Shameless, ‘Love Songs (In The Key Of Gallagher)’ review: Anywhere south of here

“I can walk back to the village. Central market’s like a narco K-Mart.” 

What a difference a year makes. A year ago in ‘Lazarus,’ you were defiant and had only but a little, fleeting twinge of regret.

In season five, you’re still staring at the sun, still looking out by the water, but you’re not in Chicago. And you’re not nearly as defiant. Oh you’re still just as alive, sure, but you’re not as boisterous. Because Bianca’s gone.

But Sammi? Much to the dismay of the Shameless viewers, this oldest daughter is both alive and part of the universe. Meh. 

In ‘Love Songs (In The Key Of Gallagher),’ showrunner John Wells forces his characters to make his or her own choices and to live with the consequences.

First to make a choice is Frank Gallagher (played by William H. Macy), though viewers might say that his real choice came last week in ‘Drugs Actually‘ as he donned the Diego Mustafa monicker. He and Bianca (played by Bojana Novakovic) are living the life in what seems to be Costa Rica. Though it isn’t explicitly stated that their new destination is indeed Costa Rica, this viewer thinks that it is—Frank tends to forever take the easy way out for everything in life but he also always gets his way, or a compromise of his way. Frank and Bianca’s idyll under the warm sun is short-lived however, as Bianca realizes that there comes a point in life where there can’t possibly be even bigger and better feelings and rushes, that you’ll do it all to feel something until one day you feel entirely too much. Then you leave.

Fiona Gallagher (played by Emmy Rossum) also faces important life decisions, but the viewers probably don’t care much for it. First, it’s either friendship with Sean (played by Dermot Mulroney) and love and marriage with Gus Pfender (played by Steve Kazee), then once love with Gus is perhaps compromised, it’s love with Sean. One or both of Gus and Sean could be back for the sixth season ofShameless, but the viewers don’t care for who.

Meanwhile, Fiona’s siblings, of whom SHE IS THE LEGAL GUARDIAN!, are unraveling. Lip Gallagher (played by Jeremy Allen White) is breaking hearts left and right, if only because he knows his heart is set to be broken at any minute now. Carl Gallagher (played by Ethan Cutkosky) is gangbanging and fighting neo-nazis in juvenile detention. Debbie Gallagher (played by Emma Kenney), meanwhile, has found a way to outdo the two of them. In her ongoing quest to forever grow up and older, she has fallen in love, which is great, and become pregnant. Which is so, so wrong.

Nowhere to be found, or found too late rather, is Fiona. She asks if she could possibly do a worse job of raising these kids, but it’s rhetorical. She knows that no, she could not.

Ian Gallagher (played by Cameron Monaghan) faces the biggest choice of all, of course. After deciding to leave the Army base with like-minded (or so he thought?) Monica, Ian decides to escape his well-meaning-but-ill-equipped mother to go back to Chicago.

Running to meet him is his boyfriend Mickey Milkovich (played by Noel Fisher), who sadly realizes that the reunion has to be cut short. There’s the unfortunate return of Sammi Gallagher(played by Emily Bergl), yes, but equally important is Ian’s seemingly monumental decision to want to break up because he needs and wants someone to love him for who and what he is without his medication. Does the moment really hit the Shameless viewers with the finality and importance that it deserves? Absolutely not. Add that one to the list of things that Sammi has ruined.