show has been all about. After watching shitty after shitty episode for the last two or three seasons, some how the last episode made them all worth watching. To answer Brian, somewhere I read that Denis Leary did the whole show to commemorate the FDNY on 9/11 and he wanted to reiterate that on the last ep. Definitely saw the parallelism between each event. Who knows, maybe "Go! Go! We'll be all right" was said on that day.

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Rescue Me Season 7 Episode 9 Quotes

Black Shawn: I'm thinking I got to find a nice little Korean lady with little small fingers to get down here and get that itch, you know?
Mike: Or a baby.
Black Shawn: Say what?
Mike: Babies have small fingers.
Sean: Korean babies. Even smaller fingers.

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, or to move deeper knowing the danger, knowing that two young people, innocent kids, were crying out for help, for my men, to save them. We all know which choice they made. These men, these five extraordinary human beings will forever live in my heart and in the memory of all who knew them and in the public records of this great city as heroes, the bravest of the brave, I shed no tears. I cry out not in agony. I beseech the sky not in anger but with pride and a voice that is strong and clear. I am a better man and we are all better people for having known them. Good night, my dear friends, my five unforgettable brothers. I shall see you on the other side.