Shameless didn’t celebrate its 100th episode much at all and definitely not with a return of any of these beloved characters, but the series took steps toward redemption during the latest episode, “Black-Haired Ginger.” In doing so, the series almost frenetically danced around the possibility of reuniting fan-favorite couple Ian Gallagher (Cameron Monaghan) and Mickey Malkovich (Noel Fisher). Viewers shall not forget the latter’s tearjerking, fugitive departure — and emotional plea for Ian to accompany him — into Mexico during season 7’s closing moments. Fisher has expressed interest in helping Mickey come back if Ian ever needed him, but will this ever really happen? The writers took some ambiguous steps in this episode that are worth parsing out.
As usual, there were plot points flying everywhere (including Katey Sagal’s first appearance), and we’ll touch on a few of those, but let’s actually talk about the Mickey issue. Due to his status as the most nuanced and genuine character to appear on Shameless, one can easily locate Reddit threads that beg for this character to return from exile and (hopefully) motivate Ian to forget about his silly Gay Jesus crusade, something that has felt like a caricature all season long. Did the writers actually do Ian and Mickey dirty in this episode, though?
Ian’s ex, who had been through everything with him, including a mutual coming-out process, along with a traumatic follow-up from Mickey’s homophobic dad (Terry), did not actually materialize in this episode. His specter loomed large, however, as Ian prepared for his felony arson trial with the likelihood that he’d end up doing time, plea bargain or not. It’s important to note, up front, that any effort to produce a reunion (whether on-or-off camera) should be one that honors both characters. That is, there are two possible tactics: