S2E7: This week’s Shameless wound a little out of control. We needed more on the Steve/Jimmy issue; we needed more on the Ethel disappearance; we needed more on Peggy and the squabble between Ian and Lip. Did we need to get all that in depth on Jody’s sexual issues? Did we need more about Stan’s tendencies to walk around the Alibi Room naked? Did we need Jasmine’s lesbian kiss? Probably not. Part of the charm of Shameless is the mercilessly kinetic storylines that intertwine in each episode, but just because the writers can tackle too many storylines in one go doesn’t mean they should. This week’s episode was an example of one that should have just kept it a little simpler. Not to mention the fact that the more time we spend trying to make sense of everyone’s miscellaneous little stories, the less time we have to stay emotionally involved with our original hook: Fiona and Steve. All this commotion makes the tormented heart of it all seem like an afterthought.
“She’s eally putting a damper on your drink, puke, sleep schedule?” –Fiona
Frank can’t take Peggy anymore. He’s tired of giving her sponge baths, taking her to the Indian casino, and making her breakfast. He tries to convince her to move out on her own, but she won’t. Plus, Fiona wants Peggy to stay – the kids like her, she buys them things. But, the cards quickly stack up against her: she sees that Carl is a struggling student and enlists him to help her procure Sudafed to make meth.
When an explosion in the “lab” wakes her up, Fiona has had it. She tells Frank he’s right and they unite once again – as they only can in the face of evil like Peggy – and make a plan to set her up. They’ll call the cops and get her admitted to the psych ward, where she surely won’t be let out. Collusion between Frank and Fiona – though unthinkable – is what it takes to get rid of Peggy. There’s just one small problem: she actually has cancer, and after she collapses at the supermarket, they need to put her in a home. We can be sure that’s not going to over well. This storyline is an uncomfortable one, but it’s great in that is really seems to unite Frank and Fiona – and it forces Frank to be a part of his family for at least a little while. Oh, and there’s the part where he’s not constantly waking up in his own puke. That’s a bonus too.
“It’s not like Ethel was our real kid, she was our job.” –V
V is being rather callous about losing Ethel – I believe the term she used was something like “ungrateful b—h,” but Kev says Ethel was family. They get a bunny to help him feel better, but he’s completely torn up. He’s even sleeping in Ethel’s old bed. Ethel sends Kev a postcard that says she’s having a good time in Kansas and it drives him nuts. So when Kev and V join Fiona at the boat party, it’s only a matter of time before the topic sends them into a full-on fight. Later, when V accidentally loses the bunny, she breaks down and admits she loves Ethel and she blames herself for her running away. Kev, being the perfect fake husband he is, tells her that’s nonsense and suddenly, they’re talking about having a baby of their own – something that would certainly be a welcome storyline in my book. Though, I do grow a little weary of Kev and V always making up by the end of the episode – let them get a little messy for once. They’re too perfect and it throws me off when everything else on the show is disjointed.
Speaking of disjointed, for some reason, the Ethel plot is complicated by Kev’s issue with Stan, the owner of the Alibi Room. He keeps showing his senility – coming downstairs naked, letting the tub overflow, leaving the stove on – and Kev is forced to find an option for the ailing old man. And we get a fairly simple, easy solution: they break him into V’s old folks home. If anything comes of this storyline, I will be wholly surprised. Nothing truly bad ever happens to these two – even the Ethel issue isn’t so bad. She ran away with Malik, not a 60 year-old polygamist.
“Baby book says caffeine’s not good for the fetus.” –Jody
“Well it’s good for me.” –Karen
And this week on “Karen is a Terrible Person,” we see the unfeeling harpy having sex with her husband and it’s not pretty. He needs to play “Kiss from a Rose” and when he finishes, he cries like a baby. Karen thinks this “gay,” we just think it’s a bit ridiculous. Though it does make it pretty clear that if Karen can’t handle being close to her husband now that the fun part is over, she definitely shouldn’t have a baby.
