What’s your worth? If you don’t know your own value, how can you answer: Is it worth it?
In “Ride or Die,” the 10th episode of “Shameless’s” seventh season, the leads are all examining their self-worth, some for the first time, and making decisions based on their perceived value.
Fiona (Emmy Rossum) gets an offer on the laundromat that starts at $90,000 but escalates to $160,000. Fiona does well, and turns a profit way beyond expectation, but it’s not the way she wanted to make money. Fiona identifies herself as a caretaker and a hard worker. She planned to put years into that laundromat, provide her sister with a job, keep a Southside institution open, and let an old lady live out the rest of her life in her home. Fiona takes the deal, and it’s a lot of money, but she doesn’t feel like she earned it the right way. This quick money is not how she defines her worth.
Svetlana (Isidora Goreshter) is one of the few characters that seems to truly know her worth. She was forced to know the value of her physical body from a young age. The lessons she learned from her forced and consensual sex work will forever be imprinted on her. Svetlana may have stolen the bar from Kevin (Steve Howey) and Veronica (Shanola Hampton), but she’s not wrong when she says she knows how to run the business better than they do. Svetlana may enjoy the intimacy of the throuple, and the convenience of a multiparent household — she may even love Veronica, and we know she does. But she’ll always love survival more.
Veronica and Kevin’s worth is built around love and trust. This is an unfathomable betrayal to them. Veronica is heartbroken, and Kevin at a loss on how they can rebuild. Sitting on the porch and reconnecting with Fiona helps V put things in perspective: Kevin and the girls are what’s important to her. She still has what she values, she’s still on top.
While some struggle to define themselves and move forward, Lip (Jeremy Allen White) remains a paradox: He knows his worth, his potential — but it’s making him bitter and self destructive rather than proactive. This week he continues to parallel Frank. He wakes up in strange places, he’s surly and unfocused, he chases alcohol with substances. But his downfall is best represented in the visuals: Greasy and red-eyed, he looks like his pores have alcohol seeping from them. He hits rock bottom after breaking into Helene’s house and walks away in the early morning light looking like he’s aged ten years in ten hours.
There is a glimmer of hope when Lip ends the episode at an AA meeting: Lip is not Frank — at least not yet. Lip likes to make a big deal out of being southside born and breed, but he’s literally too smart for his own good. He think’s he’s above doing the slow and honest work you need to do to manage addiction. Lips biggest obstacle in his recovery will be humbling himself. His life is worth more than that of a lonely embittered alcoholic. But to avoid the life of an alcoholic, he must accept he is one.
What are Monica (Chloe Webb) and Frank’s (William H. Macy) lives worth? What’s the sum of two sick, lifelong addicts? Monica’s dying, she knows she owes the kids something, and somehow decides $5,000 is the magic number. This leads to a Frank and Monica crime spree that is more about reigniting their passion for each other and recapturing their youth than trying to provide for the family. You can’t quantify sacrifice if you’ve never been able to properly identify it.
“Love is raw and destructive,” Frank says in obvious foreshadowing: Mickey Milkovich (Noel Fisher) is back. Mickey Milkovich is back and headed to Mexico, and he wants Ian to come with him.
Ian (Cameron Monaghan) is easy to root for: He’s got boyish charm, he’s sensitive, he tries hard, learns from his mistakes, deals with his broken parts in a brave way we could all emulate, and he accepts both himself and his family. He also values himself, and all he’s accomplished — that much is clear in his late-night conversation with Fiona about her own raw and destructive romance, with Jimmy/Steve.
Mickey’s the same dirty charmer he’s always been, rough around the edges and straightforward. He doesn’t really expect Ian to run away with him, but he wants to say goodbye. The chemistry between the boys, now men, is undeniable — and demonstrates why the couple continues to be the show’s flagship romance despite not appearing on screen together since the beginning of season 6.
What is Mickey worth to Ian? Mickey is Ian’s first love. A part of Ian will always be 17 years old and in love with Mickey Milkovich. And is love ever as all-consuming as it is at 17?
In the end, Ian goes with Mickey. It may not what’s best for Ian in the long run, but to him in the moment, it’s worth it for love.
Shameless isn’t about success stories. It’s about life long struggles and all the pieces that buried inside of you, bad genetics, poverty, predisposition to being bipolar or alcoholic. You make your own way, despite or because of it all. You identify the sacrifices people make for you and the ones you make for others. It’s about doing the best you can in the moment.
As we head into the final two episodes, we have to ask — and the show seems committed to an answer — these choices you’re making, Gallaghers. Are they worth it?
“Shameless” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime.