S2E3: This week, Shamelessexplores just how much of a downward spiral they can put Fiona in. Even with his constant scheming (and his hand in Dotty’s demise), Frank’s scenes are less scandalizing – but then again we expect him to do awful things. Watching the accidental matriarch of the Gallagher clan doing all the wrong things - like breaking her own rule and sleeping with a married man - is something that’s a little harder to swallow, but it certainly makes for great television. We spent last season seeing what a great person Fiona is. We watched her defy stereotypes and garner the attention of her Prince Charming. Things were actually starting to get better, until he left and she didn’t go with him. And now, we’re seeing what happens in the aftermath.
At the risk of sounding like a Kelly Clarkson song, watching Fiona as a beautiful disaster is a highly entertaining way to overcome the potential for a sophomore slump in the series' second season. And while the rest of the family has their own troubles, Fiona’s and Frank's respective issues take the cake as usual. Why Emmy Rossum and William H. Macy don’t get more credit for this show is beyond me. Maybe the voting powers that be have issues with a character who’s willing to have sex with his pseudo-girlfriend until she dies. It wouldn’t look so great on a nominations reel, now would it?
“Coffee coffee or banging coffee?” –Veronica
Fiona starts the episode off with a bang – literally. She dreams about hooking up with Craig Heisler on red, silk sheets is interrupted by Debbie waking her up with a list of facts and euphemisms about dead people. As that’s happening, Fiona gets a text from Craig asking her to meet for coffee. Obviously, she accepts. V asks about Craig and Fiona says he’s married and she once again says she’s not interested in married men, she’s just going to show him what he could have had in high school. The classic, look-what-you-missed-out-on ego boost. V’s not buying it and neither are we.
At the coffee shop, they chat about high school, what they’ve been doing since. He’s definitely flirting, telling her “You had the best ass in the sophomore class.” She makes the mistake of referring to his wife and high school sweetheart as “that bitchy cheerleader,” but he doesn’t seem too miffed because he ventures to say they would have been good together. She’s enjoying teasing him, but it seems like he might actually be into cheating. And if that wasn’t enough, he calls later to suss out whether or not she’s willing to be the other woman. Despite her refusal and protestations to V, Fiona seems interested.
But, she’s distracted by a man telling her to pick her purse up on the train: there’s a Louis Vuitton bag sitting on the floor on the El. She assumes it belongs to “some rich b**ch” and starts spending the money in it: 500 bucks cash. The family enjoys a huge dinner at Sizzler and Lip tells Fiona to see if the woman would offer a reward for its return. At this point, Fiona thinks seeing Craig was a good thing because it led to the purse. Once again, V’s stern looks suggest otherwise – as does what happens next. Fiona takes the bag to the “rich b**ch” and it turns out she’s a single mom and the cash was her rent. Step one of Fiona unraveling.
"In some parts of India, they leave dead bodies in the street to be eaten by vultures.” -Debbie
“I can’t wait to die.” –Ethel
Throughout the episode – like when Fiona is dreaming about Craig – Debbie interjects with her little theories and obsessions with death, singing dark lyrics as Lip and Ian discuss the potential of Westpoint; using the Sizzler trip to discuss what happens after death with Ethel; and eventually earning a sit-down with V, who seems to be taking up the role of substitute-substitute mother while Fiona is having her breakdown. Debbie tells V she’s worried that she’ll be alone because her siblings will all die before her; from her angle, their ages are just too disparate. V tries to cheer her up, saying she needs to try to think of nice things. She almost gets there: “A puppy. Getting hit by a car.”
Lip is introduced to a general from the army so that he can potentially help him with a top secret project. Lip says he’s too busy working on a device that wirelessly nabs credit card information, but he wants the general to tell him about Westpoint for his brother. Of course, the general thinks it’s for Lip, since he’s the science and math wiz. He says if Lip works on his project, he’ll tell him anything he wants to know. Lip tells Ian about meeting the man from the Army, but Ian’s not progressing – he’s still getting low scores on his practice tests. Not much else happens here, but we can be sure this dynamic is going to take a hit if Ian doesn’t start bringing up those test scores. And Lip’s about to hit another wall. Karen thinks Jody is going to propose, so while she and Lip are hooking up she says they can’t do it again. Throughout everything she seems so disinterested in all of it – sex with Lip, a life with Jody. Sure, I want Lip to get what he wants, but Karen is toxic and Lip can do better.
