Shameless: A Jailbird, Invalid, Martyr, Cutter, Retard, and Parasitic Twin Review

Like a heavy hangover, this week's Shameless is about recovering from the last two bombshell episodes, as well as the return of Ian.

If you couldn’t guess from the title of this Shameless going in, “A Jailbird, Invalid, Martyr, Cutter, Retard, and Parasitic Twin,” tonight was a busy episode.

After the one-two punch of the previous weeks that saw Fiona arrested for cocaine possession and child endangerment, as well as Frank getting all but the official death sentence, it was time to take a moment to sit back and reflect about what this means for the Gallagher clan and wider cast of South Side underdogs who never get ahead. But this was not filler; like the plentiful aspirin and gallons of water that come after a hard night of drinking, the hangover was a necessity that leaves everyone wondering how they will make it through the coming week(s).

The one reeling hardest is obviously Fiona, who is so browbeaten by reality that she chooses to sleep in late after her first night back from the slammer. To be fair, she has had a pretty rough 72 hours: going from the doted upon girlfriend of her boss, to an unemployed jailbird who could be facing up to five years of hard time in prison. But like the whole episode, Lip still let’s her have it, beginning by telling her to “sort your shit out” when she tries to baby the tragically damaged Liam. And the painful truth is that Lip is right.

Fiona screwed up in a way so spectacular that it is as baffling to me as it is to Lip, and while he may be placing too much blame on her, she is guilty. Indeed, this whole episode builds like the first breath after taking a shot of whiskey. It’s standing with the baited breath of ugliness to come. When Lip finally rips into Fiona before dinner, he is entirely justified. Fi thinks that she can convince a jury that it was an accident she left her “boyfriend’s” coke out for her 3-year-old brother to consume? Accident or no, it was incredibly stupid, and there will be consequences. Despite the apparent ineptitude of Fi’s lawyer, she gets Fiona a great deal of three-year probation with at most 90 days in jail. Nonetheless, it takes Fi the full hour to realize that she deserves as much. In the episode’s closing moments, a judge grants her the blessing of not having to serve any jail time, but that is only one bullet dodged of a whole clip. She is now a convicted felon, and the label is going to haunt her for the rest of her life. No more jobs at World Wide Cup, and a less likely chance of improving her station in life. Hat’s off to the Shameless writers; I knew we would return to the status quo for Fiona, yet it was accomplished in a way that was exceedingly painful, but quixotically authentic. This is Fi’s new reality.

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One character who is struggling to find his is Lip. He was completely fair with his outrage at the prospect of Fiona taking this to trial at the expense of him having to father the rest of his siblings for five years. While his unspoken dismissal of Fiona forevermore feels unnaturally harsh for this family, Lip being forced to take Liam with him to the University of Chicago is simply exhausting to watch. Albeit, it comes with the perks of Lip softening his image with every girl he passes, including his roommate’s girlfriend. And any brownie points Lip can get in that department these days is a nice win. Especially when he and Debs have to play the role of Fiona these days.

In one of the week’s few bright spots, Frank’s slow death turns out to serve its own comedic value. In spite of the Gallaghers telling him multiple times not to do drugs with Liam, a child overcoming having half a gram of cocaine in his system, in the house and an unannounced social worker ready to drop by at any moment, Frank cannot stop dulling his own pain. He smokes weed in the morning to take the edge off still being alive, he pops Oxi in the afternoon to unwind (he’s not allowed to hit the crack pipe due to his cruel children), and then he passes out in a pile of his own shit after injecting a little bit of heroin into his system. Like everything else in his life, Frank is a screw-up even when it comes to dying. Lip and Debs have no tolerance for Frank when they give surprise older sister Sammi the ultimatum about getting Frank to clean up his act. But after he craps his pants, the last needle is broken (and probably still in the arm at that), and Frank, Sammi, and Chucky are out once more.

