Shameless, ‘Emily’ review: Ruby Tuesdays

"That doesn’t mean I’m going to wear a dress.” 

Everywhere she looked, it was ugly. Obviously, this bus wasn’t “a sightseeing bus,” because sightseeing tends to be a treat for sore eyes. Fiona was heading to jail, and there was “nothing to see here,” like that old police cliché they use in movies.

This ‘Emily’ episode of Shamelessmight as well have been a sightseeing bus for the viewer. Not all of it was pretty, really, but with television the most impressive is often the scariest, most touching and the saddest.

And Mickey’s coming-out party was all of the above and much, much more. 

In ‘Emily,’ showrunner John Wells has everyone confront the lies they’ve told and that they’ve come to believe. It’s all part of growing up, and growing up, or down in some cases, has been the theme of this fourth season.

Mickey Milkovich (played by Noel Fisher) was the one who had been living the biggest lie of all—that of a homosexual young man who pretended to be straight and a “loving” husband to his prostitute-turned-wife Svetlana (played by Isidora Goreshter). Well, prompted by the ultimatum of Ian Gallagher (played by Cameron Monaghan), Mickey decides to make it official.

The two are a couple and they make the announcement in style at the Alibi for Mickey’s son’s post-christening party. Fresh out of prison on rehab, Terry doesn’t take to the news lightly and quickly goes on to accomplish what Svetlana threatened he would do if he learned that his son was gay—chop off his penis. They call it coming out for a reason, and that reason is you can choose whatever style you want to come out. Mickey and Ian decide to come out—how else?—swinging because while he may have “nice legs,” that “doesn’t mean (Mickey is) going to wear a dress.” It’s a remix of Slim Charles’s timeless classic, from The Wire. “If it’s a lie, then we fight on that lie. But we gotta fight.”

Fiona Gallagher (played by Emmy Rossum) gets 90 days to ponder the lies over. Her life fell apart this season and it can basically only go upward from where she is—she’s incarcerated, without her friends or family, and got assigned the bottom bed. And she’s not looking at anyone. In ‘There’s The Rub,’ Fiona explained that she didn’t think she deserved her life but maybe she wishes she could have a do-over on that. There’s more to her than just raising her siblings, which is good because she couldn’t do that for at least 90 days. In her absence, the Gallaghers are faring no worse, nor better, than usual. Maybe they don’t need Fiona quite as much as Fiona thinks?

You know who else doesn’t need the eldest of Gallaghers as much as anticipated? Us viewers. ‘Emily’ was an hour of quality television where she barely made an appearance—and somehow, against all odds, it worked. Once upon a time, Shameless, without being precisely about Fiona, at least centered on her. Not anymore. The ecosystem of the Gallagher house is self-sufficient, whether it gets its rays of the Fiona sun or not.

That’s the first lie that ‘Emily’ confronts us viewers with. The second is much more depressing.

The Debbie Gallagher (played by Emma Kenney) that we had come to love, who would steal from her UNICEF funds and create ridiculous rescue missions, is long gone. She was back momentarily, last week in ‘Liver, I Hardly Know Her,’ but it was short-lived—shorter than, even, her love story in this week’s episode.

In ‘Emily,’ the #ThreeLoveMusketeers are back, but Debbie seems to find an out. She seems to have a thing for older men and finds one who fits the bill of her prince charming. He’s perfect, he makes her laugh, likes her, even draws a portrait of her. They want to kiss, which is why they set up a place and time for that special first kiss. That’s what kids of their age do.

Well, kids her age also do other incredibly dumb and mean things. They promise $50 to a guy if he can convince you he likes you a lot, then rip your shirt open just as you lean in for a magical first kiss so that the rest of the seventh and eighth grades can take your photo and share it to Facebook, Twitter or other social media tools kids their age use.

The lies that Debbie must confront are the worst, because teenagers are just about the worst. Poor Debbie must fend both the lies that guys tell—idiotic, clueless—and those that girls tell—mean-spirited, hurting. It hurts right now, but it’ll feel better tomorrow. Hang in there, Debbie.

Frank Gallagher (played by William H. Macy) wakes up with a new liver and minus an old kidney. He’s alive though deeply confused and in a state of post-surgery delirium. It turns out that this state of confusion is a window into his subconscious, the one where his new wife Sheila is his mother and, most importantly, where fellow roommate Emily is his daughter Fiona.

Frank has a, erm, hear-to-heart with this young woman who needs a new one. The scene, and it’s become routine to say it this season, is touching and deeply satisfying for everyone but the actual Fiona of Shameless. It’s not quite as beautiful as his moment in the Alibi in ‘The Legend of Bonnie and Carl,’ it’s only because it couldn’t possibly be. At least Frank can talk again now.

Lip Gallagher (played by Jeremy Allen White) must confront the lie that is his relationship with Amanda (played by Nichole Bloom). Just as he must convince her parents that he is a train wreck of a boyfriend, he realizes that maybe the train wreck would happen if they left each other because he maybe, just a little bit, okay alright, kinda likes Amanda. But her dad doesn’t need to know this, and Lip promptly sweeps it under the rug at dinner. And he gets $10,000 for his troubles.