S2E1: Oh, what the difference a season can make. Of course, by season, I mean those times when the leaves change color, not the moments between a season premiere and a season finale. Our favorite South Side Chicago family is back and just as out of whack as ever, only this time around they’re a little looser on account of the summer heat and freedom from down jackets and winter hats. Considering we first got to know Shameless’ Frank (William H. Macy) and his six kids in the dead of winter, it’s a bit jarring to find them flailing around in short shorts and flip flops, but it doesn’t take too long for us to realize that they’re all the same as they ever were – except for Fiona (Emmy Rossum).
After leaving Steve (Justin Chatwin) at the airport to embark on his escape to Costa Rica by his lonesome, Fiona is hitting the single life hard, working at a Chicago nightclub and having sex on the beach (a Lake Michigan beach, but still) with her stock broker Steve-look-a-like. Frank is still living with and mooching off of Sheila (Joan Cusack), but her agoraphobia is getting closer and closer to being a thing of the past and Karen warns Frank his days as a house guest and sex toy are nearing an end. Lip is still all about Karen – even after she had sex with a very-drugged up Frank on her webcam last season – but she’s too busy going to Sex Addicts Anonymous and abstaining with her 37-year-old biker boyfriend to give him what he so desperately wants. Luckily, he and Kev have their own summer side business to serve as a distraction. Ian is feeling the sting of continuing to work for his ex while pretending not to notice that the actress who plays his fake girlfriend was awkwardly replaced this season. As usual, things are pretty nuts for the down-on-their-luck family, and if this episode is any indication, that’s not going to change anytime soon.
Watch the full episode here in case you missed it!
“She probably did his taxes and then did him.” –Veronica
Just as she showed up to shake up Fiona’s almost happy little situation last season, Jasmine (Amy Smart) waltzes back into the picture from the start, bringing her sugar daddy, David, by Fiona’s nightclub and enticing Fiona into a night on the town. Fi’s got her own date for the private party: Adam (James Wolk, Lone Star) is a successful business man of indeterminate nature, but his biggest draw is that he looks like Steve. Still, Fiona’s clearly not looking for just one guy; just minutes before her Mr. Right Now drops by, she’s working her hardest to get the attention of a rather douchey D.J. By the end of the night, she’s flapping her arms in the wind in the back of David’s convertible, drinking liquor straight from the bottle, and ending her evening with the aformentioned sex on the beach with Adam. When Adam drops her off that morning, we learn that not only did Officer Tony’s little plan to get Steve out of the picture break Fiona’s heart, it also didn’t win him his lady love. He’s still working on the house next door and wallowing in his bitterness about not getting Fiona. It still amazes me that a do-gooder cop could be so far from likable, but then again, when you’re looking at the world from the Gallaghers’ point of view, everything tends to shift a bit.
In addition to her cocktail waitress job at the club, Fiona and Debbie are running a daycare out of the Gallagher house. And by Fiona and Debbie are running a daycare, I mean Debbie is running it while Fiona sleeps until Debbie needs her help with some sort of terrible accident or injury. All this running around in addition to the trouble inevitably brought around by Frank seems to make Fiona wonder about Jasmine’s Summer pasttime, but V quickly shoots down the idea of a sugar daddy relationship as ridiculous – plus, though things aren’t serious with Adam from Fiona’s perspective, he’s showing some serious interest in her, encouraging her to get back to training after she smoked in him in an early morning race on the beach. While Fiona may not be thinking about a future with Adam, this whole thing gets her to remember her days as a high school track champion and by the end of the episode, she’s finally determined to do something for herself: she starts training to beat the record mile time. She was never able to do it in high school, but it seems she’s tired of feeling like she’s not good at something, and this period of trying to get over Steve is no better time to get that feeling of accomplishment back. Of course, that doesn’t keep us from wondering when old Stevie/Jimmy boy is going to crop back up again – because that’s all I can think about.
