Shameless, ‘Carl’s First Sentencing’ review: Death, taxes and Frank Gallagher

“You have not lived until you’ve heard the bones of your enemy crushed under 3,000 lbs. of Detroit steel.”

The world and the lives we live in it are both messy.

We make plans and have dreams, but those are constantly reassessed as the days, weeks, months and years pass by. Maybe one day you want to go to prom with this one guy, he asks you out and you say yes. Then at the prom, that one guy turns out to be a huge a-hole and sleeps with a friend of yours.

Until one day, you’re 32 and you decide that payback is due—breaking a nose never felt so right.

In ‘Carl’s First Sentencing,’ showrunner John Wells creates an episode that is true to real life and is messy and loaded with material. It’s great for real life but in television, this makes for an episode that is at times sloppy and messy.

Yet, the best part of this hour is probably the interaction between Frank Gallagher (played by William H. Macy) and Dr.  Bianca (played by Bojana Novakovic). In a rare (lone?) instance of altruism, Frank is thrilled and genuinely happy to serve as Bianca’s mentor in her newfound desire for debauchery and substance abuse.

Bianca is sick, with stage three pancreatic cancer and low odds of survival, and decides that Frank’s “carpe diem” BS is just the right medication for her. Ever the opportunist, he jumps at the chance to teach a suddenly kindred spirit the ways of laissez-faire and how to do “something completely irresponsible.”

In a twist that hasn’t fully soaked in yet, Frank appears to… grow fond of this doctor? Could Frank, the sorriest of sorry excuses of a human being the Shameless viewers have been used to, could he also be capable of enacting some good in this world? Woah.

Fiona Gallagher (played by Emmy Rossum) is also left scrambling, with her two prospective men, respectively, gone AWOL (i.e. Jimmy/Steve/Jack) and gone on tour (i.e. Gus Pfender).

She decides to go back to the one role she knows best, helping and taking care of her younger siblings. (After all, she is their legal guardian.) In the process, she throws down with the by now awful Sammi Gallagher (played by Emily Bergl) and manages to rid the Gallagher manor of her annoying presence, redeeming herself in the eyes of us viewers.

But of course, you can’t help everyone because not everyone wants help. Some, like her brother Carl Gallagher (played by Ethan Cutkosky), just want to be Pablo Escobar. And in the process, they go full retard.

Chuckie loses his appeal as the kind soul who is simply too good to ever question or speak when an IQ test reveals that he is functionally imbecile. He needs all the help he can get and, much to the dismay of his lawyer, his mother Sammi represents that help. She helps the only way that she knows how, which is to say that she gives him terrible advice on how to make friends in juvie and then draws a swastika on his forehead so that he can, erm, stand out and be picked from a crowd.

Kevin Ball also scrambles to fit in at college and, especially, to do some good. His obligations as the ‘Rape Walker’ take priority but soon he battles his conscience over 1) how to justify walking girls to their dorms so that they’re not take advantage of sexually and then taking advantage of them sexually and 2) how none of these girls is Veronica. And in the end, he comes to his senses because the heart always knows best.

After his stellar performance and cunning introspection in last week’s ‘Uncle Carl,’ Lip Gallagher (played by Jeremy Allen White) continues scrambling for money to pay tuition and a way to stay in college. He just wants another chance to showcase himself, after all. And as he’s learned in class, he questions everything, even when a benefactor decides to settle his debt after his plea apparently found a home in the registrar’s office. Lip has always done all the heavy lifting, since when does the world pick you up?

Finally, Mickey Milkovich (played by Noel Fisher) and Ian Gallagher (played by Cameron Monaghan) are scrambling for an answer, any type of answer—because there is no magic bullet and “30, 40 years” is so, so long.