Shameless “Lazarus” Review (4×12)

7 Apr


It may seem like hope is rare, but when you experience it, it’s one of the greatest feelings in the world.

Hope is something that’s eluded a number of Gallaghers this year on Shameless, a year that’s been dark and relentless and, for the most part, unforgiving; this isn’t the same show we saw in the pilot, but it recognizes that even amidst the pain, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

Let’s take Fiona first, who, as we all know, seriously messed up. However, she can get better, and her whole arc this season has been brilliant. It’s allowed Emmy Rossum to somehow improve on her already stellar performance, delving into darker territory and really making her resolution here feel earned. That entire sequence–walking through the darkened house, the reunion in the kitchen, the talk between her and Lip afterward on the stoop–really resonates with me. It’s nice to see her admit to her faults, and it’s also nice to see her prove that yes, she isn’t a drug addict and that she’ll make the most of her new opportunities. The rest of her family seems to finally truly believe her, and I’m happy she gets another chance; she’s back at a waitress job (a la season 1), but she has a new perspective on life.

Speaking of new opportunities, Lip attends Amanda’s sorority initiation, and the diner scene afterward is extremely powerful; so much of his arc has been about making something out of himself, even as his family ties are disintegrating, and his intense feelings of loyalty and responsibility have always kept him glued in place. His run-in with Mandy here is a reminder of his past, a reminder of what got him here to this point, to the point where he’s hanging out with a rich girl and celebrating college.

In fact, so much of this finale is about realization, about small victories and a sense of what’s to come, about catharsis. Carl and Debbie realize they’re just kids. Mickey realizes no one cares* about his homosexuality, which is great for him because he hates drawing attention to himself. The family, on the other spectrum of things, realizes that Ian may have bipolar disease, which is something that’s sure to make for some interesting interactions down the line between Mickey and the Gallaghers.

Of course, everything’s building up to the most cathartic moment of the episode: Frank’s telling off of God. That final scene with Carl and Frank on the frozen-over Lake Michigan, and the skyline of Chicago in the background, is so, so gorgeously filmed. Also, thoughts on the character aside, there’s no doubt that that’s an excellent moment for William H. Macy, especially considering how he’s had to play the character this season; it’s thrilling in a way, but alas, we know that he may just be the same guy for the rest of his life. As the scene suggests, that’s going to influence Carl as well, which inserts a darker aspect into the final sequence.


There’s a sense of hope in this episode and in this scene–more so than much of the rest of this season–but some things remain the same. Much like Ian might be another Monica, Carl might end up being another Frank. Now, one could read the scene as hinting at Frank quitting alcohol after savoring a few last sips, and Macy plays it with enough ambiguity for us to  make our own interpretations. Nevertheless, the problems that result are very real, and there are inherent issues in the Gallagher family. Carl’s the only one of his children who has stuck with Frank, which explains why he’d be the one to share the final moment with; ironically, though, Frank’s essentially crafting and abandoning another kid, another “Emily”.

It’s been a long and difficult road for the Gallaghers, and it’s not going to be all sunshine and roses from here. However, with each new job and each new relationship and each new realization, we’re getting there. Chins up, Gallagher family. You’re doing fine.




-Take a look at these shots:

-So, Jimmy’s back. I don’t know yet. That’s all I have to say on the matter. I’m apprehensive about this, and while I hope they prove me wrong, as of now, the show’s proven it’s better without him. The problem with his character in season 3 wasn’t necessarily the character, but rather the storyline they gave him, and I hope that improves next year.

-Apparently, the cast members didn’t even know Chatwin was back.

-*What an excellent scene that is for Kevin, too, especially given how he ended up with the bar in the first place. It’s nice to see Mickey get this victory before the impending heartbreak.

-Svetlana with the strap-on: hilarious scene.

-Regina King’s done some nice work as Fiona’s parole officer this year.

-The Sammi-Sheila scenes are fairly entertaining here, as well.

-Once again, beautiful cinematography and directing.

-So, I watched this live while everyone else was watching Game of Thrones.

-It’s been a pleasure covering this season, folks. This has been the show’s finest season, and this is one of the best shows on television. I love Shameless with all my heart.

Photo credit: Shameless, Showtime


One Response to “Shameless “Lazarus” Review (4×12)”

  1. darci April 21, 2014 at 2:00 pm #

    Finally caught up on my DVR’ing. I have to say my first reaction is that this was my favorite season finale of Shameless so far, even if season 4 wasn’t my favorite season.

    I really hope they find a new exciting direction to take Lip in the next season, and not just a repeat of his past but with a different girlfriend. I know that repeating a lot of destructive behavior and that cycle is part of the show’s deeper narrative, but still, I am hoping they can surprise us here.

    One last note, I loved that they used the song “Beacon” by Fellow Bohemian was in the scene where Lip gets all the kids packed into Amanda’s car so that they can get to school. Really big fan of that band and song, who I actually first discovered from this show a few seasons ago.

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