“Now what are we supposed to live on? Sheila’s single disability checks? How does Mr. Osama Obama expect us to live off of that?” –Frank
Frank’s little “wet dream” of a living situation is getting tough. Clearly, the accident at the plant was a bust because he’s back to worrying about where his money is going to come from and with Sheila just weeks from curing her agorophobia enough to start making it to the store and the Alibi Room, he’s feeling his days are numbered. So instead of figuring his affairs out, clearly the best option is to pick a fight with a six-foot tall guy named Baby at the Alibi Room. Frank bets him he can’t get taserd twice by a taser without falling to the groud, the problem is Baby really can take it and Frank ends up owing the oversized man with a violent streak 10 thousand dollars. When he takes baby Liam out on the streets as a sympathy ploy while he panhandles (because that’s how most people make 10 grand in a day, right?), Baby drives by and kidnaps him, later deciding to keep Liam as collateral until Frank can get him the money. From there, Frank actually does try his hardest (in the most Frank way possible) to make the money – he performs sexual favors in a bar called the Manhole. Just when you think you’ve see Frank’s worst side, he always manages to surprise you. This still doesn’t earn him enough cash and once again, Fiona has to save the day. She and the kids grab Frank and burst into Baby’s hide-out, dump all the cash they have and grab their baby brother. Later, she pays off the remainder of Frank’s debt with one of Kev’s surplus marijuana plants and while it was an extremely convenient plot point, it’s so badass I can’t really fault the writers for it.
Of course, while Baby is off his back, Frank’s still got the issue of Sheila’s soon-to-be expired hospitality and hopefully, we’ll get to see what Frank does when no one will let him call their house his home.
”Isn’t it wonderful? Mr. Kevin is going to help all the old people who are going blind.” –Ethel
Apparently, Summertime is when our favorite Canaryville residents make their extra cash. Lip and Kev are running their own ice cream truck business which doubles as a venue for selling weed. While you’d think getting the old ice cream truck up and running again would be the main conflict for this plot, it’s actually Kev’s over-ambitious crop. Thanks to Ethel’s green thumb, Kev’s got about 10 times the product he normally moves – and he’s got a super-sized electric bill to help keep it all healthy. It seems easy enough: sell the extra weed and pay off the 9 thousand dollar electric bill, right? Wrong. This isn’t Weeds. Veronica rightly tells Kev it’s too risky and she makes him get rid of the excess. The easy fix comes when Kev lights almost the entire excess pile on fire, allowing most of the neighborhood to come out and enjoy the various…byproducts of his crop’s destruction. Of course, to keep things interesting, Kev keeps two bags for himself and almost gets caught by Tony, who’s still annoyinging living next door.
Ian’s got some issues as well. He’s still got his fake girlfriend, Mandy, to lean on, but the producers saw fit to keep her around with a different actress when Jane Levy left for the lead role on Surburgatory and the idea of a new actress is just a bit too distracting for me. It wouldn’t have been impossible for him to lose his confidant and struggle with consequences. Now all I can focus on his how much I wish Levy was still on the show. Anyway, Kash is rebounding from Ian right in front of his face, bringing men disguised in burkas into the backroom. This mostly just annoys Ian until Kash delivers the bombshell: he’s leaving his pregnant wife because he can’t handle being in the closet. This is probably the most interesting occurrence in the whole episode because it strikes such a chord for Ian – he obviously understands the pain of living life with a constant disguise, but his mother abandoned him for similar reasons and his life has been difficult ever since. It’s obvious that Kash abandoning his children and unborn child is more painful to Ian than any amount of backroom philandering could ever be.
This episode didn’t set up anything too hairy or leave us with a cliffhanger, but if Season Two is anything like Season One, we’re setting in on a journey that’s sure to snowball into insanity. Either that, or someone has replaced the Gallaghers with a more stable family.
Did you like the season premiere? Are you looking forward to next weeks? When do you think Steve/Jimmy will make his Fiona-shattering return? Sound off in the comments or tell me what you think on Twitter (@KelseaStahler).