The morning after Fiona arrived home from jail, the family is getting ready for the day ahead, with Lip and Debbie handing out lunches. The plan is for Lip to take Liam to school for the day and bring him back that evening and after reminding Carl that every bite that Liam takes is now being monitored and how they won’t be able to afford take out/brand name food now, he growls at Sam when she offers to buy groceries. He wants her to stop their father from smoking weed due to the impending visit from the social worker and tells her that his siblings have been in foster care too many times thanks to Frank, while Debbie complains about having another mouth to feed before heading out the door.
On the bus to school, Carl hears kids talking about what happened to Liam and how he’s probably retarded due to ingesting coke, just as Kev tries to wake Veronica up for some morning sex. The problem is that pregnancy hormones have caused hair growth and mucus flow, so she’s not exactly feeling sexy right now; as he goes to the bathroom to finish himself off, she mentions that she needs the truck that day to take Fiona to her preliminary hearing and to go to the ultrasound appointment, the first that he’ll have to miss due to work. While Mandy confronts Mickey in their bathroom about Ian’s disappearance and how Mickey was the root of his decision to run, Fiona finds Lip getting himself and Liam ready to go to school. Even though she wanted to take him to her appointment with Maria, Lip is still feeling protective of his brother and tells Fiona to sort her stuff out.
Over at the Alibi, construction is still going on, with several of the workers standing around watching only one of them actually make progress, but Kev has other things to worry about, as he gets held up by two masked men who knew about the keg with the money in it. After they shoot a light out in the bar, they duct tape Kev so that he can’t catch them and run out the door; the city workers fail to do anything, though, despite Kev pointing out that he had just been robbed. Lip and Liam arrive at school to find Amanda, Ron’s girlfriend, in his room. However, she gives Liam a clementine to eat and offers to take care of him while Lip is in class and to send photo texts every 30 minutes to let him know that his brother is okay. Lip ultimately agrees, just as Frank vomits all over his bed when Sam brings in Burger King. She immediately starts changing his sheets and when he calls for his pipe, she holds her ground, telling him that they have to be on their best behavior due to the social worker and that the kids made it clear that they’re not going to put up with anything. However, he keeps pressing the issue, accusing her of turning against him like the other kids, and she decides to give him his next Oxy early as a compromise.
At Fiona’s preliminary hearing, she hears that state’s attorney Mr. Jefferies has the police report, where she admitted her guilt; the coke that was found on Liam; and the toxicology report from when he was admitted to the hospital as evidence against her, evidence they hope will land her a five year minimum sentence for possession and child endangerment. Maria argues that since Fiona is a first time offender, that’s too much punishment and the judge orders the two attorneys to sit down and hash out a plea deal. Meanwhile, Kev goes to Mickey’s looking for a gun for the Alibi and gets chewed out for losing the $600 in the keg and for the terms of their deal being cloudy. Mickey thought that they were 50/50 partners in the hooker business, but Kev understood the terms as 70/30, even though they were Mickey’s girls. Mickey then goes down to the Alibi to help protect the money that he should be making.
Maria gets Fiona alone and breaks down the progress her negotiations with Mr. Jefferies went; she thinks that Fiona can get three years probation due to being a first time offender and the state not wanting to clog up the system with cases like this. However, she would have to plead guilty, thereby becoming a convicted felon, and serve out at least 60-90 days in prison. Fiona brings up the idea of going to trial, but Maria reminds her that the jury would not take kindly to her and that she would likely end up doing more time than she would if she just accepts the plea deal. While Lip receives a text from Amanda in his physics course and gets an extension on an assignment due that evening, Debbie uses her time at the library to figure out what to make for Matty for their one month anniversary. She ultimately settles on spaghetti and runs into Ellie, who tells Debbie and Holly about breaking up with Gary, the father of her baby. His mother didn’t want him to have a baby, but Ellie ended up cutting herself and her mother dragged her to Gary’s before getting in a fight with his mother about his status as the baby’s father. After all that, Gary decides to think about getting back together with Ellie, though Deb suggests using a family emergency as a way of getting back in his good graces.
Veronica’s appointment with the doctor turns out differently than she expected, as she learns that one of the fetuses she was carrying was absorbed by the other two. Though it’s a common occurrence with multiples, something of a natural selection, she still feels a mixture of relief at having one less mouth to feed and sadness due to the loss. Elsewhere, Mickey tracks Ian to the bar he was working at, only to find that he is now working at Fairy Tale, another bar in Boystown. Rather than being a bartender, Ian has now become something of a stripper, going by the name Curtis and charging $25 per lap dance. When he makes it to Fairy Tale, Mickey notices an older client slipping Ian molly and tries to get his (former?) boyfriend to talk to him, even paying for a dance to get the time alone that he needed. However, Ian is not in his right mind and won’t speak to Mickey apart from platitudes and talk of an additional dance; Mickey mentions that Frank is dying and that Fiona nearly killed Liam, but that seemingly has no effect on Ian’s disposition.
Sam gets Frank talking about a memory from his past, when his father beat on him upon catching his mother cheating, and messes up the moment by saying that she wanted to know about Frank’s life due to the limited time they have together. He rants about how that’s not true, causing himself to double over in pain, and she gives him heroin, which she had been saving until he was especially sick. Over at the Alibi, Kev pulls the gun he got from Mickey and demands to know who stole the money from the keg; since it was in a secret place, it was likely to be a regular that was responsible for the plot. However, he didn’t count on everybody else having a gun and instead, he opts to start keeping his money down the front of his pants, a place he claims nobody would look. The relief that he feels upon finding out from V that they’ll only have three babies to worry about instead of four gets washed away when Tommy blurts out that the bar was robbed, which causes her to get upset. Kev assures her, though, that he’ll do whatever he has to in order to protect his family.
Carl beats up the two bullies who were talking about Liam, breaking one’s nose in the process, while Matty walks in to find Debbie making spaghetti. She got the super to tell where he keeps the spare key and when he realizes that she still thinks they’re dating, he sets her straight, telling her that she’s too young and that they wouldn’t be able to be together until she was at least 16. Disappointed and confused after he offered a shoulder to lean on with everything that happened with Fiona and Liam, Debbie goes home. After stealing some food from his work study and getting checked out on the subway by a group of girls who were touched by Liam sleeping on his lap, Lip makes it home and starts fixing dinner. Fiona comes down to talk to him and tells him about her preliminary hearing and how she wants to go to trial, even though there’s a chance she could serve five years. Lip explodes at the thought of being 25 and still taking care of his siblings, telling Fiona that the responsibility for her siblings’ well-being is what she got when she signed up for guardianship and how it doesn’t matter that she didn’t intentionally hurt Liam – he was still hurt and she was the primary reason why, bringing coke into the house and making the type of bad decisions that led to the accident.
However, before they can continue their argument, Carl comes down to tell them that Frank passed out in the bathroom. They go up to find him soiled and laying on the bathroom floor, a result of the heroin that he shot up earlier. Lip takes charge and gets Frank ready to go back out onto the street, kicking Sam out in the process for bringing it into the house and giving it to him knowing that they were preparing for the social worker visit. Sam and Chuckie carry Frank out of the house, just as Debbie comes home and throws a tantrum in her room that leads to her cutting herself and Carl cleans Frank’s room of any evidence that could go against them with the social worker. Outside the Fairy Tale, an obviously messed up Ian is led to the curb by an older man who called a cab for them. However, he plans on bringing Ian to his place and taking advantage of him, so Mickey punches him and sends him on his way before using the car that was called to take Ian to the Milkovich home, where Svetlana catches Gallagher sleeping in her bed.
Sam and Chuckie wheel Frank to Sheila’s and Chuckie breaks in, giving Sam the opportunity to take Frank to the shower and clean him up. When he stumbles in the tub, she takes off her top layer of clothes and holds him up while she washes his back. Carl witnesses Liam hitting himself with a door and takes an online test to determine whether his brother is mentally retarded, only to discover that Liam is fine and that it’s he who might be slow. Finally, as she watches Kev pose naked in the mirror with his gun, Veronica gets turned on and blows him for the first time in a while.
