Even by Shameless standards, this episode has a lot going on. To recap the recap: Frank gets a new liver, Fiona goes to jail, Lip cons a cool $10,000, Debbie gets Carried by Matt's girlfriend, and Mickey comes out and a full-out brawl ensues. Whew.
With Fiona in the "pokey," it's all up to Lip to keep the family running – and with their sole breadwinner gone, they're in a bit of a jam. So Lip bails on meeting Amanda's parents – and she's correspondingly angry at him, until they come up with the perfect solution: since she wants to use him to scare her parents, they decide to all have dinner at Chez Gallagher, for maximum scare-factor.
It works – especially seeing as Bonnie's entire cadre of homeless siblings are screaming in the living room, whilst a put-upon social worker surveys the whole scene. It works so well, in fact, that Amanda's dad pulls Lip aside and offers him 10 grand in cash. What's a Gallagher to do? He takes it. Amanda storms out, smug father in tow. Things aren't looking good, until it turns out that the whole thing was a set up. Apparently, Amanda's dad has a habit of bribing her boyfriends – so voila! The Gallaghers are golden for Fiona's remaining 80+ days in the clink, and Lip might just have a real girlfriend for once.
Lip's not the only Gallagher headed for a happy ending (pun intended): the Ian/Mickey romance has building all season to stunning (and gory) heights. Tired of being blackmailed by his wife, and faced with an ultimatum from Ian, Mickey reaches boiling point at his father's jail-release party. He comes out to the entire Alibi Room, and subsequently gets attacked by Terry. Ian in turn attacks Terry and the whole thing has to get broken up by the cops. Luckily, one of the gay cops gives Mickey a free pass, while Terry gets hauled back to jail for violating parole. Bloody and beat up, Mickey and Ian engage is some profane witty banter (as only they can), and the scene might just be their sweetest to date.
The whole episode is delightfully framed with its titular character Emily. She's a little wisp of a girl who's hoping for a heart transplant. Oddly enough, when Frank wakes up with his brain "screwed on backwards" (in the ever-eloquent words of Carl), he mistakes her for a decades-younger Fiona. He gives her what must be a long-awaited apology, and she, thinking of her own abandoning father, forgives him in Fiona's place. In an ultra sweet moment (Shameless is a show of contrast, isn't it?), they even hold hands across hospital beds. It's not a surprise when her flat-lining gurney is carted away, but she serves to create a beautiful tableau for Shameless' least beautiful character.
* Poor Debbie. Matt's girlfriend employs her half-brother to seduce her and humiliate her in front of the whole school. Upside? Matt dumps aforementioned girlfriend, and agrees to take Debbie to the dance. Yay?
* I laughed for a full minute when Carl suggested that the Asian-American social worker might be Amanda's real mom (not only was she far too young for a college-age daughter, it had just been established that Amanda was "bought" from a whorehouse).
* Also, Lip and Amanda's celebratory kiss after seeing his stellar report card was adorable, especially as we pan out to very disapproving looks from both of her parents.
* Frank offering to take "Fiona" to Claire's to get her ears pierced: aww!
* Mickey taunting his dad with tidbits from his sex life while both of them were facedown on the hoods of squad cars getting handcuffed was kind of epic.