Sunday, November 19, 2017

REVIEW: 'Shameless' - The Gallaghers Must Band Together to Pay Off a Meth Dealer in 'God Bless Her Rotting Soul'

Showtime's Shameless - Episode 8.03 "God Bless Her Rotting Soul"

A violent meth dealer threatens the Gallaghers, forcing Ian, Carl, Lip and Debbie to find a way to pay him off without involving Fiona. In the meantime, Fiona battles it out with a vindictive tenant. Lip cares for a down-and-out Professor Youens. Frank attains something resembling sainthood.

It's been a long time since all of the Gallagher siblings have actually liked Frank. In fact, they may never have all liked him at the same time. In the first season of the show, they would definitely band together to help him escape whatever unfortunate situation he found himself in. But the show has frequently operated with Frank creating mess after mess where the consequences would ultimately affect the rest of his family. Sometimes he deliberately hurts them because they don't appreciate him enough. And sometimes it's all completely inconsequential. But he does typically hurt his family without really caring what happens to them. Over the course of the series, one of the siblings could fall into the belief that Frank has changed and can be a good influence in their lives once more. They were all there when he needed a kidney transplant. Lip could spend a day drinking with him. Carl could get roped into some criminal scheme. Liam could still be susceptible to Frank's teachings. Frank was the only one who supported Debbie during her pregnancy. All of these are examples where Frank's relationship with one of his children was better than normal only for it to ultimately end in destruction once more. He's just a selfish man who doesn't really care about his family even though he lives with the illusion that he is the perfect family man. And now, this season seems to be redeeming Frank in a different way than it has in the past. There have been moments where the audience was suppose to question if Frank was breaking from past patterns and becoming a better person. That appears to be the case once more with this season's story of him feeling free from his vices now that Monica is dead. "God Bless Her Rotting Soul" provides the first evidence that this really is a genuine change within Frank and that it is possible for his family to like him again.

Of course, Frank is still pretty delusional and selfish as well. He believes he's right back to being his younger self before Monica entered his life. He doesn't want to be a father. He just wants to be another 20-something trying to make something of his life. He's gotten incredibly lucky in finding this new job and getting promoted right away. He's still not doing anything to actually apologize for his behavior in the past. He is still condescending and cruel as well. Fiona broke free from all of this a long time ago. Her hands are clean when it comes to the meth deal. She has the moral superiority in the family at the moment because her life is going incredibly well. Yes, she's literally cleaning up shit throughout this episode. But she's playing the game as a businesswoman and coming out on top. She's being proven right in every aspect of her life. That probably won't last because there's nothing all that dramatic about that kind of story. But right now, it's fun for her to have this superiority and belief that Frank hasn't changed at all. She has awareness of the world and has learned from every horrible thing that has happened to the family over the years. Frank has no such awareness. He believes he is in the midst of this reinvention of himself. He's changing his name and believing himself to be a saint now. He's associating himself with Saint Francis. That's delusional and the show is playing into that. But it also means that Frank is feeling guilt and remorse for the first time as well. That's a significant change for him that really motivates his actions with his family later on.

Frank was the reason why the siblings are currently in danger from a meth dealer. Frank was the one who stole the meth that Monica left behind. And now, her partner has come to collect the money and drugs that he believes is his. He is able to find the Gallaghers very easily. It's startling to see the siblings (minus Fiona and Liam) gather with Frank around the breakfast table having a family meeting. It's a gathering that has never really happened on this show before. The siblings are actually listening to Frank's advice because he does have a sensible approach to this situation even though he is weirdly calm right now. Of course, it's a strategy that ultimately doesn't pan out. The siblings can't keep the truth from Fiona for very long. They need the drugs that she hid somewhere in order to pay off this meth dealer. She gets her moment to gloat and milk this gratitude from her siblings for as long as possible. It's pretty fun to watch her demand her siblings say that "they were wrong and she was right." They have to swallow their pride. They do this right before digging up Monica's body and retrieving the drugs. It's a mission that Frank and Fiona help with as well. They didn't need to do that. Fiona does because she has always supported her family. Frank does because he is suddenly full of guilt. He got his family into this situation. And now, he is feeling the need to get them out of it. As such, it's kinda rewarding to see him negotiate with the meth dealer to say that the payment they have is sufficient for him. It's in that moment where Fiona seems open to the possibility of Frank changing and being better now. It's a strange moment where all of the Gallaghers are standing united to deal with a threat that is targeting all of them. It's familiar and different while also potentially setting up a better future for all of them.

