ReviewTV

Shameless Review: "Strangers on a Train"

Alysha Boynton ‘17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Emmy Rossum and Nick Gehlfuss in the Shameless episode "Strangers on a Train." Photo Courtesy of Showtime.
Emmy Rossum and Nick Gehlfuss in the Shameless episode “Strangers on a Train.” Photo Courtesy of Showtime.

Shameless continued to live up to its name (and then some) with this week’s installment, “Strangers on a Train.” Equal parts uncomfortably cringe-worthy and frustratingly groan inducing, the characters really stepped up their game in terms of bad decision-making and questionable morality. Frank (William H. Macy) came alarmingly close to having sex with his own daughter (Emily Bergl), whom he was trying to trick into giving him part of her liver (not a match, as it turns out).

Lip (Jeremy Allen White), fed up with his string of constant failures at college, went on a car windshield smashing spree, followed by a return trip to the South Side where he slept with Mandy Milkovich (Emma Greenwell) and then took off. Fiona (Emmy Rossum), who continued to act like a completely out of character crazy person, allowed her boyfriend’s sleazy brother (Nick Gehlfuss) to… *ahem*… engage in certain sex acts with her on a train, before making a surprise appearance at his apartment later in the episode. When her boyfriend Mike (Jake McDorman) shows up, she literally hides under a table until he leaves.

Emma Kenney in the Shameless episode "Strangers on a Train." Photo Courtesy of Showtime.
Emma Kenney in the Shameless episode “Strangers on a Train.” Photo Courtesy of Showtime.

Debbie (Emma Kenney) continued trying in earnest to get her 20-year-old boyfriend to sleep with her, and in one of the only morally un-reprehensible moves of the night, he politely turns her down, telling her she’s not ready to have sex at her age.

The episode wasn’t bad by any means, but some aspects felt a bit forced, like the writers just wanted to make everything that happened as shocking and “shameless” as possible. This entire season has had a feeling of not quite right-ness, with the Gallagher house lacking the two eldest brothers and Fiona not acting like herself at all; it’s honestly been a bit of a bummer. Viewers generally don’t care if Frank lives or dies at this point, so that storyline is essentially wasted time (despite the always wonderfully convincing acting skills of William H. Macy), and the only two relationships that emotionally rang true in the past seasons have also been absent from the season.

Mickey (Noel Fisher) and Mandy Milkovich are the only two characters that, in this episode at least, win viewers over, and remind fans that this show has the ability to evoke feelings other than shock and disgust. Mickey is becoming quite the entrepreneur (if liberating Russian prostitutes from their abusive Madame counts as entrepreneurial) and he’s making the best of being left behind by Ian (Cameron Monaghan) even though it’s tearing him apart.

Even though for most of the episode, everyone was being generally horrible, by the end things started looking up for at least a few of the characters. Hopefully this bodes well for future episodes feeling less forced and difficult to sit through.

Overall Episode Grade: B-

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