Sunday, October 9, 2016

REVIEW: 'Shameless' - Fiona Struggles with Not Caring About the Rest of the Gallagher Family in 'Swipe, F**k, Leave'

Showtime's Shameless - Episode 7.02 "Swipe, F**k, Leave"

Ready to disown his family, Frank takes Liam under his wing and starts a new life barricaded on the top floor of the Gallagher home. Fiona adopts a new, relaxed attitude and starts running Patsy's Pies on her own terms. Debbie gets into trouble in the stroller business. Ian tries out heterosexuality. Carl finds himself forced into abstinence.

Fiona doesn't care about anything or anyone in the aftermath of her almost wedding to Sean. It's an interesting place to find her at the start of the season. It's clear it's not a good or healthy mentality for her to have right now. But she has still been very productive in some other regards as well. However, it's very telling that she doesn't care enough to actually do anything with Frank. But even that mood doesn't stick around for very long. Fiona says she doesn't want to care about these problem people in her life. She doesn't want to care for her family or her latest disastrous relationship. She just wants to focus on herself. Of course, she struggles to do that. She still cares about her family a great deal. She still has to remind herself that she doesn't have to clean up after them. But she's not as willing to fight Frank as she was before. She took him to court to get legal custody of her siblings. That seems like a long time ago. It's something she did in order to protect her family. The siblings have grown a lot since then. But Frank is still causing them the same old problems. Now, things are different because she isn't the one leading the charge against him. She's much more focused on running Patsy's Pies and enjoying some sex with total strangers.

Frank has barricaded himself on the top floor of the Gallagher residence. It was an action at the end of the premiere that proved he would still be causing headaches for his children. This episode doesn't try to pretend it's a permanent solution. Him locking himself in Fiona's room didn't keep her out for long. His whole story is a little weird. Frank is doing all of this because he wants to disown all of his kids except for Liam. He still sees his youngest as impressionable. Liam hasn't shunned Frank yet. So, Frank can still mold the toddler in his own image. The rest of the kids hate him with every fiber of their being. And yet, Frank still willingly chooses to come back to the house. He wants nothing to do with his family but is constantly around them. That's quite a dichotomy that has been a core dynamic for the entire series. He doesn't try to build a new life away from them. He's trying to make his own claim on the house while annoying his children. It's completely ridiculous. He hires people to build walls to close off the top floor. He climbs in and out of the house through a window. He brings a lady over and is surprised when the water is turned off on him. He purposefully tries to get back at his kids after they try to ruin his new home. It's an important story. It's building to that moment where Fiona feels something when she starts hitting the wall with a sledgehammer. But all of the Frank stuff just doesn't feel completely necessary yet.

Fiona not caring also extends to her work life. All she wants is to go back to being a waitress so she can make more money. Her reasoning is still needing to provide for her family. So even when she's trying to quit, she's disproving her claims of not caring. Patsy's could hold a lot of depressing memories for her as well because it was Sean's place. He's gone now and she's in charge. Her not caring about him allows her to stay on as manager and want to do better. She's the one in charge now. Sean ran things a certain way. It's how all of the employees are used to things being done. And yet, Fiona can implement some changes that could make the diner more profitable. She's sick and tired of people coming in late or taking shifts off for silly reasons. Sure, it's a weird moment when she goes to the management company and believes her male contact is the one in charge when he's actually just an assistant to the lady behind the whole operation. It's weird but it could be motivational. It's clearly going to be a big story this season because Sharon Lawrence shows up to introduce the story. Plus, it leads to a change at Patsy's. But that change could be leading Fiona right back to where she started. Her new hires invite her out to a club and encourage her to have random sex with strangers. It's an environment she is more than comfortable in. She's gone to clubs and hooked up with people she's just met. She was doing that at the start of the series. But other characters have matured. V isn't there for Fiona like she used to be. She has her own family now. She would rather give Fiona coffee the morning after instead of partying it up all night with her. It's clear Fiona may be devolving as a character once more. It's a slip that isn't as fun or charming as it used to be. The sledgehammer may bring her some release but she's still going to have to talk about things with someone eventually.

