Sunday, March 10, 2019

REVIEW: 'Shameless' - Fiona Makes a Huge Decision About Her Life Which Will Take Her Away From the Family in 'Found'

Showtime's Shameless - Episode 9.14 "Found"

As the Gallaghers decide what to do with a bedridden Frank, Fiona has to make a decision about her future. Carl and Debbie share their heartbreak together. Lip has to deal with a distressed Tami.

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 season finale of Showtime's Shameless.

"Found" was written by John Wells and directed by John Wells

During these last few seasons, the Gallagher siblings have needed Fiona less as a parental figure. That gave her the freedom to explore various business opportunities. She was allowed a little more personal agency after sacrificing so much to raise her younger siblings. Liam really is the only child amongst the siblings who still needs to be looked after. And yet, he is very independent as well. Sure, it's absolutely crazy that a main character on this show has an entire story that is happening offscreen. Liam has apparently been staying with his best friend for several nights a week without anyone in the Gallagher house noticing that he's gone. In fact, he wants to move in because he perceives this family as culturally appropriate and actually willing to take care of him. He is an afterthought amongst the Gallaghers. Everyone just expects him to help pitch in to cover the bills and Frank's care. However, he is exploring this side of himself that no one else in the family can provide for him. He is learning about his racial identity. That's very important even though the siblings don't see it as that big of a deal. They just want him to stop acting trivially and return home. But it's also not that pressing of a demand for him to have his own room in the house. This household has always been incredibly crowded. Debbie is starting to feel cramped here as well because Franny keeps escaping from her crib. She too is growing up. Debbie has come into her own as a parent even though it is reckless for her to just leave her alone at the house with Frank. That's absolutely horrifying especially considering how mobile she has suddenly become. And yet, all of these remain problems that the various siblings can handle themselves. They are taking that personal responsibility for their lives. Sure, there have been a number of problems in which they have needed help from Fiona. But now, Debbie is the one who gets a home nurse for Frank. Lip is helping Tami make her decision regarding her pregnancy. And Carl is being attacked by Kelly until he agrees to return to military school. These lives are complicated. There has even been a role reversal this season in which the siblings had to take care of Fiona for once. She was the one spiraling out of control without any kind of clarity in her life. And now, she has perspective again to make sense of everything that did happen. She is attending meetings and facing the legal repercussions of her actions. Of course, the show makes it seem a little too easy for her to get back on her feet and embrace this possible change in her life. Those are the kinds of sudden plot shifts that are way too common on this show. But it still has resonance when Fiona makes that decision to leave. She feels confidence in being able to go through with it because of the independence of her siblings. However, she also recognizes just how difficult it is to leave as well.

It's meaningful that Fiona goes to Ian first in order to discuss this potential change. The two of them didn't have a chance to say goodbye when Ian was first sent to prison. That was billed as Cameron Monaghan's exit from the series as a series regular. Of course, the audience knows better now. He will be back for the tenth season. The door will remain open for Emmy Rossum as well. This exit isn't designed around her being forced away from her family. It's a choice that she makes in the hopes that it will be beneficial to her life. For so long, the siblings have been talking about getting out of this neighborhood and making something of their lives. They all have various aspirations of how to do so. And yet, their South Side identities and pride are such a strong and enticing pull to stay stuck in their current realities. They have pushed back against the gentrification of the neighborhood. They want to hold onto their dignity and their homes in the face of a world that is constantly asking them to change. They have remained struggling financially throughout the series. They have never been on solid ground for too long. They always found some way to mess up every opportunity that has come their way. Fiona doesn't leave with a plan of what she is going towards. She is just taking that first step away from the neighborhood and her family knowing that it will be for the best in the longterm. Sure, it completely sidesteps the issue of her being an addict who needs serious help. She has barely dabbled in getting treatment. Here, it's absolutely no big deal in her decision-making process. She goes to Ian to see how the suggestion plays to him. He is all for it because he too understands the urge to escape this life for something that is potentially better. The show never does say where Fiona is going. This is just her first plane ride. In the end, she's still taking care of the family as well. She got $100,000 from Max. She is keeping half for herself to start a new life elsewhere and giving the other half to the family. She sees how Debbie has really stepped up and taken responsibility for a lot of things. She knows she can be trusted with the money. Meanwhile, Lip is still around to look after everyone. This is a decision Fiona can make with confidence even though she's perpetually scared that she is going to chicken out at every moment. The family is stunned to learn that she's leaving. They feel the urge to make her stay. Lip knows that isn't healthy and that her mind is already made up. And yet, a party to celebrate her could also keep her here. That too wouldn't be the best thing. So instead, Fiona has a moment with Frank in which he truly does thank her for raising his kids. It's the kind of appreciation she has always wanted from him. He isn't able to deliver all of those words though. It's just enough to know that he too understands this could be the last moment between them. Things are going to change. That change is scary. But it's also exciting too.

The big moments surrounding Fiona are really what ground this episode and make it feel different than the season that preceded it. However, the rest of the characters all have their various stories as well. For them, this feels less like a conclusion for the moment and more like the same melodrama they have been dealing with throughout these most recent episodes. And so, Tami does decide to have the baby after learning that she tested positive for the BRCA gene. But she and Lip are still fighting because he wants to raise the baby and she wants to give it up for adoption. That's an argument that can really be meaningful in the future. However, it shouldn't center around whether or not Lip would make a good father. Sure, it ultimately should be questioned considering he wasn't always a great father figure for Xan or a terrific sponsor for Jason. However, he has stepped up for his family in their moments of need to ensure that they didn't get sent off to the various corners of the foster care system. He knows just how difficult it can all be. He shouldn't need Kev to reassure him about the whole situation. Meanwhile, it's just weird how the show introduced the idea of Kev playing Jesus for the school's program only to not eventually show that moment. Instead, he is just draw to the idea of playing Jesus at various events in order to make more money. That's random. Elsewhere, Frank is stationary for once but just as demanding as ever. He expects so much from his family even though none of them want to care for him with his injury. It should be fascinating to see how much time has passed when the show returns for its next season. Six months could be a long time to keep Frank at the family home. That could change up some dynamics as well. Frank dealing with a health crisis has always been the best use of that character. And finally, the show ends on stability for Carl in his relationship with Kelly. That's surprising considering how the season opened with his previous girlfriend being murdered only for no one to ever bring it up again. It's also shocking since Carl and Debbie burglarize Kelly's truck because of the heartbreak she caused. Of course, she still wants Carl to succeed. Even though he didn't get into West Point, he should still focus on a future in the military. That would offer him a much better life than being a manager at Captain Bob's. However, military school frequently takes him away from the family which isn't always good for the show's creative side of things. But again, all of these are lingering issues for the future.