Shameless, ‘Tell Me You Fucking Need Me’ review: Escaping a fire

“Oh, there’s no catch. Just helping the youth of America get a leg up.” 

You let yourself believe for a second that maybe, just maybe, this time there will not be a line. No one could blame you—you walked in and saw just a few people standing against the wall. “No more than four or five, surely,” you maybe tell yourself, “this will be quick.”

You just had to wait two hours in another line, so you would need this to be a breeze. But alas, you turn the corner and there’s the line you dreaded.

But in college as in life, Lip, there’s always a line. You just learn to move from the back of one line to another. 

In ‘Tell Me You Fucking Need Me,’ showrunner John Wells understands that no one in Shameless ever escapes being a Gallagher, no matter if they punch or squeeze your arm.

The most tragic example, of course, is Sammi Gallagher (played by Emily Bergl). The ‘oldest daughter‘ of the Gallagher clan lived for so long in the dark, not knowing who her family was beyond her young boy Chuckie. Any family tends to be better than no family, though Sammi now understands that the Gallagher group is the ultimate test to that theory.

Maybe her story in Shameless has run its course, but she remains part of the clan, faithfully making pancakes and taking on the benevolent big sister role that Fiona has let go since her marriage. And yet, this universe does need a foil for all of the plans that Frank Gallagher (played by William H. Macy) has, so maybe Sammi hasa place here.

Ian Gallagher (played by Cameron Monaghan) also can’t escape his last name in this episode. He’s been institutionalized, after last week’s ‘Crazy Love,’ and should never again be let alone with a baby… but it’s disturbing to see Ian so heartbroken and helpless. Here’s one Gallagher who can’t escape his last name and who, oh my god, would never want to. Ian knows it’s messed up to be a Gallagher, but he knows it’s at least something—it’s even worse to not be anything.

Unlike his younger brother, Lip Gallagher (played by Jeremy Allen White) would likely gladly trade in whatever if it meant he could stop being related to the Gallagher bunch. Oh, not forever, but definitely for the entirety of this episode.

Because your family couldn’t be bothered to differentiate between a grant application for college and a stack of random paper, then you have to ruin your credit. It’s not fair, but it doesn’t have to be and you’re a Gallagher whether you want to or not. Maybe you can’t ever escape it, but you can certainly find a mailbox.

Then, there’s Fiona Gallagher/Pfender (played by Emmy Rossum). The former Gallagher mother-in-standing, and very much legal guardian of her younger siblings, “used to like the danger” but it’s not who she is anymore. She’s a Pfender now, but she’s not fooling anyone—she still has Gallagher blood.

In typical Gallagher fashion, she asks Jimmy/Steve/Jack (played by Justin Chatwin) that he let her go. “You have to let me let you go,” because she couldn’t possibly find within herself the resolve to do so on her own. “We were unfinished,” Fiona tells her beau Gus Pfender (played by Steve Kazee) in lieu of an explanation for how/why she slept with JSJ, as if 1) this means anything and 2) will alleviate whatever pain her husband feels.

And on that same night that she got cozy with JSJ, Fiona Gallagher Pfender also sleeps with her husband.

Fiona is an old soul who has had it hard and who can’t get out of her own way, especially with men. She loves the wrong ones, or sleeps with the wrong ones when she loves the perfect one, or is unfinished, or whatever. There’s always an excuse/explanation for how she behaves—she never saw love in her parents, she had to grow up so quickly, etc.—but maybe it shouldn’t. Fiona is a selfless human being, but not in love.

But in the end, it might be that “large tipper” from those earlier episodes who may give Fiona the closure that she needs so desperately.