There has been a welcome amount of humor so far in season five of Shameless, especially when you compare it to the overall somber mood of season four. However, by the end of this week’s episode you can already sense that there’s a shift happening that’s going to cause our characters to face hardships, just like every other prior season. Viewers, such as myself, seem to forget that the show has a knack for starting each year off with a light, humorous tone before the mid-season hits and everything falls apart. This year will likely be no different. Kev and Veronica are having major problems in their marriage as Veronica is suffering from a disconnect with Kev, Debbie is going through a tumultuous growth period with no one there to correct her wrongs, Ian and Mickey are about to face some troubles with Ian’s deteriorating health and Fiona’s caught herself, yet again, in her recklessness.
I’ll be perfectly honest, this episode and my opinion of it suffers hugely because of how much Frank was on my screen. He got his insurance check, followed by a night of partying and funneling drugs into his body, before blacking out. The rest of the episode finds him recovering from blacking out and trying to retrace his steps to find out where all of his money went. Turns out he spent it all, caused some mayhem and injury and was essentially left with nothing. Good. I don’t see why we needed to see him pull a girl around by her prosthetic leg but I’m sure the writers found it hilarious. Frank works in small doses and this is the rule not the exception. Episode’s never fare well when they center on Frank, no matter how good William H. Macy may be.
Fiona is proving to be a frustrating character this season as she decides to get married after only knowing her husband-to-be for less than two weeks. I don’t see this as being a lasting relationship with the looming presence of Jimmy/Steve, but it’s interesting to see her detrimental recklessness work in other, less obvious ways. This seems almost like a healthy decision when you compare it to what she’s done in the past but it’s just as rash, if not more than, any other season or storyline she’s been given. However, this is the one that makes her age apparent. We forget that Fiona is young and the fact that she views marriage as a perfect cure all to her mistakes is an encapsulation of all of her other notions of the world. She’s married, which means she must be happy and in love and, most importantly, stable. If her face at the end means anything, it certainly looks like regret has began to creep in.
Fiona isn’t the only one having relationship issues. In a desperate desire to go out, Veronica drags Fiona out for a date night and ends up having an orgasm on the dance floor. Feeling guilty, but also mildly justified due to what she sees as neglect at home, she tells Kev, after a day of stewing on it, and there’s an ambiguity to how they end their conversation. I’m hoping Kev realizes that Veronica needs help but she’s masking her vulnerability well enough that could easily be going over her head. They’ve been such a constant on the show, and have always proven to be such a loving couple, that it’s tough to see them go through rough patches.
Lip is also having some relationship troubles even if his aren’t so apparent. He visits Amanda in Miami and this time, much to Amanda’s annoyance, he bonds with her father after they learn they share a mutual passion for engineering. While they’re talking, her dad asks what he plans to do this summer for a job. When he tells him he’s working in construction, he tells Lip that next time he’ll find him a paid internship. It’s a great, small moment where we see Lips reappearing discomfort at being offered better things and opportunities in life. I’m constantly worried for Lip because at his point it seems that he has the most to lose.
Okay…let’s just attack this head on, huh? The elephant in the room, so to speak: Debbie raped Matty and I can’t say I’m 100% on board with how the show is approaching the topic. I don’t know if I can say I’m 50% on board with how the shot is approaching the subject. It’s a messy, messy storyline to introduce to the show and Debbie’s characterization is suffering due to it. My main concern is everyone’s response to it. Lip’s awkward reassurance, Fiona’s okay attitude at Debbie wanting to be on birth control to even the girls who Debbie ends up picking a fight with after they are making fun of her for having to resort to sexual assault to get any traction with a boy she likes. Debbie isn’t learning that what she did was wrong in part due to the fact that she’s still so wildly naive despite living in a household that’s forced her to grow up quick. Plot lines that involve sexual assault aren’t inherently bad as long as the creative team behind it knows how to handle it with a deft hand and it would seem that Shameless has followed suit of so many other shows that just shouldn’t have taken on the storyline in the first place. It all reads a bit too much like a shock value tactic than anything more poignant. In other Debbie news, she’s joining a boxing gym after a lone boy helped her out after she picked a fight with four girls so, you know, that should be interesting, I guess.
Oh, Carl’s dealing drugs now and getting tips from Frank so I guess bonding is on the table now.
What make’s Frank’s abundance of screen time this week all the more frustrating is the near absence of Mickey and Ian who are, as per usual, being given one of the more subtly interesting narratives. Ian is sick, Mickey knew that somewhere in the back of his head as he has been reminded of it by Fiona and Lip, but this week we really see Mickey’s dawning realization of what he’s dealing with and the dark road Ian could find himself on. It begins innocently enough with Ian getting on board with Mickey’s idea to steal luggage from a local airline but by the hour’s end Ian has become obsessive-compulsive about it. Their crowded, ramshackle house, full to bursting with other people’s possessions, is a good metaphor to the cluttered mess going inside Ian’s head. I’ve never been a vocal advocate of Cameron Monaghan as he’s always played his character less naturally that actors such as Emmy Rossum or Jeremy Allen White but he’s doing some solid work as Ian this season. However, as always, Noel Fisher is here to steal the scene with a single look and his look of dread as he watches Ian in the last shot is the only indicator we need to know that their situation is about to get worse.
It was an episode that meandered and never found it’s footing but it will be interesting to see the repercussions of our characters actions this week in the upcoming episode. Our characters are in for a shake-up.