Upon reading the Shameless message board on IMDB over the last week following “There’s the Rub,” I can’t help but to start this review off with some perspective on Liam’s sudden Cocaine overdose and Fiona’s arrest. It’s amazing how much of a fallout it has created, as well as how much anger it has flamed up inside the hearts of many towards Fiona’s irresponsibility. Throughout most of “Iron City,” we’re left hearing Kev and Veronica’s side of the story, stating they didn’t even remember seeing Liam before he found the coke. Here’s my opinion: In any responsible living environment, possession and/or use of any particular drug such as crack cocaine should automatically be prohibited, especially in the presence of children or minors. As much as Fiona and others believe it’s not her fault, wasn’t she snorting the cocaine with Carl and Debbie partying with her? What would she have said if one of them, both already aware of the effects of the drug, had voluntarily overdosed like Liam did? It’s difficult to call her out as the villain here, and as a fan of the series since its inception I simply can’t undermine all the contributions she’s provided for her siblings. However, even despite the potential influence of the cocaine laying on her coffee table, her actions were a direct, albeit brief release of care and awareness for others similar to that of her father, Frank. If this season continues to test Fiona’s willingness to maintain instant gratification, we could be witnessing a brave departure from the clan leader we all rooted for in the beginning. Interesting stuff, Shameless. Interesting stuff.
If there’s anything about Emmy Rossum we should be rooting for right now, though, it’s her performance here. She was simply outstanding, portraying a weaker, more shameful version of Fiona we haven’t seen before. I don’t care who you are, watching her breakdown in that prison cell while changing out of her street clothes was tremendously sad. One can almost feel her urgency to find out how her brother was doing, and her uneasiness to keep calm. Truly a one-of-a-kind episode in terms of emotions, Rossum capitalized on every one feeling she was meant to display.
And how ’bout another round for Jeremy Allen White, continuing to throw more fans on the Lip bandwagon. From the tense phone call with Fiona, to the two brief moments he spends alone with Liam in his hospital bed, this character is just right for his talents. I can’t remember the last time I saw Lip be bitter, callous and sensitive all in one episode, but White coasts along with the varying tonal degrees of the script with ease. However, the marked improvement he continues to make with his grades at college will most certainly interfere with his priorities. It’s tough to see that he’s starting to figure it out on campus at the same time his family starts to struggle mightily at home. Still, if he does indeed become the next guardian in line for Debbie, Carl and Liam then I’d be the last to call foul.
The end of the line seems to be closer than we’d assume for Frank, as his liver disease is now calculated to take his life in a matter of weeks. According to Dr. Zabel (Scott Grimes,) the sweat lodge that Frank instituted last week almost took his life, and now he’s been recommended to a hospice to spend his last living hours. Of course he takes exception to the prospect of dying under the same roof of a couple dozen sedated old folks, but for the obvious reason that he yearns to get back to the bottle. If Sammi can’t convince him then no one can, and she couldn’t. It only makes matters worse that she’s (finally) starting to question Frank’s appreciation of others, asking him about the night he hooked up with her mother (all of which included a washing machine for reasons too objective to point out here.) So long as Frank prolongs his health concerns and disappoints his kids, William H. Macy will continue to nail his role. Always able to make a dire situation into an hilarious venture, Macy shoots off some very funny lines in this episode with an alarming bluntness and carelessness of how they may make others feel. You can’t help but hate him, but you can’t help but love him as well.
There are a few more points I wanna make before I sign off here. Lip going to Mandy so soon for comfort involving Liam was a nice touch that may have gone unnoticed to many. Their failure to hold grudges against each other no matter what their previous squabbles were about entails that they could possibly be getting back together in a matter of time. Kev and Veronica sitting in Fiona’s kitchen was also a great scene because it allowed them to back up and think back to Fiona’s birthday. And Kev is right about the Gallaghers: as much as he wants to help them and bail out Fiona, they’re not his concern at the moment with four kids on the way. He’s even setting high expectations for them once they arrive (one of them is projected to be president.) Lastly, there’s the inevitable court case, where Fiona was tagged with an $100,000 bail due to Liam’s condition over at the hospital. It officially creates a bridge between her and Lip, while developing an uncertainty over how things will be handled at home. It also marks the last time we may see Mike, as he eventually ends up paying the required 10% of the bail that releases Fiona. I think having Carl make the call to alert him about the situation was a subtle plot decision, as it indirectly shows his character’s constant growth throughout the season. It’s nice to know that behind all the rambunctiousness lies a pre-teen who’s learning to look out for his family at the end of the day.
By the way, what’s going on with Shiela? Now she’s running off with runningtree (no pun intended) for a couple weeks because she hates being alone? There has to be some sort of scenario or story arc for her to be used more properly, or else she’ll end up being a waste of a character. Joan Cusack has done such a great job, and I just hate watching her get little next to nothing to work with.
Luckily for the Gallaghers, they were able to find Frank and get him to the hospital in order to release Liam, as he was required to be present. The striking contrast of the last scene in “Iron City” was really moving: seeing the whole family crowd around a health(ier) Liam at the hospital, while Fiona returns home by herself with no job and no one around to acknowledge her release. Liam’s potential brain damage from the cocaine overdose, as well as Matty’s return will all be extra things to pay attention to as the season veers into the second half as well. All in all, “Iron City” was a nice slow burn from the incredibly heavy “There’s the Rub,” and while the humor was in spurts it still amused while the drama hit home hard. And in case you’re still wondering, Mike definitely does not want to see Fiona again.
+Fiona in prison
+And Mike bailing her out of prison
+Frank’s health creating serious uncertainty with his life span
+Another stellar performance by Jeremy Allen White
+A bevy of nice little scenes on the side
-Shiela becoming a waste of a character, and fast