Shameless: Rite of Passage Review

In tonight's Shameless a bombshell or two is dropped and Frank, meanwhile, is at his best (or worst). Here's our review...

I somehow suspect that we all knew Jimmy was coming back eventually (and for some, even this season). Yet, the way he appeared in tonight’s Shameless still had my jaw drop, and it was very, very Jimmy—as in inconsiderate, selfish, and bad timing. Next week should be fun!

But before we get to all of that, let’s talk about this episode of Shameless, “Rite of Passage,” which for my money has been the best hour of season five thus far. From the way that Fiona grapples with her knowing guilt about her “shotgun wedding” (I’m still a bit on Dermott’s side, even if his jealousy is showing) to Frank’s oh-so wonderful vintage Frank storyline, to even getting some major turns for multiple other story arcs, it was a crammed hour that left me laughing, cringing, and even sniffling a little bit. But before Mickey kicks my ass and leaves me for the fuzz, let’s get into it.

One area that I think this hour really excelled at is having a surprisingly early break for Lip from his current arc. Lip has had one foot in college life and the other in the South Side all season, and this episode seems to show him finally making the inevitable choice. And at least for now, I have to agree with Lip going the way he did. For starters, unless he joins a frat, he doesn’t have to worry about being dumped with a room full of rats (I kid, I kid the Greeks).

Lip is now making the kind of connections that promises a well paying internship (not easy these days) while he’s still working at a place where they are harnessing him in for dear life. There is nothing wrong with this kind of construction work, but let’s just say Lip no longer needs to be breaking his back unless he thinks he has something to prove—which he obviously does when he agrees to team with Mickey and co. to blow up an organic coffee shop.

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I have to hand it to Mickey: he rides with morons who call coffee shops “fag frappuchinos,” but he still commands their respect enough to empty some AKs into said fag fraps on his command. Yet when Lip cannot pull the trigger, they leave him to the police. It is a testament to how much I like Mickey that I don’t hate him for trying to potentially ruin Lip’s life. But just as I can’t blame Lip for wanting to get back to his ivory tower, I also don’t blame Mickey for being an asshole. Well…at least I can understand.

Another storyline that came to a head this week is Mickey finally realizing that he cannot care for Ian by himself. It was a heartbreaking moment, but when his lover is stepping out to do sketchy porno for a twink-hunter that promises there are no STDs involved, there’s something going on in the Son of Monica besides hip gyrations for the bears.

I doubt anyone was surprised that Ian ran away at this point, but I’m still really impressed at how much Mickey is sticking with this. Given his hesitancy to admit he loved Ian so much in previous seasons, I had some worries that he’d bail again when things got hard with Ian, but he is there for the Gallagher kid in a way that not even his siblings are when he is ready to threaten Ian into psychiatric help—which is a Milkovich way of saying “I love you.” Unlike Frank and Monica, I still think Ian has a chance to overcome his demons with Mickey. Assuming of course they AWOL Gallagher washes ashore once more.

Another Gallagher kid that is on the run to either becoming an MVP or crazed (and maybe both) is Debbie. She has some whacky ideas these days like taking steroids to impress her new eyeballed boy toy, but she also is in the process of learning to kick a lot of ass, metaphorically speaking and otherwise. Indeed, she can now stomp on the mean girls that she used to put on a pedestal; now, she’s laying them on a slab. I kind of agree with Fiona that violence is not the answer, but these gals had it coming. Nonetheless, watching Debbie pick a fight and just lay two other girls out makes me question if she might take it too far in the future. After all, this is Debbie Gallagher, and her modus operandi seems to be always pushing things a little too extreme, like that whole Mattie thing. Or Aunt Ginger. Or the time she almost drowned another mean girl. Or…

Yet, the highlight of the night for remains Frank Gallagher’s most inspired scheme since trying to seduce Sammi. But unlike that disturbing weeks-long subplot from season four, this had the lightness of the first couple of seasons when Frank was just an unrepentant cad.

With no place left to move, and Sheila seemingly gone for good, Frank decides he’ll become “David” for the grieving parents, and especially the heartbroken dad, from his liver donor. Frank’s unabashed manipulation of a man clearly in deep grief and denial, such as wearing David’s baseball jersey and trying to play catch, walks the thin line between hilarious and uncomfortably crass. This is the kind of inspired thoughtless cruelty that makes Frank Gallagher one of our favorite television protagonists of all time, as well as plays to all of William H. Macy’s strengths. He won the SAG award this year, and with a more outwardly hilarious turn this year over the last two season’s melodrama, maybe the Emmys and Golden Globes will finally take notice too.

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The bit where he comforts a grieving mother about her loss by comparing it to his misery over the hole left by no more hard alcohol in his life—staring at her liquor cabinet like it was the gravestone of a child—may be one of the most perverse moments in Shameless history, which is swiftly followed by his unsurprising seduction of “mom.” It’s almost as good as his “sleeping” in Dave’s bed for daddy—just like he claims he used to see from his children. I actually do believe that Frank would sneak peaks at his slumbering children when he says it; he had to wait until they were asleep to pilfer through their wallets for twentys.

This is a storyline so funny, and perfectly rounded, as it ended with him destroying the marriage and vanishing, that I would have given the episode five stars just for the levity.

But it is not all laughs. There were two bombshells this week. The first is that Kev and V might be in serious trouble over the babies. Honestly, I did not think it would go this far and that they were kinky enough to let the handjob be the end of it. I realize in retrospect that I am as boneheaded as Kev. While it did set up for the other great laugh of the night when Kev understandably got maced for his poor choice of words, it ends with Veronica uncharacteristically trying to force Kev to choose between her and their twins. Obviously, Kev is an overprotective parent. But to really make this an ultimatum? Not only do I dislike that, I feel it is so contrived that if it does not blow over by the end of next week’s episode all my praise for this being a perfect episode may be premature. But I’ll wait to see how this goes.

The other aspect of the night that was not a barrel of giggles involved the return of Jimmy. I appreciate how Fiona knows deep down that this probably is not a romance for the ages with Gus, and the wonderfully awkward confession she has to the only other Gallagher who might understand: a very college-bound and polo-wearing Lip. It is a sweet moment that gets totally torpedoed with the return of Jimmy.

Last season, I could not wait for Jimmy to appear considering his reemergence would only be helpful for Fiona’s cascading failures (her own words!). Alas, he picks the most inopportune moment possible when his obvious lady agent reveals to him that she got married. I have written repeatedly how this marriage is not going to last until the end of this season, but if Fiona blows it up now because of Jimmy, I will call shenanigans on her. So, next week then?

Don’t get me wrong, I am happy to learn that Jimmy is not floating beneath the waves of Lake Michigan, tied to an anchor. But this guy could have reached out or done something to let her know that he was alive. To only show up after she got married is not only unfair to her, but it is also cruel. Yet, I think we all know Fiona is about to make two rash decisions in the span of three episodes. Quick to marry and quicker to infidelity, here we come.

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At least she hasn’t gotten Gus to move yet. Speaking of which…does he know that he just married a woman who is the legal guardian of four children? Oh well, I doubt it will matter for him anyway by the time we see the other end of this cliffhanger!

Shameless Quotes of the Week:

“Sammi? She’ll forget about it by happy hour.” – Frank

“And I’m like baby, they’re five months old; they’re not going to remember what daddy’s dick looks like.” – Kev



5 out of 5