Sunday, April 3, 2016

REVIEW: 'Shameless' - Frank Gets the Last Word at Fiona's Wedding to Sean in 'Familia Supra Gallegorious Omnia!'

Showtime's Shameless - Episode 6.12 "Familia Supra Gallegorious Omnia!"

It's Fiona's wedding day. Debbie shows up at the church with Franny. Ian brings Caleb to meet the family. Frank reveals that Sean is a practicing junkie. Sean is desperate to keep his son in his life.

This hasn't been a great season for Shameless. It's had a lot of awkward starts and stops with its storytelling as well as difficulties in embracing maturity with the characters. Everyone in the Gallagher family right now is trying to find happiness and embrace a life that is better than what they've been living. And yet, there is this near constant pull for everyone in the family to eventually mess it all up and spiral back to the familiar environment of the family home. It's something that the family has been struggling with over the entire series. So much of that familiar pull is because of Frank coming in to disrupt their lives and potential happiness. That has also allowed this family to be much more open and honest with each other. But that includes plenty of heartbreak and self-destruction as well.

All season long Fiona has happily been in a relationship with Sean. They've had their ups and downs but for the most part it's been a stable dynamic. Sean has proven himself to be a much better father figure for the Gallagher household. He cares about Fiona and wants to help her siblings when they get into trouble. That's something that has been missing in all of her previous relationships. Fiona has responsibilities with her family. Sean didn't force her to change. He willingly chose to accept her for who she is and made that a part of his life as well. He was happy to do it. But Sean wanted the family to embrace a better reality for themselves than the world they've always lived in. He wants to protect the family from the disaster that is Frank. And that need only showcased just how similar Frank and Sean really are.

Both Frank and Sean want to protect the Gallagher family. Frank still believes he holds that right simply because he's the father of the household. He doesn't care how many times he has messed up or disappointed his kids. He always figures he has a place in their lives because he brought them into this world. Sean's need to protect the family came from a much more genuine concern. He has seen the damage that Frank has caused and wanted everyone to rise up against him in order to embrace happiness. He's seen just how manipulative Frank can be with his kids. Sean wanted to cut that out of Fiona's life. But again, Frank and Sean aren't that different after all. That becomes even more clear after Frank breaks into Patsy's and discovers that Sean has been using drugs this entire season. It's a devastating reveal that ensures Fiona won't be getting any happiness any time soon.

It's all because Frank shows up at Fiona's wedding high and demanding to be a part of the ceremony. He knows all the trouble and vices his kids have gotten into. But he doesn't want to take any of the responsibility for how they turned out. He wants to be a part of this wedding. When that doesn't happen, he chooses to destroy any hope of a future between Fiona and Sean. It's a very mean-spirited moment for Frank. He believes he is being denied someone that is rightfully his. When he can't have that, he wants to make everyone else suffer. But there's still some truth in what he is saying. Sean has been hiding this from Fiona. So that means this relationship wasn't as real or genuine as everyone thought. It's heartbreaking because Fiona truly believed she was building a better life for herself and her siblings with Sean. And now, she's single once again as Sean needs to go and make sure this reveal doesn't ruin his custody arrangement.

Fiona's wedding isn't the happy occasion everyone wanted it to be. Frank destroys all of that. He points out just how messed up this family really is. And yet, everyone is still doing their best to overcome all of those issues. Frank is more than happy to point out the flaws of all of his kids. He is hurtful to everyone not just Fiona. Seeing Frank like this forces many of them to reach out and get the help that they need to make sure they don't become anything like Frank. This has been a pretty interesting season for Frank. He managed to work his way into Debbie's life again and earn the title of being her father. But he still managed to screw that up after awhile. And now, he is choosing to only look at the problems his children have. He knows how all of them are messed up. He says these words in order to be spiteful to all of them. So, it's not at all surprising that they respond by locking him in the trunk of a car and then pushing him off of a bridge. Perhaps that will be the message that finally gets Frank to realize his kids want nothing to do with him. It probably won't be. He probably won't learn anything from this experience. And that just continues to show just how despicable and incapable of change he really is.

This finale also forces a number of choices on the Gallagher siblings over what they want their futures to be. They can either decide to embrace the familiar and comfortable. Or they can forge ahead with a risk that may lead to a much happier existence. Fiona wanted that with Sean. But now, she needs to retreat to the familiar because he wasn't the man she thought he was. Debbie has been determined to raise Franny by herself. But now, her doctor is telling her that she needs help if this arrangement is going to work. Debbie showing up at Fiona's wedding is the first step into getting back into a good relationship with the rest of her family. Carl is still doing whatever it takes to walk the straight path and impress his girlfriend's father. It still hasn't worked but it's also so intriguing to see Carl step up and actually be a contributing member of the family. Ian is still upset about losing his new dream job. The show definitely rushes what it's like looking for a job while being open about a mental illness. But it's still so engaging to watch as Ian fights for the EMT job and doesn't sink back to working at the strip club. And lastly, Lip has ruined all of the potential he had at college. But the professor is still looking out for him. Lip needs help right now. He has had a terrible downward spiral that has turned him into a young Frank. But after seeing what Frank does at the wedding, Lip wants to be a better person than that. So now, he's going to rehab to get better and try to rebuild his life. All of these things are going to be a lot of hard work for the Gallaghers to do. They'll still mess up along the way. But they all still deserve happiness - though it's seeming more and more clear that they'll never actually get it for very long. Still it's meaningful that they are able to grab little moments of it to make their existence a little better along the way while they try to make sense of everything that is happening.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Familia Supra Gallegorious Omnia!" was written by John Wells and directed by Christopher Chulack.
  • Part of the reveal with Sean plays like the show needing to write an exit for that character. A way to explain how this relationship is no better than all of Fiona's previous ones - despite the strong evidence to the contrary throughout the season.
  • And yet, Sean could still play an important part of the next season because Fiona and Carl still work at Patsy's. Does this breakup mean that both of them will be searching for new employment? If so, that means Fiona has really hit rock bottom again.
  • Tommy's reaction to learning that Lip has been expelled from school was so moving and great. Lip was motivated to leave his old life behind and embrace the potential at school because of his horrible experience working construction with Tommy. And now, he has thrown all of that away because of a girl and has embraced a drunk and opinionated reality just like Frank.
  • Not a whole lot was said about Kev, V and Svetlana's new living arrangement. But many of the Gallaghers had some pretty good (but brief) reactions to seeing their new public displays of affection.
  • Frank is always going to find a way back into the Gallagher house. He knows every nook and cranny of that place. That's largely why the family has stopped trying to kick him out. But they'll need to change a lot if they want this new hatred towards him to truly stick.
  • It's a tad weird seeing how easily the show just drops the threat from the end of the previous episode where Frank was plotting to have Sean killed. It's not surprising that Frank is swindled out of money. Though it does some like a waste of time in hindsight.
  • It was a big deal earlier in the season that Caleb hadn't met any of Ian's siblings. And now, he finally has and it's no big deal at all. Plus, the relationship remains solid. It's because Ian can rely on it that he finds the strength to get the EMT job back.
  • Again, this season had its fair share of problems. It's getting harder and harder to justify a lot of the characters' actions even though they continue to be amusing. The show should probably start thinking about setting an end date. Season 7 has been confirmed and the ratings continue to be stellar. So, we'll just have to wait and see with what Showtime and the creative team want to do.