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TV Review: Shameless (US) – “Father Frank, Full of Grace”

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What an exciting season finale that Showtime’s Shameless gave us Sunday night! So much development, and some nice endings to a few plots. Unlike other shows, Shameless doesn’t so much have little stories or mysteries that must be summed up in an episode, or even a couple of weeks. It’s more a series of events in the lives of the Gallagher family. As such, the finale doesn’t feel too much different than a regular episode, not feeling obligated to do the big stunts that most shows do. But Shameless has been enjoyable since the pilot, and continued that run with the talent viewers have grown accustomed to.

Last week, Lip (Jeremy Allen White) and Ian (Cameron Monaghan) are arrested while driving a stolen car for Steve (Justin Chatwin). Rather than this being an extended legal battle, for which the family could never realistically pay, family friend (and cop) Tony (Tyler Jacob Moore) convinces the investigating officer to drop the charges. After all, Tony is after Steve, not the brothers. No needless drama or strung-out hype forced upon us. But the sequence of events does go in Tony’s favor, as it scares Steve enough to leave town, after signing over his house to Tony in exchange for getting the charges dropped. Steve doesn’t know Tony has already had this done, and Tony doesn’t correct him, taking the house.

The house happens to be next door to Fiona (Emmy Rossum), who is the whole reason for the feud between Tony and Steve. Even with Steve’s secrets, and his “profession” as a car thief, I like him better for Fiona than Tony. Steve will have to go straight in the long-run to be good enough for Fiona, she certainly doesn’t need the headaches and threats of illicit activities, but he understands her more. Tony is too straight-laced. Fiona and Steve have passion. Sure, passion may burn out, and Tony is the more stable guy. But for Fiona, being with Tony would be settling, and not love.

Steve asks Fiona to leave town with him, and she considers it. She even packs a bag and heads to the train station, but just can’t bring herself to go to the airport. I never expected her to. I’m surprised she even toyed with the idea. I guess it can be excused because Lip and Veronica (Shanola Hampton) were assuring her that everything at home would be just fine without her, and encouraging her to go. But I found this the one weak part of the episode. If there’s anything Fiona would never leave, it’s her family. And she’s right when she says that the children do not need abandoned again. It would be fine for her to go in a few years, but not now.

The closest thing to a cliffhanger we get is the effect of Debbie (Emma Kenney) telling Jimmy’s mom that her son is living in Chicago under the name Steve. I assume that this is a set up for next season, which gives me hope that Steve will return, something I wasn’t sure about at the end of the episode. Surely, his mother will be looking for him now, and run into the Gallaghers, learning about the life ‘Steve’ was living. Perhaps he won’t remain a main character, but we’ll have to see him again. I don’t blame Debbie for spilling the beans, but it did spoil Steve’s clean get away.

In a lovely, understated scene, Ian reveals himself as gay to Fiona. She already knows, of course; what attentive parent wouldn’t? But it’s nice to hear him say it. The fact that she has never brought it up, but has waited until he is ready to tell her, speaks volumes about their relationship. Sometimes I forget that Fiona is taking care of the older children as well as the three younguns. But she is. The moment the two of them share, full of love, and absent of judgment, is one of the sweetest scenes in the entire first season. It beautifully demonstrates who Fiona and Ian each are, and how they feel about each other. Kudos, indeed.

I am really surprised to see how quickly the friendship is growing between Fiona and Jasmine (Amy Smart). Veronica obviously feels threatened, and I expect it will become a plot pursued next season. Jasmine doesn’t ring quite right. She seems to have an attraction to Fiona that is more than friendship. She also pushes Fiona to do things she really doesn’t want to do. Jasmine is good because she is pulling Fiona into a more secure middle class, especially after helping her get a job, but I don’t think they have the elements needed for a long-term, sustained relationship. Veronica need not worry. It’s only a phase.

About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com