S2E9: The true test of a great TV family is that moment when you realize your hopes for their success is just as ardent as the brothers’, sisters’, fathers’ and mothers’ themselves. Shameless has clearly passed that test. Not only do we hope with every fiber of our beings for the Gallaghers to find even an iota of happiness or respite, but when their mother finally returns “for good” we can’t help but hope, maybe harder than they do, that this time, for good actually means permanently. Experience tells us it won’t last, but it doesn’t change that temporary optimism.
“He told me you need me too.” -Monica
“He lied. We don’t.” -Fiona
Fiona discovers Frank and Monica in the kitchen just as she gets the call about Grammy’s death. It’s an overload of information and the kids are all resistant to Monica’s attempts to smother them with overdue motherly love. Her sudden breakfast presentation doesn’t undo the years of disappointment, but it doesn’t take long for the kids to realize she’s actually being genuine.
Fiona is convinced that Monica is going to suck the life out of the family, and she’s barely even willing to let her watch Liam for the day while Fiona goes to work as a maid at the motel, but as it turns out, Liam is just fine. Still, Fiona is convinced her mother can’t parent, and one night while she’s up late making banners for Carl’s football game, Frank and Monica are hosting a party in the living room. Ian comes down to make them stop and Frank opposes him, but Monica actually defends Ian, sending a shock through her children. She follows that by asking Debbie to come play and dance, and Fiona wants to stop it, but Frank says its the only shot Debbie might get at bonding time with her mother. Frank is actually right, likely driven by his complicated emotions over losing his mother, but Fiona can’t stand it - likely because it brings into stark relief the relationship she never had with Monica.
Still on the Monica war path, Fiona shoves birth control in her face as a condition of her staying in the house. But the honesty train keeps rolling and Monica finally thanks Fiona for taking care of the kids and the house for as long as she has. She then delves into girl talk about Steve, and giggles about how they’re going to get rid of Steve’s Brazilian wife. It seems she finally starts breaking through to Fiona. The final pieces of the puzzle are Lip and Ian, and she starts to win Ian over with her genuine sympathy about his sexuality and Mickey. Lip, on the other hand, is a little too consumed with his rebellion and Karen’s demon spawn to manage a second to forgive his mother.
“Karen’s like cancer. You kill it in one spot, it pops up in another.” -Ian
To be fair, Lip’s got himself a handful. He gets kicked out of Karen’s when Sheila wants him to pay rent and Karen doesn’t fight it. The harpy doesn’t care whether he’s there or not, she’s already visiting her past partners - including a married man - and hitting them up for “abortion” money. She is evil incarnate.
While Karen walks around with dollar signs in her eyes, Lip tries to find a place to stay. V won’t let him stay her and Kev because she says they can’t get in the middle of the Gallagher issue. Lip ends up living on the L and begging his professor friend to get him a job at the University of Chicago, but the prof refuses and rightfully tells Lip to go back to school. Apparently, a well-to-do professor’s opinion isn’t enough in the sea of reasons for Lip to return to school though, because he goes to Steve and asks to stay, swearing it will bring Fiona right to his doorstep.
Steve allows it as long as Lip hacks into “someone’s” voicemail for him. In the process, Lip finds that Etsi is calling her long lost love, Marco, and having phone sex with him - an act she couldn’t care less about hiding from Lip. Karen says he shouldn’t do anything about it, because there’s no money in it for him - have I mentioned what a harpy she is?
Lip finally decides he should tell Steve about Marco and Steve seems to know who the guy is. This seems to give Steve the push he needs to tell Lip he needs to get back in school. If anyone can convince him, it’s Steve, but even his power of suggestion might not work.
If only these two talking points led to Lip graduating from high school and Steve and Fiona making up. This is another one of those places where we hope ardently, only to head into surefire disappointment.
“Sometimes when I pronounce ‘hospice’ in my head I say it as ‘ho-spice.’” -Sheila
Sheila is enamoured with Jody and begs Karen to take him back, but that ship has sailed. And with Karen’s dedication to making money off her bun in the oven, that gives Sheila plenty of time to let Jody run around naked in the house and help her inspect the strange creaking sounds she thinks are a product of Eddy’s spirit haunting the house.
Her fears (and Jody’s) are confirmed when Frank and Monica break into the house to steal back Grammy’s money. Because Sheila never does anything half-assed, she has a priest come over to see if it’s possible that Eddy is haunting them. He says she probably has to repent for something - all that strange sex and euthanasia might have done it - but she says she can’t recall anything she should repent for.
