Fiona takes her company car to the corner near a motel and meets Robbie. He tries to get her to go in the room with him, since it charges by the hour, but she tells him to go have sex with his brother and that she hates herself for letting things get as far as she did before leaving. While trying to study, Lip gets caught up in the distractions around him and heads to the bathroom so he could read in peace. However, that little bit of silence is short-lived, as a duo of Army investigators burst into his stall and question whether he’s Phillip Gallagher and whether he’s seen Ian before. However, they don’t know that Ian is Lip’s brother and Lip denies everything, especially after hearing that Ian is in trouble for going AWOL and trying to steal a helicopter.
Back at the Gallagher home, Frank shows Sam the place where he claims to live and she expresses interest in meeting the kids. After covering up his toes for the trip into the city to collect the insurance money, Sam tells Frank that she was always looking for a daddy when she was younger and that she knows that he approached her strictly for the kidney. He confirms that he was initially looking at her as an organ farm, but once he got to know her and saw how differently she treated him vs. how his other kids treat him, he knew that he could never take advantage of her life that. While Fiona learns that her birthday celebration with Mike involves a barbecue at his parents’ place that Robbie will be attending, Kev finds out that the noisy, messy construction that’s going on in front of the Alibi, including scaffolding that blocks the sign and jackhammering on the sidewalk, will be staying put for the next 6-7 weeks. As a lot of his business is walk-in, it puts a damper on an already wilting bottomline.
Lip arrives home from college looking for Fiona and discovers Sheila playing babysitter while preparing for her fourth date for Running Tree that evening. He tells Deb and Carl that the Army visited him at school looking for Ian and leaves to go ask around about his brother, while Frank and Sam make it to the lawyer’s and get wind of that easy six-figure collection that they’ll be getting – in 16 months. If he wants to fast track a settlement, that’ll still take a year. At the barbecue for Fiona’s birthday, the subject of Robbie moving to Portland gets broached and Mike confirms that his father hadn’t mentioned it, which is bad since their father used Mike as an excuse not to open his wallet for Robbie. Soon enough, Mike and Robbie get into it about Robbie following his dreams and Mike living a boring life, causing the two to take it out. Fiona watches in horror as the two squabble, she seemingly gets brought into the mix, and Mike punches Robbie before the two begin tussling. While Robbie storms out, Mike tells Fiona that she should leave.
Frank interrupts Sheila’s date with Running Tree looking for the edibles he purchased and ends up smoking a joint at the dinner table. Encouragingly, though, Running Tree informs him of the existence of sweat lodges and how they were known for curing illnesses in Native Americans, as the toxins would be sweated out. Sheila volunteers her yard, just as Stan’s son Allen comes into the Alibi looking for the two payments Veronica and Kevin owe him. He warns them that they don’t want to screw him over and leaves. After Lip goes to Mickey’s looking for Ian and finds no leads, he and Debbie search for clues in Ian’s room and tells her that she could talk to Mandy for him. Debbie confirms that they two had a fight and Lip mentions that the sex they had when he came in was the least of their worries. Elsewhere, Fiona goes over to Robbie’s apartment and beats on him for telling Mike what happened between them. She then spits on him and storms off.
Mickey and Kevin’s business arrangement gets put on fast forward when Mandy catches one of Svetlana’s girls going down on her boyfriend and comes at her with a hammer. Kev explains to Veronica that this would be pure profit for them at a time when not much is coming in and they would be able to have a lot more forward mobility than they would otherwise; Veronica just made him sweat it out, though, because she was in it from the jump. While Frank spends the night with Sam and Chuckie, Fiona arrives home from Mike’s and spends the night on the couch, talk of her breakup overheard by Debbie who warns Lip not to mention Ian to her. At the moment, Fiona is more concerned about getting her stuff from the office and whether or not the family has insurance anymore, Mike not answering his phone not exactly helping things. Veronica tries to explain that Fiona was never that into Mike, but Fiona doesn’t care, because at this moment, the well-being of her kids is being put to the test.
When she gets into work, though, she gets greeted with a surprise birthday party for her thrown by the other employees. Afterwards, she takes some cake to Mike’s office, as he ducked out of the party, and gives him her side of the story; basically, she did what she did and continued doing what she did to prove to herself that she doesn’t deserve functionality, everything that a life with Mike would bring her. He tells her that he’s transferring her over to another department so she wouldn’t be working directly underneath him and apologizes for not being more interesting, for valuing the truth and loving his family and having a steady job – things that aren’t necessarily selling points for Fiona. While Sheila deals with the five children of Running Tree’s sister, all of whom have been brought to her place to help with the sweat lodge, Mandy hints that she knows where Ian’s at and points her toward Ned, who Debbie is surprised to find out is Jimmy’s father. When the two get to Ned’s apartment, though, they find him holed up with an Ian look-a-like and talking about Ian trashing his place when he let him crash there a few weeks ago. Luckily, he has an address; unfortunately, it’ll lead them to Monica.
Things at the would-be massage parlor aren’t exactly going well, as Mickey is charging the same rates and taking the same cut as Sasha without providing the type of services for the girls that she did. Plus, not many are willing to pay $50 for the experience when the atmosphere of the upstairs apartment leaves a lot to be desired. The idea of Craigslist gets brought up, only for Kevin to nearly get jumped by Allen’s intermural tennis team while taking the trash out. He offers them hand jobs upstairs and gives the new business its first steady stream of income, just as Frank introduces Carl to Sam and Chuckie and convinces the boy to help gather the saplings necessary to build the foundation of the sweat lodge. The two then go in front of the police station and cut down every freshly planted sapling, dragging them back to Sheila’s. While on the train to the address that Ned gave them, Deb explains the situation with Matty, surprising Lip when the topic of sex comes up, both for how she was dumped for being a virgin and how she took Seth into the bathroom to try and get that out of the way. They make it to the seemingly abandoned home and find a naked woman there who claims that Ian is working down at the White Swallow in Boy’s Town.
Although Fiona calls Veronica with the news of her foul mood making a party sound like torture, Robbie shows up with a party of his own, as he brings a gram of coke to her for her birthday. She manages to make him leave by swinging the baseball bat she keeps for protection at him. Deb and Lip find an obviously tweaked Ian bartending at White Swallow; he said he’s been there for a couple of weeks and doesn’t listen to anything Lip tries to tell him, instead making the two virgin apple-tinis and going on about how he works out following closing time. Lip and Deb get kicked out, though Lip promises to come back now that they know where Ian is, while Sheila presents the Native American food she made to Running Tree’s brood, all of whom aren’t as into their heritage as she is. Outside, Carl tries to show off the work he did in building the foundation of the sweat lodge, only for Frank to brag about Sam rounding up people from the Alibi and stealing blankets from the homeless for the lodge. Carl asks his father whether he thought about Sam when the girl was little and while he admits to not, he thinks she’s his last chance at doing parenting right, enough of an insult to cause Carl to walk away from the ceremony.
Kev gives Allen $350 as a starting payment on the bar before heading over to Fiona’s with V, where they do Robbie’s coke, dance with Liam, and eat Doritos. Deb and Lip come by with the cake and soon enough, they find Liam on the floor, having collapsed after ingesting some of the coke. While Frank is passed out in the sweat lodge, the paramedics are called and Liam gets taken to the hospital, where Fiona gets arrested. As she is driven to the station, she bursts into tears.
Additional thoughts and observations:
-“I’d be crying, too, if I wasn’t so high.”
-“Good way to meet nice white women.”
-“Let’s get those bitches tuggin’.”
-“Mike is a tater tot.”
-“Damn Thai sex workers.”
-“Or I could stab myself in the eye with a pencil.”
-“Doritos are like crack. I might even snort ‘em.”
-Before I get into any specifics, I just want to say that I think this season has hit its stride in the past two episodes, which have been about as good as Shameless has ever been. If it can keep up this kind of pace, it might end up being my favorite drama of the year.
-Probably the main reason I loved the episode was that it brought the emotional pain in the way that only this show can, with every storyline seemingly trying to outdo one another in terms of how dispiriting they could be. Perhaps the saddest was Ian’s, who, after spending four episodes away, reemerges as a self-destructive bar tender with a disco ball wardrobe and what I’m assuming is an addiction to crystal meth. Everything you needed to know about Ian’s time away – the pain that he endured following his decision to go AWOL, the bad crowd that he fell in with, the once hopeful future that he had slipping from his fingers – was heartbreakingly clear in the first moment you saw him across the bar and every word he said just added to how lost, alone, and out of control he had become since the family had seen him last. As intelligent as Lip is and as driven as Fiona is, Ian was always the Gallagher that I thought had the best chance to make it – he knew who he was and what he wanted to be and he did the work in order to make that happen, so that’s an extra layer of devastation to an already sad story. Normally, I’m not that into the idea of sudden drug addiction stories, but in this case, I think it could be wrenching to watch him try to climb out of whatever haze he’s in and recognize just what he threw away by leaving the Army.
