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.
Speaking of Veronica, though, I am sad that we haven’t gotten any development between Veronica, Kevin (Steve Howey), and Ethel (Madison Davenport). It’s such an interesting story, though I admit I may just be missing Big Love. I know the series is more about the Gallaghers than their friends, but I wanted to see more of the trio settling in together. Clearly, Veronica hasn’t kicked the girl out after a week, as she had planned to do. What’s next? Did they get Ethel’s baby, too? Definitely great writing was shown previously in this case, as I am extremely interested in what we didn’t see.
I am very worried about Karen (Laura Slade Wiggins). She has gone off the deep end, for sure. I mean, I can’t imagine how it would feel to have your own father think you are a whore, let alone say it out loud to a whole group of people. Of course she is now even more damaged than before. I think it is a crying shame that she pushes Lip away; he wants to help her, and she needs him. Her mother Sheila (Joan Cusack) also tries to get through to her. I guess it’s more realistic that Karen must act out and sort through her own feelings before allowing others in, but she acts in such destructive ways! Now that Lip and her have made up, hopefully she will begin to heal, but it won’t be a quick, easy road. She is the truly tragic story thus far.
Eddie (Joel Murray) is not a bad guy. In fact, while he was at first portrayed as mean and overly strict, he has done everything he can to try to win his family back. His outburst and name calling of his daughter is inexcusable, but also, it has to be hard to sit and listen to your daughter’s sexual exploits. I really wish they would have had time to work things out. Eddie’s decision to end his life, I think, stems more from embarrassment in front of his co-workers and anyone who saw the video, than the actual act. He could get over it, where his daughter is concerned anyway, had he not been publicly humiliated. Now it’s too late to work anything out.
Luckily, it’s not too late for Frank (William H. Macy) and Lip. We have never seen Frank have much humility before he stands in the yard and yells up to Lip’s window, begging for forgiveness and taking responsibility for his actions. In truth, Frank was drunk and drugged, so at most, the blame should be minimally his. He even said stop, and was in no condition to physically make Karen not have sex with him. But Frank’s ability to suck it up and be truly sorry actually endeared me to him. It doesn’t make up for all of the bad things Frank has done, but it does reveal heart, and an actual man who does care somewhat about his children. Unexpected, but great.
The big question left is, will Sheila ever find out that Karen and Frank had sex? Now that Eddie is dead, it is unlikely to come out anytime soon. Sheila still can only go a dozen steps from her front door, so she won’t hear it from the neighbors, and Lip and Karen certainly will have no motivation to tell her. Lip seems to have somewhat forgiven Frank, with the slight smile after the golden shower, and Karen likes Frank, who has been kind to her. I do not know how Sheila will learn the truth, but I expect it will be at least late into next season before she does, if not much longer than that. The fall out will certainly mean the end of Frank and Sheila permanently, and I don’t know that the show is ready to go there. I have little doubt that it will someday, but not now.
The show also stars Ethan Cutkosky as Carl Gallagher. Shameless has been renewed for a second season to air next year on Showtime, and I greatly look forward to it.