Shameless: Drugs Actually Review

In the penultimate episode of this season's Shameless, Ian faces a tough choice, and Mickey and Debbs bond.

I will give “Drugs Actually,” this: Sammi got treated like any other Gallagher or Milkovich (especially Milkovich) antagonist. It’s about damn time…and pretty horrifying. It also made this penultimate episode of Shameless quite hilarious.

Before the last minute mid-credit cop out that revealed Sammi was only unconscious, it appeared that Mickey inadvertently overdosed Sammi on roofies (as well as whatever pills she was on). But what is worse for Debbie is that it was part of a plan she helped design to torture Sammi. I would like to say the traumatic guilt of accidentally helping to murder (or at least commit manslaughter) on her older half-sister will cause some real soul searching in the wee Gallagher girl. But then I recall the fake Aunt Ginger incident and what happened to Mattie. Nah, she’s just proving that she’s more Milkovich than any other Gallagher on this show….

Which again brings back that this is a moment of levity—because on Shameless death is most certainly a cause for comedic celebration—in an episode that serves primarily as a downer for all the Ian and Mickey shippers out there. It appears that Ian is succumbing for the time being to Monica’s side of things. It feels fairly cynical, but not out of line for the character or Shameless as a whole. However, I have some general weariness for the supposed tough love that Monica sold to her son and the audience. Indeed, it should have come with a side of snake oil.

There is no denying that Ian is being forced to deal with serious contention with his family, who despite loving him can often fail to understand him. They say that he is sick and needs help, but they also infer that he is damaged goods. However, the sequence where this hit home for Ian was when they were also using these kinds of words to save him from serving hard time for going AWOL—even though Shameless conveniently ignores that the character is supposed to be 17 and thus his entire recruitment should be under investigation.

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Still, at the end of the day, Ian has a genuine support system with his siblings. There might always be some tension there, but they are a positive influence on him. It is Mickey’s support and refusal to give up on him that let Ian avoid charges for kidnapping a child, and it is again Fi, Lip, and the rest’s support that kept him away from being locked up this week. Ian has the possibility of a happy life with Mickey. It may not be “normal” as Ian’s family uncomfortably dubs it, and it definitely won’t be easy or idyllic, but it is something that keeps Ian on his meds and away from swinging baseball bats at his little sister. Monica’s total acceptance BS involves Ian again cutting himself off from family like Monica did, which we have already seen ends with her abandoning her children and living for months at a time in a crack den. In fact, one of the scariest lines in the entire series could be when Monica shouted tonight, “Oh I want a dog!” No animal deserves that fate.

Ian was not avoiding judgment when he left the clan again; he was cutting the ties that have and would continue to help him. And despite the show’s title this is a true shame.

Also, as Ian seems to be taking a substantial step on the path toward Monica, it does not bode well for what the writers might intend for Frank’s one true daughter, Fiona. That is an unfortunate dread to have at the moment since she and Sean appear quite cute together. Gus is a good man and probably would make an equally good husband, but staying with Gus will likely lead to another Robbie incident. Fi knows to distance herself from Jimmy these days, but she is still searching for drama almost as richly fucked up as her own story. Sean offers that with his own drug battle, confused family life, and mixed signals at work. It is also a credit to Dermot Mulroney that I have managed to like Sean’s cynical sensei routine despite walking hazardous character beats like being the jealous, rejected suitor around Gus and Jimmy for much of this season.

Mulroney offers a breath of fresh air, and it would be nice for him to stick around the Shameless set for more than just this fifth season. However, I fear that we are reaching the end of the road since it is left ambiguous whether Sean relapses. If the character was able to avoid doing so the night his family left, the thought that he could do it a day later while having a Sweet Sixteen styled date with Emmy Rossum is a tough pill to swallow. Hopefully, he does not indulge in his vice (at least at this point), just because the actor’s contract might be coming to an end.

Also ending this week appears to be Frank’s role in season five. I doubt we’ll see William H. Macy again until season six rolls around, as he is going to help Bianca die in a drug-fueled blaze of South American glory. It’s hard to say this storyline lived up to its full potential after beginning on such a strong note of kinship between the two. And I still wish that the show did not feel the need to portray them as lovers, but it nevertheless led to two comedic highlights for Frank. The first was the wayward patriarch reluctantly agreeing to finish up sex on train tracks before their lives end, and the other was when Bianca’s family got to see Frank’s whole flask.

It is also pleasant to see Frank be a decent human being by agreeing to help Bianca on her final trek of self-destruction, even when he realizes there isn’t love to be had there. In many respects, it is the reverse “Butterface” incident from season two. Is Frank a better person than he used to be since he faced death so narrowly last year? Nah, it probably just helps that Bianca’s face is anything but butter.

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And finally this episode wrapped up what I genuinely feel has been season five’s biggest misfire—Kev and V work out their problems, because Kev reveals that V is turning him on when they’re up to their knees in sludge. It’s a relief that Shameless did not go the full Ross and Rachel, but it is also simultaneously unsatisfying, because Kev reveals that he slept with not just one, but probably close to a dozen teenagers. Legal though they may be, it is definitely a creepy development and a hell of an obstacle toward reconciliation. But after spending a whole season of pushing these characters apart, Shameless has reunified them with all the obligation o a Gallagher court date.

Shanola Hampton and Steve Howey deserve more screen time for all the wit and warmth they bring to a series that can be as brutally frigid as a Chicago winter. But having seen the season’s likely endgame to a very contrived storyline, it’s safe to say this was not the storyline they needed. Still, it’s a nice moment that occurs when they run into Lip at a gentrified neighbor’s open house party. Perpetually caught between two worlds, Lip is drifting more and more to a collegiate one. It’s a subtle arc this year, but it is one that has paid off much more truthfully for its character than some of the flashier alternatives.=

As we head into the finale next week, I have my predictions. For starters, I expect Fiona to break things off with Gus just as Sean relapses, leaving them free to go in a totally new direction in season six (unfortunately). I also predict Debbie will bring about some kind of baby scare—and hopefully a false alarm—in a storyline not revisited in tonight’s episode. Finally, the gentrification subplot needs to have some kind of payoff. Because at the moment, it’s starting to look like a missed opportunity after featuring so heavily in the marketing and season five premiere. Until then, I’ll see you at the Alibi.

Most Shameless Quotes of the Week:

“You’ve got a hacksaw? [beat] Don’t worry about it; it gets too messy. Ain’t it past his bedtime? …Night buddy!” – Mickey

“I got on Lip’s school computer and found that porn that we made and jerked off to it. Three times.” / “That’s so sweet!” – Kev and V

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“The sex was great. I think it could be great without the train.” / “Probably not.” – Frank and Bianca



3 out of 5