Sunday, December 3, 2017

REVIEW: 'Shameless' - Fiona and Ian Argue About a Church in 'The (Mis)education of Liam Fergus Beircheart Gallagher'

Showtime's Shameless - Episode 8.05 "The (Mis)education of Liam Fergus Beircheart Gallagher"

As Fiona tries to raise the profile of the neighborhood, Ian helps Trevor raise money for a new youth shelter. Carl loses his scholarship and gets creative with securing the tuition. Lip stands up to a friend and gets hurt. Frank teaches the parents at Liam's school all about the working class.

The Gallaghers have been more united as a family this season than ever before. It's been strange to watch. Sure, it's been rewarding as well. It's been a lot of fun seeing them be able to count on each other in order to deal with the various problems in their lives. And now, "The (Mis)education of Liam Fergus Beircheart Gallagher" opens the possibility for tension in the family once more. It's all because of one divisive story between Fiona and Ian. For the longest time, they feel like two ships passing in the night being completely oblivious about the other's desire in buying this church. But it's a story that effectively ends with the two of them clashing over ideological reasons in regards to the neighborhood. The family has grown so much over the years. It's now possible for all of them to be getting along. The neighborhood has changed a lot as well. The Gallaghers still hold their roots as proudly being from the southside. But their changes have taken them away from the community that made them as well. Sometimes, they would get knocked back down whenever they tried to climb the social ladder. Fiona has had a lot of success lately. She's still successfully running Patsy's for Margot. She made a ton of money from the sale of the laundromat. And now, she has this new apartment that requires a lot of work but is becoming profitable for her. She's a part of the gentrification of the neighborhood. She's trying to improve the place so that she can raise the rent on her tenants. She's friends with her tenants. Nessa is proud to help her in this endeavor while Carl needs the money. But it also proves that Fiona and Ian may have different views on the world right now. They come from the same place. They respect and understand each other. But now, they are struggling to connect and understand as they engage with this conflict about the future of the neighborhood.

Ian's actions are purely motivated by him wanting to get back with Trevor. It's a reason that makes more sense when hearing from Ian that Trevor really is the best person he has ever known. It's important to have Trevor talk about how rewarding and passionate he is about his work. Trevor's work at the youth shelter has had increasing importance this season. It's presented a way back in for Ian after his mistakes from last year. But it's also caused a lot of pain and hardships as well. Ian is doing this in order to get back with Trevor instead of genuinely trying to improve the lives of the at-risk youths. And now, he is successful in that mission. They present a united front as they make their pitch for money to rent out this church. It's a property that everyone suddenly notices and wants to renovate despite the visible problems. It's a story that is literally introduced at the top of this episode. But it's a compelling conflict as well. Sure, it's weird how it's all building to the potential of Ian having to hook up with this investor and his wife in order to get the financing. That seems more like a joke than an actual part of the story. Meanwhile, it's key that Ian's actions ultimately win Trevor over again. It's just enough for Trevor to be open to the idea despite the pain Ian has caused him in the past. But this is fundamentally a story about Fiona and Ian. It's clear for a long time that this conflict is brewing. So, it's fortunate that the show doesn't delay it for as long as possible because it's amused by how they are so oblivious to what the other is doing.

Of course, Fiona's motivations with the church are purely selfish. She's been dealing with a drug problem ever since she got this apartment building. She's ready to move drugs out of this neighborhood in order to help her bottom line. She's very upfront and blunt about that. That's her rationalization for everything now. There's nothing wrong with that. She's putting in a lot of hard work and wants to get a lot out of it as a result. She believes she's a success story from her neighborhood. She is still living in the southside but she wants to give back to it as well. She believes selling this church to a couple of artists will be able to revitalize this portion of the community. It will open the door for rewarding programs that kick out a lot of the problems of this neighborhood. She's very aspirational that way. She doesn't have the money to actually buy the building. She still wants to be just like Margot. That business relationship is still ongoing as well. Fiona is willing to facilitate this deal in order to make everyone happy. It's the plan that she has in motion and has been working hard for just as long as Trevor and Ian have. As such, it's surprising to her when Ian storms into her meeting ready to commit to a down payment. It's startling and proves that she may not understand what's going on in the world around her. She didn't see that Ian was doing all of this. She didn't make that connection that Trevor and Ian were the shelter looking to rent the space. She made jokes about buying a church and Ian wasn't there to speak up. It's a part of the show's overall theme that the Gallaghers are united but may not be seeing the true depths of each other at the moment. That means they'll still be open to some pretty devastating twists soon.

