Like the last episode, “Going Once, Going Twice” feels aimless. Its storylines drift along the ebbing Gallagher tide, only to coalesce in a loss that isn’t quite believable. We pick up where “The F Word” left off, as Fiona and co. learn they are being evicted. Turns out smug cousin Patrick failed to pay the mortgage — and remember, the house is in his name. As Fiona scurries to gather enough cash to buy for the house at a public auction, disparate swatches of story yank the episode in all sorts of directions.
Between stray funds collected from Lip, Sean, Gus’s grandmother’s ring — which was allegedly smuggled throughout the Holocaust (will the pawning of such a precious item bring on some bad karma in a later episode?) — and a loan from the bank, Fiona scrapes together $100,000. And that, it turns out, is not enough. The Gallagher house, quaintly described as “adjacent to a community garden” and “in an up-and-coming neighborhood,” is lost to a yuppie couple who outbids Fi by $30,000.
It’s difficult to unpack why this loss is so unbelievable. Evictions and foreclosures are very real occurrences, especially in Chicago’s South Side neighborhoods. To be fair, Shameless has built toward this inevitability over the course of two seasons. An evicted Mexican family has taken up in the Gallagher driveway. NIMBY lesbians and lawyers have moved in. Noise complaints have been filed. The Alibi Room acquired an espresso machine and tapas to appease its hipster clientele. But even the Alibi Room was abandoned in favor of an overwrought (though delightfully silly) speakeasy. Perhaps the Gallaghers’ loss seems so sudden because the buildup felt rooted in lighthearted and goofy details, riffing on gentrification stereotypes like coffee shops and yoga studios. (Until now, it’s largely been played out through Yanis’ paralysis and subsequent cartoonish rage.) The suddenness of a 72-hour eviction seems like a hasty way to deal with moving the Gallaghers forward, but effective nonetheless.
Also, I cannot wait to see the treasures unearthed from decades of Gallagher family rubble.
Obviously, Fiona is most affected by the loss of the house. Though she still believes she has to care for the kids, truthfully, they’re off in their own worlds dealing with their own strange issues. Frank is coaching Debbie on how to lech her way into a creepy, statutory rape-bound relationship, and for some ridiculously uncharacteristic reason, she is listening. Carl is courting Dominique with legally-acquired gifts of mink and metal. Ian is wandering into Chicago fire department houses, looking for a boyfriend and a new vocation. And Lip is taking weird weekends away with Helene, who is the worst. And while they deal with their own miniature dramas, they’ll follow Fi wherever they must.
The Fiona we saw through five-and-a-half seasons has never had a choice in how to move forward. She moves forward by force and obligation. Now that she has $100,000 in her pocket and a steady recovering addict boyfriend (who apparently killed someone, by the way) she can choose how and where she wants to continue her life. It’s hard to know what $100,000 can buy in Chicago these days, but it’s certainly the seed money for a new life. I’m looking forward to the next episode, which I hope doesn’t skip past the moving phase. Will Sean stick around? Fiona seemed to handle his admission to murder well, but it’s difficult to know if she actually digested this information amid the loss of her home.
Outside of the immediate family drama, Lip is running around at conferences with professor Helene, whose sex-infused philosophizing has become grating. Her overblown confidence comes off as affectation, and she’s finally knocked down a few notches when a gay Jesuit from Loyola deflates her Simone de Beauvoir thesis. After a drunken confession that she likes Lip much more than she should, she shuts the whole thing down the next morning in a hurried, embarrassed apology. Lip is clearly hurt, though he’ll never admit it, and it’s difficult to tell why he’s sticking around. Sure, the sex is hot, but the situation is creepy. And not creepy in the quirky, raw-edged Gallagher way. Remember Helene’s weird half-joke suggestion that Lip kill her husband? And remember Lip when slept with Helene while her son was in the house and her husband was showering in the next room?
Shameless is good at pushing boundaries in hilarious, intelligent, and messed-up ways. However, the underpinnings of the Helene plot seem too hollow to be worth the time. I hope she disappears as quickly as Sammi and Chuckie did.
Oh, and Chuckie’s back.
- Is the exchange about Nick’s history with the bike meant to set up a future storyline? I pray someone doesn’t try to steal his wheels. I kind of like his hulking presence, and he seems like a grounding presence for Carl. It’s absurd, but it works.
- Svetlana’s nipples are weird.
- I’m glad Yanis is gone. Not that I like seeing him burned alive, but he wasn’t my favorite of the South Side neighbors.
- Reason No. 7,456 to love Lip: He sold a light fixture in his dorm to help Fiona out with the loan payment.
- Nobody tips a bellman $10 at a Marriott.
- I just realized who Helene is — Pacey’s sister Gretchen from Dawson’s Creek.
- Kevin is still hard on the tennis training for the twins, eating Froot Loops while watching matches as they nap. Cute.
- I miss Shelia’s wacky quirk.