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[Warning: This article contains spoilers from “Rite of Passage,” the fifth episode of the fifth season of Shameless.]
For four seasons, the Ian (Cameron Monaghan) and Mickey (Noel Fisher) relationship on Showtime’s Shameless was one that always felt just slightly off-balance. Ian was not only out to his family and his friends, but he was supported by them. Mickey, meanwhile, wasn’t — and his father even forced a relationship with prostitute Svetlana (Isidora Goreshter) on his son when he caught him with Ian. But Mickey always seemed to need Ian a little bit more than the the Gallagher did. But then Ian was diagnosed as bipolar diagnosis and that knocked everything on its head, and suddenly their roles were reversed — even if neither one of them could quite admit it.
“It’s something that’s probably more prevalent than people realize, so I’m really proud it’s a story we’re getting to tell,” Fisher tells The Hollywood Reporter.
But after “Rite of Passage,” neither one of them will be able to deny just how out of hand things with Ian have gotten. After refusing treatment and claiming he doesn’t really have the disease, Ian slowly spiraled, manically collecting missing baggage from the airport, cruising convenience stores for older guys, and eventually bolting with Mickey’s baby. Although Mickey initially said he could handle Ian on his own, the turning point is now upon him, and it’s not just Ian’s life or their relationship that is in jeopardy.
THR caught up with Fisher to talk about how Mickey’s perspective and actions will change after the events of “Rite of Passage” and what that means for “Gallavich” going forward.
Mickey seemed so utterly lost after he realized Ian took off with his son. It seemed like you were playing a perfect combination of shock and fear, mixed with just a dash of anger. Which emotion drives his response to the action in episode six, “Crazy Love?”
I don’t even think he knows what’s happening. There’s a lot of panic and a lot of fear. It’s just brand new territory for Mickey. This new hurdle is unlike anything he’s ever encountered before, and it’s totally not something he’s equipped to deal with. [And] that’s kind of one of the things about this particular issue: decisions happen that don’t necessarily make a whole lot of sense to the people around. I’m sure it made a whole lot of sense to Ian in that moment, but for someone like Mickey [not]. And it’s an even more interesting position for Mickey to be put in because he’s just finally starting to accept this child and this life, and it’s the most happy he’s probably ever been, and then something so left field happens.
Will we see Mickey exhibit anger at the fact that Ian did drag his baby into this?
The anger comes in the next episode a little bit, but in that moment, it was just so shocking that I think he was just really terrified. That is something that someone who is not thinking clearly and not in their right head space [would do], and I think that he’s really worried about Ian in general. The fact that there’s an infant involved, and it’s a being that’s completely helpless, and who knows what could happen is a whole other issue on top of that.
So far Mickey has really been on his own trying to take care of Ian, but now things are clearly too far out of hand for him to go it alone, right?
At this point it’s really clear that this is not something that can be ignored anymore, and this is something that’s deeper than Mickey can handle on his own. He’s not used to reaching out for help, but Ian taking the child, there’s no choice involved [anymore] after something like that happens. You have to figure out what you can do to help because he’s not OK.
What can Mickey do, though? What’s wrong with Ian is internal, and if he doesn’t want to get help, he’s not going to get help.
I think that’s going to combine a lot of unique drama to watch because Mickey is not used to feeling helpless; he’s a proactive person who goes and fixes problems — usually by beating somebody up (laughs), but he can’t do that here because it’s a mental illness. So, at least from an acting standpoint, anytime you have something that you have to struggle with in a scene, that really can help you; you want to try and find those things. And the writing is done in a way — and the circumstances are done in a way — that it is very easily there because the problem is helplessness. Mickey can’t solve anything. The only thing he can really do is figure his own stuff out.
Will we see Mickey taking out those feelings of helplessness by physically lashing out, or will he try to restrain himself to be the calm, collected one in this relationship/scenario?
Mickey’s not very good at restraining himself! (Laughs.) He’s not really much of a subtle person in that respect! What does end up happening is he can’t take it out on Ian; he can’t confront Ian; he spent a lot of [“Rite of Passage”] pent up, and he ended up going and doing what he knows how to do and unleashing on this poor random dude who really doesn’t do anything wrong but was just there at the wrong time.
Mickey has cleaned up his act a little bit in the beginning of the season with being there for his son, having businesses that weren’t as illegal as some of the ones of his past. Is this a wake-up call for him to get things in even better order, or is this a catalyst for him to backslide?
It’s a combination of both. At least in my eyes, that’s the journey for this season. When something this unusual gets thrown into your life — especially after just coming out and just kind of coming into his own in his life — this new obstacle comes up, and it definitely throws him into a backspin, and there’s a lot of self-destructive behavior that happens on Mickey’s end. I think that’s what tends to happen when you don’t know how to handle something emotionally. You turn to substances or other kinds of destructive behavior, and you’re going to see some of that from Mickey. But then you get your shit together — I hope — because that’s the only way that he can help [Ian].
What does that then mean for their relationship? Is Mickey starting to question if he can handle this long-term or what their future is?
That’s a big struggle for the season and a really, really difficult choice for Mickey. It does become quite a clear choice at certain points; it becomes very apparent that this is potentially permanent, and what’s the decision there? Do you hang on, do you not? Mickey does have a profound amount of Ian because he is his one and only outlet for love that he’s ever known, and that’s really, really important to him. You’re going to see him fight with everything he has, but you’re definitely going to see that it’s a struggle.
What’s the biggest challenge or fear Mickey is staring down right now?
At that moment [at the end of “Rite of Passage”] I think his biggest fear is one of “Is Ian OK? Is he going to hurt himself? Is he going to hurt the kid?” I think overall, after that and with some hindsight on Mickey’s part and with the perspective he comes to in the coming episodes, his fear comes to “Is he going to be able to handle it? Is he going to be enough? Can he do this?” That is potentially a very rocky road, and I think that’s what ends up being the big question for Mickey, and then once that question’s answered, “How” is he going to be able to do that?
Shameless airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on Showtime. Do you think Mickey will still stand by Ian? Show your #Gallavich support in the comments below.
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