Meanwhile, it's clear that the show is trying to end Ian's story from last season as quickly as possible. He has a number of fantastic interactions with the other siblings in this episode. But whenever he's around Caleb, it's just so boring. It was an important relationship last season. And now, it has officially ended. The two get into a huge fight over Caleb having sex with Denise on a regular basis. They breakup. It's this big thing that gets a lot of screen time here. And yet, it's hard to care or feel emotional about it. The best relationships make you feel something. The ups and downs are powerful storytelling because of the characters involved. Here, it's just the show ending things because it realizes that things just weren't working out between them. It wasn't the best use of Ian. However, it still took two episodes this season to end things without any further indication of what's on the horizon for Ian. Ian questioning his sexuality yet again isn't really a story that's all that necessary either. Caleb doesn't believe he cheated because he did it with a woman. He still sees himself as gay. He's not bisexual even though that's how the rest of the world would categorize him. It took awhile for Ian to be comfortable in his sexuality too. He's proud to be gay now. He doesn't need to be questioning that. So, it's strange that he just has sex with a random woman here and promptly freaks out afterwards. It's so odd and alienating. It's a story that doesn't really work at all. But at least, it's finished now with the future full of possibilities. It would be hard for things to get any worse than what this story was.

Things are still in the introductory stages with all of the other characters. So, it ultimately makes this episode feel a little slow and lackluster. Lip gets a new unpaid internship. It's a pretty simple introduction here. He has to get coffee and just do random tasks for the people in charge of the company. Plus, the FBI is already looking into this organization. So, it's clear that Lip's connection to criminal activity will only continue this season. It just may be different crimes than he's used to. Meanwhile, Carl's story about circumcision is so odd and weird. It's suppose to be funny because he can't stop getting an erection. It has a great resolution when Ian and Lip help him out by drugging him. But it's largely a case of the show being a little too amused with itself. Elsewhere, Debbie is still just stealing strollers in order to finance her life right now. It's an operation that is still going well for her. Of course, until she almost steals a baby who is still in the stroller. Things could have taken a dark turn here. And yet, they don't really. Frank learns what she's up to. But no one in the family seems all that concerned about what this sudden criminal impulse means for Debbie. And lastly, Kev just wants to spend his days playing with his kids and not cleaning the house. That's basically it. He gets confused when a topless maid service doesn't actual clean houses. He gets the idea to start a business that actually does. But it's not a story with a whole lot actually there yet.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Swipe, F**k, Leave" was written by Nancy M. Pimental and directed by Rob Hardy.
  • It's great how the show flips the traditional gender roles with V and Svetlana returning home from a day at work expecting Kev to have cleaned the house, kept the babies alive and well, and made dinner for the whole family. Kev notes the hypocrisy of that statement by saying he was very busy with the children. 
  • Fiona doesn't even care that Lip is drinking despite spending thirty days in rehab. She takes him out to the club because the new waitresses wanted him to come. Fiona warns Lip about that. But than just stops worrying about him after that.
  • It's weird that Dom told other people at school about Carl's operation. Him being picked on at school could be an interesting story. It's just so minor and lackluster here. It's good for a couple of jokes about cutting his dick off but not a whole lot else.
  • It's also odd to see back-to-back sequences with Ian and Carl fantasizing about things they never normally would have. Carl is thinking about hairy balls while Ian is looking at women for sexual arousal. 
  • How great would it be if all of the Gallaghers just didn't have love interests for awhile? Carl and Dom work as a couple. But it could be interesting to see Fiona, Lip, Ian and Debbie single for awhile. 
  • How old is Liam? When is the show actually going to tell a story with him? He is still just a toddler with no personality who just follows whomever happens to care about him for the week. Debbie and Carl were young at the start of the series. But they still had personalities. Liam has nothing.