Needing to pay off a drug dealer is very much a Gallagher family problem. The world around the Gallaghers are still constantly amazed by the crazy situations this family creates. Trevor can never really tell if Ian is joking about the problems or not. Brad is happy to listen to Lip's crazy life to distract from his own. Meanwhile, Geneva has no idea who she's really messing with when trying to get her friends into Fiona's apartment building. Fiona isn't living a glamorous life throughout this episode. She's digging up a grave and cleaning shit off the walls of an apartment. And yet, she is more than capable of handling Geneva when she is trying to manipulate the situation to her benefit. Fiona has learned that she needs to be smart and cautious as a businesswoman. She has come to really like Nessa. She's fast become a friend in this apartment building. Fiona is encouraged by her success in being able to raise the rent. She's benefiting from gentrification once more. She's not trying to kick Nessa and Geneva out of their apartment. She respects the deal that they already have in place with the current price point. But she's smart enough to know that she needs to keep the rent of the new apartments up to ensure a steady profit for herself. She knows that she needs to run background checks in order to ensure the best tenants possible. She doesn't want a repeat of the last family to live in this apartment. She had sympathy for them and got absolutely nothing but shit on the walls in return. It's gross and horrifying to see. It pales in comparison to digging up a dead body. But if Fiona can do that, then she can easily handle Geneva who is playing this game to get her friends into the apartment. Fiona has been playing the game for much longer and knows how to play using ghetto tactics. She's threatening in the end while still being a very savvy businesswoman.

Elsewhere, it's encouraging to see Lip wanting to help people outside of the family as well. He has been very self-obsessed for a long time. Brad is telling him that he needs a new project to focus on. As such, it's very convenient that Professor Youens happens to be so drunk that he drives his car through a house. That's a terrifying sight. It's this crazy and erratic thing where jazz is playing on the radio. It's perhaps a bit too over-the-top and ridiculous. But it has a strong moral center as well. Yoeuns was the one who helped Lip get clean. Sure, rehab didn't really work and keep him sober. He left the program determined to stick to a schedule with his drinking. That plan didn't work out. But now, he really is taking sobriety seriously. He hasn't had a drink in awhile. He has shown his appreciation to Yoeuns for helping him get sober in the first place. He's the kind of father figure Lip wished he had. Yes, there are similarities between Yoeuns and Frank as well. They are both drunks who have refused to change. But now, Frank is changing and Yoeuns has hit his rock bottom. Lip feels the need to return the help that was given to him. It's him becoming an active participant of sobriety. The program asks him to help other people stay sober. And now, he wants to provide that help to Yoeuns. It may all be futile. Yoeuns may ultimately become suicidal because he can't deal with the possibility of going to prison. He's faced with losing everything he has worked so hard for. All he has is Lip and a bunch of drunks telling their tragic life stories. It may not be enough. But it's also promising to see him welcome them into his home. That's an encouraging sign that Lip is at least open and aware enough to help other people now - even though he's still obsessing over Sierra and Charlie.

Some more thoughts:
  • "God Bless Her Rotting Soul" was written by Krista Vernoff and directed by Michael Morris.
  • It's been awhile since the show has mentioned that Kev grew up in the foster system. It probably hasn't been talked about since Kev and V were fostering a daughter or trying to get pregnant. But now, he is testing his genes after his recent health scare and learns that he comes from one of the most inbred communities in Kentucky. He reaches out to them and learns that his name is truly Bart. That's a promising development as well.
  • V and Svetlana come to a new understanding. Svetlana will return as owner of one third of the Alibi and teach V how to manage the money with the business. She will also babysit the three kids for three days of the week. In exchange, V will say that their marriage is legitimate and this ICE raid was just a lover's quarrel. However, they won't be returning to throuple life anytime soon.
  • It's not unexpected that Neil breaks up with Debbie because she is no longer interested in him. It just happens much sooner than anyone was probably expecting. Her friend from school just started working with him. But now, they are apparently in love before Debbie could even suspect something was wrong. So, Debbie will be really strapped for cash moving forward this season because of school and Franny.
  • Frank had a good work ethic when he got this job last week. He was being mindful of the rules and making sure the customers were satisfied. But now, he's too caught up in this own thoughts to really care about the customers. He's not a good supervisor when another employee has a question. Plus, he really doesn't care about what he should and shouldn't do with a service dog.
  • Trevor suggests to Ian that it may be good for him to get some counseling after everything that has happened in his life. It's a suggestion that Ian brushes off at the time because he's running late for work. But it could be a fascinating story for him as well. He is changing because of his grief for Monica. He's the only one who returns to her grave to fix the destruction the family causes too.