Love and Pain. Love then Pain. Love is Pain.
60 episodes later, a pattern is discernible. The Gallaghers have a openness and capacity for love. They are romantic optimists who eventually wake-up to regret and retreat.
So far, the seasons have followed this pattern:
Season 1: Love and hope.
Season 2: Pain and disillusionment.
Season 3: Love and hope.
Season 4: Pain and disillusionment.
Season 5: Love and hope.
Highs and lows are extensive and relentless. Unlike other seasons where many of the episodes are superfluous throw-aways, season 5 spins captivating stories and keeps the action on point throughout.
What started as an odd couple has turned out to be one of the more enduring and stable relationships in the show. Mickey has turned to be a caring and dependable force in Ian?s life. Ian was dealing with his an onset of bipolar disease at the end of season 4 and season 5 continues his struggles. Despite Mickey?s vigilant care, Ian?s manic episodes lead to his institutionalization after kidnapping Mickey?s baby and a stint in military lockup after Sammi turns him in. After a short and ill-fated stay with Monica, Ian returns home. Mickey continues to chase and support Ian through all his travails. His unequivocal love for Ian is one of the more fascinating aspects of the show.
V and Kevin on a break
Kevin proves to be a doting father while V stuggles with her role as second fiddle in his world. In particular, she misses the healthy sex life pre-children. Frustrated, she leaves Kevin. Kevin splits to hang out at Lip?s dorm during their separation. Kevin ends up being popular with the female co-eds and takes advantage of his newly found bachelorhood. Lip convinces Kevin to go back to V, who Kevin still loves. They end up reconciled.
Lip gets friendly with his professor
Lip has an interesting start to his year. He finds that his financial aid paperwork has not been processed correctly. He works frantically to get the money together but can?t raise the money in time. He gets a reprieve with an unexpected windfall. Romantically, he enters into a sexually-charged relationship with his philosophy professor who has an open marriage.
A Gallagher house divided cannot stand
In one of the funniest stories of the year, Carl starts dealing drugs and uses Chucky as a mule. This idea is planted by Frank who is searching for a way to get rid of his annoying eldest daughter Sammi. Sammi turns out to be tougher than we thought. She convinces Chucky to finger Carl for the drug bust, she turns Ian in to the military police, and seemingly comes back from the dead after Mickey and Debbie poison her.
In order to protect Chucky in his stint at juvenile detention, she tattoos a swastika on his head. Carl, dealing for a black gang on the South Side, gets props from his crew for not diming on them. Carl, also in juvenile detention, is with the brothers, while Chucky is adopted by the White Supremacists.
Debbie in love and knocked up
Debbie has found a new love. She finds a boy her own age and they have an intense teen romance. She has unprotected sex and is happy when she discovers she is pregnant with the love of her life. The season ends with Fiona finding out about the pregnancy and trying to convince Debbie to consider an abortion. Debbie is defiant and plans to have the baby.
Fiona married and in love
Fiona has quite a season. She connects with a musician named Gus. After a whirlwind romance, they get married on a whim. She immediately regrets her decision and realizes she knows nothing about her new husband. To compound matters, Jimmy-Steve takes this opportunity to reappear. Fiona beats him up, but then proceeds to sleep with him despite her just-completed marriage. Her passion for Jimmy-Steve is still alive, but she catches herself. She understands the relationship is not healthy and asks him to leave. Jimmy-Steve disappears and Fiona now has to figure out what to do with Gus.
The good news is that she is genuinely in love. The bad news is she is not in love with Gus. She and her boss at the restaurant she works at, Sean, have a chemical connection. Sean is a recovering heroin-addict and fears relationships. He has already hurt his former wife and almost ruined his relationship with his son whom he loves dearly. He knows that he can never be free from his demons and distances himself from Fiona despite deep longing for her.
Fiona tries to make it work with Gus. They both realize they she cannot live without passion, and that is something lacking in their relationship. Season 5 ends with Gus and Fiona close to a separation. She reaches out to Sean and confesses that she loves him. Sean rejects Fiona leaving her alone for the first time in a while. Her relationship with Gus, Sean and Jimmy-Steve seem to have run their course, but all three men in her life might reenter at any time.
Frank loves Bianca till death do them apart
The most surprising, heart-warming and devastating story happens halfway through season 5. Frank falls in love with a young doctor named Bianca. She has been diagnosed with pancreas cancer and her prognosis is bleak. She has a 2% chance of survival. Rather than suffering through chemo and radiation treatment, she finds solace in a debauched life experience that Frank is glad to introduce her to. Bianca had lived a straight life to this point, dilligently pursuing her medical degree and career. He serves as her angel of death. With Frank, she gets drunk, high on weed for the first time, smokes crack, and escapes to Costa Rica. She does not love Frank but he has fallen for her. They have a romantic relationship and her health rapidly fails as the cancer takes hold. Frank helplessly sits by as he tries to comfort and fulfill her last wishes. It is fitting that Frank?s love and joy is short-lived and chemically fueled as that is the Gallagher charm and curse. Fall in love hard, endure heartbreak, and repeat.
A mostly positive season
As stated at the beginning of this post, we are in an odd season, which means a happier and more light-hearted set of episodes. The Frank-Bianca story, despite its tragic ending, is a positive and upbeat story. Debbie is happy and in love. Fiona is maturing and getting better at understanding her romantic impulses. V and Kevin are reconciled and adapting to their parenthood. Lip is doing well and finding excitement with his professor. The only down story is Ian?s mental issues, though the Mickey-Ian love story has proven to be one of the more intriguing love stories. The finale sets up a troubling start to season 6 (even season). Fiona?s relationships with Gus and Sean are in disarray. Debbie?s pregnancy looms. Ian doesn?t seem to be getting better, and Frank is dealing with the loss of Bianca. It was nice to see Frank have a real and positive relationship, even though the circumstances were less than ideal and the relationship was mostly one-sided.
Buckle up. Season 6 is on deck. Expect dark days ahead for the Gallaghers.