Monday, March 11, 2013

"Where There's a Will"...There's a Gallagher


After emotional fireworks on last week’s episode, the Gallagher’s were back scheming wicked plots to save themselves from eviction. Even murder wasn’t off the table, and when Carl (Ethan Cutkosky) suggests exterminating Cousin Patrick with rat poison, Fiona (Emmy Rossum) memorably says: “I’m raising a sociopath.” 

But, Debbie (Emma Kenney) is turning into the spitting image (like they say across the pond) of our desperate heroine, Fiona, and it’s comforting to know that little Debs will take after her capable big sister. In past seasons, Debs has done everything in her power to transform her cacophonous life into something less chaotic – from getting good grades, taking care of the children at daycare, to cooking and cleaning around the house. She wanted to be a miniature “Martha Stewart” as Ms. Kenney claimed in a recent interview.  But, now she’s realizing that sometimes those who play by their own set of rules are the ones that ultimately survive.
To that end, Debs alleges false accusations of sexual abuse against Cousin Patrick to strong-arm him into leaving them the house. But, she is also learning that payback is also a necessary part of the Gallagher way of life. (Last episode, she escaped from her foster-home/child-labor camp and even managed to crazy-glue her foster mother’s eyelids shut before sneaking out the front door. Bad, but also awesome, Debs.)
The impressive part is that Ms. Kenney grew up in a New-Jersey suburb, far removed from the deceitful Canaryville streets. She also started her role on Shameless in her preteens. Ms. Kenney has proved a competent actress in her young career, and the challenging role of portraying a psychologically battered Gallagher sibling is requisite justification.
Moving from Debs to her father, Frank (William H. Macy) spent most of this episode causing and resolving his own constellation of problems, a trend that will hopefully continue. Since Sheila kicked him out, Frank is preoccupied enough with finding a roof to put over his head that he leaves the rest of his family alone. He certainly doesn’t help Fiona and the gang while they’re in jeopardy of losing their own home to Cousin Patrick, instead asking what they should steal from the house before they get thrown out: the copper pipes.
But, that might just be enough for me to get on board with Frank’s character – just leave everyone else alone. He can be so witty and off-the-cuff, even when he’s hopelessly tactless and crass; it’s hard sometimes not to smirk or even smile. There is a part of his character that is genius, which is a true testament to the ability of William H. Macy. When Cousin Patrick scatters Aunt Ginger’s ashes on the street corner where she used to work, Frank implies to the handful of mourners present that she was at least good at what she did: “[She] could unhinge her jaw like a Burmese python.”
What Frank should do to help himself and his family is to take a bit of his own advice. When Sheila tries to enlist Frank to help her stage an intervention for her sex-addicted boyfriend, Jody, Frank says that his “libertarian leanings” wouldn’t allow him to: “Live and let live, Sheils,” he says. There is truth to his self-serving statement. Frank wants others to let him live the life that he chooses – a life led by the drop. But, there is high irony too. By leading a life of alcoholism, Frank takes away opportunities for his own family to make a better life for themselves, especially Fiona, who is constantly left to pick up the pieces. Hopefully, Frank will continue to lead his own life and stop taking advantage of his underprivileged children. We can hope, but we won’t hold our breath.

-                    Sheila finds out that Karen told the Wong’s to pick up baby Hymie, a powerful moment for their relationship. Of course, Karen coming home with her tail between her legs, couldn’t have been that cut and dry – that perfect. Will Sheila have had enough of her meddling daughter?
-                    Will Karen get back together with Lip? After their sexual bouts this past episode, Mandy might finally kick the unappreciative Lip to the curb. At least with Karen, we know we’re in for a bumpy ride.

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