Sunday, March 27, 2016

REVIEW: 'Shameless' - A Confrontation with Sean Leads Frank to a Dark and Brutal Decision in 'Sleep No More'

Showtime's Shameless - Episode 6.11 "Sleep No More"

Frank offers to pay for Fiona's reception. When Sean worries that Frank will only hurt Fiona in the end, he confronts Frank.

Frank has always been a frustrating character on Shameless. William H. Macy is likely the reason the show was ordered to series in the first place. He's an actor that Showtime enjoys being in business with even though he's not the reason why Shameless is a great show. Frank has always been an over-the-top character. He's a deadbeat, alcoholic father who always finds a way to mess up the lives of his children. And yet, that gets tiring after awhile. Frank is always at his most interesting when he is interacting with his children. But there is also no reason why the Gallagher siblings would keep allowing this man into their lives over and over again. He has let them down so many times that they can never believe anything he has to say. That creates a problem for the show. So oftentimes, Frank has been off having his own adventures which have always been very hit or miss.

This season has done a pretty great job at letting Frank interact with the rest of the family without it being too frustrating or forgetful of the past. He has been there to complicate the lives of Debbie and Fiona. That has been interesting even though Frank really hasn't changed as a person at all. The family can't stand him but they don't do anything to push him out of their lives for good. He still just keeps popping up with whatever new thing he likes only to disappear yet again a little while later. And yet, Frank has been there for Debbie as of late. He was the only person in the family who was actually happy about her pregnancy. He was able to care for her in a way that Fiona and the other siblings weren't. Of course, that was just the pregnancy. When it comes to an actual baby, he quickly reverted back to his old ways. He missed the birth of the granddaughter who was being named after him simply because of the latest drug mess he gotten himself into. And now that the baby is actually here, everyone is adjusting to her and looking out for Debbie's well-being - except for Frank. All he sees is another way to con people out of money.

That's exactly what he does too. He wants to milk this situation for as long as he can in the hope of actually being a father to his children again. He's upset about missing Frances' birth and wants to make up for it by paying for Fiona's wedding. It's a grand gesture that he wants to do to be a part of his daughter's life again. It's a routine Fiona has experienced many times before. She no longer feels anything towards Frank. And yet, she still indulges him. She wants to go through with a traditional wedding ceremony. If Frank can help pay for some of it, that would make her happy - even though she still won't let Frank be a part of her life. And yet, in trying to do this big gesture for his family, Frank only alienates them even more by destroying the things they hold precious in life. It is a little random that Debbie is still holding out hope that Derek will one day return and want to be a father to their daughter. But that's still enough to create a situation where Debbie once again shuns Frank even though it happens a week after naming her daughter after him.

All of this is eventually building to a major confrontation between Frank and Sean. The rest of the Gallagher family has put up with Frank's actions for their entire lives. They've gotten use to the fact that he will only bring pain and chaos into their lives. They've become accustomed to it. It's not reality if someone isn't throwing a brick through the window threatening Frank. And yet, that's not okay at all. One of the central themes of the show is a lack of boundaries. This is a family that has grown on top of each other. That can be a really good thing. The closeness of this family allows them to count on each other in even the worst of situations. But it's also kept them from maturing and being able to make lasting relationships that will better all of their lives. Sean has entered the picture this season wanting to create a better and healthier life for Fiona. He has done many great things for her and her family. To them, putting up with Frank is simply a cost of living. He's an annoyance who really isn't harming anyone.

And yet, that may not be the case for much longer. This episode deliberately points out just how toxic Frank is to the Gallagher household as seen through Sean's eyes. The rest of the family is able to comfort and rely on each other during times of crisis. This is a big episode for devastating moments for the siblings too. Frank isn't a part of that though. He only wants to be a member of the family in a traditional sense while accepting none of the responsibility. He feels like he is entitled to whatever is in the house even though it's no longer technically his. Sean isn't okay with that which leads to a fight that starts in the kitchen and quickly makes its way to the ground below. It's a brutal fight where Frank's health is even questioned for a moment. But it only makes way for one final, devastating twist. Frank is threatened by Sean and how he could take his family away from him. Despite his horrible parenting skills, Frank has always been comforted by having a family that will still let him into their house. Sean threatens to take all of that away. He is right to do so. But it only further angers Frank. And now, Frank has actually hired someone to kill Sean!

Frank having Sean killed could be a line that the show really shouldn't cross. Frank has done many despicable things over the years. And yet, he still remains a part of the family's lives. They are still interacting with him and not looking at his actions for how horrible they really are. But him hiring a man to kill Sean would push the family away for good. If the show actually goes through with it, there would be no justification for Frank still being welcomed into their lives. His influence is still being felt as the siblings all continue to mess up their own lives and prevent their own happiness. But he cannot be a part of that if he goes through with this murder. It's a very dark twist that certainly sets up an interesting finale next week. It is a moment that feels earned. But it's precarious and tense nevertheless.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Sleep No More" was written by Sheila Callaghan and directed by Anthony Hemingway.
  • Sean was right to beat up Frank for all the deplorable acts he puts his family through. And yet, Fiona still blows up at him for protecting her heart. She doesn't care about Frank. She loves Sean and is worried about this being a parole violation.
  • It was uncertain what would happen with Debbie and Frances following the end of last week's episode. But here, she's still trying to be a mother at home - which is annoying the rest of the family. She has to learn to accept help from her siblings. And yet, she learns that simply because she puts her daughter in harm's way. She falls asleep while holding her and Frances falls and hits her head on the kitchen floor. That was a scary moment.
  • Lip has officially imploded at college. It's such a devastating moment too. He worked so hard to get there and make something of his life for the family. And now, he is reverting back into the same old Gallagher pattern. All because his precious ego got bruised first by Helene and then by his professor/father figure. Him getting arrested for smashing a car should have major consequences.
  • And yet, it's odd just how exaggerated the show gets when it comes to Lip's big blowup during the professor's lecture. He complains about the guy teaching irrelevant information to his students. And then, the show thinks the best way to dramatize that is by having him teach methods that went out of date in the nineties. That's a little too absurd. 
  • It's not long until Ian's lie about never being institutionalized is discovered. Throughout this episode, he's the Gallagher who has his life together the most. That's surprising but very welcome. But again, it's all built on this lie which doesn't last for very long.
  • Isn't it a little weird though that Caleb didn't know that paramedics would also have to pass a background check? Ian only lied because Caleb told him too. So now that the job has blown up, it seems like the relationship isn't too far behind. It shouldn't be that complicated though - considering no one in the Gallagher family has even met Caleb.
  • V and Svetlana's marriage was a story that was very awful in the previous two episodes. It was just so pointless and unnecessary. But now, it's actually building to an interesting complication in Kev and V's marriage where V has developed real feelings for Svetlana and Kev is giddy by what this threeway relationship could mean.