The obvious question going into the tenth Shameless season was whether the series could survive after Emmy Rossum left the building as Fiona Gallagher. Well, things went surprisingly well at first. In fact, they continued swimmingly for several episodes with Lip stepping up as the head of household and emotional center of the show, and the (formerly abrasive) Tami somehow rollied forth as his equal partner. The more “stable” couples of the series (Ian and Mickey, Kevin and V) also kept the background drama rolling nicely, and I felt pretty confident that this U.S. incarnation of the series could outlast its U.K. counterpart. In the latest episode, however, something surprising has gone down to make me wonder what the writers are brewing.
Lip’s moving out! He’s not leaving the series, presumably, but he is leaving South Side, Chicago. He’s also vacating the entire state. He’s going to Milwaukee. Henceforth, he’ll be living two hours away from the Gallagher home.
I didn’t expect this to happen, and neither did Lip, but Tami’s family placed their nana into a facility, and her home is free and clear, so they all insisted that the struggling couple make the move. Lip is resistant at first, but then he realizes that it’s not only a great place to work on motorcycles, but it’s the best possible environment in which to raise baby Fred (R.I.P. “Gabriel”). Where does that leave the rest of the family, though?
It’s a pressing dilemma, and Lip’s already made his choice, but the episode’s final scene — in which Lip informs Debbie, Ian, Liam, and Carl that he’s moving to Wisconsin, but they can visit — was one of the saddest moments of this entire show. The siblings are all clearly upset, but they can’t even muster up the energy to weep. They’re all used to this type of outcome and almost have their resignation prepared in advance. Lip’s checking out, less than a year after Fiona did so, and she earned her stripes. But Lip? I’m not convinced that this move is in his nature and expect him to feel some conflict as a result of the muted reaction to his announcement.
In other words, Lip might depart for a few episodes of domestic bliss with Tami, but I don’t expect this transformation to last forever. There will be resentment, sooner or later, and either on Tami’s end or his own, after her family stepped up to provide for the new parents. Lip was awfully proud of being able to purchase an R.V., after all, which they parked on the Gallagher property, and Tami didn’t protest too much (after they got the sewage details worked out). Yet I really think the most powerful source of conflict will be Lip finding himself unable to adjust to any tangible source of stability. I mean, look at the example he was dealt while growing up. Fiona tried her hardest to make things work for the family, but Monica and Frank were also the most dismal parental examples on television. Like Fiona, Lip is hopelessly codependent. And we haven’t really seen him attend any AA meetings lately, so there’s no telling whether he’s still receiving the support that he requires in order to cope.
Actually, you know what? This decision from the Shameless writers is exactly what Lip and the rest of the Gallagher siblings could use to propel this season. Furthermore, this could propel some new conflict to reel up for a combative series finale in a month or so. It felt far too easy for everyone to transition after the Fiona era, and now that Lip’s moving away, things should surely grow messy in the aftermath. In the meantime, let’s check up on a few of the other notable story arcs this episode.
So, Mickey and Ian are actually going to get married now? I don’t think any sort of blissful matrimony could continue with this pair, but I’m glad they’re finally admitting that they can’t live without each other. The show’s fans are gonna love to see whatever Frank does at the wedding, and maybe he can top his performance from Fiona’s disastrous attempt to wed Dermot Mulroney’s Sean. On second thought, Frank might not be around the homestead for a while, either, given that he’s now entered court-mandated drug rehab at some yoga-happy facility. That should be disastrous.
I’m not feeling too much about Debbie’s current situation (sleeping with a mother and her daughter, while mom’s not aware and wants to be a sugarmama) other than to say that it’s at least more interesting than every other Debbie arc of the series. This won’t end well for any member of the trio, but Debbie’s also about to be more distracted by Lip’s departure. And that’s the same for every remaining Gallagher now, which finally puts a complicated spin on the season with more emotion to come, no doubt.
Showtime’s ‘Shameless’ airs on Sunday nights at 9:00pm EST