Episode 312

Paul Abbott was raised by his older sister after his mother left when he was nine. His father walked out on him and his other eight siblings two years later.  Consequently, it is no surprise that the writer and creator of the hit comedy, “Shameless,” is usually able to strike all the right emotional notes. For the season finale, which premiered last Sunday, April 7, Abbott is once again able to bring fans a well blended episode of comedy and drama.

Although the season was full of some big flaws, it was worth sticking around for the entirety of it. “Survival of the Fittest” is a greatly appropriate title for the final episode because it sums up the Gallagher family perfectly as a group of marked degenerates, somehow getting by in the most unfortunate circumstances.

For starters, Fiona (Emmy Rossum) is once again barely able to pay the rent, but she finds luck after Jimmy’s disappearance. As an avid fan, I was definitely happy to see the eldest Gallagher improve her situation, even if the step was just a small one. Besides, there needs to be some good news for the hardworking mother figure who grows teary eyed more than once this episode, which Rossum does a fantastic job with every time.

On a side note, I was really hoping to see more of Fiona’s boss, Mike Pratt, who Jake McDorman plays with ease. His and Fiona’s relationship has developed slowly, but has included well-written, flirtatious dialogue and moments of tense hesitation between them. Abbott probably could have sacrificed minutes of Veronica and Kevin’s segments in which they argue and joke about their relationship with Veronica’s mother and their coming child.

Emma Kenney and Ethan Cutkosky do some fine work as Debbie and Carl once again. Kenney outshines Cutkosky for sure, but only because her character is not a sociopath and hence gets greater chances to be incorporated into emotional scenes. Kenney’s character, Debbie, is emotional anytime something dramatic happens, like finding out about Jimmy’s disappearance and Fiona’s decision to not move to Michigan, which provide more opportunities for Kenney to show off her skills as a young actress. Cutkosky does get an opportunity to showcase his talents as a well-rounded child actor, but only does a decent job as he shaves his father’s head during a visit in the hospital.

This brings me to the great William H. Macy, who has had brilliant supporting roles in movies like “Fargo” and “Thank You for Smoking.” He is not quite as great here as Frank Gallagher, but this is because his character usually does not see much development as he continually reverts back to being the offensive drunk that he is meant to be. However, Frank saw much progress this season and becomes less of an eyesore episode to episode. Macy does a fantastic job this week as a desperate alcoholic ready for another drink, but he is even better when his beloved beverages are at risk of being sacrificed after his aforementioned hospitalization.

Before being hospitalized as a result of vomiting blood all over an ice skating rink, Frank convinces his eldest son, Lip, to spend some time with him. Jeremy Allen White gives a wonderful performance as the seemingly dazed and confused teen who is the first in his family to graduate from high school. Despite his achievement, Lip is still indecisive about his future plans, even though he has earned his way into MIT––with a full ride, nonetheless. Lip is a genius, one that is too smart for his own good, and rather than ruminating seriously on what is next for him, he instead distracts himself with drinks with the old man. The fascinating thing about this is that there are clear similarities between Frank and Lip––could Lip be destined to live a life much like the one of his own abhorrent father?

As Ian and Mickey, Cameron Monaghan and Noel Fisher deserve a lot of notoriety. Television series like “Modern Family” and “Brothers & Sisters” typically portray gay men in the same effeminate way. I like that “Shameless” provides a different look into a homosexual relationship through Ian and Mickey, one that is complex due to the restrictions pushed down on it from the varying forces of living a ghetto lifestyle.

Monaghan and Fisher work very well together, and ever since their fight at Mickey’s wedding, the hostility has been building. For Ian Gallagher, their relationship is through, even though there is still hope in the back of his mind. Monaghan is great here as he plays a kid who is trying very hard to keep his feelings bottled up, waiting for his lover, Mickey, to say his piece first. Fisher is equally impressive as he holds back his tears and words while watching Ian slowly leave for what may be the last time.

It was nice to see that Paul Abbott was able to craft an appropriate finale for this season of “Shameless.” Abbott was even able to squeeze in some short moments with Karen and her mother, Sheila Jackson, in order to sum up their storylines. This week was a job well done and ended on some suitable cliffhangers. I hope that next season will be kick-started with another wild, funny, rude, crude and crazy Gallagher adventure.

Rating: 3.5 stars