Sunday, February 17, 2019

REVIEW: 'Shameless' - Fiona's Bad Behavior Threatens the Relationship She Has with Lip in 'The Hobo Games'

Showtime's Shameless - Episode 9.11 "The Hobo Games"

The finals of the Hobo Games have arrived, and Frank faces off against his friend and greatest opponent while Ingrid grows anxious about his commitment to their future family. Lip prepares to officially adopt Xan, but his plans collide with Fiona's partying. Debbie starts developing feelings for someone surprising. Carl excels at the shrimp shack.

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.

"The Hobo Games" was written by Molly Smith Metzler and directed by Iain B. MacDonald

Lip hits his breaking point with Fiona. He can't just let her destroy the lives of people he genuinely cares about anymore. Her behavior at the moment has gotten so destructive and she doesn't even seem to notice. She is now blaming the world for her problems. She fought so hard for so long to keep the family together. She was a success story. And now, she believes one bad break has completely ruined her. As such, she feels motivated to do absolutely nothing more than drink all day every day. She has seen this behavior before from Frank. She knows how to guide an agent from family services through the house to ensure the family remains strong. And yet, she just has no consideration for what's actually going on. She sees no error to her ways. It's startling that she doesn't start this episode waking up in a jail cell. That was the position she was in at the conclusion of the previous hour. Instead, she wakes up in some random motel room from an apparent night of partying hard. She believes she claims victory by stealing some prescription medication and selling it on the street quickly. But that is such despicable behavior as well. It's clear that her arrest wasn't her rock bottom after all. Again, the show keeps falling into this pattern over and over again of her seeming to hit that point only to conveniently find a way to ensure that nothing changes before the end of the season. She is facing no legal consequences for her arrest until her trial. A week has passed in between the episodes. She hasn't changed her ways. Lip is the one who ultimately has to stand up to her. The rest of the siblings are perfectly fine living their lives. Sure, Liam is no where to be found here. Plus, Debbie and Carl don't have too many concerns. They certainly aren't facing the dire stakes of everything happening in Lip's life. He is trying to adopt Xan. He learns that Tami is pregnant. He is supporting Jason through sobriety. Fiona is seemingly standing in the way of him being that shining light for others. He too had several really rough years in which he felt like the second coming of Frank. He lost so many opportunities because of it. He is no longer the Gallagher best equipped to leave the neighborhood and make something of his life. Now, he's perfectly content working at the shop and trying to help others. He has found a good, healthy place to land. Of course, Jason hasn't been seen in a long time. Lip even forgets that Jason has passed the 100 day milestone of sobriety. He isn't there to celebrate it. But he does come running the moment that Jason relapses. That moment is so crucial. It's also so telling how the show frames all of that around Jason. When Fiona comes to the shop looking for Lip, she seems like the priority simply because she is the lead of the show. Jason is simply a guest star who has made sporadic appearances this season - certainly not enough for the audience to be invested in his sobriety. And yet, the show wisely knows that it needs to block out everything Fiona is saying because it doesn't ultimately matter. In this moment, it's all about the choice Jason is facing. He relapses and it is tragic. Fiona wants to say that it isn't her fault because she didn't know. And yet, Lip and Brad are sober. She should be aware that it's a bad idea to bring alcohol into their business. But she is still blaming the world for her problems. And so, Lip delivers the ultimatum that the Gallagher siblings have always given to Frank. Fiona is no longer welcome in the house. That's a startling moment too. It may be her true rock bottom. Or it may also be the point of differentiation between her and Frank. Frank has never actually listened to his kids. He's right there in the living room after that epic confrontation happens. There is the hope that Fiona will be different. And yet, it would also be so tragic if the way Emmy Rossum leaves the show is if the rest of the siblings never want to see her again and she actually honors their wishes even though she may have nothing better elsewhere in the world. But the show has to commit fully to that while backing up the emotional arguments for the siblings. That's something that the show struggles with here because Lip's connections to Xan and Jason have been so scattered and confusing this season.

Of course, the story going on between Fiona and Lip is really the only one of actual substance at the moment. Everything else is purely filler in order to give the rest of the cast something to do. There is nothing more important than the show setting up Rossum's exit and ensuring that Lip's life is in turmoil so that he can fill that void as the young lead of the show. Of course, William H. Macy is seen as the lead as well. That explains the frequency with which Frank is always interfering in the lives of his children despite them writing him off as an absent father who will never change many years ago. As such, he is always off in his own stories. The Hobo Games are completely silly. The outcome isn't what it should be. It's not surprising that neither Frank nor Mikey actually win after forming such a strong friendship during the competition. But the resolution really should have been the company that makes Hobo Loco having to shut down completely because people actually died from drinking their product. The show just wants to write that off as a twisted joke. But it's much more horrifying than that. There needs to be some actual consequences. Instead, the show is providing that through the end of Ingrid and Frank's relationship because he wanted to be the spokesman for Hobo Loco. This would appear to be the end of Ingrid's story. She accepts that Frank is a bad influence and that she should reduce down to two babies to maintain her own health during the pregnancy. But there is also the sneaking suspicion that this won't be the end for these characters. Obviously Frank still needs something to do for the remainder of the season. It would be odd if the show just introduced something new at this point in time. Plus, there is no weight to him signing away his paternal rights because he has no paternal rights to sign away. It wasn't his sperm that fertilized her eggs. It was actually Carl's. And so, there is still the potential for all of this to become even more complicated. Carl doesn't want to be a father right now. He's more worried about his sister and girlfriend hooking up. That is clearly the direction all of this is heading in too. But it's also just aspiring to be fun and light-hearted which is perfectly fine if not all that entertaining. It's still better than all of the drama with Kev and V which continues to feel so scattered this season. After fostering Santiago and his sister, Kev is now getting a vasectomy because V is more certain than ever that they shouldn't have any more children. That's frankly the right reaction given Amy and Gemma's murderous tendencies. Those girls need their full attention right now. And yet, this story is never really about Kev and V as parents. Instead, it's mostly about Kev trying to trick his wife into believing he got a vasectomy when he actually didn't. She isn't kept in the dark for long. But it's just so nonessential as well.