When the seventh season of Shameless ended, there was a lot to be desired. This isn’t a criticism, rather than just a a statement of how things were left off in the finale.
We had Fiona and her cold and unfeeling approach to Monica’s death, but with this a promise of a future change in not only her more recent attitude but how best to repair the severed connection between her and mostly Lip and Debbie. Lip began the first step to bettering himself and at least tried to remain a somewhat friend to Sierra after seriously letting alcohol destroy what they had. Ian finally let Mickey go, which resulted in a bittersweet coming of age point that wasn’t without its consequences. Though Trevor did attend Monica’s funeral out of respect, it did little to bridge the severe betrayal between the two. Debbie is finally realizing that she needs to support her own child, but that it’s never wrong to ask for help. Carl is truly growing up into a responsible adult, but we’ll always see the reckless child in him. Frank, honestly Monica’s death would have been the most cathartic experience for both us and him if he didn’t become so animalistic about her meth stash, typical Frank.
Coming in to the new season the question always lingers at whether or not the series has run its course and be allowed to end. So far neither the content in the previous season has hinted at any sort of end but still remains to keep us interested as the Gallaghers begin to go their separate ways in life and become their own persons. It’s a bitter pill to swallow at this point because we’re so used to seeing them as a family and struggle as such, it’s strange to think of them as living lives of their own.
This evolution isn’t the only change but it is certainly the most easy to relate with. One thing I do like about the newer seasons is the emphasis on major plot for characters outside of the Gallagher family, specifically Kev and V. They have always had their own plot away from the family but at this point they can basically be considered main characters. The last we saw of them they were reeling over the betrayal of Svetlana when she tricked them into signing ownership of the Alibi over to her, practically ending their threesome relationship or, “throuple”.
The episode opens with Fiona on another sex adventure on Tinder with a man who seems to not have his own penis. I think it’s safe to say she’s pretty much worn the dating app out at this point. It’s summer in southside and the Gallagher boys are doing their best to deal with Carl’s annoying bugle wake up call at 5:30 am every morning. Fiona finally expresses to Lip that she’s done with meaningless sexual gratification and yearns for an actual connection, while Lip does what he can to avoid wanting to drink. Liam has grown so much! Sorry just had to express that. Fiona is still very much against getting money from selling Monica’s meth. Liam is attending private school while being taken advantage of by parents and administration for being the only black child in the school. They take him out of class in order to show him off to prospecting parents. Frank on the other hand has found religion in a meth high stupor. Even Debbie is doing pretty well at this point, working at a parking garage while completing her apprenticeship in welding.
Life, however, is life for everyone as Lip deals with the struggle of trying to be nice to Eddie, a worker in the garage he’s working at. But she’s pretty much angry at him all the time for now apparent reason. V is apparently now working at Patsy’s Pie’s with Fiona and the two engage in the horror stories of Tinder while a nosey patron listens in. On the flipside V is enjoying her day dreams of killing Svetlana.
Later in the day, Fiona finally gets to meet the tenants of the apartment she bought in the finale of the previous season. She meets Nessa, a tenant who she shares some really unspoken sexual tension with. I actually really like Nessa, from what the episode gives about her, I hope we see more of her. Ian spends time between EMT calls at Trevor’s youth center to help out the at risk youth while also trying to woo back Trevor. It’s kind of sad to see but far from the worst Ian has done.
After the meth finally begins to wear off, Frank returns home as a new found Buddhist and desperate to apologize to everyone for all the ways he has wronged them. He’s clearly coping with Monica’s death by blaming her for all the things he’s done wrong with his life. Kev finally appears back and tells V and Fiona that Svetlana has completely remodeled the Alibi to a Russian themed bar called “Putin’s Paradise.” It’s clear that Lip is still trying to get back with Sierra as his fellow recovering addicts point out and how it can be detrimental to his recovery. He is still so enthralled that it’s pretty sad to see him babysit Sierra’s son while she’s going on a date with her ex. We get that Lip maybe in love with her but at this point he needs to let go.
Debbie, clearly now a more mature and older, begins to realize her own sexuality as well as her personal happiness. She spends more time with friends from work and generally just having fun while still juggling work and her daughter. Her friends pretty consist of people working on second careers due to failing at their first, but they take her in pretty easily, judging other professions such as the dental assistants smoking to yellow their teeth in order to practice whitening them and and angry cab driver who assaults every Uber he sees.