“I’m gonna go to the loan store today and pick up some forms.” –Kev
“You mean the bank?” –V
Kev wants to buy the Alibi Room because the owner’s dementia is starting to become an issue. They need to put him in a home, and Kev sees an opportunity. If he buys the bar, there will be plenty of money for at-home care and no one will come in and turn it into a T.G.I. Fridays. Once again, V is the voice of reason, but not right away. Kev tells Veronica about his plan to buy the bar. Veronica thinks it’s stupid, but she can’t bring herself to tell Kev that, thinking he’ll tire of the idea soon enough. He doesn’t, so she tries other means. V tries to tell Kev she doesn’t want him to buy the bar because she’ll never see him. That doesn’t work. So then she tries math: they want 20 percent down. He says he’ll do special events like disco night to make 1000 extra bucks a week. This plan is bound to fail. V is not amused. Kev is still certain he can get the bar. He’s got ideas for borrowing money to get the down payment – all of which will put them in a tight spot. So V finally tells him the truth: it’s a terrible idea. Kev thinks she’s saying he’s dumb; she says she doesn’t want to ruin their credit or her mother’s. She shows up at his first even at the Alibi, a failed beach party, and tries to show him support, but it seems that this issue is going to be a problem for the usually perfectly happy couple.
“She could be like those poor people born without a heart.” –Frank
“You mean dead people?” –Kev
Frank is still despicably working on Dotty for her pension and is dumb enough to bring it up, very obviously trying to figure out if anyone is in line for it. Dotty says Kermit from the bar has been doing electrical work, so Frank decides to make sure he’s not also working on the pension. It turns out Kermit is just a good guy helping a dying woman; he’s in a relationship and has no intentions of exploiting Dotty like Frank is. Then something falls in Frank’s lap: Jody comes to see Frank and asks him for his blessing so he can marry Karen. Frank distracts him with beers and then steals the ring, then uses it to propose to Dotty. She’s not buying it, then she gets it out of him: he’s after the pension. He says he’ll keep her memory alive – says he’ll light a candle for her every day at church, get a drink named after her, and have last call be a toast to her, all so her memory will never be forgotten. I almost believe him and she really does: she agrees to marry him.
While Dotty is in the shower, she gets the beep for a new heart. Frank responds and tells them she’s dead, later yammering on the bar about how transplants go against God’s plan as a way to justify his awful decisions. Sometimes I wish he wasn’t so hilariously awful; I’m probably going to hell for laughing at the horrible things he does.
On the day they’re supposed to get married, Dotty sees that a B positive heart was given to a little boy the previous day. She says they’re rare and that another one won’t pop up for six months – which is time she doesn’t have, so she’s ready to die now. Instead of getting married, she just wants to have sex so it will kill her. Frank wants to get their marriage on paper first but she says she’s giving her pension to her daughter because she mistreated her. All she can offer him to do the deed is $2,000 and her flat-screen TV. SO HE DOES IT. And that, ladies and gentleman, is the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen on television. Still, he gave a dying woman her wish. Somehow, he comes out on top this week, while Fiona is the one left looking like a terrible person.
“Wanna pretend like we’re back in high school?” –Fiona
“We don’t have to pretend.” –Carl
Fiona’s guilt gets the best of her and she tries to teach the kids that it’s the right thing to give the purse woman her money back. However, when she takes the money back the woman (rightfully) yells at her for stealing the money and cruelly insults her, calling her trash from the South Side. In anger, Fiona does the wrong thing, keeps the money and takes Craig up on his offer for a tryst. And if you thought the scene with Frank screwing Dotty to death was disturbing, then this scene killed that. Craig and Fiona hook up in his van, with baby food and old sandwiches everywhere, plus Craig’s disgusting sex face – he’s clearly kept the same set of moves since he was a horny teenager.
After she was already driven into the dumps by the purse woman, this pushes her to rock bottom. As she sits on the train, practically in tears, she calls Steve and he answers – with a really terrible fake beach behind him. She says she just wanted to say hi and he’s glad to hear from her, but the real situation at hand is surely going to make her very unhappy as soon as Steve makes another appearance in Chicago. Pan out and the reason Steve is shirtless is because he’s getting head from a woman in his exotic locale. First season romance has to go sour in Season Two – they’ve got to keep us hanging on every word - but this stings.
And, in her current state, Fiona needs to clean up her act before she deserves her happy ending. There’s a difference between empowerment and living life the way she wants – even if it means having wild, promiscuous sex – but Fiona slept with a married man and spent someone else’s rent money because she found it on the train. She’s in pain and as a result, she’s renouncing her usually sound and moral practices – you know, other than stealing toilet paper from restaurant bathrooms, which let’s face it, is a risk they take by providing it, amirite?
Do you think Fiona has done her worst? Or is she just finally showing that she’s related to Frank after all? Let us know in the comments or find me on Twitter @KelseaStahler