This Shameless review contains spoilers.
Shameless Season 10 Episode 6
“There’s no room for sentiment in business.”
This season of Shameless has jumped all over the place in terms of its storytelling. It’s now at the half-way point and while there have been definite growing pains for these characters, one of the common denominators this year is that the need for money is making these people do crazy things. This has been a sliding scale of craziness so far, but that’s now been pushed to an extreme place. I was nearly expecting Frank Gallagher to pop out of a closing iris at the end of the episode and declare, “Th-Th-Th-That’s all folks!”
Shameless has been playing with some rather broad storylines this season, but “Adios Gringos” might as well be animated because the series is officially a cartoon at this point. This would also no doubt be Jonathan Swift’s favorite episode of Shameless since it kind of plentifully turns babies into currency at several opportunities. To the Gallaghers’ credit, at least no one tries to eat a baby this week. Although that’s probably season finale territory…
“Tamale turf war” doesn’t scream normalcy, but it oddly acts as an important catalyst for both Carl and Anne. Anne’s family’s business becomes threatened and Anne may be ready to turn it in, but Carl’s Gallagher genes paired with his military school training puts him into general mode here as he prepares these people for war. Carl puts on a big show and helps inspire the group’s confidence, but pushing this new crew’s buttons arguably only makes things harder for Anne’s family.
The tone of this is all very interesting. The music swells like this is some epic spaghetti western, yet it’s all coming down to tamales in the end. It’s a very peculiar conflict, especially since this new force literally comes out of nowhere, but it’s honestly one of the more grounded and satisfying storylines in this episode.
The other piece of plotting in this episode that’s on the more normal side involves Lip and Tami, who seem to finally find a comfortable rhythm with their co-parenting. Their bond is put to the test one last time as Tami unfortunately goes into the deep end with her jealousy over Sarah’s relationship with Lip. Sarah is mostly in the background for all of this, but Tami’s paranoia does lead to her trying to have sex with someone else.
This is clearly very reactionary on her part. Thankfully she doesn’t go through with it, but it still feels like she and Lip are past these levels of games. It may be tired material, but it at least results in something genuinely sweet between the two of them. Lip and Tami may finally be in a stable place now and even though she’s not initially over the moon about it, Lip’s RV gesture seems like a healthy step for them.
In case you might have thought that better judgment grabbed ahold of Frank Gallagher, think again, because he’s still fully committed to sell someone else’s baby to make an easy buck. It’s deeply upsetting to see how Frank fleeces innocent prospective parents, but it’s technically no worse than the usual shenanigans that he’s up to. These exploits involve plenty of Frank goofing around with Liam while he treats him to the finer things in life. However, at the same time he also instills in him a number of terrible lessons. It’s all a step back from the previous material that Liam was involved in, but now that he knows that he’s a Gallagher, this level of grifting isn’t out of his league. What is distressing is that while they have all of this fun, there’s a neglected baby being overlooked in the corner.
This story nearly goes somewhere interesting when it flirts with the idea of Frank actually developing an attachment to this baby and wanting to keep him, but it never fully commits. It’s also compelling to see Liam snap at Frank here and embody more of the “Gallagher spirit” than his own father. At the same time, Frank keeping that baby is surely the worst avenue possible for it. He’d be treated as more comedic fodder and the centerpiece to grifting opportunities. This baby has a better life now that he’s away from Frank.
Meanwhile, in other adventures in child abuse: The latest development in Debbie’s complicated scheme to cheat herself into some money that she doesn’t deserve involves her teaching her daughter to be as wicked as possible so Pepa won’t want to take her in as her own. When this doesn’t pan out, she contemplates temporarily kidnapping some random child that could pass off as Franny, which is an even worse plan.
This seems like a passing joke at first, but it’s the strategy that Debbie goes with, which is kind of insane. She winds up negotiating and bargaining with children as this all becomes more obtuse. It’d honestly be less work if Debbie just really looked for another job. It’d be pretty hilarious if after all of this child swapping nonsense she had a voicemail full of messages telling her that the welding strike has been over for days now.
Ian’s not particularly interested in money, but his crooked parole officer’s greed continues to rope him deeper into her scam. Shameless at least has the guts to call out how ridiculous all of this is and the unusual journey that Ian’s been on through this show (“Gay Jesus,” was somehow a simpler time than this). It’s still unclear where this is all going, but it hardly seems fair that Ian should have to fear rabid dog attacks just because he saves a life and tries to actually do his job.
It’s actually crushing when he overlooks an accident because he has no other choice. There’s not much closure to this dilemma, only that Ian is in even deeper than he was before. Hopefully this unhealthy situation won’t trigger any reckless behavior in him or erase any of the progress he’s made in terms of mental health. Ian’s lot is rough, but matters aren’t any less complicated for his significant other, either.
Shameless throws Mickey a bone here and not only provides an update on what he’s up to in prison, but busts him out of the place. Before he’s out he endures some seriously silly escape plans that get him into a situation that’s somehow even more dangerous than prison. Mickey’s time in confinement comes to an end shortly after Ian’s, but now his life might possibly be threatened by the cartel.
It’s an unexpected direction to take Mickey, but it’s so over the top and different for Shameless that I’m willing to give it a shot and see where all of this goes. This episode merely scratches the surface of Mickey’s new obstacles, but at least his parole officer is nicer than Ian’s.
Finally, out of all of the absurd Kevin plotlines to come along this season, it’s extremely regrettable that the one that sticks around and appears to be an arc for him is his attempt to defraud a lawsuit against a child molester. Kevin’s treatment of this territory was tone-deaf in the previous installment, but it’s even more egregious this time around.
His cliff notes for his abuse are seriously awful. It’s bold territory for the show, especially in terms of a source of income for these characters, but at least Shameless has the courage to go all in with this idea, even if they shouldn’t. Once again, Kevin’s business is at a totally different end of the spectrum as V’s, as she struggles with very real feelings over being inadequate and out of place.
“Adios Gringos” is a heightened episode of Shameless, but it’s also an installment that centers around the Gallagher family coming together. There are a lot of poor decisions that drive this story forward, but by the end of the episode everyone in this family is more connected than before. “Adios Gringos” chooses to jump through some bizarre hoops and while the end may not justify the means, at least everyone is smiling when the credits roll. There may be no room for sentiment in business, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t be happy with the results.
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Daniel Kurland is a published writer, comedian, and criticwhose work can be read on Den of Geek, Vulture, and Bloody Disgusting. Daniel knows that the owls are not what they seem, that Psycho II is better than the original, and that Hannibal is the greatest love story ever told. His perma-neurotic thought process can be followed at @DanielKurlansky.