"I couldn’t protect my triplets in utero, you better be damn sure I’ll protect my twins in the real world.”
The thing about life is, and this indeed talking meta, there’s always a morning after. There’s always a time when you wake up, when you have time to finally process everything that’s happened. And good Lord is there a lot for her to recap.
Once again this week, us viewers feel like Fiona. We’re waking up in the same bed that we always have but it’s weird because it comes just after the very best and most powerful of Shameless‘s life. But still, we wake up. We were eager to see where the show would take us after ‘Iron City,’ and it turns out we’re right back where we started. In our own bed, our own house and with the rest of the Gallaghers. Now, we only need to get rid of that damn admissions bracelet. These things are always so hard to rip off, and you just can’t ever flush them down.
In ‘Iron City,’ showrunner John Wells pursues what’s been the theme of this season—that the Gallaghers are growing up only so that they can become the ones who came before them.
The accident (and we’ll get back to this accident in a bit) that occurred in ‘There’s The Rub‘ means that Fiona Gallagher (played by Emmy Rossum) is becoming her father. Not by choice, of course, but that’s not the point. Fiona can’t go back to jail not just because you can’t relieve yourself in public—really, Fiona has never had problems like, oh I don’t know, a Wendy’s restaurant—but because that would mean she is Frank. That would mean that she has abandoned her family and that her family probably doesn’t need her as much as she would like to think. She never wants her family to have to “figure out what to call” her, which is what would happen if she goes to jail and explains why she pleads guilty. (Pleading guilty, ironically, further makes her Frank in that it prevents her from leaving the state of Illinois and holding most government jobs.)
Now, of course, guilty is precisely what Fiona is. She’s guilty of having left her white powder within grasp of her baby brother Liam, an unfortunate and terrible mistake but one she’s guilty of still. It was a mistake, but that doesn’t excuse anything—not all mistakes are created equal. Sometimes, it’s one moment, one mistake, that ruins your entire life because it could have ruined his entire life.
Thankfully for Fiona, if every mistake isn’t created equal, then neither is “every cocaine toxicity.” Not to delve too deep into this, but Fiona should be thankful that she got a progressive judge, a judge who doesn’t believe in the need of everyone to pay their life away with five years in a state prison. By the end of this episode, Fiona probably does fee like she got screwed in this negotiation but it could have been much worse. Because her case got assigned a judge who must be among Bunk Moreland’s favourites. We will paraphrase here—when it came time for the judge to fuck her she was gentle. She knew it was Fiona’s first time.
Does this all make Fiona like Frank? Hmm, let’s see…”This was a mistake,” “I can’t pay my life away,” yada yada… Yep, sure sounds like the man. And yet, maybe we forget that—what, 21 years old? Fiona has always been the dominant figure.Shameless isn’t a show about her per se, but it’s about her. She’s the pull, the force around which everyone else orbits. Except that this week, Shameless centered on her, but the characters didn’t. Fiona can’t go back to prison and it is true that she has never done anything for herself or that even when she has, like becoming her siblings’ legal guardian, it still was less about her fulfillment than theirs. But she could have made anything prior to this about her. She can’t start with this. Not now. Not when she is so guilty.
It’s not fair, but it doesn’t have to be.
And if Fiona is turning into Frank, then Lip Gallagher (played by Jeremy Allen White) is turning into Fiona. You sort of understand that Fiona and Frank once upon a time have had the exact same conversation that Lip and Fiona have in this week’s episode. Hell, Frank and Fiona have had it a few times already over the course of the show’s life, but these felt contrived. Rehearsed. Less authentic. But this week, Lip and Fiona have a discussion that stings deeply. It’s painful, for them and for us. It’s full of rage and despair. And we’d say poor Fiona, except that we don’t really mean it.
But Lip also loses #myguyyy points. In his case too, we tend to forget that he’s just a college in freshman. His decision to leave Liam with his roommate’s girlfriend, about whom he does know that she is from Miami, I’ll give him that, seems ill-advised at best especially as it comes because Lip doesn’t want to leave his brother with his older sister. That’s faulty logic or, rather, teenager logic. (Was it last week’s smoked ham Ramen that influenced Lip? Alas, we’ll never know.) Of course, nothing happens to Liam but that’s not the point. It’s the same as for Sammi (played by Emily Bergi)—the social worker didn’t show up, but her and Frank still get kicked out.
For a while this week, Lip understands that he could be the one to support his family and still make it. Good on him, so long as he doesn’t let the great studying experiment slide because his younger siblings need that example to look up to.
But maybe there is hope. Debbie Gallagher (played by Emma Kenney) is the one of the Three Love Musketeers that’s apparently not cut from the same skin, and this is great news. And it seems like Liam is apparently definitely not Carl. As for you, Carl Gallagher (played by Ethan Cutkosky), chin up. You can’t believe everything you read on the Internet. Plus, you reacted accordingly toward the two who were—no, not retards but something far worse—teenagers.
And yet, maybe our theory is unbelievably flawed. Frank Gallagher (played by William H. Macy) isn’t becoming anyone. “Screw them. I’ll light up anytime I want. I’ll blow smoke in their eyes until they cry if I feel like it.”
No one could have paved the way for someone so vile. And yet...