'Rescue Me' begins its endgame

rescue-me-season-6-320.jpg"Rescue Me" will begin its sixth season Tuesday (June 29), with one more season after that before the show finishes its run.

For viewers, anyway. The show finished shooting earlier this month. FX set an end date for the series last year, and co-creator Peter Tolan says the knowledge that would be all was "liberating."

"It was just easier," Tolan says. "First of all, you're much more careful because you're like, this is it. There's not going to be anything after this, so this better be god***n great. You have a responsibility to your characters and all that. That's a big part of it.

"Also, we had made a decision last year, when we were doing all those episodes, of what the final episode was going to be. ... It really helps you to have an end. The combination of being more protective of the show since it's the last few episodes and knowing exactly what you're writing to -- some people might find that constricting, but it was really very good for us, and I think the show is much more focused than it sometimes has been in the past."

The remaining 19 episodes will play out over two seasons, with 10 airing this summer and the final nine coming sometime next year. Tolan says he, co-creator/star Denis Leary and the other writers constructed the final two seasons as one big arc, but there will still be "a very big story point" at the end of this season.

"We said [with] this long journey, let's have a positive outcome, because you don't want to have -- the question of the series is, Can a guy who goes through a life change in an awful event come through to the other side with an appreciation for life and living and what's important? Or is it going to consume him? Obviously you want the positive response to that. Otherwise the audience will say, 'Why did I hang around for seven years?'"

Which isn't to stay that Leary's character, Tommy Gavin, will just skip into the sunset. "A person can make that choice," Tolan says, "but then it's up to fate to decide whether or not it's going to be easy for them or difficult for them. So at the end of the sixth season, there's a large event that happens that complicates the choice."

Tuesday's season premiere picks up pretty much where Season 5 left off, with Tommy lying on the floor of a bar after being shot. There's some chilling imagery in the opening scenes (some of which is in the behind-the-scenes video below, so skip that if you don't want to be spoiled), and the show retains its ability to be both brilliant and maddening, sometimes in the same episode. But the end date does seem to have given it a little momentum, and if you've been away for a while, it's relatively easy to jump back in.

Below is a clip from the second episode, followed by a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the new season.





"Rescue Me's" season premiere is at 10 p.m. ET Tuesday on FX.

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Photo credit: FX

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