This week of Shameless carries a bevy of distinctions as we acknowledge Lip’s growing role as the unofficial guardian of the Gallagher household, and Fiona’s polarizing court case. First of all, the episode title bears mentioning. It’s so long I had to abbreviate it to a slight degree of satisfaction. However, it’s importance is a little more compelling, as it highlights the difference between the family we grew up with four years ago and the one we are witnessing these days. “A Jailbird, Invalid, Martyr, Cutter, Retard, and Parasitic Twin,” or “J.I.M.C.R.aP.T,” sort of is the best way to describe who the Gallaghers really are if you sum them all up right now. And if you think about it hard enough, it’s funny as well because of how accurately they unintentionally represent all the deficiencies, disadvantages, and impoverishing struggles that everyday blue collars are currently experiencing within the outskirts of America. If you’re like me and you have a comfortable bed to sleep in every night and you’re parents are hard working, honest folks instead of drug-festering, alcoholic degenerates, this episode is a constant reminder that you simply cannot take anything in this life for granted.
This is a symbolic message that screams through the heart of every Gallagher we watch in this episode, but more importantly, it encourages a swift reality check in unexpected places. For example, when you start a relationship with someone you’ve become intimately involved with and then you’ve become a part of the reason for their mental collapse, you have to take responsibility for the s#*+ storm you’ve created. Mandy may be forced to work at the Waffle Cottage for lack of a college education, but at least she’s on top of her crap. The same couldn’t be said for Mickey until this week, who she prompts to go out and find Ian before he ends up killing himself. Their little hidden fling could not have ended on worse terms, and it certainly looks like all of Ian’s shenanigans since has been a huge middle finger to Mickey for how he turned his back.
During various parts of the episode, I wondered if Mickey was starting to reflect on that. His homosexuality has always been blatantly evident, and it was a nice touch seeing all sorts of people poke at it this week. Kev knows better than to use soap for deodorant because of pubic hair, and the manager at the White Swallow wouldn’t touch Justin Bieber with a ten-inch pole after admiring Mickey’s get up. It’s something that’s becoming impossible to hide, but Mickey continues to establish his manhood in plenty of great ways. His composed, mobster-like attitude with the manager was enriching, and his trip to the new gay bar Ian moved to made it very clear to the rest of us that he doesn’t care how gay he is so long as he can save his friend from an empty, drug-riddled void. Their encounter alone was equally magnifying. Imagine being in Mickey’s shoes, having to hear your old lover call himself “Curtis” while pent up in ecstasy and then require money and a lap dance just to talk about your day. Shameless is a show that thrives on the bizarre and the ridiculous to an extent most shows don’t dare to reach. This scene was a masterful demonstration of that. Thanks in large part to Noel Fisher and Cameron Monaghan’s impressively grounded performances, their short time together supplants most of what this show has had to offer all season long.
Going back to the point of taking things for granted, Frank continues to wallow in denial and self-indulgence as he starts his own blog and experiments with Sammi’s oxy and heroin. All under her approval , I might add. It’s incredible how far he’s willing to go to avoid accepting defeat rather than realize that he does indeed have limited time in this world. Had Frank truly cared for his family or wanted to right the ship, he wouldn’t overdose on heroin in the bathroom and religiously take the oxy. It’s such a shame that Sammi is carless enough to let it happen, even though she simply wants to play nicey-nice with daddy. I feel for her lack of parenthood throughout her life, but endorsing her father’s reckless behavior just to avoid his criticism and give him what he wants is a spectacular stretch. William H. Macy and Emily Bergl continue to play out their dynamic with the same levels of mental insanity I fondly remember in Paul Dini’s Batman cartoon series with the Joker and Harley Quinn. It’s immensely complex, and unlike anything I’ve seen in a live action drama in a long time.
Even though the rest of the Gallaghers didn’t evoke drama of the same caliber this week, the significance of their personal struggles were all on similar levels. Carl can’t stand how those two kids at school are ridiculing him over Liam’s cocaine overdose. Just ask Mongo and Lloyd. But unfortunately, a physical approach to scrutiny won’t fix the fact that his little brother could potentially be brain damaged. He also finds out that it’s not Liam who’s retarded in this family, thanks to an internet survey. I’ve always appreciated the fact that there’s been a more inquisitive, loyal and loving side to the character as opposed to seasons past. Carl’s love for his siblings has evolved tremendously these last few weeks, and even though he may be mentally retarded, the writers have figured out how to make these things work towards answering some longtime questions. I always criticized the fact that Carl was all about destruction and insults before, but it’s starting to make sense now considering that it took him this long to mature somewhat.
