Shameless Season 3 Review “Survival of the Fittest”

Shameless always pulls it out the bag with cracking finales, and this third season closer is no different. Every character is going through some kind of monumental transition, some of which are left hanging until season four, and all of it is done in a touching and emotional – yet still Shameless-style – way that will bring a tear to any fan of the show.

Starting with the biggie from last week, and the first of several characters seemingly being written out, Jimmy is still missing and Fiona is starting to get worried. Of course, before Kev appeals to her sensible side, her reaction is to leave angry voice messages on his phone and it’s only after she realizes how much she would lose that she begins to come around. It doesn’t matter what messages she leaves, however, since his phone is at the bottom of the sea somewhere – most probably next to Jimmy’s severed body parts. We could be optimistic about his fate, but a part of me wishes that we never find out what happened.

My first fist-pump moment was Beto’s reappearance at Fiona’s door, leaving her with money at the final message that she was too good for Jimmy. She has no idea who he is, or the part he has played in her life for months, but the audience are fully aware of the moment’s importance. Beto was one of the highlights of season three, developing into a fully-integrated part of the show despite only interacting with one character. We can safely assume that this is the last we’ll see of him, but I’m glad he got to do one final good deed for someone who’d grown to be a friend.

Lip’s having a much better day, as his unexpected graduation from high school is coupled with an acceptance letter from MIT. Despite her being crazy enough to commit attempted murder for him, Mandy was right to push him into college, and this was a nice resolution for the couple should she disappear for good. Lip chose to celebrate his graduation with, of all people, Frank. Their interactions were really quite touching, even going so far as Lip calling Frank “dad” over lobster and scotch. It all goes a little awry when Frank collapses on the skating rink, but it’s lovely to see Lip and Frank reconcile their differences if only for one afternoon.

Frank’s collapse leads to some shocking realizations for him and Fiona, as doctors tell him that he’ll die unless he quits drinking right away. Frank’s blatant and chronic alcoholism has been played for laughs before, but there’s absolutely nothing funny about throwing up blood. Will he clean himself up? And if he does, will it be for his kids or for himself? I can see him doing it out of some twisted defiance against Fiona’s disbelief, and I really hope Shameless goes that way next season. We don’t know where he’s walking to in the episode’s final moments, but let’s hope it’s somewhere clean and sober.

Finally, Ian has cut and run by signing up for active duty, leaving Mickey and his mind games behind him. We can’t expect him to get away with impersonating Lip for long, since Lip will probably be enrolling at MIT, but the gesture of moving on is there nonetheless. Similarly, Sheila will have to rebuild her life after her entire world drove off at the start of the episode. Watching her say goodbye to her daughter, her lover and her grandson all at once was heartbreaking, and I’m glad she’s finally identified her calling in life. Will she be returning next year? And what about Mickey?

Everything is left up in the air, but Fiona finally seems to have settled down. She scores a big sales job by convincing Kev to buy cups with Jimmy’s parting money, and thus finally has a proper, grown-up job. The ending seems a little bitter-sweet, so who knows how long she’ll be able to stick at a 9-5 life, but at least we can leave her on a happier note than expected. Kev and V, too, will be able to look forward to welcoming their baby next season, and I can only imagine the fresh shenanigans that will bring to the Shameless family.

What did you think of the episode, and season three in its entirety? Let us know your thoughts and predictions from season four in the comments below.

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