There's something to be said for an opening and closing scene centered on Ground Zero.
While 9/11 has been a huge focus for the show itself, it has remained mostly as a part of conversation and discussion. Therefore, seeing the empty space where the towers once stood enhanced the sentiments about that particular day in a way that was both quietly poignant and dramatically tragic.
From the panning shot of Tommy and the gang's silent stares at the site during the day, to the overhead view at night, the visual was perfect. There was and still is a hole in the United States.
It's that emptiness that aligns perfectly with Tommy's never ending struggle to fill his own void. He's had multiple attempts, of course, from sleeping with his cousin's wife to turning to alcohol, but the fact remains that the particular hole inside him hasn't dissipated.More importantly, and one of the best speeches of the episode, was Lou's exclamation that Tommy wasn't the only one affected by 9/11. The truth is that he, too, and all of the other firefighters who responded to the attack, have become "zombies" in a way. They've all gone back to their regular routines in an attempt to return things to how they used to be, but in the end it doesn't matter because a piece of them died on that day.
It's an interesting statement because it not only illustrated Tommy acting selfishly in his coping mechanisms, but that just because one doesn't constantly talk about the tragic experience doesn't mean that there isn't an emptiness inside.
That's one of the biggest problems that Tommy has: thinking he can fix it. Reading Jimmy's private note to Sheila (a huge no-no) and even writing his own letters really only served to make himself feel better.
Why not simply tell everyone that he truly cares, now, when it matters? That's what he should be doing.
Does Tommy maybe wish that he could be in Jimmy's place? Perhaps, but I took Jimmy's nod during the 9/11 vision to mean, "You don't really want to be where I am." I think Tommy recognized that and that's why he handed over the booze and drove away.
It doesn't mean that the hole inside is gone. It doesn't mean that he'll forget his fallen firefighter brothers. It does mean that Tommy has taken another step in listening to others and slowly, ever so slowly, crawling his way towards something good.
In the end, this should be the season about Tommy discovering his way, finding his redemption, and focusing on what he does have rather than what he does not.
And maybe Tommy's gripe over a lack of memorializing for the fallen firefighters will end, too. Yeah, it sucks big time that there isn't anything to fill the spot. I agree. Yet Chief Feinberg's comments about memorializing people through your heart, your stories, and your mind, was the right response. There's more to remembering than just concrete and steel.
I'm glad it's all starting to dawn on Tommy, even if it's taken him a long time.
Aside from the drama heavy focus, "344" did manage to squeeze in a few comedic scenes, mostly at the expense of Sean. It really was a laugh out loud moment to see him don the gas mask after sex with Emily. Even the juvenile scribbling on a fellow firefighter's forehead was good for a chuckle.
And really, that is the beauty of Rescue Me.
One moment, there's laughing and jokes about farting and private parts... then within mere seconds everything is turned on its head. It's a complicated twist and mixture of humor and drama that continues to prove why it's a show to be watching, even in its final hours.
Sean McKenna was a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. He retired in May of 2017. Follow him on Twitter.