Shameless Season 4 Review “Lazarus”

Episode 412

Some finales make statements about the year that’s just gone by; some tie things up neatly and leave you with a satisfied feeling; but Shameless isn’t just some show. No, Shameless is a show currently experiencing a very, very long winning streak and, now reaching the final hour of a stellar season of ups and downs for the Gallaghers, it has decided to leave us wanting so, so much more.

It wasn’t just that ending, either, which saw the return of a character we had all assumed was gone for good. So well-conceived has the Steve/Jimmy-less year of the show that I really wonder if he can find a place here anymore but, since we won’t find out for another eight months, I guess it’s not really worth talking about until season five arrives. No, the episode itself was a brilliant full stop on all that had gone before – Fiona in prison, Lip in college, Frank in the hospital and Ian teasing more trauma to come with every appearance.

More to come came here, with the depressive stage of his suspected manic-depression revealing itself to an utterly panicked Mickey. I called Mickey and Ian’s storyline last week a triumph for the characters but, now, with Ian taking after his mother and Mickey so clearly not knowing what to do, the real test of their relationship is still to come. I guess we couldn’t enjoy those boys being happy and in love for more than ten minutes of screen-time, could we? Let’s rewind and see Mickey watching his newly legitimate boyfriend sleep again, because that’s all we’re going to get for a while.

Another love story panned out much better this season, and it was one that arrived pretty late in the game. Despite all of the predictions of Lip dropping out of college and returning to his old neighborhood, we’ve seen him knuckle down, build a life for himself against impossible circumstances and even get a girlfriend out of it. Despite Amanda seeming pretty perfect for Lip right now, as well as serving as a handy sugar-momma, that awkward exchange between Lip and Mandy in the diner could mean one of two things. That connection is still very much there, or Lip is so far removed from his old life that Mandy couldn’t bear to interfere.

The two characters that always dominated the narrative of the show, Fiona and Frank, were strangely absent from the season for one reason or another and, in this finale, they went in completely opposite directions. Fiona’s year has been about indulging the worst side of herself, letting her family down where she used to provide and being self-destructive where she used to be self-sufficient, and here she finally let go of all the justifications she thought she had for being that way. Frank, on the other hand, went right back to the bottle for a test drive of his new liver, and we wouldn’t have expected anything less.

Everyone (except for V and Kev) got a little payoff in ‘Lazarus’, but not everyone is in a good place. Fiona and Lip might have reached an equilibrium that they can build upon but, with Frank out of the hospital and back influencing Carl, Debbie still hooked on the idea of her and Matty, Ian catatonic and the imminent reappearance of Jimmy/Jack, there’s going to be a lot for them to deal with as joint heads of household next season. For now, though, let’s appreciate yet another brilliant run of our favorite show, and start counting down the days until its back.