-Not to be outdone, Fiona was the subject of a dramatically interesting bait-and-switch, as Shameless showed a woman who was bruised yet didn’t allow herself to break, bolstered by the news that she still had a job that could help keep her kids happy and her household thriving. She might not have been with Mike anymore, but she didn’t have to completely start over again and she seemed to have made enough progress that stuck to where her 30’s might not be so bad after all. However, that was before her recklessness, borne from the need to celebrate the fact that everything didn’t fall apart, caused everything to fall apart and the home she had built to cave in around her. Not only is Liam laying in a hospital fighting for his life, not only is Fiona heading to jail, Lip is now screwed in terms of his education, as there’s no way he can go back to college and leave the household without a guardian. There’s no guarantee that Fiona will be out soon or that, once she comes back out, she’ll have the same rights and privileges as everyone else, so with one stupid decision, Fiona nearly killed one of her brothers and killed the dreams of another.
-Let’s also acknowledge that Mike apologizing for being boring is one of the most simple yet emotionally substantive things that has come from this show. He didn’t say much to Fiona following the news of her infidelity, but what he said was a lot and had even more meaning, especially on a show that can sometimes value the loud and brash over the quiet and contemplative. This season has already been an interesting look at addiction and Fiona’s a bit ahead of the game, as she knows that the way she approaches relationships isn’t right, but even with her self-awareness, she still can’t stop herself from getting in her own way.
-Also troubling (in a good way) was everything with Carl and Frank. I was a bit concerned earlier this season about where they were taking Carl and whether the show would use his budding teenage angst as fuel for any of his stories. Most intriguingly, they’ve been focusing on his relationship with his father, which makes since considering that Carl has always been one to look the other way when Frank goes about his usual antics. And rather than have that continue, they’ve had the last Gallagher turning on him, a boy realizing that the father he built up in his head isn’t the man who stands before him today. Carl has went above and beyond the call of duty for Frank this season and in return, Frank is busy oohing and ahhing over Sam as if she were a newborn baby girl, a blank slate to project all the lessons he thinks he’s learned about parenthood and a way to prove to everyone else that he’s the good father he’s always claimed to be. However, with Carl becoming disenfranchised by his father, I can’t help but wonder if we’ll see Samantha either leave or pass away during this season, thereby leaving Frank all alone and without a child to manipulate into doing his bidding.
-You could argue that type of disillusionment has spread into other storylines – namely, Mickey’s decision to liberate Svetlana’s girls only to treat them like Sasha did. And without the amenities that they were used to having.
-So, what happened to Sheila’s aspiring sex toy business? Also, about how offensive would you say this Sheila-thinks-she’s-Native-American-when-a-distant-relative-got-raped-by-a-Menominee-Indian storyline? Because while I think Sheila is an ultimately harmless individual who is simply looking for that sense of belonging and community that she hasn’t had in a long time, we might be toeing the line of offensiveness after this episode.
-Another offensiveness question: Allen: are you offended by the jokes about him and the way that he’s written? I’m mostly okay with it thus far, just because the joke isn’t always “haha it’s because he’s gay”. Plus, they subverted that by making his intermural tennis team all straight.
-“Suck it up and survive” is basically the mantra of this entire series, no? This episode, in particular, exemplifies that. Good job, Alex Borstein.
-I really liked how they handled the cheating revelation. No loud argument, no melodrama – you could only really hear the fight when the door opened and even then, it was brief and the impact was more in the atmosphere and the way Mike looked at Fiona vs. blood or anything.
-Interesting that the show invokes Monica this early in the season. She usually makes an appearance a little later; could this mean that, due to Fiona’s legal status, Monica might be named guardian of the children?
-Cum This Way. Something something Lady Gaga.
-Deep-fried turkey is, indeed, really good.
-Next week on Shameless: Fiona and Liam remain in county jail and the hospital, respectively, after the accident, while Frank receives sobering news about his health.