‘Shameless’ Recap: ‘Strangers on a Train’


In this week’s Shameless, “Strangers on a Train,” life continues to kick the s**t out of its characters.

It’s Fiona and Robbie (and some public transit fingering) that coin the episode’s title – she just can’t shake him. He won’t stop sending her texts, so she goes to his house to tell him off, which of course leads to another tryst. Another tryst that Mike just happens to interrupt – he knocks on the door, which sends Fiona scrambling to hide under the table. Robbie likes to play with fire, inviting Mike into the kitchen where he knows Fiona’s hiding, but Mike manages to leave without being any the wiser. She rightly cusses Robbie a blue streak on her way out, but we get the feeling business is still unfinished. She puts it best herself as she seeks council from V: “What do you want me to say? That I’m self-destructive? That liars and thieves and addicts turn me on? That I don’t know how to do a normal relationship?” Check, check, and check.

Lip’s continuing to struggle, too: when a convoluted train of events (including soaking wet pants and a locked dorm room) leads to him being 6 minutes late to a midterm, his professor bars him from taking the test. It’s the last straw – he smashes a few cars’ windows, goes on a mad dash away from the cops (or rather “campus security”), hides under a table for a spell (Gallagher™), and hops on the ‘L’ back home. His first stop? The Milkoviches’. After he nonchalantly tries to knock Mandy up (oh, Lip), she socks him in the face, and he’s off to the Alibi Room. While Mandy physically knocks some sense into him, Kev does so metaphorically: he reminds him what a college education could mean for him and his future – and it works. Next we know, Lip’s waiting in the cold outside his professor’s building, where he’s finally able to show that humility that he’s been trying so desperately to hide this whole time. His professor responds to this moment of honesty, and decides to give him a second chance. Are we finally going to see Lip on the upswing again? Maybe, but good things lack permanence in the universe of Shameless.

Oh, and poor, poor Debbie – she’s still on a mission to lose her virginity. She goes to Mandy Milkovich for advice (seeing as she ran a girl over, she wouldn’t be my first choice for a mentor, but oh well). Mandy tells her she has to prove to her boyfriend that she won’t run to the cops screaming statutory rape, and that the best way to show him “she’s cool” is to send him some suggestive selfies. Debs snaps a pic of one of Carl’s dirty mags and texts it his way. Almost immediately, her boyfriend asks her over, but it’s for a talk, not a tryst: he thinks she’s too young (she most certainly is). But poor Debs is so mortified and hurt that she storms out – she even tries to proposition a young lad at the bowling alley (which leads to some spectacularly awkward dialogue in a dark bathroom stall), but she decides she can’t go through with it (phew!).

And worst for last: Frank learns that even with a prospective donor, finding a pro bono doctor to perform the surgery will take years. And since he doesn’t have years, it’s time for desperate measures: an extreme injury will get him the insurance money he needs, so he enlists the help of Carl. When Carl learns it’s a matter of life and death, he feeds his father some narcotics, and jumps on his leg: yep, broken in 6 places. But even with the insurance money on the way, it’s not to be – Frank learns that Sammi’s liver isn’t a match, and as a result, he’s so angry that he blurts out that she’s his daughter. She’s horrified, (Rightfully so: “You dry humped my thigh for half an hour yesterday!”), and literally throws him out of her trailer. But strangely, even after screaming at him to “GEEEEET. OUUUUUUUT!” she comes to meet him at the Alibi Room. I guess she decided that a despicable father is better than no father at all – a fact that the rest of the Gallaghers might contest. All in all, a frenetically solid episode – we’re already looking forward to next week.

Stray Thoughts:

* Interesting that everyone had their counselor this episode – Fiona had V, Lip had Kev, and Debbie had Mandy.

* It’s also worth mentioning that Mickey managed to put 6 Russian hookers out of work. Uh-oh.

* From the preview, it looks like Ian will be back next week (but what we really want is more Sheila!)