Debbie’s “friendship” hit a wall this week as Matt has officially placed her on his friend zone. Ouch. After going to him for support following her brief indifference with Lip, she can’t seem to understand why he’d shut her down for taking things to the next level. This whole thing has been a typical teenage phase for Debbie, and it won’t go quietly in her mind. Thankfully it was handed as such: I’d hate to watch these two go out to dinner and do couple’s stuff, regarding the circumstances. I’m starting to warm up to Matt for the first time now that he’s put his foot down. He may still be a creep for inviting the idea of hooking up with a thirteen year old, but it’s about time that he realizes he should be interested in girls his own age. More importantly, we can move on from all this and Debbie could be involved in something more interesting. Maybe something like committing the worst, most amusing emo wrist slip ever.
Lip refuses to let what happened on Fiona’s birthday be something that could reoccur, even if that means bringing Liam along with him to school when he’s not home. I know that his decision to leave him with Amanda, Ron’s bitchy girlfriend, was a poor moral decision considering everything he’s went through already, but I think we were meant to see it happen to show how little he trusts his sister. We also got to see him connect with Amanda for the first time, mostly thanks to Liam’s presence. I was beginning to tire of her non-influenced hatred for Lip, so hopefully this means they’ll finally get along. Lord knows Lip could use all the friends and support he can get with the weight he’s carrying right now.
With Child Services making a visit any day now, he also has to maintain a level of general modesty throughout the Gallagher household. With Frank and Sammi’s behavior becoming too much to handle, he makes the ultimate decision to kick them to the curb while Fiona stands to watch. I loved this end to the episode, specifically because it’s emotional intensity was sparked from Lip’s argument with Fiona. Another point I introduced at the start of this review was the idea of people in this series facing a reality check, and Fiona needed one now more than ever. Even after she finds out that she’ll only face house arrest and probation time by pleading guilty to the cocaine incident, she intends to remain content on proving otherwise and potentially facing jail time if she can’t (five years of it to be exact.) Lip absolutely disagrees with the notion, going so far as to say that she’s guilty and she did what she did that night regardless of it happening by accident or not. His verbal explosion was most certainly the icing on the cake, as he literally and figuratively throws all of Fiona’s selfishness right back in her face. Their argument was bound to happen at some point in time, and it was fantastically written and brilliantly acted by these two leads. The combination of anger and underlying disappointment in Lip’s face once he makes his point, and Fiona’s desperate cries for support, were all perfectly displayed by Jeremy Allen White and Emmy Rossum. It’s moments like these that have proven either one could take over an episode for extended periods of time and entertain at a consistently high level.
Funny how I almost forgot about Kev and Veronica’s misfortunes this week. In an episode that dug deeper and deeper into the darker elements of the show, their series of unfortunate events went by with a bit more playfulness, which was relieving. Its too bad that the Alibi got robbed and Veronica lost one of their triplets during her current pregnancy, but I think it was worth seeing the way it was addressed as a means to balance out the emotional work with the comedic play.
It’s been a long season for the Gallaghers, and “J.I.M.C.R.aP.T.” didn’t shine much of a light at the end of the tunnel. Thank goodness I can’t say the same for the rest of us, as this episode tackled a plethora of different plot lines all at once and nailed each and every one of them. Great writing, a world of excellent performances, and a wide array of laughs all culminate into one of the greatest, most cohesively layered and well put together chapters in the entire series. The Gallaghers still have a lot on their plate, as do others, but with two weeks to go ’till we get back on the El, this is the perfect 50 minutes of entertainment to re-watch while we wait.
+Lip and Fiona’s argument excellently performed, perfectly written
+Frank and Sammi’s father-daughter exploits finds new ways to fascinate
+Mickey’s journey to find Ian and fix the mess he’s (indirectly) made
+Kev and V, Carl, and Debbie’s side plots all well handled
Here are some hilarious lines from this episode as well:
“Enjoy your coffee, f#$%@*! hole standers.”
“Hipsters, very good!”
“I’m sure you have some kind of, ah, sorority, cheerleader, mensa, vagina meeting or something.”
“There’s a guy out there who’s here because he threw bleach on his baby mama.”
“Oh, please, don’t answer. God forbid you do something meaningful with your lives.”
“Anything with balls in it is good.”
“Gary broke up with me because his parents didn’t want him to have a baby, so I cut myself.”
“‘Smoking a coke-laced bowl of weed is the best high ever?’ Amateurs.”
“Relax Shaft, I’m leaving.”