Sunday, February 24, 2019

REVIEW: 'Shameless' - A City Wide Blackout Forces Everyone to Get Creative in 'You'll Know the Bottom When You Hit It'

Showtime's Shameless - Episode 9.12 "You'll Know the Bottom When You Hit It"

When a blackout hits the South Side, Kevin and Veronica come up with a plan to bring the neighborhood together. Carl grows suspicious of Debbie's attempts to get closer with Kelly. Fiona receives guidance from an unexpected person. Lip has to deal with the fallout from Xan's DCFS visit.

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.

"You'll Know the Bottom When You Hit It" was written by Joe Lawson and directed by Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini

Ever since the beginning of this season, the audience has tried to guess the circumstances surrounding Emmy Rossum's exit as Fiona. In the early going, it seemed as if Fiona would continue to luck her way into success as a businesswoman while maintaining a stable if boring relationship with Ford. That idea was completely upended halfway through the season with the show completely destroying Ford as a character and having Fiona become the latest comparison to Frank. These most recent episodes have featured a lot of repetitive storytelling as it seems like Fiona is destined to burn every last bridge that she has in the South Side. She has been cruel to her family and friends. She still expects appreciation and trust as well. It grew quite formulaic though without it being all that clear where all of this was going. Everything seemed to come to a head with Lip telling her to get out of the Gallagher house after she completely ruined Xan and Jason's lives. Of course, that moment wasn't entirely earned because the show hasn't really asked the audience to care all that much about those two characters. The fallout of Jason's relapse isn't seen here at all. Meanwhile, Xan is taken to another foster home with Lip being worried for a long time that she hasn't called him to say she's okay only for that pivotal moment to occur offscreen so that the focus can return to Tami being pregnant. As such, the follow through of this drastic decision is a little lacking here. Sure, Lip collects all of Fiona's belongings and throws them on the yard in trash bags. V goes to him to better understand what's going on and gets lectured about the best way to help Fiona. This has ultimately become a tragic story in which Fiona keeps circling rock bottom without quite hitting it. For a long time, it didn't seem like this would be the episode that provided her true rock bottom. The show has flirted with a few potential outcomes to all of this - with Fiona losing her job at Patsy's and getting arrested. And now, she seems to be just as functional an alcoholic as Frank is. She spends the day with him making a ton of money while the city is struck with a blackout. She is willing to use her business expertise to take advantage of this situation. Of course, she also represents South Side pride in a total bland and generic way. She rallies the troops to march on the north side because their power is restored first. She wants to do something about the world treating the working poor like shit. However, it's ultimately just her lashing out at the world for being cruel and unfair to her in particular. This truly is her rock bottom moment. She had that trajectory of being that businesswoman who was on the financial upswing of gentrification. Not only has her old apartment building been transformed - with all of its tenants already being kicked out with no problems whatsoever. She has as well. She wakes up next to Frank and feels absolutely terrible after her day as a mean drunk. That's the moment she realizes she has to make a significant change.

But again, the audience has to be wondering what the point is to all of this. The show has already told a story in which one of the Gallagher siblings became just like Frank. Lip struggled in his alcoholism for a whole lot longer than Fiona did. The show put in that work across multiple seasons to make the audience actually invest in the outcome of what happens in his life. And now, he's in a good and healthy place where he could have that conversation with Tami about starting a family. That's a huge decision that they have to make. That stands in sharp contrast to Fiona's current struggle which has happened so suddenly. The show has spent the last few seasons actually building her up as the success of the family who may actually find a way out of the neighborhood. She was even turning her back on the values she now openly supports once more. She saw herself as a person willing to do whatever it takes to create fiscal opportunities for herself. She got lucky with each of her investments. As such, it makes sense that she got into a deal she couldn't carry through and lost everything as a result. She was never as smart or cunning as the show made her seem for so many years. And now, the show is trying to reverse course in saying that it was always aware of that and is playing into that fact when it pertains to Fiona's exit from the narrative. This hour is almost entirely about her struggle as well. There is the potential for this to just be a fun, low-key episode in which the characters deal with a blackout in the neighborhood. It certainly prioritizes Kev and V in a way they haven't been in a long time. V makes that choice not to let Fiona rely on her during this trying time. That ensures that Fiona hits her rock bottom much sooner. But again, the audience should still be struggling to see the point to all of this. This has been a depressing and dark final story for Rossum. Sure, it has given her a lot of interesting material to play that brings her right back into huge conflicts with the other main characters. But now, she steps into that AA meeting. She is following in her brother's footsteps because she now recognizes that she needs to make a change. That is such a relief because things were tragic and unfortunate for far too long. But it also means the show just has two episodes left to try to turn Fiona's life around in a way that will create a satisfying exit. That seems like such a daunting task with the audience still being in the dark as to what the circumstances will be. That may already be filling some with dread that it could just be some random plot development that pops up. As such, that too may make it seem like Fiona is lucky because she doesn't destroy her life as badly as this recent arc has made it seem.