Shameless, ‘Drugs Actually’ review: Not just any bottle

“Every single man, woman and child should experience a single malt before their time is up.” 

It doesn’t matter if you have a plan in life. Either you’ll get to change your plan when situations change because of life, or your plan will become obsolete or redundant because your partner in crime has already enacted the first part.

So maybe you get two cuban cigars instead. 

In ‘Drugs Actually,’ showrunner John Wells has created an episode that can act as a de facto microcosm of this fifth season. We’ve walked right up to that edge but now we’re back—and Showtime is closing this fifth season of Shameless on a stellar note.

Likewise, many of the show’s characters walk right up to the edge in this penultimate episode.

Frank Gallagher (played by William H. Macy) and Dr. Bianca (played by Bojana Novakovic) do so literally of course. In the latter’s ongoing quest to try any and every kind of sin and drugs that she had avoided up to this day, Frank is more than happy to tag along. And yet, it’s when this quest becomes one and the same as that of feeling alive that the elder Gallagher is hesitant. He likes to feel alive by being alive after all, not by climaxing on the train tracks just as the train arrives.

There is no perfect way to say it, but we think that Frank is somewhat adorable with the way he slowly and clearly understands that he has feelings for Bianca. His decision, after they both smoked crack, to tell Bianca’s family where they were was sweet in that sense. The odds of survival are low, but that doesn’t mean that they maybe shouldn’t try to extend the fun for a few months, no?

Yet, this is Bianca’s decision, the same way that it is her decision to flee to Costa Rica with Diego Mustafa. After last week’s events in ‘South Side Rules,’ Ian Gallagher (played by Cameron Monaghan) also walks right up to that edge and has to confront the possibility that he may face a court-martial for three fairly serious accusations. (I do find it odd that he could have spent up to five years in jail for going AWOL on the Army… when, you know, he enrolled under a false name so how could he go AWOL? But yeah, I have nothing against the destruction of federal property and falsification of government I.D.)

In the end, Ian leaves the Army base as a free man, though that might depends who you ask. The rest of his family would say that while no one wants to see Ian before a court-martial, no one wants to see him taken care of by his mother Monica. Can they really blame him, however? His siblings said everything they had to say to portray him as a danger to himself, which has to sting. Maybe Ian just wants to be with someone who understands him now.

Lip Gallagher (played by Jeremy Allen White) attends a party just down the street from where he grew up, in that “sh tty neighbourhood” though it might as well be a universe away.

The world keeps leaving gifts at the bright young man’s feet and, for once, he seems willing to pick them up. It has barely happened before, but Lip finally understands that it’s okay to let people help you in this world.

His sister Fiona Gallagher (played by Emmy Rossum), who couldn’t quite decide who and what she wanted out of life last week, sure appears to be less torn in ‘Drugs Actually.’ She has a date of sorts with Sean (played by Dermot Mulroney) even though her husband Gus Pfender has told her that he will play a show in Chicago just a few days later.

For once, Fiona manages to walk right up to that edge of love and sex and to pull back without crossing it, instead dancing the night away at Patsy’s Pies. It’s clearly a nice date and, though she seems torn with her choice, we know better. A date, after all, is the first step to a relationship in a way that sex isn’t. We can only hope that Sean knows the chaos that awaits him and, judging from that scene in the bathroom, he seems to know. For better or worse.

In the end, one other character who did walk right up to that edge only to fall on the other side is Sammi Gallagher (played by Emily Bergl). She’s dead, but she’ll sorely be missed. We’d say something else if the character had a better heart.