Sunday, November 6, 2016

REVIEW: 'Shameless' - Fiona, Debbie, Ian and Carl Commit to New Paths in 'The Defenestration of Frank'

Showtime's Shameless - Episode 7.06 "The Defenestration of Frank"

Fiona sees opportunity in a laundromat for sale and decides to invest. Frank revels in the good fortune of his scam, but the troops catch a whiff of foul play. Kev and V discover a shocking secret about Svetlana's father.

"The Defenestration of Frank" is all about the Gallaghers committing to action. It's not about everyone rallying behind Debbie to make sure that family services doesn't take Franny away from her. That's only a minor part of the overall story. Yes, it motivates Debbie into action a little bit. But the other siblings don't treat it as seriously as all the previous threats of family members being taken away. They don't see Debbie as a bad mother even though she has made so many questionable decisions over the last few seasons. Instead, this hour puts almost every Gallagher at a crossroads. They need to commit to their current paths and ambitions. Those new challenges will be complicated. It won't be easy for any of them to find success in work and their love lives. But they are all actively taking the steps to build a better future for themselves. Of course, the problems they'll encounter are already on full display. It doesn't seem like any of these new ventures will work out for any of them. Frank and Lip's plans already seem to be imploding on them. But the weight of these actions has to mean something. It can't just be the latest time the siblings get excited about branching out on their own only for everything to explode in their faces and send them running back to the comfort of the house and the siblings. It can't be as easy as that anymore. Fiona's story adds severity to the situation. One that could go wrong and have lasting implications for the other siblings as well.

The siblings lost the Gallagher house for a few episodes last season. They had a white savior in Sean who was able to save them from that disaster. Of course, it was later revealed that he wasn't all that great either. And now, the siblings just have each other to rely on. Fiona has wanted her siblings to need her less. She's trying to get her life together and can't do that if she still needs to be a mother to her siblings. She still cares about them though. She wants to talk with them. She wants to be their supportive sister. She wants to have that kind of dynamic with them. It's just been difficult to see that because she has pushed them away so much this season. She's isolated herself in order to be successful at Patsy's. It's a trade off that has worked for her. Because of her efforts, Patsy's is a success. But her absence has only continued to push Debbie down a dark path. Plus, it's clear Fiona can be a little delusional about her dreams as well. She's not wrong for wanting to expand her reach as a businesswoman. She doesn't own Patsy's. So she's not making as much of the profits as she wants. She is advised to start owning things because that's where the true money comes from. She got it in her head that this is what she should do. And then, an opportunity presents itself. She could buy the laundromat just across the street from Patsy's. But in following that ambition, she chooses to ignore some big warning signs while putting her family in danger. It's as if her desire to be a success is clouding her judgment right now and the consequences her actions might have.

Fiona does buy the laundromat from Etta with a loan she gets from the bank. She puts the house up as collateral. Lip recognizes that as a major problem right away. He doesn't even know all of the other problems at the laundromat. He is just worried about what this potential investment will mean for him and the rest of the family. He has had to step up a little bit to look after the rest of the siblings. He's juggling a lot right now and not doing any of them particularly well. He's the same as always thinking that he's always the best thing to ever happen to anyone. He's not. Fiona can take this risk if she wants to. She's excited about it. But her keenness as a businesswoman is still developing. She's still learning the ins and outs of this business. She didn't know much about running a diner but she's turned Patsy's around. She's hoping to do the same with Etta's place. But of course, she may not be getting the full story of the challenges of this business. She has great ideas for the place. She mentioned delivery services a week ago. And now, she wants it to be seen as a hookup place in the community. She hopes to update all the equipment. She'll be investing so much money into this place. It's essentially becoming a case of high risk, high reward. Fiona is confident she'll be a success here as well. She's not too worried about failing. But if she does, that would make the rest of the family homeless once more. A fate that she definitely shouldn't place on them without talking to them first. This is their home too. They pitch in every month. Fiona can make this decision. But her sibling's lives will be affected if things go sideways.