And so, Fiona is furious that Ian wants to keep the risks in this community. He has the argument of needing to help the kids who need it the most. They are the ones who have been let down by the system and need a break just in order to survive. He is connected to that because of Trevor. But Fiona looks at the situation and only sees the problems. She sees these kids as dangerous. They could create a lot of problems in the future. She has that foresight because it has an impact on her business prospects for the neighborhood. She's invested because of that. But this episode also highlights how the siblings are seeing physical things happening to each other and not really doing anything about it. The entire family sees Carl keeping a drug addict in the basement against his will. They do speak up to the legality of that. It's technically kidnapping. They are all perfectly fine with that though. They just aren't invested in it. They are still off in their own little words not really caring about the other. They see themselves as adults who can make informed decisions knowing what the potential consequences can be. And this is something that is even being encouraged with Carl. He's going to make a business out of it so that he can return to military school in the fall. That's potentially troublesome. Meanwhile, the family sees all of the bruises on Lip following his rigorous sex with his co-worker at the shop. They know that one day she is going to seriously injure him. They do say something. But it's basically just in passing. They aren't getting him to admit that it's potentially dangerous for him. Instead, the story is mostly interested in Lip's newfound aspirations for a family. He's never had these feelings before. Now, he's intrigued by the idea of settling down with a family. But he's getting ahead of himself. He's thinking about all of these things for the future while also being hit with the realization that sobriety is going to be a lifelong battle that can change at a moment's notice. His life is still just teetering on the edge. He's not stable enough to be getting distracted by these thoughts. But the family just sees him being abused by his new sex pattern and thinks that's all there is for him.

And then, there are the things that the family doesn't see with each other that are potential worrisome. When the family looks at Debbie, they see a young adult who has a plan for her future and is actually doing very well as a mom and student. She has that drive. But the audience is aware that she is also getting high with her new friends while Franny is in the backseat of a car. The rest of the family isn't aware of that. Debbie is cheering the fact that she is a better mom than Monica ever was. She is actually present for her daughter. But she's potentially falling into a dangerous pattern as well. Her life with Neil exploded and she could easily fall back into the Gallagher house. She's still seen as one of the more successful Gallagher kids because she has overcome all of these struggles that were of her own creation. But now, she's startled by seeing Derek again and could be jeopardizing her future with Franny because she is too obsessed with being around her all the time - even while doing destructive behavior. Elsewhere, no one is really taking Frank seriously. He's passed his delusional idea of being Saint Francis. But he's the one largely in charge of Liam right now while also using that connection in order to have sex with as many of the moms at this private school as possible. That's a story that is bound to backfire and hurt Liam at some point this season because it proves that Frank really hasn't changed his ways of trying to break the corrupt system. And finally, the Gallaghers seem so distant from Kev and V. Yes, Fiona and V are talking again. V is actually working at Patsy's too. But right now, Kev and V need some business advice in regards to dealing with Svetlana at the Alibi. Fiona could really help them get out of this situation while making a profitable deal for all involved. But there just is no interest in doing that which is sad and tragic. It proves that things maybe aren't as mended or meaningful between them as everyone was led to believe.

Some more thoughts:
  • "The (Mis)education of Liam Fergus Beircheart Gallagher" was written by Sheila Callaghan and directed by Iain B. MacDonald.
  • This episode is named after Liam. And yet, Liam really isn't an active character in the story at all. Yes, he's done more this season than all of the previous ones. But all he does here is fail a test. That motivates Frank into action. It's also easier to agree with Frank when he's chastising this school for promoting diversity because of Liam without ensuring he's getting just as good of an education. But it's still Frank delivering that message and his morals are corrupted by his selfish desire to sleep with the moms.
  • It was always ridiculous that Carl got into military school on a diversity scholarship because a DNA test proved he was one third Comanche Indian. And yet, it's nice to see his new work ethic. He doesn't just want the money to pay for school. His family could help with that. He wants to do the work to earn that money. Sure, he's pretty selfish in stealing Fiona's car when she also needs it. And the final scheme could go wrong in so many ways. But it's also Carl being proactive about his own future.
  • Lip has put in some of the work in order to ensure his sobriety. He got a sponsor. He was working the steps in the program. But lately, he's been very selfish as well with his fascination with sex and his romantic notion of having a family. It's odd and a little distracting because he still has so much more work he needs to do in order to improve his life. His sponsor relapsed and he's not able to keep him from entering a more dangerous situation.
  • So, it's absolutely horrifying that Brad gets into his vehicle while completely drunk. A couple of punches is all it takes in order to knock Lip down. Of course, his new sex partner did nothing to ease the situation either. She knew what was going on with Brad. She told Lip about it. But she was still doing her own work at the store. So, that proves that all of these characters can't get distracted by thoughts of the distinct future. Their lives are influx right now.
  • Margot is also her own businesswoman. She's been doing this for much longer than Fiona has. So, it may not ultimately matter what Fiona has to say about the future of the church. Fiona is pushing for the artists. Margot may appreciate this competing offer coming in. It could incentivize a bidding war for a property she was eager to sell. She will ultimately do whatever works for her. Fiona really has nothing to do with the deal whatsoever.