So, where did we leave off? Somewhere as chaotic as usual, no doubt. We pick up with everyone going in opposite directions: two Gallaghers have officially entered adolescence (it's a bitch), one has secretly joined the army, one went to University of Chicago, one has a steady job for the first time, and one is bed-ridden, liver damaged, and still the über-alcoholic we know and love (?).
Debbie has officially become a teenager and she has all the attitude (and poorly-deployed eyeshadow) to go with it. She sasses big sister Fiona, she loads up on the fruity lipgloss, she wobbles down the sidewalk in snakeskin stilettos – oh, and she's auctioning her virginity online for a million dollars: you know, normal teenager stuff. She also happens to meet a cute yet older boy (he can drive, she's still in middle school). He seems sweet so far, but time will tell if he's a creep – and judging by the Gallagher's track record, he's going to be more trouble than he looks.
Fiona also has a new boyfriend (her supervisor at work), as well as a cherry new job; and things are starting to get more serious in both avenues. She realizes she gets insurance, benefits, and a 401k, and she finally sleeps with Mike. It's a little awkward; they certainly don't have the same physical chemistry as she did with Jimmy (who is still mysteriously gone, by the way – is he dead?), but maybe it's time for a change of pace. We'll see – like with Debbie's boyfriend, at this point, he's still something of a wild card.
And poor, poor, Lip. Sexiled (and snubbed) by his bumbling roommate's girlfriend, given a D by an officious TA, and looked down upon by everyone for his work-study job in the dining hall, he's definitely experiencing the flipside of big-fish-little-pond syndrome. This isn't to say he doesn't deserve getting knocked down a peg, but anyone who's gone to college can probably feel his pain in at least one of his misfortunes. (Even if you always got impeccable grades and didn't need workstudy, chances are you had at least one truly horrible roommate).
Oh, and speaking of Lip, it looks like Mandy Milkovich still carries a torch; in fact, both the Milkoviches are pining for their respective Gallaghers – Mickey does his best to inconspicuously ask after Ian throughout the episode, and in a surprisingly touching scene, he tries to jack off to a portrait of Ian, but becomes so upset that he punches a crater into the bathroom mirror (it was much more moving than it sounds, okay?). Who'd have thunk we'd be feeling this bad for psychopathic Mickey, of all people?
Meanwhile, Veronica and Carl are getting picked dry by Veronica's mother, Carol, who happens to be carrying their future child. She needs money for all the pregnancy staples: ultrasounds, doctor's appointments, and most importantly, chic maternity wear from Nordstrom's. Which would be fine and well, except for the fact that Veronica realizes that she, too is pregnant. How will they handle two kids when they can barely afford one? Veronica frets over how she'll tell Kevin, but the moment presents itself perfectly: when he returns home, saddened by the death of his boss, she comforts him with some much-needed good news.
And Frank has sunk possibly lower than we've ever seen – like Mickey, it's amazing the depth of sympathy we feel for him even after the breadth of damage he's done. Tony (Fiona's cop old flame) finds him in a crackhouse, near-dead, next to a very telling syringe, spoon, and rubber tubing. Fiona's all for dumping him on a park bench "far, far away" but Carl insists on keeping him. Carl's always been his dad's biggest supporter, and it's painfully hard to watch as Frank cajoles him into helping him butt-chug (ew) some Franzia (double-ew). And perhaps it's his way of thanking his son, but Frank proceeds to give 12-year-old Carl the lowdown on masturbation ("Hold it like an egg," and "If you don't use lubrication, you'll get blisters" are only a couple of his gems of wisdom). Somehow, their scenes together manage to be as sweet as they are horrifying.
The button on the episode? Carl returning home with a Costco-sized tub of Vaseline.