Sunday, March 13, 2016

REVIEW: 'Shameless' - Fiona Attempts to Fix Things with Sean While Ian Helps an Old Friend in 'A Yurt of One's Own'

Showtime's Shameless - Episode 6.09 "A Yurt of One's Own"

Fiona tries to make amends with Sean, who is uncooperative. Debbie and Frank travel to Queenie's rural commune.

Shameless introduced tension between Fiona and Sean at the end of last week's episode when it was discovered that Sean's son had taken one of Carl's guns from the Gallagher household. It was a very serious threat that could destroy this entire relationship. Sean has put so much importance on his relationship with his son. That is the dynamic that means the most to him personally in the entire world. He cares about Will more than he does about Fiona. It's a horrifying realization when he sees just how compromising Fiona has made his life as of late. He has done so much for her family. He has given jobs to three Gallaghers. Granted, it's still just a shitty diner. But it's still something. He has been willing to help Fiona pay for the mortgage that would get the family house back for them. He has risked so much in order to be with her. And now, he deserves to be upset by the fact that she has comprised his son's safety while he's in Chicago.

"A Yurt of One's Own" doesn't completely shy away from the consequences of this action. Sean deserves to be upset and angry with Fiona. He needs time to see how this will affect his custody arrangement with his ex-wife. Fiona wants to know what he's feeling and what this means for their relationship. She needs to know. He doesn't want to lash out at her for this very stupid thing that she allowed to happen. Eventually, he does. It's something that she needed to hear as well. This isn't the first time she has compromised the safety of a minor. It's cruel of him to remind her of the time that Liam got into cocaine. But he's not wrong to bring it up. It shows that she really hasn't grown all that much since returning to society from prison. She's still overwhelmed by the demands of her family. But that's largely because she no longer knows how to connect with her siblings not because of the work load she needs to do to provide for them.

Fiona also has her hands full with Gus returning to get an actual divorce from her. It's something he wants to handle as simply as possible now because he has a new girlfriend who he is getting serious with. He was a real jerk to her the last time she reached out. Again, he was right to be angry with Fiona based on her prior actions. She screws up in relationships a lot. She knows this. And yet, she still chooses to be a part of these unhealthy dynamics. She fears that she has really screwed up this time with Sean. But she's also afraid that she can't return the ring that Gus proposed to her with. It holds so much significant value to him. It's the only thing of his that Fiona still has that he wants back. That's the only thing keeping this divorce from becoming contentious. It's a dynamic that eventually becomes fueled with animosity. Fiona finds a lawyer who really wants to milk this situation for what it's worth. But Fiona ultimately decides not to pursue any of these aggressive tactics.

It's all because Sean goes to the pawn shop and buys the ring back for Fiona. It's a gesture that shows just how good a guy he really is despite how upset he is with her right now. He still listened to her problems and helped find a solution to them. He has been a good influence for her. But she's still asking for him to put up with a lot just by dating her. And yet, him returning the ring eventually pivots into a full-on proposal. Marriage wasn't something that worked out well for Fiona the last time she did it. She rushed into it very quickly and is now finally getting a divorce after not being with Gus for over a year. But Sean's proposal comes out of nowhere and is really surprising. It's not what this episode was building towards at all. It's startling and unexpected. It comes right after they somewhat broke up over their differences. And yet, this is still a relationship that Sean wants to make work for some reason. Proposing won't solve all of their problems. It does show just how committed they are to each other. They are also going in much more level-headed and aware of what they are walking into. It just still feels like a dynamic that is too precarious and combustible at the moment to take this proposal all that seriously.

Elsewhere, the show gets a blast from the past by bringing Mandy back to Chicago. She was never all that great of a character when she was on the show for so many seasons. Her relationship with Lip really wasn't all that special nor was her friendship with Ian. But it's surprisingly moving to see her return as a changed woman and in a very horrifying situation. She has become an escort and has been able to make a great living from it. She has had experiences that have taken her far away from the neighborhood. She has been happy until one of her clients dies while they are together and she doesn't know what to do. That's the thing that finally gets her to reach out to Ian. She left the neighborhood in a very precarious situation. It didn't seem like she was leaving this life for a better one elsewhere. She still managed to find it somehow but she didn't want to reach out to her old friends and family. This incident forced that to happen. Ian takes care of her in a very mature and friendly way. It shows just how great a guy Ian really is. The show has struggle with him all season long. He hasn't really felt like himself in a long time. This story brought what made his character so amazing back a little bit. It was just a brief reminder of his past. It's one that will only get more complicated by Lip running into Mandy as she runs out the door. But it shows that embracing the past doesn't mean the characters still can't be mature.

This hour also confirms that Lip is on a very self-destructive path that is leading towards him becoming just like Frank. That felt like a long time coming - especially once his relationship with Helene ended disastrously. But he is another character who the show has struggled with this season in remembering just how great and unique he was at the beginning of the show. Right now, it has felt like he exists in order to enact various porn scenarios. This season he has had a ton of sex. That has been the true definer of his character. It's been a long time since his story has been defined by something other than that. Here, he parties a little too hard at the sorority party and winds up in the hospital with alcohol poisoning. It's a situation very familiar to Frank. Lip even has a very Frank reaction with being upset at the girl who called 911 and thus forced all of this costly treatment on him. It's still hard to know where exactly the show is planning on going with this arc for Lip though. He does have that run-in with Mandy which could send him spiraling even more due to his past relationship troubles. Or the show could be trying to make them work as a couple again. It's just too uncertain right now - which is odd for the ninth episode of the season.

Some more thoughts:
  • "A Yurt of One's Own" was written by Davey Holmes and directed by Ruben Garcia.
  • It's weird that all of Carl's relentless pursuing of Dominique has finally paid off. And yet, it's still a rather sweet moment because Carl has dropped the gangster facade completely and has just been living as his genuine self. That's what ultimately attracts her to him.
  • It's long been uncertain whether or not Carl still had his virginity. It was such a big plot point with Debbie but completely irrelevant with him. But here, it is confirmed that he has never had sex. So unlike Debbie, he actually does it for the first time with someone who could be special.
  • Plus, it's just so great to see Carl running to Lip and Ian for more condoms - which they do provide. Even Lip and Ian are uncertain if this is his first time or not.
  • The show also backs out of severe consequences for Frank giving his recent dealings with the gang. It's serious when he's running away from a hail of bullets. But he's quickly able to join Queenie, Chuckie and Debbie on their adventure to the commune in order to make a better life for themselves.
  • All the stuff at the commune was a little too contrived and comedically driven. Frank's reactions to various gross stuff over the years has been very hit and miss. Him digging through compost and running the generator just didn't really work all that well.
  • The big sex montage of Frank powering the generator, Debbie experiencing her first orgasm and Carl having sex with Dominique didn't work either. Mostly because the Frank and Debbie moments were so rushed and unearned while the Carl one was actually pretty special.
  • It's great that Svetlana is being given her own story now. She has become such a phenomenal character on the show since her very broad introduction. But it's also a story meant to bring tension to Kev and V's relationship - again. That's just not very intriguing right now. Though it is amusing to think that Svetlana and V could get married.