Jody invited his friends over, and they bring their gaggle of kids and they talk to Karen about natural child birth and terrify her with horror stories about stretched nether regions and giant babies.
Karen wants Jody gone, but if she divorces him, he can take half of her dad’s pension which she could use to, like, to open a tanning salon or buy a convertible, or something. Lip tells her to have Jody sign pre-nup and his crooked notary friend will predate it. Jody signs it even though Karen tries to trick him first, and he keeps saying “I love you no matter what.” He may be worse than the harpy. When they’re having sex again, she starts to see him in terrifying slo-mo and immediately kicks him out of the house. He starts delusionally living in a tent outside her house – he thinks it’s pregnancy hormones which only proves he really doesn’t know Karen very well. The only real product of his little camping trip is that Lip can’t enjoy Karen’s thank-you fellatio because of Jody and his incessant bongo-ing. I’m a little tired of Jody myself, but he was just promoted to series regular, so it seems he’s not going anywhere soon.
Lip thinks that with all this going on, he and Karen are getting back together. Ian says he’s pathetic – he can have anything he wants and he wants to stay on the Southside and raise Karen’s baby. Lip says Ian’s too scared to admit he’s gay. They continue bickering, and Peggy comes in and says the only way to solve it is with fighting. They set a time and place and then, frankly, beat the crap out of each other. Unfortunately, Peggy is right and once they fight, Ian voices his issues with always being the little brother and they leave to share a beer. But, Lip can’t do everything right and he drops out of school to help Karen with the baby – he is so determined to not be Frank that he will waste every ounce of potential he has. Luckily, Fiona is determined to set him on the right track and tells the school he’s sick – but he’s an adult, is there really anything Fiona can do to stop him?
“Why does my name have to make a difference?” –Steve
Jasmine invites Fiona out on her sugar daddy’s boat and Steve wants to see her, so Jasmine says she should bring him to the boat. Of course Fiona doesn’t do that, and she kicks him out when he stops by the house, but Jasmine invites him to the boat party anyway.
At the party, Fiona avoids Steve and his man-thong bathing suit (because he apparently forgot what Americans wear at the beach) like the plague, but it’s only a matter of time before he chases her and tries to talk to her. He says he’ll leave his wife for her in an instant, and she says that notion is why she can’t be with him. His drunk wife comes up the stairs and Fiona tells him to take the wobbly girl home. And in a moment that should have been all Fiona’s, she’s bawling over Steve’s betrayal and Jasmine comes up and catches her. She tells her that she deserves someone who treats her like a queen and then kisses her. This scene should have been about Fiona’s struggle with her emotions, yet we’re thrown for a loop with Jasmine’s tonsil hockey move and suddenly, we don’t feel anything – we’re just confused.
Later, Jasmine admits that husband kicked her out and that David found out she was breaking into his boat. She asks to stay with Fiona and Fiona says no, but Jasmine says she’s done everything for her – gave her a job, clothes, jewelry, got Estafania drunk so Fiona could sleep with Steve. Of course, none of these are things Fiona wanted or needed – except for maybe that initial job. Jasmine’s storyline could be so good – even the part where she fell in love with Fiona – but she’s such a mess that we can’t even feel anything except for pity for a girl who’s that off track in her life. It does, however, bring into perspective the fact that Fiona went off the rails, but at least she didn’t screw things up that royally.
The episode ends with another three-second Steve encounter in from of the house. He stops by to ask Fiona why she didn’t meet him at the airport. She doesn’t give him an answer so he says “I love you.” All she can muster is “don’t.” Now, I understand that drawing out a romantic conclusion – or at the very least a romantic event – is paramount to stringing the audience along, but this is bordering on boring. How much longer can the two of them end episodes with minimal, short-lived conversation on Fiona’s doorstep? Something needs to move forward or backward, or we’re in danger of losing interest all together.
Do you think the Steve storyline is moving at an awkward pace? Did you think this episode was overly complicated? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or get at me on Twitter. @KelseaStahler