Sunday, January 25, 2015

REVIEW: 'Shameless' - Things Blow Up for Frank While Debbie Throws a Party with Disastrous Results in 'The Two Lisas'

Showtime's Shameless - Episode 5.03 "The Two Lisas"

Frank enlists Carl to scare off the lesbians who are buying up more property in the neighborhood while pleading with Sheila not to cave and sell her home. Ian wants Lip to help convince Mandy not to move to Indiana with her abusive boyfriend, Kenyatta. Debbie throws a party at the Gallagher house.

Big things happen throughout "The Two Lisas" that make the episode a critical turning point for several character arcs. We're still only at the beginning of season five but this episode brings a lot of stuff that has been at play for seasons now to a head. After working so hard to lose her virginity, Debbie finally succeeds but ends up more depressed because of it. Frank has spent years with Sheila now and he finally has a big blow-up towards her that pretty much severs the bond between them. Lip has sex with Mandy again which actually forces her to leave town with her current boyfriend who's also abusive towards her. All of these stories had their seeds planted in previous seasons. The fact that they pay off as emotionally strong as they do is a testament to the longterm planning strengths of the series.

Debbie has always been the Gallagher kid who gets too emotionally attached to people and things. She spent a couple of seasons still caring for Frank when the rest of the family had given up any hope of him ever being there for them. And then, she hit her puberty years and became fixated on the ideas of maturity and having sex. It's the kind of mentality that this environment builds up. Shameless has always been a very sexual show but the act itself has always been used to demonstrate the limited choices each of their characters has in their lives. For most in this neighborhood, getting pregnant at a young age is the most they can aspire to for their futures. Debbie is only fourteen years old. She is still an innocent child in a lot of ways. However, this neighborhood alienates her because she still has her virginity. Her perception of virginity is off because she sees it as something that needs to be gone in order to gain acceptance by her peers. In truth, sex is a very mature and intimate thing. Yes, it has always been a tad creepy that Matt wants to have this friendship with Debbie considering the age difference. And yet, he's also mature enough to see that this is something that Debbie isn't ready for. She has always been one of the smarter kids in the family. But in this aspect, she is solely focused on one thing that she is blinded by what it all entails.

So, Debbie ends up doing the act with Matty at a party she throws where everyone gets hammered by Frank's very potent, homemade beer. He needs to lie down and she takes him to her bedroom where she believes his presence of arousal is a sign of consent. To her, it's a very prideful moment. The next morning she wakes up with a smile on her face and a pep in her step. She chugs the orange juice on the front step and proclaims that she is now a woman. That celebratory moment comes crashing back to reality just as harshly. She date raped Matty and that is not okay. It's a very Gallagher thing to do and Matty has no clue how to react to the inner Gallagher in Debbie. This is horrifying to him while she just thought that every guy loved sex. She doesn't comprehend that sex is suppose to be about the connection between two people. Lip doesn't help the situation at all by saying there are so many guys out there who would want to be raped by her. That's not what she wanted to hear. And yet, she doesn't need to be told how to feel about this. The best thing for her is to share what happened and be met with support. That's what Fiona offers her. It's a brilliant scene between the two that is just so simple.

Meanwhile, Frank is solely focused on making and selling his new beer and keeping his neighborhood just the way that it is. He doesn't care about his relationship with Sheila or her house. He just wants a place to live in to make his beer and to stand firm against the idea of change. He will say anything to appease the two women in his life. Both Sheila and Sammi are starting to see him for who he truly is. Frank is a despicable person. He tries to guilt Sheila into staying by mentioning his weak health and the proximity to his family. When that doesn't work, he throws a vow renewal ceremony into the mix. That distracts her long enough to get onto his side of seeing things for a brief moment.

But the thing that truly does Frank in is pimping out Sammi just so her can get a part to make his home brewery operate more quickly. Sammi is in a very fragile state. She is desperate for a family connection. She had real purpose in life when she was caring for Frank during his health crisis. Now that he's better, he doesn't have any time or concern for her. She was hoping things could stay the way they were. She vows to make changes in her life and not sleep with every guy she meets. That's the path that she needs to take and get support on. Frank doesn't see that and dangles her in front of a new man who needs sex just to help his own business. She wants to try and make this a serious relationship. When she learns what Frank did, it's humiliating. She heads down to Sheila's basement and starts attacking him in a fight that eventually leads to the street. That's where Frank blows up at the two of them for both trying to become better versions of themselves when all he wants is for them to stay the same with him. As a result, he loses both of them. Plus, Sheila's house literally blows up. So, Frank is now homeless with Sheila leaving town to go see the world in her new RV.

That's empowering for Sheila. I'm happy that she finally gets to see Frank for the man he truly is. In past seasons, the show has struggled with how to best use Sheila as a character. She is usually so attached to whatever is happening in the Frank part of this universe. That has never been the most interesting part of this world. And yet, this season got strong value out of the character and knew exactly how much it was sustainable for. The premiere opened with her making sure that Frank took his pills. By episode three, she is heading out of town to follow her dreams of seeing the world. She has always been a crutch who Frank could rely on. Now that she's gone, he really has no one which could be very dangerous for him moving forward - especially if his liver starts failing again.

The destruction of love connections is very much on display throughout "The Two Lisas" - hitting the two other plots of the episode as well. Ian tells Lip that he needs to convince Mandy not to move to Indiana with Kenyatta. Lip and Mandy weren't the best couple. Actually, they were pretty destructive together. But she also put him on the path of building a better life for himself. He went to college in the first place because she made him. He now has a year done and is back in the South Side for the summer. It is a culture clash for him. Working construction is physical labor compared to the life at college. Mandy helped him onto this path and he shouldn't just sit back and see her ruin her life by being with a guy who hurts her. He knows that she deserves more than that. However, Mandy loves Lip. She accidentally blurts it out during sex. Those words undercut everything that Lip said earlier about her beauty, smarts and strength. They are just two people who enjoy connecting with each other sexually. They are not serious. And yet, it's a connection they both cherish. Love complicates things. Mandy knows she's not good enough for the man Lip is on his way to becoming. She leaves because she can't be in love with him. Physical pain with Kenyatta is better than emotional pain with Lip. That's devastating but it's also the choice she made, with Lip left to pick up the pieces.

And then, Fiona finds out that flirtatious band singer, Davis, has a live-in girlfriend and has just been leading her on this whole time. He's quite the jerk. But all is not lost for the romance department as she finds a new connection with his bandmate Gus. It's just the beginning but he seems like a nice guy. He feels genuine. Sean and Davis have been the ones chasing after her for these first few episodes but Gus could represent something completely different. He's not trying too hard to be with her. He just simply sings a little song to her. It's not elaborate or grand. It's simple but it also excites her. It's devastating to her to learn the truth about Davis but also hopeful because this new opportunity presents itself. It's too early to tell if Gus will be a good guy for her or if he can provide the excitement she always craves. But it's a romantic connection that feels different from the other two from this season so far.

Some more thoughts:
  • "The Two Lisas" was written by Sheila Callaghan and directed by Peter Segal.
  • The Rub N' Tug gets busted by the police and Vee decides to use the space to start a breast pumping business to make some extra money.
  • The divide between Kev and Vee is only getting bigger. They simply aren't communicating that well. The addition of the twins has changed their family dynamic and neither one quite knows how to react to all the changes.
  • Carl with multiple hickeys is a really odd image.
  • The fact that the two lesbians buying up property in the neighborhood are both named Lisa bugs me for some reason. It does help build them up as people too good for this neighborhood. It's just a weird decision to make that keeps them from feeling like natural and realistic characters.