Monday, May 20, 2024

Warring Siblings and Hopeless Drunks Give an Emotional Mid-season on Shameless

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Okay. So I know I said that if this show didn’t end up making a drawn out family conflict from the situation with the church between Fiona and Ian, I would be kind of upset with the series lack of central conflict. I’m just going to come out and say it: they did just that, and I should keep to my word and be upset.

But I can’t because this was one of the best episodes of this season.

Though the family drama was short lived, like the whole meth plot, it was carefully used not only make us want to choose a side, but to give us some serious character development and untold mysteries behind certain characters motives. This really felt like an older episode and that renews my hope in the series.

More episodes like this could make me feel as though this still has a lot to offer, even as all the characters get older and move farther apart from one another. This has been an issue I’ve thought about even before I began writing these reviews. Granted, an end should be in the near-ish future. But by the time it comes, fans should be able to look back at every single season and say, “Wow, that was a really great show.”


The episode opens hilariously with Fiona getting awoken by a tub of iced water courtesy of Ian while, Carl and Deb argue about the pointlessness of their squabble downstairs. At the same time Frank gets ready to try and regain employment but for a higher position that he is obviously not qualified for. Lip babysits Brad as he becomes more and more self pitying. On the filler end of the episode, Kev starts to watch domination porn in order to help with V’s domination fetish.

Operation occupy Fiona commences

As mentioned a few episodes ago, Youens has his court hearing for driving into someone’s home, drunk. Brad is being used as a witness for Youens’s case of sobriety, but he can barely even get dressed without crying about forgetting his wife’s birthday. Lip offers to take him to get a gift if he’ll hurry up and get ready. In this case, Youens is nowhere to be found and Brad tells Lip he can’t lie about Youens being in regular attendance at AA meetings, since it would defeat their purpose. Carl’s enterprise of brutal rehab gets some new members, not all of which are very happy to be held against their will, including a girl named Cassidy who has quite the attitude on her.

Debbie deals with the consequences of her little trip at her job considering she didn’t show up to work for an entire weekend without telling anyone. In return she gets to handle a doctor whose basically looks horribly down on her and just acts like an overall dick. Frank continues his job search with ridiculous needs and expectations, only to find out what it’s really like to hold a job that doesn’t pay minimum wage in this country. Fiona tries harder to make her apartment more hipster so she could raise the rate when Nessa tells her one of her doors is stuck; this leads to her calling an Irish man to fix it and Nessa discovers that Ian and Trevor’s kids are egging the building. Ian got temporary occupancy of a vacant lot right next to the building and the kids build a tent town to try and deface the value of the apartments…complete with a latrine as close to the windows as possible. Lip finds Youens in his house, passed out in his own vomit, pretty much devoid of all hope that he’s not going to do some serious jail time.

Brad and Youens end up looking like a mess as they try to get him ready for the case. Lip is running up a steep hill trying to get these two dysfunctional alcoholics to help one another out, a theme that will remain for the rest of the episode. The occupy Fiona movement has begun and Trevor brings up that Ian is using his kids again, but for a family squabble. This time however, Ian is ready and justifies the actions by stating they’re fighting for the home they were denied by defacing her property value and combating gentrification. Kev continues to try and get things more dominant with V, but is too much of a softie and ends up using his own safe word because he doesn’t cause her pain.

Fiona meets Nessa’s wood guy, Ford, and he can’t in good faith replace the broken door frame because of its history. He offers to fix it for free rather than get rid of it. He then gets to see the occupy Fiona movement while she rants to a complete stranger. It’s not until V shows up that we realize that Fiona may find him attractive. Lip brings Brad to Cammy (well to her sidewalk) to let him say happy birthday for from 40 feet away, and she tells Lip he’s not allowed home until he’s thirty days sober. Cassidy convinces Carl to use her as a fake hostage to reap money from her rich father as a ransom.

The court case finally begins and Youens assures Lip that he knows what he has to say; he doesn’t want to go to jail. The woman whose house he hit milks an injury that we clearly didn’t see her get in order to generate sympathy, while Brad kind of ruins the AA portion and sobriety proof for the case and makes it that much harder for a softer sentence.

Meanwhile, Debbie makes the asshole Doctors life hell by acting stupid and he gets so frustrated that he manually removes the paring lot barrier with his bare hands. The occupy Fiona movement reaches new heights when Ian calls the fire department telling them her building is not up to code and the inspection is expensive. Lip does his best to make Youens look good by telling the story of his own sobriety issues and how the professor paid for his rehab. He heart warmingly ends his testimony by asking the court to give him the chance that Youens gave him. Yet, Youens ruins everything by having snuck in some booze, and is obviously very drunk by the time he’s called to the stand. Self destruction at its finest.