Kevin is still working at a gay bar, giving private dances on the side to make extra cash. While he’s obviously not gay he uses his physique and overall charisma to pull in some desperate men. This turns for sort of the better and worse when he gives a private sessions to a doctor who feels a lump in his chest and suggests he go to an Oncologist. Lip further antes up the pity party by using the money gained from selling Monica’s meth to secretly pay Sierras bills. In the meantime, Fiona works on selling the vacant apartment in her new building as bidders actually fight over it, a nice change for her luck!
V begins to hatch a hilariously evil and offensive plan to get rid of Svetlana after she witnesses ICE (yes that ICE) haul away a few of Fionas staff for being undocumented immigrants. Some irony there, considering Svetlana is undocumented herself and it gave them quite a bit of trouble two seasons ago. V tips the enforcers that not only is she undocumented, but that she is involved in illegal prostitution and human trafficking. The results of course are to V’s favor as we watch Svetlana and all her Russians hauled away.
While Kev is at the Oncology office, we discover that he indeed has a mass in his chest and the doctor says to have an immediate biopsy. The episode ends on a dual happy and depressing scene. Sierra comes back home with her ex and we can see the heartbreak in Lip’s eyes, even though he was totally aware this was coming. On the other end, it seems Fiona and Nessa are bonding after the renting of the apartment; the tension is still there as is a genuine connection between the two. This is, of course, something to build on in later episodes.
This was a solid start for the season. It felt mostly like a, what has everyone been up to, kind of episode but works well considering the emotional roller coaster that was the latter half of the previous season. For Fiona, I do like that she’s coming off of her “bitchy” phase and generally beginning to feel like her old self again, minus the self-destruction that comes with her seeing new men. She has wrapped things up with Lip, but we’ve not seen her with Debbie yet and that was on of the most severing experiences of the last season.
As far as new relationships are concerned, I really like Nessa. Despite the obvious ploy to possibly create an unrequited love interest or maybe even put a question on Fiona’s sexuality, her character seems to be genuinely kind and interested in Fiona as a person, the kind of connection Fiona flat out said she wanted in the first place.
Lip and Ian continue to just make me sad. In Lip’s case it’s pointless self harm at this point. With what happened with Helene and Amanda and the subsequent drama his alcoholism brought Sierra you would think he would be content with staying single for a while. Though at the same time we can totally understand it, the feeling of only being able to find happiness from ourselves in another. He may or may not actually love her but he should definitely listen to his buddies, this is not good for his recovery…not at all. Ian on the other hand is not so misguided in his attempt to try and get some sort of relationship back with Trevor, even if it isn’t romantic. He knows he screwed up royally but it’s really sweet to see him try so hard.
Carl wasn’t see so much in this episode other than to suggest that he’s really invested into his military school doctrine. It borders on a sort of brainwashing but we know there’s still a Carl in there as he’s practically sold all the meth that Monica left behind. Debbie on the other hand is almost completely removed from her family which as I mentioned, just doesn’t feel right. She is living with Neil and trying to juggle: work, class, a social life, and her daughter. This time around she is doing a much better job of it. I really wish her and Fiona would finally speak together—it implies something is still wrong considering they didn’t interact in this episode.
At this point I don’t know if Frank is genuine in his want to right all his wrongs; we’ve been convinced before that he was changing but like his kids, we’ve all been disappointed to learn that he’ll always revert back to his old self. Surprisingly though, the offensive humor of the show didn’t come from him this time around. Though I wont lie and say I didn’t think it was properly funny to see Svetlana dragged away by ICE, it is slightly in poor taste considering the recent political climate but yet an obvious criticism of it at the same with how easy it was to get Svetlana arrested. Equally the criticism of the way Liam is being treated is a social commentary on gentrification and forced diversity. I’m not sure if Liam is old enough to understand what is happening to him, but we sure are.
This was a decent start to the season. Not a lot of new things happened, but there was enough of it to keep me wanting to watch. I did appreciate the fact that they are focusing on the major plots of the previous season while trying to slowly get into the new. The pace works for this kind of season though it could use a little bit of a speed up. As always, the development in character is on point, slow yet expansive.