Sunday, February 10, 2019

REVIEW: 'Shameless' - Fiona Goes Too Far to Protect Liam While Frank Meets a Kindred Spirit in 'Los Diablos!'

Showtime's Shameless - Episode 9.10 "Los Diablos!"

Frank meets his match in a fellow participant in the Hobo Loco competition. Fiona has a dark encounter at Patsy's that scares her into cleaning up her act. Debbie throws herself into home improvements as she gets closer with Kelly. Carl gets a job that is more dangerous than it looks. Lip sees another side of Tami when they spend the day together.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Showtime's Shameless.

"Los Diablos!" was written by Nancy M. Pimental and directed by Roberto Sneider

Fiona's story has gotten very repetitive in the back half of the ninth season. The season has played up the comparisons between her and Frank. Her entire life is imploding at the moment. But again, it's just a lot of her drinking and lashing out at the people in her life. This hour even follows the same pattern of her seeming to hit rock bottom and come to the realization she needs to course-correct her life once more only for it to not stick for very long. This episode ends with her arrested for punching a woman in the face. That's bound to carry a ton of consequences - especially considering her past record. That may be her true rock bottom. It's just a lot of teasing to get to that point. The audience has known for awhile now that things were going to end in disaster at Patsy's. She suddenly became focused on being the manager of that place again while in this downward spiral. And now, she is blaming everyone else when she gets fired by Margot. She lashes out because Margot has been getting complaints from guests, vendors and employees about Fiona's behavior. This was always the expected outcome. It just feels like the show is dragging it out for too much. Before that even occurs, Fiona has a completely separate incident in which she may hit rock bottom. She leaves the money out on the counter and three guys show up trying to intimidate her. She's not alone in the diner. But it is the middle of the night. She locks up and apparently calls the police afraid for her safety. And yet, she passes out and only creates more problems for everyone else. She is no longer the competent leader who can rise up during a crisis. Now, she is the one creating problems. She wants to believe that she's doing the right thing. She understands that her recent actions are dangerous and impulsive. But she keeps making those mistakes as well. She doesn't care when Debbie gets stuck in the basement when there is a gas leak in the house. Instead, Debbie has to crawl to safety by herself because she is surrounded by crazy people. Debbie is the one who has stepped up to ensure that everything is working around the house. In fact, it's surprising that she has become the mature one with the show wanting to paint Fiona in an unflattering context now. Fiona expects everyone to be grateful to her because she raised them and kept them together as a family. But now, she also mentions that she never bothered to look into these repairs that Debbie feels the need to prioritize right away. Meanwhile, Tami continues to point out all the ways in which none of the Gallagher siblings are functioning adults. She has to teach them the basics including what shampoo is. That's startling. But again, everyone wants to play this off as being okay because the community can still rally behind one of their own. When the police are called on Liam because he's selling lemonade on the street, he doesn't know that he is experiencing racism. The rest of the world understands it though. However, Fiona destroys the message she is trying to send by also turning the white woman who called the cops into a victim. As such, she has the potential to come across as sympathetic when she is an entitled racist who causes Liam pain here. The show hasn't always told stories about race well - just look at how Kev and V fumble around it here. That still extends to this story as well because Fiona essentially takes the focus away from Liam. It becomes more about her than him. However, it's still scary to see her in that police car facing an uncertain future. But her being sentenced to jail wouldn't be a fitting exit for the character because it's the same way the show just wrote off Ian - at least for a little while given the details that have emerged about Season 10 already.

Meanwhile, the show just wants to have a ton of fun when it comes to the Hobo Loco competition. It presents a story in which Frank actually has purpose. This prize defines him so well. He is the exact spokesperson this company is looking for. He is competing only because he has six new children to provide for with Ingrid. That may not even be true in the long run because Ingrid's ex-husband and doctor track her down and start demanding that she takes some responsible actions. Again, it's all completely ridiculous. The show just kinda leaves it up in the air as well. The last Ingrid is seen she is locked in the basement unable to help Debbie because she can't focus. And then, everything is quiet when Liam comes home and the block party quickly forms. There is no update given as to what happened to her and if this will remain a concern for everyone to think about moving forward. Frank is far removed from all of it. Instead, he is in competition with Luis Guzmán's Mikey who is essentially a kindred spirit to Frank. He may actually be more impressive when it comes to his credentials for this competition. But again, the show wants the audience to think of the possibility of Frank actually walking away as a successful man for once. He sees this as the potential to completely turn his life around and have as much money as he needs to support his new family. However, neither he nor Mikey are actually incorporating social media in their campaigns for this lucrative position. That is clearly important to the people running the competition. Moreover, it seems very unlikely that Hobo Loco will remain a viable product for long because it is already causing multiple deaths from alcohol poisoning. That's almost written off as a side note. And yet, it should be a big deal. This situation can't be entirely about the comedy. That has become a real struggle for the show over the years. Some characters are better handling the transition than others. Frank is always placed in broad situations. Meanwhile, Lip has the hilarity of an elderly woman in a retirement community touching him while also coming home to be a parent to Xan once more. When she was previously in his life, the show proved just how irresponsible he actually was. He still had more growing up to do himself. And now, he presents as a united front with Tami as the only people who actually care about Xan. Will that be enough? It's unclear. But it does mean this is coming back to focus once more as well.