Fiona plays by Ian’s game and bribes all the street kids with free pizza in the city park and she pays them each twenty dollars to go eat it. With this she hires some Mexican laborers to clear the lot and throw out all their tents and belongings. Frank discovers the plight of laid off white men all trying to seek the same employment as managers…only they’re actually qualified. This in turn brings Frank back into drinking, which surprisingly presents itself with an opportunity. He’s going to help a middle eastern family from deportation by sneaking them into Canada, while smuggling in Canadian medicine that’s cheaper such as Insulin and Epi-Pens. Carl gets his tuition from Kassadi’s father and he gives her the warning that she’s done this over and over and that she’s toxic.

Fiona and Ian finally come to face-to-face to end the fight, but Fiona at least tries to take some of the blame. She even tells Ian and Trevor that she found them another place that Margot would be willing to lease to them, though for Ian it’s about the principle. It looks like it has become less about the building and more about the fight, especially when Trevor asks about the place but Ian shuts it down. At this point Fiona brings up his bi-polar disorder and asks if he’s been taking his meds, leading to a violent outburst that scares her. Trevor signs the lease and also confronts Ian about his meds as well.

Lip confronts Youens before he’s taken away about his actions at the case and Youens brings up the similar argument that he should stop trying to help people who don’t want to be helped. Youens is completely gone at this point.

By the end of the episode, Kev finally gets his dominant streak by yelling at V for screwing up certain things, and they use that to have some hilarious angry sex. Kassidi uses her wiles just as her father said she would; she seduces Carl to let her stay with him…sexually. Lip strains his broken spirit to still try and be there for Brad, who notices and shows appreciation. Ian and Fiona share a moment of family again but we’re left with the notion that something may truly be wrong with Ian, whether or not it’s caused by his disorder. Debbie exacts her revenge by welding a dumpster to dick Doctor’s care, effectively firing herself.

This is why he’s earned that name


Surprisingly, this one showed a lot of emotion. It’s not that the series is lacking in it usually—far from—but this season so far has definitely not hit us with a lot of moments where we can sit and empathize with our characters on a particularly personal level. The most heartbreaking aspect here was Youens’s botched case.

Even if during the case itself we could see it maybe going the either way, once we learned he was drunk, that’s when we knew he had lost any hope he could have had. We really can’t blame Brad for not being able to lie on account for him because he still has faith in the system that AA gives. Sure he’s going through a rough patch, but he’s got a goal to strive for. He wants to get his wife and daughter back and therefore he knows he needs to get sober, so his needs directly influence his wants. Youens, as mentioned by himself many times, has nothing. His family all abandoned him, his tenure in jeopardy and his life in the balance. Even his savior in Lip is unwanted, and as he tells Lip himself, he choose booze a long time ago. Addiction is real and it’s a terrifying force to be reckoned with; we see it crumble one man and put extreme pressure on Lip, who we see begin to doubt again. But as Brad said earlier in the season, ‘you help yourself by helping others.’

This is what hopelessness looks like

Fiona and Ian’s fight was the highlight of the episode, even if it wasn’t as drawn out as I thought it would be. It obviously isn’t going to encompass the rest of the season, but it opened up something else. Since his diagnosis and an extremely dark part of his life, Ian has been getting better every day. This is the first time in a long while that we’ve seen anyone bring up his meds, and watching made me feel taken aback by an overgeneralization of mental illness, while at the same time understanding that Ian has been acting oddly in wanting to continue the conflict. A single statement towards the end of the episode makes us wonder what is really going with him and what this is going to mean for future episodes. “…not when there are larger concerns to consider”, could mean a lot of things coming from someone struggling with depression and bi-polar disorder, especially when said in as a sad an pensive mood as Ian was.

A lot of things have happened to him recently, especially his last goodbye to long-time lover Mickey. We noticed that he never really let that sink in. Sure, he took it in stride because of his feelings towards Trevor, but was it truly what he wanted? There’s always a fine line between what we want and what is good for us, and more often than not they don’t intersect. Could this be Ian finally starting to realize just what that choice meant to him? Could he not be taking his meds again and becoming more and more emotional the longer he is away from them? Only time will tell.

This look really makes me worry about Ian

As for the criticisms of this episode, there aren’t many. Kev, V, Debbs, and Carl are still kind of appearing as mostly filler but it is becoming lessened to make more room for the emotional and significant time used for the bigger plots of the season. I’d like to see more consequences from Debbie’s new lifestyle and more emphasis on how Carl is going to pay for the rest of his time at military school; considering he only gathered enough money for a single semester. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what the remaining six episodes will bring.

Images courtesy of Showtime

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