This season more than ever, Shameless has moved along at a brisk pace. The show achieves so much in each episode, and “Liver, I Hardly Know Her” might be season four’s best example of that.
The episode opens with a depressing scene with Fiona, and it remains that way for her, as she parties hard at Robbie’s (while on probation) and is abandoned at a gas station in Sheboygan with no shoes, jacket or money. This is a new low for Fiona, even after what we’ve seen her do recently.
I was glad they went straight into V and Kev having their babies at the hospital. I figured it would happen at some point near the end of this episode or in the next one, but it takes place less than ten minutes in. This leaves enough time for Kev to rob Mickey with his own gun and later nearly murder his family when he mistakes firecrackers for Mickey and his friends showing up with guns of their own.
Mickey seemed set on going after Kev, and I liked seeing Ian insist on stopping him. Even better, Mickey ends up having to stop Ian from killing Mandy’s boyfriend. We learn something about both characters, as we see Mandy falling victim to her boyfriend’s control. If Mickey or Ian won’t do anything to help her, it will have to be Lip. Or her dad when he gets back.
Lip apologizes twice, first after overreacting around Debbie and Ian, and again to Fiona for neglecting to help her and shutting her out when she needed help. Lip matures more every episode, having to make up for Fiona struggling at such a low point. Jeremy Allen White and Emmy Rossum have always had great brother/sister chemistry, and that was on full display again here when Lip picked Fiona up at the gas station and drove her home.
Debbie shifts back to caring more about her family than her own life, and it works better. Throughout the entirety of “Liver, I Hardly Know Her,” there was a sense of family cohesion. The scene with Debbie, Ian and Lip talking about Fiona. Carl and Bonnie driving around checking hospitals in a stolen car. Debbie lying to the parole officer about Fiona’s whereabouts. In true Gallagher fashion, they do whatever they have to do to help get Fiona back once they really know she needs help.
Frank, on the other hand, has to rely on various factors for help—Sheila, Sammi, Sammi’s drug dealer’s connection to a sketchy doctor … and from then on it gets complicated, but it ends with Frank getting married to Sheila in the hospital then immediately getting upgraded for a liver transplant since the kidney that was stolen from him by the sketchy doctor put him in serious enough condition to bump him up the waiting list. In other words, a Shameless miracle, and yet one I won’t complain about, because we all knew they wouldn’t just kill off Frank this season. William H. Macy is too big a part of the show. Also, notable mention to the “F@#$ this! I change my mind! I don’t care how much money!” moment from “Yes” (or whatever his name was).
It’s nice to have Sheila back. Joan Cusack has maybe her best performance of the season here, generating a lot of laughs. It’s also nice to have some family cohesion back in the Gallagher household. Now we wait one full week, after one of the season’s best episodes, to see what happens next to Fiona, Frank and the rest of the crew.
Carlo Sobral is a Winnipeg-based freelance writer and frequent contributor to Paste.