Shameless 9x11 “The Hobo Games” Review
With just a few episodes of the season left, Shameless is really amping up the drama — but it might be too little too late.
Episode 11, “The Hobo Games,” begins with Fiona in a motel room full of people. The viewer doesn’t know how she got here, as she was most recently seen being carted off to jail in a cop car, and it’s likely Fiona doesn’t have the answer either. She steals a bottle of oxy and is chased out of the building with a “Southside trash” thrown her way for good measure, an insult Fiona has certainly claimed with pride by now.
When she returns to the Gallagher house, Debbie is still making home improvements and needs cash to buy a furnace. So, Fiona wanders off to the street corner Carl used to frequent in his drug peddling days and sells the pills. She has to get creative after all, now that she’s out of a real job.
Meanwhile, Carl goes to work where he’s promoted to fry cook, though he’s distracted throughout the day by fears of Debbie attempting to seduce his girlfriend, Kelly. The two are getting suspiciously close and even Carl’s coworkers feed into his fears when they tell him the two look like lovers.
Across town, V has convinced Kev to get a vasectomy following their bad luck fostering Santiago. V believes he’s gone through with the procedure and when he’s acting strange, decides to drop off Amy and Gemma at the Gallagher house before going to work at the Alibis. Veronica later finds out that Kev had chickened out of the procedure and lied to her.
At the Hobo Loco Games, the last few competitors face off for the cash prize. As Frank attempts to focus all his energy on winning, Ingrid fears he will not stay loyal to her and her unborn babies. She decides to test Frank by lying to him, telling him she’s miscarrying. However, he’s more concerned with winning the money. After he loses the competition and Ingrid’s test, Frank returns home to find that she is leaving him and reducing the embryos to two — not that Frank will have anything to do with them as far as she’s concerned.
Lip, all the while, is attempting to adopt Xan who, in the last episode, showed up at the Gallagher house as her mom had disappeared (again). Though the initial appointment goes okay, Tammi is missing. And then, when Lip is out buying Xan a bunk bed, a social worker shows up at the house. A drunk Fiona answers the door and the social worker is left visibly unimpressed by the state of her and the house.
Lip’s bad luck continues when he waits outside of Tammi’s work to confront her about her no show and she reveals to him that she’s pregnant. The two have virtually no time to talk about their options because just when Lip thinks things can’t get any more stressful, his sponsee Jason calls. He reveals to Lip that he’s slipped up and needs to talk.
Jason later reveals to Lip that Fiona had stopped by the shop looking for him and offered him vodka, sending him into a downward spiral during which he also shot up heroin. Furious, Lip finds Fiona at home and confronts her about her interaction with Jason. After an icy standoff, Lip tells Fiona that he wants her out of the house.
There were so many interesting twists and turns this episode, but why are they just happening now?
This season as a whole has felt so oddly paced to me, with several episodes feeling like filler material and others being stuffed to the brim with tension and plot twists. For example, why has Fiona spent a quarter of the season drinking her days away with no intervention from anyone and is just now facing consequences, such as being fired from her job and kicked out of the house?
Why has Lip been doing nothing but hanging out with Tammi for several episodes in a row, only to now have three significant plot points dropped in his lap?
And what was the point of giving Frank the opportunity to be a father again and to win a large sum of money, only for both plotlines to be abandoned anticlimactically at the end of the season?
And meanwhile, the other characters in the show have been given lackluster storylines. Debbie especially has done next to nothing this half-season besides make improvements to the house and pay for the bills.
Carl, meanwhile, has shown no ambition to continue his military career, the dream he’s been chasing for three seasons now.
This episode was entertaining, don’t get me wrong. I love Lip and Fiona arguments with every fiber of my being. Jeremy and Emmy have such an amazing chemistry that makes these scenes absolutely electric. However, it almost felt like this scene should’ve happened a long time ago. Lip should’ve confronted Fiona about her behavior long before she gave his sponsee alcohol, especially because he knows what it’s like to be an alcoholic who needs help and support.
I enjoyed Lip immensely this episode, but part of me feels like I’m seeing a version of him I’ve never seen before, and not in a good way. He’s changed drastically without any onscreen development, and this makes it hard for me to believe who he is and what he’s doing. This is pretty much consistent for every character this season If I’m being honest.
The placement of blame on Fiona for everything going wrong feels unnecessary and solely ammo for Lip to get so angry he kicks her out, thus giving Emmy an exit. I suppose if Lip offered to help her, something much more in character for him or any of the other siblings, really, she wouldn’t have an out.
Perhaps Emmy’s decision to leave the show was last minute, but her exit has been written poorly and caused so many characters to do things they would never do. Even Fiona’s friends like Kev and V are absent from her life, which is extremely out of character for both of them.
I’m still looking forward to seeing how this season ends and how Fiona gets her final exit, but I’m unsure of how this leaves every other character moving forward. How will they continue to interact with each other, given that they’re suddenly so cold and no longer focused on being a family? With Fiona and Ian both gone, are we finally seeing the demise of the Gallagher clan?
I’m not sure how much longer this show can continue, quite frankly, and I’m more fearful than excited for what Season 10 may bring. I worry that Shameless has become unrecognizable, and is no longer the story of the dysfunctional but tightly-knit and fiercely loyal Gallagher family we’ve all grown to love. With that being said though, it’s been renewed for a reason. So maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised by the episodes to come.
Shameless airs Sundays on Showtime at 9/8c.