I like Gus. I think he and Fiona have a sweet, kindling romance that is worthy of exploration. But not one actor has touched the chemistry that Justin Chatwin as Jimmy/Steve shares with Emmy Rossum. Chatwin has one line in the episode “I did”, one moment to look longingly at Fiona and the energy is palpable. Sure, Jimmy/Steve didn’t always have interesting storylines, he was often times frustrating and even unhealthy for Fiona, but damn, the two just don’t light up the screen. Also, I can count myself as one of the few who felt sadness when we all thought he had walked to his death. So, long story short, I think I’m glad he’s back, even if his arrival is essentially a hand grenade being tossed into the stability Fiona has built herself.
There is so much good happening on this week’s episode “Rite of Passage” that it’s a shame that so much of it is taken up by the weaker components. Excuse me if I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, but the Frank stuff just became repulsive this week as he goaded his kidney donors family into letting him stay in their house, playing on the father’s guilt of his son’s death. If anything, it reminds us of just how cunning Frank can be and that he’s been a master manipulator for years now and continues to be, no matter the situation.
Debbie and Sammi also took up more time than necessary. It’s such a shame to see Debbie, one of my prior favorites, being reduced to beating up girls who made fun of her. Debbie is supposed to be like Lip, hyper-intelligent with a well of retained information and I’d rather see her addressing her problems in a more interesting manner. Although, seeing her and Carl working together was a nice change of pace since, due to teen angst, they are constantly at each other’s throats.
And, side note, the continual dismissal of Debbie raping Matty and, even more alarmingly, not understanding what she did was wrong will put a damper on any of her storylines until it’s dealt with.
Veronica and Kev tried to solve their problems this week but probably in the most backwards way they could have gone about it. Veronica’s solution to her orgasm on the dance floor with another man is for Kev to cheat on her with someone else to even the playing field. He does so and she gets upset because Veronica is in a vulnerable state and Kevin isn’t realizing it which puts them in this interesting dynamic where we can’t tell who’s really in the wrong. Kev’s idea of having children was that they would be put first and that they’d be a family. Veronica is feeling rejected because of Kev putting all of his focus on their kids and Kev isn’t realizing that she may be suffering for unmentioned reasons. It’s not the storyline that’s been given the most attention but it certainly is one of the stronger elements of season five, thus far.
The best storylines come as no shocker considering they consist of the greatest talents on the show with Emmy Rossum, Jeremy Allen White, and Noel Fisher all getting moments to shine. Rossum comes as little surprise at this point but playing pure happiness as Fiona is feeling is just as difficult as playing completely broken and destitute of hope as she was last season and Rossum does it with aplomb. Whether she’s talking to Gus and trying to figure out their potentially screwed up marriage, being excited for Lip or putting on a strong face after her work friend Jackie winds up in the hospital from an overdose. Rossum has been doing such strong work for majority of the show, that you’d think she’d used up all of her surprises. Her face at Jimmy’s reappearance was about five different emotions at once all spilling out of her eyes and again, I can’t hate Jimmy if that’s the acting he’ll elicit out of the show’s star player.
Mickey has to deal with another manic episode from Ian who disappeared for a night and went and shot porn for some stranger who came up and offered him money. Mickey is understandably hurt and this manifests itself in a number of ways from drinking to shooting up a new store that’s aim is to further gentrify his town. However maybe the most telling moment is when he beats up one of the patrons at the club Ian works at, letting out a stream of barely eligible sentences of the way Ian let him down including the sucker punch “I came out for you”. By the end of the episode, Mickey is ready to take Ian to a hospital to get some help and level out and just before he’s able to Ian has run out, taking Mickey’s son and car with him.
It’s interesting how strategic the show has been with showing Ian’s illness by putting most of the emotional heft of Fisher’s shoulders, allowing us to witness Ian spiraling from his point of view and I have to wonder if it’s due to their doubt in Cameron Monaghan’s ability to perform this material. However, he once again elevated his game in the last few shots where the genuine confusion reads on his face. He’s sick and he doesn’t know it and I don’t foresee the next few episodes being anything less than heartbreaking.
Lip, however, gets some of my favorite moments this week due to the gradual growth we’ve seen take place with the character since season one. Jeremy Allen White continues to be one of the shows most overlooked power players because of how effortless all of his actions play. He is Lip and watching him come to the realization that he needs to leave his home before becoming stuck is a wonderful moment, even if it comes at the cost of him sharing a dumpster with a rat. His face as he sits and talks to Fiona about leaving, explaining it without really telling the whole truth, is a strong moment of subtlety where we know what the character in question is thinking even if he isn’t vocalizing it.
And then BOOM, hand grenade and Jimmy is back and everything is about to hit the fan. Count me as excited that the momentum has finally begun to press he fast forward button. I’m ready Gallagher’s, bring it on.