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Rescue Me's Finale: Why It Worked

09/08/2011 at 07:00 PM EDT

Rescue Me Finale Coincides with September 11 10-Year Anniversary
The series finale of a beloved TV show is like the last bite of a great dinner: You want all the flavors and complexities of the meal to blend together, creating that perfect note to end upon and savor.

It's a tall order.

So, as a longtime fan of FX's post-9/11 firefighter drama Rescue Me, I wondered whether the final episode could live up to such high hopes.

Turns out, the opening sequence alone was among the most satisfying of the entire series.

Of course, it only happened in Tommy Gavin's mind (damn you, Rescue Me, for toying with our emotions yet again!) but the funeral for five members of 62 truck was such a visually stunning, gut-wrenching scene, that I'll take it any way they want to spin it. And Jon Scurti's powerful, stirring eulogy for his crew as Lt. Ken "Lou" Shea was easily his most magnificent moment in seven seasons.

For a viewer who almost hoped that they'd kill Tommy Gavin in the end (how much more survivor's guilt could the poor guy live with?) I found myself pleasantly surprised by the peace and even optimism that came with Lou's death and Tommy's ninth life.

As with many notable series, there were times I'd feared that Rescue Me had jumped the shark and skewed too far from its early greatness. But the final two episodes helped bookend the series in all its glory. From the haunting fire scene in last week's episode, to the hilarity of the wedding, the ridiculous ashes debacle and the respect paid to the heroes of 9/11, the show wrapped just the way it should.

With the ghost of Lou in Tommy's truck and, finally, some semblance of peace for a man in need of rescue all along.

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