The next morning, Carl opts to get on the short bus, while Fiona goes to her hearing where she pleads guilty and doesn’t receive any jail time. Instead, she has 100 hours of NA meetings and parenting classes to attend; she can’t leave the state for the next three years; she has meetings with her probation officer every week; she can’t hold a government job or vote; and she’s on house arrest for the foreseeable future.
Additional thoughts and observations:
-”Enjoy your coffee, fuckin’ hole standers.”
-”C’mere. Get in my force field.”
-”Okay, don’t choke on any gray pubes.”
-”My dick is like three times bigger than this gun.”
-Best episode title of the season? Of the series?
-So, this wasn’t nearly as bleak and devastating as the past two episodes, but it still had some heft to it and some moments of brilliance while lightening the tone and leaning more into the show Shameless usually is. I have a feeling that the show will pull back just a hair before using the final 2-3 episodes of the season to really bring the hammer down.
-What I would have given to have the argument between Fiona and Lip last a few more minutes. There’s so much tension between them and they only got to scratch the surface of the issues that their relationship is facing, which makes me think that this isn’t the end, that there’ll be a longer blow up sometime before the end of the season, particularly if Fiona slacks on her probation commitments. What we did get, though, was incredibly compelling, with the two best performances on the show turned up a notch and pitted against one another in a complex storm of emotional and substance abuse issues.
-Season 5! Yay!
-No Sheila, which I’m more than fine with. I love Joan Cusack, but she wasn’t needed this episode (and frankly, wasn’t really needed the last episode). Part of me hopes that she finds her place to belong with the Menominee and goes to live on the reservation at the end of the season, as her screen time typically feels like it could be put to better use by strengthening a Lip or Fiona subplot.
-Good for Matty for putting his foot down to Debbie about the fact that they can’t be together like that. I think Debbie romanticized the idea of A) being with an older guy; B) being with someone stable; and C) having a boyfriend in general to where the intelligence she showed earlier in the series took a backseat. Not necessarily to her hormones, just to her hope that she can find a sense of normalcy away from the chaos that is her home life. Plus, she’s insecure about where she is in comparison to her peers, so the idea of shacking up with an older guy was especially appealing for her. Hopefully Matty is the calm, sturdy presence that she needs, though.
-Even though Sam was definitely wrong for bringing heroin into the house and giving it to her father when she knows that the custody of the kids hangs in the balance, I couldn’t help but be affected by her getting in the shower to help him clean off. It was a scene that could have easily been played for laughs in order to neutralize the emotional impact of such a gesture, but instead, it was incredibly powerful to watch, Sam getting a way to bond with her father while Frank learns just how much she’s willing to do to have a relationship with him. At the end of the day, Shameless is about the love and loyalty between a family and this might have been the best example this season of the depth of love that the Gallaghers have for one another.
-You can read about fetal absorption (or Vanishing Twin Syndrome) here.
-Steve Howey looks good, right?
-I worry about Carl taking the short bus and diagnosing himself as being mentally retarded. The emotional underpinning is interesting and fits in with the season’s theme of belonging, but we could be heading for some cheap humor in the next couple of episodes.
-Also, the slow motion when he beat up the bullies was strange. Though I didn’t mind it, this isn’t a show you automatically associate with effects like that.
-Who do you think robbed the Alibi?
-For as sad as Fiona throwing away her life and Lip’s college education being on the line are, the saddest storyline of the season might be Ian’s spiral into drug abuse. It’s another parallel between a Gallagher child and Frank, touching on the addiction issues that have defined Fiona this season, and is especially interesting due to the contrast between his journey and Lip’s, as one Gallagher brother has hit rock bottom while the other made some serious personal progress this season. What’s sad, aside from the obviously disturbing image of Ian about to be sexually abused (and collapsing on the street afterward), is how far of a fall it’s been for him and how he’s obviously self-medicating, possibly as a coping mechanism to deal with the end of his army dreams.
-Was the guy that almost took Ian home supposed to be a representation of Ned?
-Next week on Shameless: Fiona prepares for a visit from her probation officer, while Ian gets kicked out of Mickey’s house by Svetlana.