Sunday, January 24, 2016

REVIEW: 'Shameless' - Fiona Reaches Out to Her Husband, Ian Gets a New Job and Kev Feels Guilty in 'The F Word'

Showtime's Shameless - Episode 6.03 "The F Word"

Frank teaches Debbie how to work the welfare system. Kev and Veronica visit Yanis in the hospital to make amends.

The divide between Fiona and Debbie is only getting bigger. It remains so heartbreaking because the sisters used to be so close. Their bond was so strong at the beginning of the show. But now, both of them are growing up which is pulling them away from each other. They have such wildly different opinions regarding their pregnancies. Neither one is willing to back down either. That creates tension that is only building - to the point where Fiona actually tells Debbie that she will be kicked out of the Gallagher house should she have her baby. It's an ugly mess that the show is turning right into. It's unafraid to show just how nasty this difference of opinions is between the sisters. The best part of the story is that both of them are right too. They are both fully aware of how each other has messed up in life and just how complicated that really is.

Debbie is right in saying that Fiona's life is a mess right now and that's why she has gotten pregnant with three potential candidates as the baby's father. The paternity of Fiona's baby is almost irrelevant though. She doesn't care who the father is and she doesn't want any of them to have an opinion on the subject either. Fiona's mind is made up. She doesn't want to have a baby right now. She has her hands full with the rest of her family. They are all still making mistakes - Fiona included. And yet, Fiona still wants to be a good guardian and look out for her siblings. They are all still just flailing around in this world. But Fiona wants to be the one in charge taking care of them. She was forceful with Debbie in trying to convince her to have an abortion. And now, the tables have turned on her with Debbie staging a whole intervention for Fiona to keep her baby. It's a precarious situation that forces Fiona to truly examine her life and just how chaotic it really is.

Everyone finds out about Fiona's baby in this episode. She doesn't keep it from her family like she did last season with her marriage to Gus. However, Fiona is not the person to share this big news. She tells Debbie, V and Sean. The rest of them find out because Debbie shares it in the hopes of convincing Fiona to have a baby with her at the same time. It's happy news for Debbie. But it's devastating for Fiona. She uses it as an opportunity to make things right in her life. She doesn't tell Sean right away. In fact, she pulls away from him a little bit. She's a lot more cagey than usual. V is there for her as a really supportive friend. But that doesn't make Fiona going to talk to Gus any less awkward. Fiona wants to do the right thing and officially end things with Gus. At first, it seems he is still hopelessly in love with her. And then, he gets on the stage to perform a song whose chorus includes "Fuck You, Fiona!" It's a fantastic moment - but Fiona really did deserve it as well. She's trying to make amends but she deserves everything that Gus throws at her. She just has to sit there and take it. Later on, she is able to open up to Sean about what's going on with her. This just isn't the right time for her to have a baby. She figures she can still have one ten years from now. And quite frankly, that may be a good idea as life only continues to get more chaotic for the family - as they are now being faced with eviction from their house.

Meanwhile, Fiona is right to point out that Debbie is crazy considering Frank is the only person in the family to support her decision to have this baby. That is very much true. The entire family has accepted the fact that Frank is a horrible person. He may be their father but they don't want him or his crazy ideas anywhere near them. This is the best episode for Frank so far this season. That's entirely because he gets to spend the day with his two pregnant daughters. He's overjoyed by the fact that's he going to be a double grandfather. It means he gets to teach Debbie how to use the welfare system. If it's a way to get money, Frank is an expert at it. Debbie largely just enjoys someone being happy about her big news. It brings her closer to Frank than she has been in a long time. She's actually slightly worried about him having cancer when he mentions going to a cancer support group. That's still a very weird story. But here, it's non-existent. So it's a problem for the future. Right now, it's all about the tension between Debbie and Fiona. Debbie wants to be supportive of Fiona if she can be supportive of her. They do have a solid heart-to-heart conversation without the need to bring the rest of the family into it. However, that only showcases just how committed to their choices the two actually are. It shows just how far Fiona is willing to go to enforce it too. She will kick Debbie out if she has this baby. That's huge for the family and something that won't be easy to fix in the future.

With all the big emotions happening in the Fiona-Debbie part of the show, "The F Word" is also a really funny episode of Shameless. The remaining subplots are all quite amusing. This is the first episode this season that is really firing on all cylinders. Yes, it's still questionable what the show is trying to do with a number of stories - Frank's cancer support group, Kev and V's relationship with Yanis, Carl's forceful flirtation with another student, etc. But all of the stories in this episode really worked well and established interesting things for the future. It was great to see Lip and Ian interacting again. That brotherly dynamic has shifted since Lip left for college. And now, Ian really needs a new story. Everything that has defined him as a character on the show has left - his interest in the military, his relationship with Mickey and his bipolar disorder (though that can still pop up every now and then). It's the perfect time to introduce something new for Ian. The opportunity presents itself in the end when Ian saves an unconscious woman before her car explodes following an accident. That may present a brighter and more exciting future for Ian than just picking up garbage at Lip's college. Meanwhile, it was very problematic last week when Carl starting selling guns at school - largely because that's such a sensitive subject in today's culture. But this episode really does an excellent job in flipping that story around and showing how the faculty can get just as caught up in this business as the students. That was very fun. But honestly, nothing was funnier in this episode than Kev admitting to practically everyone that he paralyzed a man. That story was weird in the first two hours. It still has its awkward beats here - mostly whenever Yanis actually appears onscreen. But Kev's guilt eating at him is really funny but could very easily lead to tragedy.

Some more thoughts:
  • "The F Word" was written by Krista Vernoff and directed by Nisha Ganatra.
  • It's still somewhat startling that Liam actually has dialogue now. But it's also problematic because he's still just a plot device. He has no personality whatsoever. Plus, how old is he now? It feels like he's been the same age for awhile now.
  • The joke about Frank inviting a recently evicted family to live in the space right next door to the Gallagher house wasn't that great. It largely just foreshadowed that eviction was a threat about to hit the Gallagher door.
  • The most problematic thing about Yanis is that he is such a one-note character. It's tragic that he has been paralyzed. But he's still just yelling some incredibly hateful and violent things. The show has turned one-note characters into meaningful parts of the ensemble many times before. Maybe that can happen here too.
  • Another funny scene was Ian showing up for his first day of work and the other janitor talking about three letter names being best for the uniform. It was so odd but worked because of its brevity.
  • It's also a good thing that Ian is going to find his own calling for the future. Fiona and Lip's hearts were in the right places when they got him these two jobs. But he'll be happier when he finds something to get excited about himself.
  • Not quite sure how to feel about Carl's flirting with the girl from school, Dominique. It's amusing when her dad threatens to beat him up. But it's still very forced and Carl really isn't that charming. Still the increased focus on him at school is much better than him being foolish in the criminal world of the streets.