Shameless: “The Ballad of Bonnie and Carl” Review **SPOILERS**

20 Mar
Shameless: “The Ballad of Bonnie and Carl” Review **SPOILERS**

*Hey, followers! I’m back doing Shameless reviews after a brief hiatus. For those who were anticipating a review for “Hope Springs Paternal,” I deeply apologize for not posting one up. As you already know, I mix my blog with TV reviews and fantasy baseball articles, and the former won out a bit within the past week. But, I’m back to getting dirty on the outskirts of Chicago, and dishing out all my thoughts on all-new Shameless from here on out.*

Before I get started on this week’s episode, I’d like to sum up my thoughts on “Hope Springs Paternal” just in case you’re wondering. Last week’s proceedings basically eased up on the tone of the previous episodes, return to a more comfortable vibe with the cast and crew. That being said, the quality of the varying plotlines were just as sharp as the best this season has had to offer so far, with plenty of surprising developments that have oozed onto this week’s installment. For instance, Sammi’s secret real estate knowledge became a huge step towards collecting the necessary cash to bail out Frank’s dying liver, and was another nice use of this extra Gallagher, considering she basically sold off furniture from a house she didn’t even own. Robbie made a brief return, so now we know he’ll be back in some form, and Amanda’s clinginess to Lip came straight out of left field, but bears mentioning since their fling isn’t over yet…

Now, let’s get to business, shall we?

In a way, the title for this week’s episode sort of left me a bit disappointed in the fact that Carl’s shenanigans with this newly-acquainted Bonnie weren’t the main focus. It’s a minor quip, and not one that would steer my attention away from everything else that was handled, but still…

At least it was amusing, and it goes to show how true love in this show can be found in the most unlikely of sorts. This isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned the importance of Carl maturing and getting an expanded role as the series wears on, and it won’t be my last. Bonnie, the detention-prone love interest, is the perfect significant other for Carl, and her obscene level of juvenile delinquence just might open the floodgates for something special for the character this year. Their eagerness to unapologetically break the rules fuels a medley of stunts no normal pair of twelve-year-olds would get away with in real life. To say that the corner store robbery is highly unrealistic would be a complete understatement, but in a way that sort of thing is a microcosm of what this show has always been. The concerned look on Carl’s face before it ever did happen, though, is what I truly find fascinating. He seems poised to do whatever it takes to fall in love with this girl, but is he willing to go against everything his elders (Frank excluded) lobby for? Fiona just did get arrested for leaving coke out in her living room for Liam to snort, and Lip has had to take a lot of risks to ensure that this family doesn’t fall apart. That’s just the way I see it, and maybe this little escapade only goes as far as their imagination will take it. But Bonnie’s inclusion to the show is unlikely just a trigger for s#!*s and giggles. Nonetheless, nothing’s better than having a love interest who admires your vulgar spray paintings of the school principle on other people’s lockers, and hopefully we see a lot more of this tandem.

Unfortunately, I see no end in sight for Debbie’s attraction to Matt, which has now gotten to the point of mere writer-enforced insanity. In an attempt to enstill jealousy and win over the love of her “friend,” she finds out that he’s seeing someone and plots revenge on the new girl he’s dating. I’m all for a girl her age learning the hard way about boys, falling in love and then having that love fall apart, but all the great cliches of late-90s straight-to-DVD teenage RomComs were ever present. From late night phone call threats to her workplace, to a snake in her car, Debbie’s vengeance drew nothing more than the hope that we can get back to the rest of the show. I sort of predicted this kind of backlash on her part, but what I never understood was the insistence. Why is Debbie REALLY this much in love with Matt? They barely hit it off when they first met, and I always believed that their chemistry was barren and the whole thing a little painful to sit through because of that. We’ve yet to be convinced that she wants him this bad beyond the simple fact that she just does, and the suspension of disbelief I find myself in over it continues to build. I just wish she’d accept Sammi as a mother figure or something. They got along so well last week, and I miss seeing Debbie just air out her problems to someone who understands instead of acting on them.

Speaking of Sammi, she’s still exercising the furthest options available to secure Frank’s seat at the table of life. So much so, that she’s sucking off “resident” hospital doctors and lighting scented candles in his bedroom to help heal him. I’m beginning to lose count of how many morality-bending decisions she’s made for this man, but it demonstrates how willing some daughters are to have their deadbeat long-lost fathers in their lives. The funny part is that it makes the emotional stuff all the more convincing, especially the one scene where she breaks into tears yelling about how she doesn’t “want him to leave.” One of the more touching moments this season also happened within this storyline, as Sammi decided to quite literally bring the Alibi to Frank by having Kev and crew over for one last (non-alcoholic) drink. The combined look of joy and sadness on Frank’s face as he was seated on the stool, drinking with his old bar friends was a subtly poignant way to wrap up Sammi’s efforts this week. Another thumbs up to Emily Bergl for again portraying the good-hearted, extra Gallagher who’s grown on me, and for yeilding the brief signs of weakness that allow us to understand such exaggerated attempts to please her father as this one.