Because she can’t repent, Jody tries a sage stick to rid the house of spirits and Sheila take a moment to tell him that he deserves better than Karen. Apparently, she means he deserves her. Strangely, this coupling isn’t as disturbing as I thought it would be. Perhaps it’s that they both have such strange tastes in sexual practices. Karen comes home to hear “Kiss From a Rose” blasting from her mother’s room and Jody’s enthusiastic grunts. It’s the disturbing homecoming that brat deserves, but she almost looks a little disappointed.
“You don’t always have to be responsible for everyone, Fiona.” -Steve
Fiona goes to Steve and begs him to kick Lip out. He says it’s not her concern, and he echoes V’s advice that she take the opportunity to live her life while Monica’s around. Then, to force her into doing something fun, he tells Etsi that Fiona wants to take her drinking. Luckily, we’re not treated to girls night out, because they get tied up with the Gallagher family shenanigans.
Monica and Ian return from spending the evening at a gay bar, where she showed acceptance of his true self and they danced happily the rendezvous back at the house. Once the music gets going, even Fiona gets into partying with her family. They have this little perfect family moment when Debbie gets up on the table and gives a speech about Grammy. It’s clear this is the happiest the whole family will ever be - Frank is even able to come to terms with his emotions about his mother as he hides in the corner.
The next morning, that happy moment is over. Monica brings home Grammy’s ashes so she and Frank can roll them into a joint as a final tribute. Classy. But this unconventional, yet happy moment is dashed when Mandy’s dad comes crashing in and bashes Ian for knocking her up, which is of course, impossible. Frank’s disgusting, yet completely expected thumbs up is all the closure we get, so we can bet there will be a lot more angry fathering from Mandy’s dad in our future. Clearly, it’s not Ian baby, because he’s actually hooking up with Mickey. It could however be Lip’s, which would be astronomically awful considering the baby drama he’s already got on the Karen front.
How close do you think this news about Etsi gets us to a Steve and Fiona reunion? Do you think Lip actually fathered two babies? Let us know in the comments or get at me on Twitter @KelseaStahler.
S2E5: Well, we certainly can’t accuse this week’s Shameless of being boring. We find a dead body, a hooker living at Chez Gallagher, a potentially-cheating Kevin, Frank in handcuffs, some seriously below the belt prison violence, Fiona’s rich girl charade and of course, the return of Steve. And even with all these ambling storylines intersecting, the series still manages to give each aspect weight. It genuinely feels like family life – except for the part where most of our families don’t encounter murder, statutory rape, hooker-tenants, agoraphobia, an eleven year-old drunk, or a child bride on a daily basis. But that’s why we call it entertainment, folks.
“Hey, I want her out of the house now.” –Fiona
“75 a week.” –Carl
Now that the pregnant woman has moved on and Carl has been charged with helping the family make money, he’s rented a room out to a hooker. This cuts a little too close to home for Fiona, who’s agreed to be Richard The Potential Sugar Daddy’s date to a wedding. It seems that she fears she’s nothing better than a high class version of the woman asking for Vagisil so she can stop “scratching under the hood” and this prompts Fiona to tell Richard that even though she’s going to a wedding with him, he shouldn’t automatically expect sex. But then she takes it a step further: to support her lie about being a Princeton student home for the summer, she gives him a fake address on Lake Shore Drive – which, if my limited knowledge of Chicago geography serves me right, is the exact opposite of where Fiona actually rests her head. It’s Adam’s address, which seems like it should come into play, but there’s enough danger in the lie without complicating it.
She manages to meet up with Richard at Lake Shore Drive and sneaks away in his limo before she has to tell any more lies, but at the wedding, she’s having a hard time keeping it up. One of Richard’s friends starts to catch her in a lie about Princeton because he actually went there. After she has a relatively nice time with Richard, his friend corners her and her fears about the whole encounter with Richard are realized: the friend thinks she’s an escort, and he threatens to expose her unless she “gives him a taste.” So, she does the awesome Fiona thing and avoids this disgusting threat by telling Richard point-blank that she’s not in college and never went as she tries to storm out. He insists that she let him take her home. This is just slightly a problem because she can’t go back to her non-Lake Shore Drive address.
“It’s only a matter of time before the whole country is Mexicans and Gallaghers.” –Frank
Lip is still in a funk after Karen gave him the beat-down – mentally and physically. Luckily, Debbie’s constant questions about her own ability to ensnare a boy helps him to finally get out of bed, disproving Debbie’s Post Traumatic Stress Disorder theory – though no one would be surprised to hear Karen had that effect on someone. Fiona takes this opportunity to make sure Lip talks to Karen and that if the baby is his, he’s prepared to take responsibility because she can’t take care of any more kids (which just makes me wonder what happened to Liam – he’s been conspicuously missing). Lip says it’s probably not even his – even saying it could be Frank’s, which is a point of view many folks seem to be taking so let’s talk about this for a minute. Exhibit A: when Karen hopped on top of a drugged out Frank, the lake was frozen over because it was the dead of winter. Exhibit B: it is now the middle of summer in the Gallagher timeline. Exhibit C: Karen looks about as pregnant as Joan Rivers looks like she’s aging naturally. If she got pregnant from her “rendezvous” with Frank, she either lost the baby and is lying about being pregnant or she would be showing by now.