It can only be Shameless that finds comedy in its protagonist dying. Sure, there’s sympathy too in his plight, particularly thanks to his inability to admit that he is dying when Sammi mentions their limited time—this is a man whose liver has probably only weeks left, but thinks he can drink the pain away by the time he’s six feet underground—but it is underscored by his intensely awkward narcissism. Frank is both the face of the pitiful and pathetic when he guilts Sammi to bend on his drug needs, and it is equally revealing for her. One imagines that in his younger, healthier days, this would be how Frank goaded young Fiona, Lip, and Ian into turning a blind eye to his drug habits and handing over their money. We have seen it again with Carl and Debs as well, however this episode really brought the idea of living with Frank home. And like any child, Sammi is the next who will fall for all of Frank’s self-pity. Even Carl has wised up to the act within a few episodes, but the oldest daughter is in many ways is the youngest. Perhaps, it is just daddy issues, but when Sammi has her son break into Sheila’s home for the sake of Frank’s comfort, it is like watching another kid fall for his traps all over again.

The one Gallagher child that I had expected to most thrive in a post-Frank world by escaping this madness turned out to be the one who has crashed hardest at this point, as this week marked the official return of Ian Gallagher. And it’s great to see him back on the show, no matter how twinked out he appears. At the end of last season, Ian forged a fake ID out of Lip’s social security number and joined the U.S. Army, facilitating what I expected to be a great homecoming for the character; a well put-together, well-mannered adult who avoided the madness of South Side Chicago. Whoops.

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Two episodes ago, it got lost in all the madness of Fiona going to prison that Ian, as “Lip,” crashed out of the Army in fantastic fashion. Besides attempting to steal a helicopter before going AWOL, Ian is now living as Curtis back in Chicago’s Boystown where he moonlights as an underage prostitute when he isn’t giving drinks and lap dances to graybeards. With a coke problem almost as bad as Liam these days, Ian has out-Gallgher’d anyone in his family not named Monica. It is such a sorry state that the only thing that can save him is Mickey Milkovich. Who saw that coming? Well, besides the legions of Tumblr shippers. I like Mickey as a character so much that it’s okay, if only for tonight, Showtime decided to feed the fanbase by having Ian & Mickey enjoy a reunion fit for An Officer and a Gentleman.

Higher than the government of Toronto, Ian is passed out in a nice bed of Chicago sludge-snow when Mickey beats up his john and carries a near-comatose Ian on his back to a stolen Uber cab. It’s really the little moments in life. However this sentimental moment, as sarcastic and defiantly cynical as Mickey insists on being, is earned when Mandy forces Mickey to realize that he should make something “his fucking problem.” So he perfumes up, puts on his best shirt, and beats the crap out of the first gay man to insinuate he is queer in his search for Ian.

It seems expected that we will see more of Ian next week, as Mickey without a word chooses to kick his wife out of bed in favor for a passed out Ian. I look forward to seeing their real reconciliation, however violent it will undoubtedly become, in future episodes. At this point, they are the sanest couple this side of V and Kev.

Oh yeah, Kev got robbed at the Alibi while the local city construction workers watched enjoying their coffee, V discovered that two of her triplets absorbed/ate the third, Matt “broke up” with Debs again, who then cut herself in her hilariously one and only time at being emo (I hope), and Carl beat up two kids at school.

A lot happened this week, and every moment of it was well earned in an episode that feels like a long exhale before the wheels start turning again. Fiona is not going to prison or jail, but as the legal guardian of all the kids, she is now responsible for their safety in a world where she is a convicted felon for child endangerment. Beyond the basic issue of finding new sources of income, Fi also has to truly sort her shit out if she hopes to be the den mother once more, which in turn will affect how much Lip can actually succeed at school (that paper is so not going to be done by tomorrow). Also, Frank isn’t dead yet, and until that grave is full, he can still literally crap over everything again.

Most Shameless Quotes of the Week:

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-KEV: No please don’t answer. God forbid you do something meaningful with your lives. You know, you should work for the city; you have qualities they’re looking for.

-MICKEY: You calling me gay?

GAY BAR MANAGER: Oh honey, please. You make Justin Bieber look straight.

-MICKEY: Relax, Shaq. I was leaving.

-CARL (to Liam): Are you retarded now? I hope you’re sleeping and not in a retarded daze.


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4 out of 5