We must not forget that she’s a single mother who’s never truly had parents to support her over the years, so the inclusion of Shiela’s return home this week instantly opened up the possibilty of a family she’s always wanted. Thankfully it did, as not only Shiela’s insistence to marry Frank–a ploy to get custody of Roger Runningtree’s children while he’s on the run for collecting false reparations–involves Sammi as the projected bridesmaid, but it would legally turn her into Shiela’s stepdaughter. Not to mention the fact that they would both share a similar level of lunacy towards domestic aid, which should play off nicely in regards to saving Frank’s life while he’s cooped up in his bed. If the cards do fall in their favor, and the wedding goes as planned, we may be looking at the most dysfunctional second family in television history. But as long as Shiela gets this opportunity at an important story arc, I think we can all agree that it’d be worth the journey, with plenty of laughs along the way.

Ian’s return to the family has caused quite the stir for Mickey and his marriage with Svetlana, but that’s no excuse for Mickey’s negligence over his newborn son. I’m not willing to bet on a character turnaround anytime soon, but the threat of Svetlana calling up his father from jail seems legit enough for him to start coughing up some baby money. Still, if there’s anything this episode justifies about Mickey, it’s that he cares more for Ian and his drugged up state than his wife and kid. Ian’s night out with him (which consisted mostly of exposing rich gray beards for cash and credit cards)sort of spells out where Mickey’s priorities lie, which is sad because I expected nothing less than a total lack of responsibility. He’s even living in the Gallagher’s house to avoid his family, for crying out loud! For those of you who fondly remember the charity-strung, warm-hearted version of the character from the British series, chances are you’re going have to settle for this more intense adaptation as the show continues. Besides the fact that he’s still blatantly trying to hide his sexuality, there’s really not much of a connection between the two, but I must admit Noel Fisher’s interpretation is much more fitting. For a show that puts life in the slums under a microscope, it’s a little surpising there aren’t any other ironic degenerates. So, having Mickey along for the ride a bit more this season has been quite the treat thus far. And, hey, maybe it clicks in that Mickey has to look out for his loved ones, since the end of the episode has him run into a wife-beaten Mandy in the bathroom (long story I won’t get into this week,) but then again I’d probably be getting my hopes up.

Just like the drama surrounding the Minkovich family, Lip’s college life has also recieved a jolt of intrigue with Amanda’s excessive flirtiness. However, I wasn’t sold on her complete 360 over him last week, so it was great discovering that it was all a ruse to lure him into meeting her parents and forcing them to lose their minds. They still do get along just fine, and Amanda’s clinginess to Lip leans more and more towards the “helpful” side than that of the annoying, overbearing chick we expected. Posting a pre-determined schedule full of classes and bathroom breaks is creepy for any roomate to do for another, but since Lip has had so many issues with time management before this came off more as a nice gesture from her. I will admit that Ron walking into the dorm with her naked in front of Lip led to a tad bit of a disappointing reaction, but this episode made it up with Mandy’s boyfriend chasing Lip down campus for seeing her.

I had to save the best for last, which was undoubtedly Fiona’s endeavor to find a job, post-conviction. Whether it was the obviously failed job interviews, the sprint back home before 6:00 (which is her house arrest curfew,) or another guest appearance from Regina King, there was a lot to love here and all of it very real. I could only imagine how tough it must be to search for work with any shred of criminal history, but Fiona’s optimism going in seems to have blinded her from the realization that her prior mistakes now have a significant impact. Nothing will change the fact that she nearly killed her infant brother regardless of a lack of intent, and the rest of society can’t help but ignore that. Her trip to the Worldwide Cup was obscenely disrespectful, and was treated as such by Mike’s sister, who confronted her in front of Fiona’s former colleagues. I for one couldn’t believe that Fiona was plotting to get her job back, while asking Connie to lie to the federal government about her discharge as a lowering in position. Mike would certainly be proud of how Jane vehemently lashed out on her for even showing up, and then proclaimed how Fiona should worry about destroying her own family instead of theirs. The final scene involving Robbie lived up to the speculation that this affair wasn’t over, and if the scenes for next week’s epsiode are any indication, Fiona’ drug-inducing days are far from over.

The Verdict:
“The Ballad of Bonnie and Carl” is more about the bridge and the verses than the actual refrain, as Carl’s age-defying exploits with his new crush played second fiddle to a host of different story arcs. Thankfully, everything here got its just desserts, and there’re definitely more hints at what’s in store than we can chew. Although I tire of repeating it, this was yet another awesome episode cementing what has been an outstanding overall season thus far.

Rating: 9

+Well, the ballad of Bonnie and Carl
+Frank’s last Alibi (see what I did there?)
+Jane be like: “F U, Fiona. You ain’t eva workin’ here again.”
+Mickey’s still an a**#@!&
-Debbie’s STILL tripping over Matt???

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Posted by on March 20, 2014 in Shameless, Showtime, TV, TV reviews, Uncategorized


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