‘Shameless’ Meets ‘Orange Is The New Black’


The hits just keep on coming.

It seems like the Gallaghers continue to sink lower and lower into their respective death spirals (literally and figuratively) – will it ever end? (No). Frank, of course, is the literal example here. After his ill-advised stint in the sweat lodge last week, he wakes up in the hospital. His doctor is strangely upbeat, but he still tells it like it is: Frank doesn’t have much time left, and his best option is hospice care. At the behest of Sammi, he agrees to take a look at some of the heavily-religious options (the only ones that in his price range – AKA free). Once he sees an unconcious stage 4 pancreatic cancer patient getting a foot rub and a woman in a coma (who does nothing but moan in pain) listening to an embellished folk version of “Amazing Grace,” he’s out of there like a shot. Guess he’s hoping Sammi will be his hospice – and seeing the amount of narcotics she’s loaded him up with, it might not be so bad.

Lip has it marginally better, but barely. Remember the ice in his eyes at the end of the previous episode? Well, it’s still there. We see it when he tells the doctor he’s the closest thing to a “responsible adult” that the family’s got, and we really see it when Fiona uses her one phone call on him. He tells her that Liam was restrained and heavily sedated with possible brain damage without batting an eye at her subsequent hysterical sobs, and then hangs up on her to boot. It’s a tough episode for him, though: he spends much of it trying track down Frank and keep the family together – two Herculean tasks rolled into one. Finally, near the end of the episode, he gets some victory (a hard-earned B+ on a paper), which gives him a brief moment of happiness, chased by a longer stretch of existentialism. A long shot of him camped out in the hospital lobby surrounded by textbooks tells us all we need to know: this is not a sustainable option.

Fiona has the toughest episode of all (even tougher than her cirrhosis-riddled, death-approaching father). She’s transported like cattle, strip searched (the warden even ominously snaps on rubber gloves), and locked in a freezing jail cell – and after hours of begging for a phone call, she gets hung up on by Lip. Her public defender might just inch into competence (at least, that’s the hint I got), but other than that, things are not looking good; she just barely manages to squeeze out the words “not guilty” for the judge – no meager feat, especially as she’s spent the entirety of the episode wracked with soul-crushing guilt. The judge sets bail at $100,000, and Fiona knows that’s not something her family (or Kev and V) can afford. But just as she’s despondently poking at gray oatmeal and black toast, she learns that someone has posted bail. And that someone is Mike (I was genuinely surprised). With a promise of no further contact, he drops her off at the Gallagher house, and her homecoming may just be the toughest pill to swallow yet – she returns to a completely empty house. A bleak ending to an even bleaker episode.

Oh, and guess what we have to look forward to? Social workers (who were not impressed by a barely-conscious Frank) are coming back to the Gallagher home: buckle your seatbelts.

Stray Observations:

* I’ve always loved the fact that Sheila’s the type of person that needs to be busy taking care of other people – it explains why she put up for Frank for so many years. The juxtaposition between a house full of Running Tree and his relatives and an empty one illustrates that perfectly.

* Also delightful: each separate Gallagher who needed introduction to Sammi and her weird son got a very truncated explanation – “new big sister” and “nephew.”

* So Debs is back with her 20-year-old boyfriend. Where is that storyline going?

* I kind of love Kev. His simultaneous guilt for being a “responsible adult” in the room when Liam OD’d and absolution of Fiona is heartbreakingly sweet.

* Will Mike return? Let’s hope so.