This Shameless review contains spoilers.
Shameless Season 8 Episode 6
Poor Icarus might have fallen in the jaws of Rusty tonight—at least according to the title—but pacing likewise fell back into its familiar, old rhythm this week too, as the wildly intense sudden drama of the last episode’s cliffhanger mostly was put on the backburner. Indeed, Fiona and Ian have a reckoning that remains due, but all we got was a poignant, if only sample sized, hint of things to come: Fi is no longer South Side. At least that is the point-of-view of her brother who says she values money over people. It’s also a perspective Fi, and Shameless, wishes us to consider.
But beyond that, most of “Icarus Fell and Rusty Ate Him” was primarily concerned with exploring the hijinks that goes with the Gallaghers getting up to no good. And for that reason, the humor was the best part of this always hard-to-categorize dramedy series. The best of the laughs came from Kev convincing absolutely nobody that he was going to prove to Veronica that if she likes it with other women, he’ll find himself a man.
Quite honestly, this subplot is a rehash of last season wherein “Big Papa” and V got way too close to a Russian who undoubtedly will screw them out of money and/or a bar after she is finished, ahem, screwing them in other ways. There is is some lip service about the role of sexual fluidity, but even in regards to V’s openness to Svetlana, it feels mostly tacked on for the irony of her digging her frenemy’s touch over her beloved husband’s. One also hopes this triangle is rekindled for purely comic effect, because there is absolutely no reason Veronica or Kevin would or should accept this woman back into their bed as essentially a spouse after she stole their livelihood. Also, the idea that Kev needs to struggle to find a gay partner when he worked at the Fairy Tail for half a season is questionable at best.
But these narrative deficiencies are mostly irrelevant because the series lands each one of its laughs in this section tonight. Kev thinking “have a nice day” is code for a handy-dandy reach-around makes about as much sense as a man who a few days prior was dressing like he was on The Beverly Hillbillies, unironically. Nevertheless, it does reduce Kev and Veronica to purely comic relief for potentially the rest of the season, because there is no way to earnestly play again their war with Svetlana, especially after her true-blue bestie Fiona didn’t bat an eye she is back with a treacherous woman and merely commented (accurately) that V likes to be dominated. Something Kev will never do, which is why she (and we) love him.
The Debbie subplot was also depraved and fun with the girl who can never call Frannie a mistake seeming to concede that she is not exactly flourishing as a single mother. So much so that her fear of second pregnancy (or at least the cost of a pricy abortion) causes her to go the full Jack Bauer with a countdown clock of 67 hours before the morning after pill loses its effect. Her also not recalling she had unprotected sex the other day too, and dropping that number down to 34 hours, was a fiendishly wicked touch.
The sequence was light, but right down to her friend of Arab descent shouting an Islamic prayer to clear out a long line at the pharmacy, it proves to be as potent as Debs’ desired pill of choice.
What was less successful, unfortunately, was the Icarus of the episode’s title: Frank. It would seem Frank’s attempt to crossover into the middle class will be cut brutally short with the lumber company he works at going out of business. There is something truthful about this for any working class guys like Frank, whether they have overextended their credit or not… plus a new flashy car. On top of enjoying all the backroom MILF sex a gruffy exterior can buy, the father formerly known as St. Francis is still apparently concerned about Liam. As he mentioned an earlier episode, this is his last chance to be a good father, and hearing his son ask if they’re poor hurts on some fundamental level.
As much as it feeds his ego to have a credit card, he wants his son to feel like he belongs with all those other little yuppie larva. So he buys a car, online no less, and inevitably must already plan its destruction for there was no way he’ll make even a single payment. A middle aged man working a combination of manual labor and a service job losing his livelihood is bitterly real, as it will also be he tries to reenter the workforce again with an almost blank resume and interviewers who won’t relate to his life story of the “woman done me wrong.” And like the audience, his Angel of Death is aware of how delusional Frank is.
Still, if they want to take away Frank’s mad visions of climbing out of poverty away from him, I almost do wish it would be by his own hand. While that is not the reality for most people, Frank is a special case of narcissist who must do something to self-sabotage. And seeing that taken to its dramatic end point might be more narratively enticing than just having the series write him into a quick corner with no exits—and back to the Alibi.
Humor itself, meanwhile, exits from the rest of the episode, which skirted most of what made last week so good. Poor Lip is at this point juggling multiple disappointing mentors and failed father figures who he fears all spell his doom.
But more poignantly is Fiona going through the remains of an empty life. Not-so-shockingly, the woman who never leaves her apartment was a hoarder and recluse. The only company she had (for probably decades) was a dog. And as Fiona finds herself being pushed away by Ian for supposedly being greedy, she learns of the sad, lonely end to a woman whose father she also was pushed away from after her husband died in Vietnam. Her daughter apparently also died at some point as an adult, and so this woman was left to waste away forgotten by everyone except her dog, who then made a feast of her flesh.
More effectively than Lip revisiting the failed father disappointments yet again, Fi is getting visions of a life for a woman on her own—or really any person alone—that fill her with dread. Is she abandoning her roots for choosing the security of her property value over the eminent threat of a homeless shelter? She probably is, but it is also her literal good luck fortune that has been invested in this apartment building. It is unfair of Ian to judge her so harshly for it. Not that I think Fi is in any risk yet of winding up a hermit whose own niece would coldly throw out her photographs like garbage.
Fiona hasn’t forgotten her humanity; in fact, she is afraid of it. She knows that monstrous dog is just as likely her end. Still, like any viewer, I cringed when she told animal control that it ate human flesh. She might as well have killed poor Rusty herself. But, answer honestly, would you personally keep a dog that ate from its owner? Probably not.
Yet just as Fi salvages the woman’s photos and makes them a semi-memorial in her foyer, Fiona also sympathizes for the pooch and (unrealistically) saves it from Animal Control after they have carted the doggie away. Even if it is unlikely she could get Rusty back, this gesture of siding with the ill-fated little guy is the best proof that Fiona is still South Side—and that perhaps she should worry what Ian thinks, lest she also lose connection with the blood that has defined so much of her life up until this point.
It is a nice thought that helps elevates this whimsical and fairly slight hour into something worth considering while also exploring your sexual fluidity in the bathroom with a football player built “like a Greek God!” Because who hasn’t been there yet, am I right?
Most Shameless Quotes of the Week
“Okay, go ahead, suck a dick.” – Fairly reasonable V.
“This is what it’s like to be in the inner circle. One of the haves.” – Frank.
“You know what I just realized? If I were gay, I would be all over you. You’re gorgeous and I already love you, but I’m just not interested in your vagina. And that tells me that I’m not a lesbian. Simple logic.” – Less reasonable V.