'Shameless' season 9: Carl and Liam emerge as the unsung heroes of the Gallagher clan
While all the other Gallagher men are busy being dysfunctional as usual, the youngest of the lost have actually showed some progress on this season of Shameless.
With Shameless slowly progressing with its ever-so-messy and dramatic timeline via season 9 now, it's not entirely wrong to expect the Gallaghers — in all their dysfunctional glory — to show certain bits of remorse or redemption. And topping all charts is our very own Carl Gallagher, with a little bit of recognition flowing baby brother Liam's way too.
The reason why Carl (Ethan Cutkosky) and Liam stand out so significantly is simply that their older brothers, Lip (Jeremy Allen White) and Ian (Cameron Monaghan), are petty much back on their bullsh*t. Lips is, as usual, trying to find a vessel to distract himself from his past alcoholism, and while he very blatantly refuses to sponsor a fellow alcoholic, what he subconsciously also does is try to take responsibility of a 12-year-old's well being. It's almost like Lip needs some sort of crux to invest his time and energy into, just so he doesn't resort to alcohol again — and for that, he can go to any extreme length.
As for Ian, he, as his younger sister Debbie (Emma Kenney) describes, is "a bipolar Gallagher who's not taking his meds." Ian has done this in the past and despite very clearly knowing how terribly it works for him, he's resorting to his old tactics. And this is where Carl and Liam step in with a breath of fresh air. While all the other Gallaghers are doing what they have done exactly in the last couple of seasons, these two are showing certain changes that make for progress.
Carl's stance as a cadet in military school seemed a little shaky in the beginning but all of that changed once he came back home and went back to his old days of being a soulless thug. And while getting his 'homicidal mojo back' just in time for his showdown duel with the kid whose West Point recommendation he stole worked for him, it was nice to see the cutthroat no-nonsense Carl caring for the dogs at the shelter.
Let's for a second ignore all the typically Gallagher things he does to rescue the dogs from a merciless death at the shelter and provide for them in his basement — the fact that he actually showed some moiety of an emotion when it came to them just goes a long way to allow another character aspect of his to emerge.
Sure, he agrees to a fellow cadet taking down his wife/stalker and despite refusing at first, he shoots the West Point recommendation kid too, but in Carl's defense, both of them were annoying him. Especially with the West Point kid, he went ahead with the shooting only after being requested to by the kid himself.
Whereas with the dogs, that was pure Carl conscience. A little unsettling the way he went about it, sure. But this came from the boy who shot an eagle and then fed its meat to his family for Thanksgiving. So it's official: Carl Gallagher has a soul and it belongs to ailing dogs.
Speaking of soul, what even after nine dramatic, eventful seasons fans are yet to discover, is the youngest Gallagher — Liam's (Christian Isiah) soul. Does he have one? Does he feel anything? Is he even human, or just a bot masquerading as a Gallagher sidekick? We use sidekick loosely considering he's not even a teen yet so most of the time, he has been an accomplice to whatever shady job his father or siblings are getting into; but in the last two weeks, Liam Gallagher has come forward with a mind and soul of his own.
Not only did he stand up for himself at his new public school, adapting to the classic tactic of making a deal with the bully himself to avoid getting tortured by other bullies, but he also proved beneficial for his eldest sister, Fiona (Emmy Rossum) in a way he never did (intentionally) for his father, Frank (William H. Macy).
Acting as her bossy intern, Liam finally has something to do other than offer questionable looks and stares to whatever people around him are saying or doing. The very ending of the previous season showed his aversion to whatever debauchery Frank is sporting at the moment, and the fact that he chooses to help Fiona's progress is a progress in his own character arc.
Having said that, most of season 9 is yet to unfold so we might be getting a little ahead of ourselves with our dreams for the only two Gallagher men trying to show some change, but here's to hoping that they really don't sink back to the scratch they had started from.