Lip: Finally Shaking Off (Most Of) The Shackles
The eldest Gallagher son (played by Jeremy Allen White) managed to maintain his sobriety throughout the entirety of season eight, even as his own Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor fell off the wagon, and the professor who got Lip into rehab got a DUI and died from an alcohol withdrawal-induced seizure. He risked his life, limbs, and mental well-being to help both mentors while attempting to personify the Twelfth Step — “we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs” — and the quest threatened to destroy him. He’s consumed by internalizing other people’s problems and trying to control their actions, which is an impossible feat to manage.
Enter Lip’s new sponsor, Barb (Lea DeLaria of Orange Is the New Black), who knows codependence when she sees it, and Lip (like most newfound codependents) couldn’t believe the term applies to him. Yet without the relief found within burdening himself with other people’s problems, Lip didn’t know who the hell he is. “Yeah, I don’t know what that looks like,” he realized.
So, Lip attempted to ignore Barb’s diagnosis and persisted in his Sisyphusian struggle while plotting how to
save steal win Sierra back from her baby daddy (played by Chet Haze!). Lip succeeded but relented in the season finale, admitting that he didn’t know how to love anyone because he didn’t even know himself — “I’ve been drunk or high almost every day since I was 12 years old” — in an episode aptly titled, “Sleepwalking.” To Sierra’s question of whether he loved her, Lip let loose:
“I don’t know. I want to. You know, I really do, but I’ve been sleepwalking through my life for years, and I’ve been so loaded, I haven’t known what I want … you know, or who I wanna be or be with, and I just… Fuck! I was drunk on our first date. I was drunk almost the entire time that we were together. I don’t know how to be with myself, let alone someone else. Man, I don’t know what I want, but I know I have to be honest with you.”
Naturally, Sierra didn’t take this news well, but it’s a victory for Lip.
Will Lip Finally Put Himself First In Season 9? Lip finally realized that by “helping” others, he’s actually avoiding the difficult work of fixing and learning about himself. And although he backslid by helping a friend’s niece, Zan, avoid child services (by crashing with him “for a couple of days”), Lip still symbolically ended the season by riding away on the motorcycle he rebuilt. He’ll probably become a father figure to Zan in season nine, but at least he has a healthier outlook and may prioritize boundaries … eventually.