Shameless, Season 5, Episode 1, “Milk of the Gods”
Sunday, January 11, 9pm, Showtime
When we left our Gallagher family last season, Fiona was out of jail, and hopefully on an upward swing, Mickey was willing to support Ian and help him through his illness, Debbie was dealing with the issues of becoming a woman, Lip had become the patriarch of the family, and was attending college, and Carl was drinking with Frank. Frank, who after suffering from cirrhosis was given a new lease on life with a new liver, and is content to squander it away again, leaving us (at least me wholly enraged). Oh, and Jimmy/Steve returned for a brief second in a car with a girl, pulling up to Fiona’s house. I had an inkling that he would return, since he “died” off-camera, and there was never any closure. Plus Shameless loves to shake things up.
Now we open on another sweltering Chicago summer, and things are like they have been for the last four years. I love Shameless to death, it is by far one of my favorite shows, but I think they made a huge error not killing Frank. Showtime has a bad habit of letting its shows drag on past their prime, allowing them to become repetitive to siphon out what they can of the shows fanbase, instead of letting it have a solid ending (cough, Dexter, cough). Now, I could be wrong, and having a season 6 green-lit, could be a great thing. Maybe the writing team has their ending plotted out, and they need these two full seasons to get there. This was a solid episode, a repetitive Shameless is still a good Shameless.
The story-lines I’m looking forward to most this year are Lip’s and Ian’s. Lip’s character has gone through the most change out of any of the Gallagher clan. When he entered into university, he thought he was better than his classmates, because of the nature of his upbringing, his ability to be an adult as a child, thanks to his lack of parents and growing up in South Chicago, on top of his intellectual smarts. He looked down on all of them and was so hesitant to succumb to that lifestyle. Now when the camera pans into his dorm room, he has fully accepted a relationship with the rich, good-natured and healthy for him, Amanda, as she gives him a Fossil watch, invites him to stay at her off-campus apartment, and offers him the use of her expensive luxury car for the summer, the old Lip, says no to all of this except the watch, but you can see it in his eyes, that these offers are no longer outlandish to him, and perhaps even desired. He returns home, and instead of immediately falling back into old habits with the neighborhood kids he grew up with, he opts to stay away instead. This is a new man. This cast has always been terrific, but Jeremy Allen White has really carried the torch the last couple of seasons. I hope he does great things after this show, and I also hope he gets cast as a young Bob Dylan one day.
Fiona is now holding down a steady job as a waitress as Patsy’s Pies, the diner where Jeffrey Dean Morgan (replaced by Dermot Mulroney), hires a lot of former convicts, addicts,and such, trying to give them a new lease on life. There’s a ton of sexual tension between these two, and not only has Sean (Dermot Mulroney) shut-down Fiona’s advances, trying to be responsible, adult and a friend to her and her family, he also calls her on her crap when she tries to mow him over, like she does with every other man that is weaker than her. He won’t have it. She seems like she’s getting her shit together, but there’s always the now looming threat of Jimmy-Steve. Angela, the blonde Asian woman, a diner regular, Fiona thinks is hitting on her, as she asks about her life, who she’s dating, and leaves her $100 bills, is actually the woman from the season four finale, in the car with Jimmy-Steve. She’s clearly spying for him, meaning, we know that he’s not with her romantically, she’s either a colleague or a friend, allowing me to wonder, what possible illegal industry has he entered into now.
The rest of the characters - Frank of course is drinking again, lying about his weight as Sheila tries to care for him, and is making a 130 proof micro-brew with bacon and cedar flavors. He’s also ignoring his daughter Sammie, who has some awful daddy issues, and has taken to fucking men in front of her son, Sheila, and Frank in a sad, desperate attempt to get attention from Frank. Carl is as Carl always is, Debbie is stabbing dolls and going through those lovely angsty tween feelings, V and Kev are struggling to raise twins, not having sex anymore, and fighting over breastfeeding. Ian, never went to see that doctor and refuses to admit that he may suffer from his mother’s bi-polar illness. He spends his days cruising on other dudes, cheating on Mickey, and pretending everything is okay. I predict it will all blow-up heart-breakingly by mid season, since Ian and Mickey’s story has always held fantastically complex, emotional clout.
The episode ends happily, with the entire family in a pool, laughing, at dusk, play-fighting. Nothing ever stays positive for the Gallagher family for too long.