Shameless (S09E12) “You’ll Know the Bottom When You Hit It”

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Frank bonds with Fiona

As the city is faced with a black-out, episode 12 centers around Fiona finally spiraling down to rock bottom and we see Frank and Lip competing to help her through it. Frank offers guidance on her path, which is ultimately one of redemption since she lost her status of being an independent, well put-together businesswoman. Lip, on the other hand, is overwhelmed by his own issues and takes a very hostile approach to snapping Fiona out of it.

The episode kicks off with Lip (Jeremy Allen White) packing Xan up to leave, unable to keep taking care of her since his plans to foster her fell through when the social worker visited the very dysfunctional Gallagher household in last week’s episode, not surprisingly unhappy with everything he saw.

Angered at Fiona (Emmy Rossum) for her behavior in the past few months, including blaming Xan’s departure on her, Lip follows through with his warnings of wanting her out of the house and tosses all of her things out. Debbie (Emma Kenney) watches unphased as he does so, no more interested in having Fiona around than him, as she is just cooling down from the heat of having drama with Fiona for the past few episodes over Fiona’s lack of contribution to the household since going on her downward spiral.

Fiona, still filled with resentment, heads to Patsy’s Pies to pick up her final pay check, after being fired for her alcoholic endeavors and lack of management. She then heads over to the Alibi, mid-day, to spend it on vodka.

Frank (William H. Macy), after awaking from his drunken stupor, heads over to the Alibi and welcomes Fiona to the unemployed lifestyle as he drinks away the loss of his girlfriend and 6 unborn children. Children, who we know were actually artificially inseminated with Carl’s sperm when Frank diabolically tricked him into giving it to him.

Frank manages to recruit Fiona into his latest ‘business venture’, a neighborhood rip-off scheme and Fiona steals ice from Patsy’s to help with their set-up. The two rake in a load of customers with their black-out supply business and it is odd to see the pair work together, as they’ve been standing on opposite side’s of almost everything since the first season.

“Sobriety is a fool’s game”

Fiona finally heads home to find her things outside and gets into a physical altercation with Lip. It is Frank who defends Fiona against Lip, as Lip tells her to get her life in order and seek out an Alcoholics Anonymous group. Seeing Frank act as a father to Fiona might seem comical, but this is may be one of the few episodes I actually like what Frank has to say. Frank reminds Lip that it is Fiona who has run the household and raised everyone for years and we are reminded, in his defense of her, that they are all being a bit harsh on her. With Emmy Rossum’s departure from the show looming only a few episodes away, it has been an ongoing theme to see her character being marginalized from the rest of the family.

With Lip and Debbie having conflict with Fiona and the rest of the household simply not caring, it hasn’t been hard for me to also feel a disconnect from her. She is almost alienated with her problems, and while everyone is either turned against her or ignoring her, Frank notices the hardships she is going through. At the Alibi, he tells Fiona she is a ‘bad drunk’, and he is a ‘good drunk’, trying to put in to perspective that he knows how to handle his alcoholism, as he has used it as an escape from his problems for years. Fiona, however, drinks because of her anger, and continues to drink to fuel her feelings of embitterment towards all her problems.

Lip has at a point also been on the receiving end of Frank’s advice on being an alcoholic and doesn’t seem to remember that were it not for Fiona, he would not have graduated high school and gone to college. For a 15-year-old who had to step up and care for a household of five kids, Fiona deserves a lot better treatment than she is receiving. Frank admonishes Lip, telling him that raising 6 kids is tough and through this we can see that Frank understands that Fiona has done her best and it is being unacknowledged.

Lip 

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Lip stands against Frank and Fiona.

Lip heads over to see his girlfriend Tammi, whom we saw move in with him last week. He talks to her for the first time since she revealed that she is pregnant with his child, wanting to know if she’ll keep the child. Lip, overwhelmed with everything, pushes Tammi to know what she’ll decide to do, failing to understand the pressure he is putting her under with inadvertently wanting to have say in the matter. Tammi has only just found out about her pregnancy and of course is entitled to her right to make the decision on her own, but Lip assures her that should she decide to keep the child, he wants to be part of the child’s life.

A recurring dilemma for Lip throughout all seasons has been his desire to be a father, as he once told ex-girlfriend/fling, Mandy Milkovich (Emma Greenwell), that they should try for a child. When his other ex-girlfriend/fling, Karen (Laura Slade Wiggins), announced her pregnancy and lead Lip to believe it was his, he welcomed the idea of fatherhood and was devastated to find out it was not his. Lip has had to assume a parental role when Fiona failed the family, and this season has tried on more than one occasion to become the legal guardian of Xan.

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Lip and Tammi discuss the possibility of raising a child

It is not hard to feel sympathetic toward Lip – he has been trying to step up in the Gallagher house, having to compete with and deal with Fiona’s drama while at it, and tried his best to help Xan. However, after seasons of Lip over-investing in relationships that turn end badly, it’s hard to hope for the best, especially given that he is unable to bring the Gallagher household to a stable, conflict-free point. Being the parent of a newborn may not be the right thing for Lip at this stage of his life.

Lip is later approached by Veronica (Shanola Hampton) to talk about Fiona, after V agrees to let her stay at the Ball residence. Lip tells V that Fiona needs to hit rock bottom in order to get back on her feet, believing that if Fiona stays with Kev and V, it will not help her. He stands his ground against V trying to persuade him that the best thing to do to help Fiona will be to let her back in the house, and I’m glad he makes her understand this. Much of Lip’s rage is driven by his own struggles with alcoholism in the past, and he is only looking out for her, albeit the harsh approach to it.

Relationship problems with Carl and Kelly… and Debbie

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Carl and Debbie compete for Kelly’s attention

Carl (Ethan Cutkosky) worries about his girlfriend Kelly (Jess Gabor) being very distant as she and Debbie were seen getting close in last weeks’ episode. Debbie and Carl go head-to-head for Kelly’s attention and later at the cook-out, Kelly tells Carl he is overreacting. This conflict between Carl and Debbie is the first real conflict between them, ever, since they’ve never had any kind of problems in any seasons. It seems very inauthentic for their characters and is a small, seemingly pointless storyline to try and focus on given everything else going on.

Redemption

At the neighborhood cook-out arranged by Kev (Steve Howey) and V, Fiona starts a protest fueled by her anger that the south side is always being treated as a last-in-line, underprivileged community She later has an outburst at everyone for not caring more that they are treated like this. In the episode’s final minutes, Fiona finally realizes that she is heading down a dark path and everyone around her is concerned to the point that they would throw her out on the street. She seeks help by heading to one of Lip’s AA meetings.

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Overall, this episode was one of the first in the season that I really looked forward to since Ian (Cameron Monaghan) was sent to prison. It was in that episode (S09E06 “Face It, You’re Gorgeous”) that Fiona’s spiral began and the build-up of Lip’s frustration with her behavior since made for a great cliff-hanger in last week’s episode when he demanded she leave the house. Seeing Frank understand what Fiona is battling with and help her in his own way, was a lovely sentiment to see their characters come together, as it is probably one of the last interactions Emmy Rossum will have with William H. Macy before her exit. With Kev being comically overdramatic about his vasectomy and Carl competing against Debbie for his own girlfriends’ attention, Shameless continues to bring an air of light-heartedness and fun to episodes filled with tension and drama.

Hi everyone, thanks for reading! Sadly, there are  only a few more episode’s until the finale. Catch Shameless on Showtime, Sunday’s at 9m. Episode 13, “Lost”, airs on March 3rd 2019.