Shameless wrapped up the first half of its season with its midseason finale this week — it doesn’t return again until January 20th, 2019 — and in the meantime, it closed the book on Ian, seemingly resolved most of Fiona’s problems, and put Frank, Lip, and Carl onto new trajectories with an episode that didn’t feel like a winter finale so much as one of the occasional Shameless episodes where the Gallaghers get to experience a win.
Good for them.
Ian, written out of the series last week, makes just one appearance in this episode, in the form of a picture he left on an alarm clock he set and hid in the attic as a prank. “Miss me yet?” the note read. Awww. Ian! He’s gonna be just fine! In prison. For two years. But with Mickey!
The crux of the episode, however, deals with Fiona, and whenever you read a headline like, “Shameless sets the stage for Emmy Rossum’s exit,” that is a lie. When the midseason finale was shot and written, Emmy Rossum had not yet announced her exit. Only episodes 13 and 14 were rewritten to account for her exit, so none of what’s been happening — her relationship with Ford, her crumbling real-estate empire — was taken into consideration. So, when the show picks up again at midseason, I don’t even know if any of that will be a factor. It feels like they basically reset Fiona. Max pulled her out of the hole and left her break-even on her building; she will collect the insurance money on the leased car she wrecked, and Ford is clearly out of the picture after Debbie erected this for him.
I almost feel like this storyline is the reason Emmy Rossum decided to leave. Her character had finally gained some forward momentum, and the writers pulled it all out from underneath her, moved her back to the Gallagher household, and left her at square one. Nine seasons into Shameless and Fiona deserves better than square one. My guess is that Emmy Rossum didn’t feel like crawling her way back up again, and maybe now that she’s leaving, that investment Max helped her cover will give her a satisfying out.
With Lip, however, it always feels like two steps forward (college!) and one step back (rehab!), but he’s happily in the midst of his two-step progression. He managed to stay clean all season long. He’s helping others. He’s an AA sponsor. He is a sober companion. He briefly parented a foster kid, and now he has a new girlfriend, which is great! Except she’s a drunk, which is bad. In the back half of season 9, I suspect we’ll find out whether his sobriety can withstand his new relationship (SPOILER: It won’t).
Carl, as always, is the tacked-on storyline, but I have to admit that Carl has grown on me this season. He’s no longer a sociopath. He actually wants to make something of himself, and while he owns his past, he’s also trying to escape it through West Point. He’s got a girlfriend now who is sane and has a good head on her shoulders. I have hope for Carl! He will dash that hope soon, but let me live in this for now, OK?
Elsewhere, what are you doing, Kevin? Seriously: You can’t afford two kids without making the twins pretend to be each other at daycare, and now you want a third kid. Because babies are cute? Give me a break, Kevin. Also, I know a lot of parents who had one kid and then had twins, but I don’t think I know any parents who had twins and then decided to have another kid. Who does that? This storyline is completely unrealistic.
Finally, Frank: He’s dating a psychotherapist (Katey Sagal) who is off her meds, and after spending one day with her and posing as a therapist while Ingrid went down on him, he’s giving Ingrid’s ex-husband Randy therapy sessions. It’s Monica all over again, but Frank is a co-dependent addict, so maybe this will bring him some happiness, although I suspect that Monica #2 will end the same way as Monica #1: With Ingrid’s death.
But alas, that is it until Shameless returns in January.
Header Image Source: Showtime