There’s just no logical way it could be Frank’s, which is good because he gives Lip a rather depressing fatherly chat: “neglect fosters self-reliance.” He tells Lip to do what he did and split because it’s not their fault she didn’t use protection. Man, Frank can be a raging asshole someti—all the time. As a direct result of his relationship with his father, Lip visits Karen to ask her about the baby. She says it’s a girl in the most vulgar way possible – someone stop this girl from becoming a mother –and then she lets it slip that she and Jody eloped. And as a direct result of her relationship with her father – who just washed up dead in Lake Michigan thanks to the summer thaw – Karen is determined to keep Lip (who I guess we’re all just assuming is the real father) away from the baby she plans to raise in her mother’s basement with Jody. Living the dream, Miss Karen? Of course, later when Karen talks to Sheila about everything, she’s crying and I’m pretty positive it’s not over the loss of her father. They look through a catalog of items for the nursery and Karen is smiling through tears. Is she regretting marrying Jody? Is she just upset that she’s pregnant? Or has she caught herself in an even worse lie? Meanwhile, Lip has even more piling up on his plate. Ian is visited by the Colonel from the Dept. of Defense who personally delivers a Westpoint application – too bad it’s not for Ian. It’s for Lip. Ian tells Lip that the application came and that now he doesn’t want Lip’s help, throwing fuel on Lip’s Karen fire, calling her a whore and saying Frank might be the father of her bastard. Needless to say, Lip has hit his lowest point, and he hasn’t even done all that much to deserve it. Things had better turn around for him because by the end of the episode, he’s getting beat up by some meathead and I don’t know how much more we can take of seeing one of the show's best characters being trod upon. “Murder’s not my bag. I don’t have the constitution. Blood makes me queasy.” –Frank Sheila is in hiding since the plane wheel fell from the sky and she burrows in even deeper when the police show up to say they found Eddy in the lake. She’s not coming out for a long while. Of course, Frank is working another angle, “offering” to “help” Sheila take care of Eddy’s pension papers, but she’s not taking the bait because as usual she’s missing the point. But there’s plenty to distract Frank from this fool’s errand for a while. The police think Frank might have killed Eddy because the body was tied to a cement block, people heard Eddy threaten Frank, he lives with Sheila and he’s a notorious schemer. And as Kev points out, the more they look for clues about the murder, the more offenses they’ll find on Frank’s record. That’s when Frank sets out to find a decent alibi, begging his sons to say he was on a father-son camping trip with them in Wisconsin. They don’t agree, but even if they did, no one would believe that Frank Gallagher took his sons camping unless Jesus himself came back to proclaim it. And it’s too late; Frank gets arrested, but not for killing Eddy. The detective found the tape of Karen having sex with Frank and he’s locked up for statutory rape – even though he wasn’t cognizant enough to really be there. The officer visits Sheila to tell her what happened and then comes back and frees Frank. It turns out Karen confessed everything, including that she took advantage of a drugged-up Frank. And then Sheila says it: “I’m so sorry my daughter raped you.” It was the sentence we all expected but still couldn’t believe our ears when we it was uttered. But why did Karen do it? Because she’s convinced that Frank killed her father – a development for which she’s eternally grateful. The little psycho. Of course, getting out of this jam still doesn’t stop Frank from looking pretty guilty regarding Eddy’s murder. And the detective makes sure to tell him she’s going to prove he did it. He’s totally innocent this time, but it seems that something he didn’t actually do may be the thing that serves as retribution for all his other wrongs. Either that, or Sheila will actually get him to marry her; now that Eddy’s gone, she’s legally single! Frank’s going to need a whole case of Old Style to make it through this one. ”Where can I get knives and blunts?” –Debbie There’s nothing quite as hilarious as Debbie’s ardent attempt at her latest venture: arresting Little Hank’s affections. She picks Carl’s brain about his new friend, even if it involves drugs and guns. She asks Lip if she can be easy and convenient, like Karen was, for Little Hank, he tells her that Hank will be in juvi soon and that attraction is more about pheromones than anything. The only think is that he doesn’t tell her how those work, so she thinks it entails stealing Fiona’s makeup and earrings. Fiona stops her and tells her rather bluntly, “Hymen stays intact.” I didn’t realized that was an issue at age 11, but there it is. Debbie gets a lucky break when Holly stops by to pick up her skanky underwear that she so desperately left in Lip’s room and Deb asks her on that