Sunday, March 15, 2015

REVIEW: 'Shameless' - Carl Faces Justice, Lip Meets His New Professor & Fiona Comforts Sean in 'Carl's First Sentencing'

Showtime's Shameless - Episode 5.09 "Carl's First Sentencing"

Frank has a check up with his doctor, who seems to be losing it. Fiona prepares Carl for his sentencing hearing. Lip meets a sexy and sophisticated professor. Ian realizes it's time to get on meds. Kev enjoys campus life.

Carl definitely stands out amongst the core Gallagher family. Yes, they all play by the rules of the neighborhood and con their way into getting anything. But the rest of his siblings have some sense of a functioning moral compass. They all still make mistakes because they are just trying to figure out their lives. But they have emotions and heart. When things happen to them, they feel pain and responsibility. Carl is different because he embraces the chaotic criminal lifestyle more than his siblings. He sees school as a waste of time and a life on the street selling drugs as his only future. That fact is a tad sad actually. But it's also a little hard to feel bad for him because everything that happens to Carl throughout this episode is his own fault.

Carl and Chuckie got busted on a drug run because of Frank - who's off having a good time with his newfound friend, Bianca - but they are the ones determining the amount of justice they will face. Gallaghers do not snitch. That is a rule deeply embedded in all of them. And yet, none of them can condone what Carl has done. They want to help him get in as little trouble as possible - especially Fiona. She hasn't really been there for her family lately because of her marriage to Gus. With that relationship in a state of flux right now and with Ian's problems growing, she had to move back into the Gallagher home. And now, she has to pick up the pieces with Carl's life. She wants him to show remorse even if he has to lie to the judge. That's what she needs him to do. However, Carl is not remorseful about what he did at all. He sees juvie as an opportunity to learn the skills that he'll actually use in life. Fiona can dress him up as a rule-abiding citizen but that doesn't change the person underneath the clothes. He is only sorry that he messed up and got caught. He's not going to turn on his boss just to make his life easier. That earns him his boss' respect. He'll likely be running juvie when he gets there. He already has friends in there.

This is the outcome the rest of the family always expected. Whenever they refer to his sentencing hearing, they call it his "first sentencing." They are aware that he is going to be in trouble. That's just a fact of their lives. The rest of the family is trying to grow, find love and happiness. They will mess up along the way but they are fighting for themselves and the protection of the family. Carl doesn't have that part of the Gallagher identity as strongly. The family is fighting for him and it doesn't appear as if he cares about them. He sees this experience as a good thing even though it's uprooting the rest of his family's lives.

It's easy for the Gallaghers to turn a lot of their hatred and animosity towards Sammi because she was the one who told the police Carl was responsible for the drugs. She is this outside force still living in the Gallagher house. She's causing them a lot of chaos and pain. But she is feeling that as well. Chuckie is her whole world. His love is the most important thing to her because he relies so much on her. She had to become a better person in order to provide for Chuckie. Yes, he's slow but her love for him is steadfast - although slightly misguided. She will do anything to protect him just like the rest of the Gallaghers are trying to do for Carl. Chuckie doesn't really have a voice in any of this because he doesn't fully understand his surroundings. Sammi is doing her best but Chuckie is still sentenced to 120 days in juvie where he'll have to face a spiteful Carl. Her parenting advice is very blunt - telling him to jerk off the guards and drawing a swastika on his forehead in order to find protection on the inside. Chuckie will likely survive this ordeal. But who knows what will happen to Sammi in the meantime after this massive loss.

The lives of the Gallaghers are still going on though. Fiona and Mickey still have to deal with Ian in the aftermath of his bipolar diagnosis while Lip still has to find the money to stay in school. Both of these stories have received so much time and focus in the last few episodes. And now, things are starting to look up for both of them. Ian comes to the sudden realization that he needs to starting taking medication. He sees that something is off with him. All it took was almost knocking Debbie's head off with the baseball bat. That was a scary moment and the longterm prospects of this disease are pretty grim. And yet, getting on these meds is what Ian needed to do in order to have some kind of stability in his life again. Sure, it's going to take some tinkering in order to get it just right. But he has the love and patience of his family and Mickey right now. It's because of their presence that he is going to get through this. Lip knows that Ian can handle this. That is very comforting and perhaps things are going to get better for Ian soon.

Elsewhere, Lip has grown so accustomed to people giving something to him in exchange for something else. It's a foreign concept to him of someone doing something out of the goodness of their heart. Lip needs to be in school right now and has the intellect and the skills to have a bright future if he gets this education. It's a different environment for him but it's where he needs to be. Fortunately, he'll be able to stay because the guy handling his case in the financial aid office called in a favor from his old roommate who then covered the remaining balance on Lip's tuition. It's a gesture of good faith. Lip is convinced there has to be an angle. The world has proven to him over and over again that people are inherently selfish. That is not the case though. He receives this help and is grateful for it. Sure, he may be getting into a whole new case of trouble by sleeping with his new professor, Helene. But right now, he is staying put and able to forge ahead with his future.

And lastly, Fiona is there to comfort Sean as a friend after he learns that his ex-wife is moving to Pittsburgh and taking their son with her and there's nothing he can do about it. He's being screwed by the system and that is messed up to both him and Fiona. He just wants to be a good father to Will and now that relationship is being taken away from him. He wants to stay sober but it's getting increasingly hard for him to do so in the aftermath of this news. He has been a good friend for Fiona but a strict one too. Their relationship has been a defining story of this season. He and Fiona have built this trust between each other that could become sexual if they wanted it to but hasn't because they don't want it to be the reason they slide back to their past vices. Sean initially saw Fiona as chaos. That's a quality he doesn't need in his life - and neither does Fiona. And yet, it is always going to be a part of Fiona's life through her own mistakes and the lives of her family. It's truly saying something that Fiona is willing to comfort Sean in his time of need. She's still technically married but she wants to make sure he is okay. That has always been one of her best qualities - and now Sean is seeing it as well.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Carl's First Sentencing" was written by Etan Frankel and directed by Christopher Chulack.
  • At first, Frank's adventure with his doctor Bianca - who was just diagnosed with Stage 3 Pancreatic cancer - seems like him running his usual scam of having fun while manipulating a woman and then stealing all her money. In the end, it's not though. He returns her to her home safely. We don't know if he took her money or not but he showed a kindness that is rare for Frank. And yet, I have no clue why he did it.
  • It's easy to see Kev making so many mistakes by sleeping with every college girl who called him to walk her home. The one thing that Vee wanted from him is sex and now he's doing it with everyone but her. He comes to his better senses eventually and sees his marriage as the one thing he needs to be focusing on. And yet, he's still living in the college dorm room and not his house.
  • Helene's husband seems very okay with Lip sleeping with his wife. That's definitely going to be a source for story in these next few episodes.
  • Besides almost getting hit by Ian and showing up in court for Carl, this was a pretty vacant episode for Debbie.