Review: ‘Shameless’ – ‘There’s the Rub’

Senior Television Writer
02.09.14 53 Comments

A review of tonight’s “Shameless” coming up just as soon as I try to steal a helicopter…

Fiona spends a good chunk of “There’s the Rub” awaiting the consequences of her self-destructive behavior with Robbie, but she seems to get off easy. She doesn’t lose her job (though she’ll be transferred to another department), none of her co-workers know anything about her transgressions, and even Mike seems more down on himself than on her.

But then the consequences hit, big-time, when Fiona leaves Robbie’s cocaine out in a place where Liam can get to it.

You knew something bad was going to happen the minute Fiona realized Robbie had left the coke behind and chose not to flush it, but this is a particularly rough one, even if Liam is a non-character who’s still barely verbal at an age when most kids won’t stop talking. Even if Liam recovers, what happened could have deep and long-lasting repercussions on the Gallaghers, anything from Fiona losing her job to Fiona losing custody of the kids.

I don’t review this show every week, but I’ve seen fan reaction elsewhere to the Fiona/Robbie story, and I know some people are really mad that she would do this, even if Mike is a boring lunk. But it’s worked for me, because for all of Fiona’s strength and self-sacrifice, she’s also Frank and Monica’s daughter, and it doesn’t seem out of bounds that she would have inherited some of their weaker qualities when she wasn’t paying attention – and that those qualities might surface at what should be such a happy, peaceful, successful period in her life. And she’s now being deeply punished for what she’s done, even if Liam is perhaps being hurt even more.

I’ll be curious to see how the show deals with the legal ramifications of this. We already got an arc last year where the younger kids were put into foster care, so the writers might not want to rehash that, but something has to happen now, even if it’s Frank somehow being given responsibility over the family again. Frank has managed to skate through life without getting the many punishments he deserves – even Sammi forgave him almost instantly for trying to con her into giving up a piece of her liver(*) – but his kids don’t all share that particular gift. (Though Lip seems to have gotten off scot-free for last week’s spate of car vandalism.)

(*) On the other hand, spending time around Sammi and her son seems to have finally opened Carl’s eyes to what a dirtbag his father is.

Similarly, will the Army just never find Ian – who makes his first appearance of the season, tending bar at a gay club and acting like he’s high, brainwashed or in complete denial of how much trouble he’s in for stealing Lip’s identity, going AWOL and allegedly trying to steal Army equipment – or is he going to spend the show’s later seasons making brief appearances from federal prison?

In trying to juggle so many storylines, “Shameless” sometimes has to take shortcuts or skirt around the implications. After giving us a bunch of episodes where Lip is overwhelmed by the workload at school, for instance, here he just bails for a couple of days to look for Ian, and we’ll see if that hurts his grades later. But it was good to have him interacting with the rest of the family for an episode, and I suspect Ian, Liam and Fiona’s problems will have him hanging around a lot more than before.

I don’t want to see the family suffer more, but having introduced all these rather large problems, I also don’t want “Shameless” to run away from them. Things are very bad right now, and they could get much worse.

What does everybody else think, both of the events tonight and of season 4 so far?

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