Sunday, January 31, 2016

REVIEW: 'Shameless' - The Gallaghers Have to Rally in Order to Buy Back the House in 'Going Once, Going Twice'

Showtime's Shameless - Episode 6.04 "Going Once, Going Twice"

Fiona confronts Patrick about the eviction notice, and must pursue a mortgage. Ian makes a discovery at the firehouse.

"Going Once, Going Twice" certainly has a throwback quality to it. It very much feels like an episode from one of the early seasons of the show where the Gallagher family has to come together in order to deal with an outside threat to their way of life. In this case though, things don't work out in the end for the family. They were served with an eviction notice at the end of the previous episode. And now, they have officially lost the house. That's a huge turn of events. It also brings some much needed focus to the season. It's great to see the entire family working together again for a common goal. There has been a lot of animosity and contention within the family this year. This event forces them together. They all love this house. It's the one thing of stability in their lives. No matter how crazy things get, they could always rely on the house still being there waiting for them to return. Without it, their lives are more chaotic than ever and they are now officially homeless.

As Fiona notes though, this isn't the first time the Gallaghers have been faced with living on the streets. When Frank and Monica were in charge, they frequently found themselves bouncing around from place to place. Sometimes they would land on the streets. Sometimes they would end up in horrible foster homes. The bond between the siblings is what has kept them together for so long. But now, they are all growing up. That has meant that some of them are moving away from the house. Lip has a bright future ahead of him with his pursuit of a college degree. But this house still holds a sentimental value to all of them. They have spent so much time in this place. It's their home. And now, it's being taken away from them. It's the gentrification of the neighborhood finally catching up to them. It's a devastating final reveal for the episode and suggests some emotional and difficult times ahead.

The losing of the house is a great tease for what's to come this season. However, the rest of this episode was a little scattered. The main story of getting enough money just in order to get a mortgage from the bank was pretty amusing. Everyone is rightfully surprised that the bank would just give $100,000 to Fiona. It's because she has no credit at all. That's basically the only deciding factor. She puts in all of her effort to secure the funds in order to potentially buy back the house at a foreclosure auction. She is so determined not to upset the lives of her younger siblings just like all the times it happened to her when she was young. She may not be connecting to Debbie or Carl all that well right now. But she's still going to do whatever it takes to keep this house for them. Carl actually has the money in order to make the down payment for the loan. She largely declines it to keep some urgency in this plot for the entirety of the hour. But she also doesn't want to risk this deal simply because the money comes from illegal activities - which is definitely how Carl has it even though Fiona doesn't know the specifics. It's a rousing victory when Fiona collects all the money. Sure, she has to borrow some from Sean and pawn the wedding ring from Gus' grandmother. But she still gets it done. That's why it is so defeating when the bidding becomes too much. The changing neighborhood has made the house desirable. And Fiona just can't compete with that.

Aside from that main story, it's also interesting that four of the Gallagher siblings are being set in plots connected to married people with children. Fiona and Sean's relationship is strong. He has been very supportive of her as her world continues to get more and more chaotic. He's not pushing too hard about the abortion (which she still hasn't done yet) nor moving in together should this deal go horribly awry (which it does). It's an emotional story that is meant to be taken seriously. He even confesses to her another dark secret from his past. He was sent to prison for killing a man while high on drugs. It's not something Fiona is equipped to deal with right now. But this attempt at honesty is certainly setting the two of them up as a couple that might last.

Meanwhile, Lip's fling with Helene is getting much more serious. His feelings have grown very real. That has been apparent throughout this season so far. But now, she actually admits that she is falling in love with him as well. They attend a conference together in this episode. Lip just goes in order to support Helene for this work she has been doing for the past three years. He gets to enjoy some more hot sex as well a bidet for the first time. And yet, the event doesn't go well for Helene. She is discredited within the opening remarks of her presentation. It's a horrible defeat for her. Lip is there to take care of her and comfort her during this very trying time. She spirals a little bit. That's what makes her open up to him. She has come to rely on him as well. It's something she immediately takes back once she is sober and cleaned up. But those feelings are still present which can only suggest more problems for the future.

This is also the first time this season where no one is yelling at Debbie to get an abortion. They are too distracted by other things. Meanwhile, Debbie is allowed to start a new job opportunity in order to help pay for her child. Frank is the only person who supports her. Plus, she is actually accepting his help as well. He's the one helping her with her pre-natal care. It's horrible advice. He's trying to find her a sugar daddy. He eventually finds one for her too in the form of an overwhelmed family where the mom is struggling with breast cancer. Frank is already thinking ahead to her death and Debbie being able to replace her in her husband's life. That's horrifying. But it's something that Debbie jumps on board once she sees how attractive the husband is. It's a story that can only get more precarious and awkward moving forward.

And lastly, there's Ian who wants to show his gratitude to the firefighter who saved him from last week's car accident by baking a batch of cookies. He has to do it twice because he shows up on a day where a different shift is working. And yet, it's a very awkward and perfunctory story in this episode. It's just really blunt about there being a shift of all gay firefighters. It immediately shows how Ian is going to be connected to this world for the foreseeable future. But it does so in a really blunt way that ultimately just comes across as forced. It's also uncertain what exactly Ian's connection to the one firefighter with a family is actually going to be. The scene does have value in showing that Ian really doesn't have anything he can brag to these firefighters about. But it's also a rush of excitement that could very easily appeal to him.

Ian's story plays in stark contrast to the latest twist in Kev's dynamic with Yanis. It has been such a weird story all season long. It has gotten so dark and tragic. But there is still an undercurrent of humor to it all that really seems misplaced. Kev finally tells Yanis the truth about him being the one who cut his motorcycle's break line. But that largely just showed how much of a one-note character Yanis was. He reacts in this big, over-the-top and angry way. He tries to set Kev on fire and accidentally does it to himself. Kev watches in horror. But he doesn't go and try to help his friend. He just watches him burn. And yet, what's the point? There has been no purpose in this story. It's just the latest shameless thing that these characters have done. But has it crossed a line? Kev kills someone. That's not okay. His guilt will be even worse for the next few episodes. But how is that going to be a satisfying story for the character? Right now, it just feels like a mistake.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Going Once, Going Twice" was written by Davey Holmes and directed by Christopher Chulack.
  • Kev's story with Yanis is even more awkward and unnecessary because of how great his and V's struggles with the Alibi are. It's been great seeing them get so much success this season - only for all of it to disappear because Kev hangs a sign bragging about their accomplishments. But when V gets a look at the competition, it's a story that has a very abrupt ending here.
  • Carl is the only Gallagher with an age appropriate love interest. He's certainly making some progress with Dom too. But it's still somewhat annoying to see her slowly fall under his charms.
  • But Carl's story was also interesting here too largely because of his friend's speech about wanting a bike instead of a car. That was great.
  • Frank bringing home an elderly man for Debbie was a joke that didn't work nearly as well as the show thought it did. It just dragged on for too long without Debbie being aware of what was happening.
  • The family only has this foreclosure problem because Patrick pops up again to remind the audience and Fiona that he is the absolute worst.
  • Chuckie has also returned and is the latest kid Fiona has to look after - considering Sammi is locked up. His return largely serves as a tease that more of that side of the family tree may be popping up soon.