Great Actors: Callie Thorne

A couple of years ago, when I wrote a post entitled “Bad Actors: Tina DiJoseph,” which was dedicated to the “Medium” actress who plays Lynn DiNovi, a few readers (mostly her friends and family) said I was “negative” and “cruel,” but I just call ’em like I see ’em.

And when I watched this week’s episode of “Rescue Me,” I saw one of the best performances I’ve seen in a long time. I’ve admired Callie Thorne’s work on the show since the start, and now that her (wonderfully nutty) character, Sheila, is no longer dating and/or sleeping with Tommy Gavin, she hasn’t gotten as much screen time over the past couple of seasons, and the show has suffered because of it. (Don’t get me wrong — this season has been great, but there was a stretch there when I was wondering if the creators had a plan to wrap things up.)

Anyway, on this week’s episode, appropriately titled “Sheila,” Thorne is a tour de force. Her first scene is with her son, Damien (played by Michael Zegen), and the two are having lunch in a restaurant discussing Damien’s decision to become a fireman instead of finishing his studies at NYU. Sheila is understandably concerned and frustrated with this decision, and she hides those emotions for a while under the guise of “new Sheila.” But when Damien insists that Tommy guide him through the academy (instead of Mike the Probie), she flips out and goes on a minute-long rant about how spoiled and ungrateful he is.

Later on, she’s at the firehouse and runs into Tommy. She starts off by not speaking to him (because she’s angry about his failure to tell her about the news footage that proved that her husband died in the second tower, not the first), but with Tommy being Tommy the two start to argue. She goes off on him for being a closed-off prick and punctuates the scene by kneeing him in the balls.

Finally — and this scene is really the kicker — Sheila does an interview for a French journalist about what was going through her mind on 9/11. The revelation that her husband died in the second tower almost has a calming effect on her, and she dives into a four-minute monologue that is as touching, emotional and well-acted as any four minutes that I’ve seen in a long time.

For the first few seasons, I was rooting for Tommy and Sheila to end up together, mainly because I wanted to see her character find happiness, but now I hope she finds it somewhere else. It’s clear that Tommy just isn’t loyal or dependable enough for her, and her story arc this season has been about her exploration into why she is (or was?) so obsessed with him. Yes, Sheila has her flaws — after all, she drugged and (pretty much) raped Tommy and almost killed him in the house fire — but, hey, she just has a lot of love to give, right?

Unfortunately, the episode isn’t up on Hulu yet, but it’s an Emmy worthy performance, so catch it if you can.

  

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