'Shameless' season 9, episode 8 has the Gallaghers dealing with the same old struggles
The Gallaghers are once again going through crisis situations that as an ardent viewer, one would find themselves quite accustomed to seeing on the show.
Showtime's hit dramedy 'Shameless' has finally returned from its almost three-month-long mid-season hiatus, and by the looks of it, in the middle of its ninth season, shocking developments in the Gallaghers' individual plots are plenty, but these aren't going to leave fans surprised. In that, the Gallaghers - aka the infamous family from Southside Chicago that the show revolves around - are once again going through crisis situations that as an ardent viewer, one would find themselves quite accustomed to seeing on the show.
'Shameless' season 9 started off with the departure of two of its central characters, Fiona, and Ian Gallagher, looming. Emmy Rossum, who plays Fiona, had shared that the ninth season would be the last we see of her on the show, and even though Ian (Cameron Monaghan) left shortly prior to the mid-season finale, most of the season's plots have focused around Fiona's impending departure. Probably why seeing the character still spiraling downwards comes off as a shock to fans, but not something entirely unpredictable.
For the longest time, Fiona has come off as the only redeemable character on the show. She might be a hot mess but she has been the sole matriarch on the show and has been taking care of her five younger siblings ever since the age of six. To see her broke, heartbroken, and physically injured, and still pulling an act which resembles her deadbeat, infamous father Frank Gallagher (William H. Macy) might be shocking, but the reason that this development is not surprising at this time is that there's no fading out a multifaceted character like Fiona without deconstructing her as a human to the core.
In true nature of the mid-season premiere episode's title 'The Apple Doesn't Fall Far From The Alibi,' we find Fiona established as Frank Gallagher's daughter - something that anybody who is aware of the personalities of the two, would have a hard time believing. Fiona and Frank couldn't be any more opposites of each other, but he is her father, so of course, she resorts to his signature debaucheries when she is going through a crisis. At the same time, what better way to see Fiona off than seeing her rise from the ashes of her self-destruction.
Speaking of which, the other person rising from ashes and to the occasion is Fiona's younger and only sister, Debbie (Emma Kenney.) With Fiona failing to live up to her responsibilities, Debbie - the only other girl in the family (apart from her baby daughter) - takes the role of the matriarch, keeping her siblings on a leash and taking care of the household. As shocking as it is to see this side of the ever so self-absorbed Debbie, it still looks like low-hanging fruit. I mean, she's the only other woman of age in the family, so it's quite natural that she emerges as the caregiver. (We're not saying its casual sexism, but it is what it is.)
The other shocking element in the premiere episode was Lip Gallagher (Jeremy Allen White) finally letting a relationship progress by choosing to move out of the Gallagher house and getting a place of his own. Lip's new friends-with-benefit turned girlfriend Tammi seems interested in helping him set up a life for the two of them, and away from the Gallagher mess, and for once, he is interested and actively indulging in it.
But that doesn't come as a surprise, because of how impeccable the timing is; Fiona has given up on her life, so naturally, the responsibility is to fall on the second oldest sibling, which happens to be Lip, explaining why he would look for an out now. The fact that despite being a grown man, he needs another human as a crutch to keep himself from his indiscretions has never been a secret, so of course, he has to depend on Tammi's presence in his life to keep his sanity intact.
Lip, however, isn't the only one shaken by a new woman's entry in his life. His father, Frank, is considering having another baby with his new erratic lady love, Ingrid (Katey Segal.) Frank might be a lot of things that comprise of the signature broke degenerate, and what is absolutely is not, is being eligible for fatherhood - something we would like to believe he himself too knows deep down. But then again, what he also happens to be, is a character with a soft spot for bipolar women. So, of course, Frank would do whatever the recent bipolar woman in his life, Ingrid, asks from him. He finds them more lively and holds them closer to his heart than his own children, and in that, despite agreeing to 'fertilize Ingrid's eggs' Frank's behavior fails to surprise us.
With just one episode in, the second half of Shameless' season 9 has established that the characters are back to who they are in their deepest trenches, and no amount of shocking, life-altering events could lead them to act in a way that would surprise viewers. However, it's too soon to lose hope when it comes to the thrill of this bit of season 9 as the showrunners have insisted there's a lot more Gallagher story to be told; let's just hope the stories end up being actually surprisingly instead of just radical subplots induced to keep the series going after Rossum quits.