Shameless 9x08 "The Apple Doesn't Fall Far From the Alibis" Review
Shameless has just come off of a hiatus, previous to which it was announced that two beloved Gallaghers would be leaving the show. Cameron Monaghan, who played Ian Gallagher, revealed via social media that 9x06 would be his last episode, while Emmy Rossum, who plays Fiona Gallagher, announced that she would be leaving the show after the ninth season wraps.
This double-whammy has left many fans, including myself, wondering where the show will go from here. Ian and Fiona have played extremely pivotal roles in the story that has unraveled for the past eight years, with Ian also providing refreshing LGBTQ+ representation as a gay man whose coming out left him unequivocally accepted by his family.
Though Ian got the happy ending so many of his fans had been hoping for, reunited with his on and off again boyfriend Mickey Milkovich (albeit in prison), Fiona was left in a much more unsettling place at the midseason point.
In the first episode of the second half of the season, we see that Fiona isn’t going to have an easy time getting out of the hole she’s found herself in — and that she’s ignoring that she’s in said hole altogether by numbing herself with a steady diet of vodka and cigarettes.
To recap, Fiona has just lost the apartment building she owned as well as another building she attempted to invest in, along with thousands of dollars. And on top of all this, her boyfriend Ford was already married.
However, because she’s a Gallagher, Fiona can’t sulk over her bad luck. She pulls herself up by the bootstraps, steals some of Frank’s vodka that’s sitting on the floor next to where he’s passed out, and goes about her day.
When she arrives at Patsy’s, the only source of revenue she has left, she finds that customers have been sticking their gum on the undersides of the diner tables. In her hungover or perhaps still-drunk state, she takes her frustration out on the customers. Though her employees are worried about her antics, they say nothing and try to keep the place up and running as Fiona comes in and out, visiting the nearest corner store for a little vodka pick-me-up at lunch.
Meanwhile, Debbie discovers that Fiona hasn’t been paying any of the Gallagher household bills when their power suddenly shuts off. When Fiona doesn’t answer her calls, she decides to come up with a fabricated sob story for each company. It works, though she later tells Carl that the squirrel fund is back, since Fiona no longer has the means to take care of all their expenses.
Carl and his new girlfriend Kelly find an odd side business in racketeering in order to pitch in, hoarding shared electric scooters and charging locals to get them back. Kelly then discovers that if they recharge the bikes and return them each day, they can make some easy money.
Carl also wins what he thinks is an innocent bet with Frank, unaware that Frank is up to his usual antics. Frank, willing to do anything for money and comfort, just wants to appease his mentally unstable (but rich) girlfriend Ingrid. So when she reveals to him that she’s frozen her eggs and wants him to impregnate her, Frank perhaps sees this as his golden ticket out of the Southside and away from his own “ungrateful” kids. However, his sperm count is dismal, so he tricks Carl into providing a usable sample to claim as his own. Unsurprisingly, it takes, and Ingrid finds herself pregnant with not one, not two, but six new little Gallaghers.
Across town, Kev and V have decided to foster a 12 year old boy named Santiago. Soon after bringing him to the Alibis with them, they discover that he’s been separated from the rest of his family as they were seeking asylum in the states. While Kevin wants to keep the child, mostly because he has a good throwing arm, Veronica insists they must reconnect him with his family.
All the while, Lip seems a bit lost. His new fling Tami is trying to convince him to get an apartment, even surprising him with a visit to a potential one on his lunch break. However, Lip knows he doesn’t have the money for this. While he tells Tami they can turn the Gallagher basement into a private space for them, Tami is visibly unimpressed and starts to pick apart every aspect of the Southside home. While Lip (and Debbie) don’t take any of it, it’s clear that he and Tami live very different lives and are having trouble meeting in the middle.
This episode left me with one particular burning question: What will become of Fiona? Though her family clearly cares about her and are stepping up to keep themselves and her afloat, it cannot be ignored that Emmy Rossum is set to leave the series in mere episodes. So with her character already heading down a dark road, will her exit be just as dim?
Maybe it’s a stupid question, as Gallaghers aren’t exactly familiar with happy endings. Monica died of a brain hemorrhage in Season 7, and as earlier mentioned, Ian is in prison. But it’s difficult to predict how Fiona could get out of this predicament and get out of the Southside altogether.
Part of me hopes that rumors of Jimm/Steve, Fiona’s ex-lover played by Justin Chatwin, returning to the show are true, just so Fiona can have a happy ending and be whisked away from the madness her life has become.
Already, it’s interesting to see how Debbie is stepping up and taking a very maternal role in Fiona’s mental absence. I enjoyed seeing her be something so different from the rebellious, irresponsible teenage girl from seasons past, and I genuinely hope this will stick once Fiona is actually gone. She’s almost become everything she hated about her older sister, so I’m curious to see how their relationship will change now that their roles are reversed.
I also loved the discussion in the episode surrounding the current refugee crisis happening at the Mexican/American border. Shameless tends to be controversial at times in terms of its political statements, but this storyline seems really promising. Kev and V both want what’s best for Santiago, and are horrified at the reality of his situation. I hope this will become a full-fledged storyline and really force Kev and V to change the way they think about adopting children, as Kev seemingly only really wants a son so he can play catch with him.
As far as Lip goes, I’m a bit confused. I’m not really sure where his storyline is going this season. His relationship with Tami seems like a cure for boredom and maybe a way to distract himself from drinking, which, I must say, he’s doing a great job at. It was interesting to see his juxtaposition to Fiona who’s in a similar place to where he was not too long ago. I hope this will be touched upon as the season progresses. I feel like Lip could be the perfect person to help Fiona get out of her funk by reminding her of his own rock bottom and how he managed to crawl his way out of it.
So far, I’m enjoying the second half of season nine a lot more than the first. There seems to be some potential for entertaining storylines and some real character development, so I’m excited to see where the rest of the season goes from here.
Though I missed Ian’s presence immensely in this episode and may be just a bit in denial at the permanence of his exit, I’m focusing on appreciating Fiona as much as I can before she too leaves us. Her performance was incredible this episode and I’m not sure how this show will go on without her, but there’s six more episodes of bliss until that happens.
Shameless airs Sundays on Showtime at 9/8c.