However, this is something Fiona is proud to be doing right now. She sees it as her move to legitimize herself as a businesswoman. She's doing things the right way in order to improve her life and the rest of her family. Everyone else is trapped in the murky legality that defines the majority of stories on Shameless. The parallels between Lip and Frank are become more stark than ever before. Both of them deliver speeches this work about sticking it to corporate America. Frank does so as a way to motivate his homeless shelter residents as they go out begging on the street. Lip does it while he's hacking his own company to steal some of the profits with Joaquin. In Frank's case, this is something he's been doing for awhile. He's always find a simple way to manipulate a situation to his benefit. He's so self-interested and doesn't ultimately care about anyone else around him. Meanwhile, this is a new development for Lip. He just got this idea after he learned the truth about the company. But both of them reach the same fate by the end of this episode. Frank is thrown out of the house after everyone realizes he's been hoarding all of the money for herself. He's right back on the street with no family anymore. It's a familiar sight. But once again, it's exactly what he deserved. With Lip, he's only able to make a couple hundred dollars from this hack. He immediately spends it by getting drunk at the Alibi. He may not believe he is an alcoholic but as soon as he gets money his first thought is about getting a drink to celebrate. This could be leading him to a dangerous path soon - no matter how good things may be with Sierra right now.

Things are tense between Lip and Sierra too. Debbie essentially moving into Sierra's house in order to take care of her brain-damaged brother, Neal, has put a lot of stress in everyone's lives. It puts even more focus on Sierra. Lip worries that things are becoming more serious between the two of them. He just wants casual and believes she's reading more into the situation than that. He's wrong of course. He's being a jerk. He's the one actually reading into things beyond what they really are. That's a simple story. It's much more important when Debbie and Neal announce that they are getting married. That's a huge shock. They barely know each other. And yet, they both view this dynamic as the best possible outcome for both of their lives. That's really sad. Debbie looks at Neal as a way to have housing and income to look good to family services. Meanwhile, Neal looks at Debbie as someone to care for him who isn't his sister. Marriage is the solution to their immediate problems. It fixes things for right now. It's happening because of their circumstances. Fiona allows it to happen because she wants Debbie to make her own choices and live her life the way she wants to. She wants to give that to her even though she has been very critical of those decisions up to this point. Does Fiona agree to sign the papers so Debbie can get married just to try and improve their relationship? Or does she do it just so she doesn't stand in Debbie's way again? That's unclear. It sets up a new dynamic for the show. It highlights how the Gallaghers love fast and hard. Debbie is committed to this path. It may be good for a little while. She has been able to care for Neal with very few problems. But it seems unlikely that things will stay that good for very much longer.

Some more thoughts:
  • "The Defenestration of Frank" was written by Etan Frankel and directed by David Nutter.
  • It's nice just to see Fiona, Lip and Ian talking to one another like siblings. They all share what's going on in their lives while the other two listen and accept it. However, Lip and Ian share the intimate details of their lives while Fiona speaks in vague terms. She doesn't really let them in on what she's really thinking.
  • Carl starts to question whether or not he should go to military school. He may want to get back together with Dom. But then, he learns she's still just messing with his head. He changed for her. And now, she couldn't care less.
  • How much will the audience actually see of Carl in military school? Will it be an ongoing plot? Or will he just not be seen for the rest of the season and return in the future as a changed man? When he went to juvie, it was a relief because the show could focus on more important stories. But now, Carl is an interesting character. It could be fun seeing how this experience changes him.
  • Is this the first time that Ian wasn't able to save someone as a paramedic? He's had close encounters before that make it questionable how he still has this job. But this woman's death forces him to embrace Trevor for what that dynamic really is.
  • Also, did we know before that Ian is exclusively a top? Yes, we know that's what his position usually is. But did we know that he doesn't want to bottom?
  • Kev and V worry that Svetlana is sleeping with or being raped by her father. That's a potentially horrifying story. And yet, the show plays it for comedic relief. Plus, the final twist only serves as the latest twist to their complicated marital statuses. This man is actually her husband and not her father.