double date Lip promised Deb. Of course, Holly is giddy at the chance to seduce the eldest Gallagher boy once again. But Holly does manage to give Deb a hard time for her clown make-up (to be fair, someone needed to tell her) and so Debbie runs to Mandy Milkovich to get help with painting her face. Mandy, who knows all too well, tells Deb she’ll look back one day and she’ll wish it didn’t happen so fast – just as her creepy dad makes eyes at 11 year-old Debbie. Later, Debbie winds up finding success with Hank when he gets sick from drinking beer at the neighborhood barbeque and reluctantly hands her a bunch of old flowers. This whole interaction is simultaneously endearing and heartbreaking. It sends us all back to that time when we were awkwardly trying to figure out the art of seduction, but our stubborn youth and clumsiness got in the way – only Debbie is already chasing an 11-year-old drunk, which is all too close of an approximation to her drunkard father. This, in case you couldn’t tell, is the heartbreaking part. “I know what goes on in a playground besides hopscotch and middle aged men jacking off. That kid’s a player.” –V “He’s the best player.” –Ethel Ethel is spending more time with Malik and V is pretty upset about it, but she’s doubly upset because one of Ethel’s playdates with Malik proves that Kev lied about being at a basketball game. Then she finds a poorly written Valentine in his pocket and all hell breaks loose. She’s convinced that Kev, the most saccharinely sweet, devoted man ever, is cheating. V should know better. Still, there was that girl who spelled Chicago with an “S” that one time. Could be her. V asks Kev about the game and he lies to her again, so she tails him to a woman’s apartment. We know almost immediately that he’s there for some adorable purpose, but V is not having it. She seduces him, ties him up and then threatens to dismember him if he doesn’t tell her who that woman was. He says it’s his reading teacher but V doesn’t believe him, and if we didn’t know how wonderful Kev is, we might not either. He’s always been dumb, but since when did he need a reading teacher? But all that aside, V goes to the woman’s apartment, guns blazing and then sees that when she answers the door, there are kids there and she’s holding reading flashcards. Veronica goes back to Kev, who admits that he’s not “unliterate” but that he can’t read good. (I know it’s “well” – it’s for effect, people.) He’s taking classes so he can write her a love note. And with that, V is the biggest jerk. They make up in true Veronica and Kevin style though, but we’ll leave that part out. Meanwhile, Malik is also proving V wrong. Ethel opens up about having sex with her husband; her sister wives had to hold her down and it felt like knives. Poor thing. Malik is sweet about it, but he’s starting to realize what he’s gotten himself into. Ethel is worried that Clyde doesn’t have anyone to care for him in prison because her poor little mind is so brainwashed. Malik sees an opportunity to do something about the old pervert and he tells his relatives in prison to “take care” of Clyde – this involves an actual, bare-handed dismembering. And normally, this kind of violence would make me wary of Ethel’s new suitor, but he’s obviously aware of her issues with sex, so there’s more to his attachment than that. Plus, Clyde is a child molester so anything (and any violence) headed his way is going to be received as a bit more heroic than it would in normal circumstances. Malik may just be the person to bring Ethel out of her pilgrim gown shell. ”Hey.” –Fiona ”Hey.” –Steve As they head away from the wedding, Richard says he knew Fiona didn’t go to Princeton because his job is to read people. He asks where she really lives and she finally admits that she lives on the South Side. When he drops her off, he says that her house reminds him of where he grew up, showing that he understands her life because he came from similar origins – now that’s something she’s not so used to. And this new development could be good for her, but just as Richard asks her out to dinner and drives away, Steve is coming down the steps of Tony’s house. They don’t say much; he remarks that she looks good, but those looks speak volumes. Things are about to get a whole lot more complicated and salacious and sexy and dangerous – as they always do when Steve is in the picture. But still, this is what Fiona wants and she just turned things around a bit, finally doing the right thing by telling Richard the truth and by dating the guy she didn’t give a chance before, so of course that’s when Steve would come in. And as the previews from next week’s episode suggest, Steve is coming back with full force. What do you think will happen with Steve next week? And what about the whole Frank paternity issue? Do you agree that it doesn’t make sense? Or is there something about pregnancy that I’m missing here? Do you think Karen is lying about being pregnant? Or is she just angry with the way her life turned out? Let me know in the comments or get at me on Twitter @KelseaStahler