Midway through this week’s episode of Shameless, Veronica dresses down in her tightest of little purple dresses. She walks out into the afternoon light ready to kill. Always aloofly loving Kev compliments his lover’s outfit. “It’s not an outfit,” V shoots back with steely determination. “It’s a perv trap.” That line may best sum up this episode’s odd crossroads of sex and manipulation, because every featured storyline dealt with that sexual awkwardness and how it makes everything feel oh, so shameless.
The show opens with everyone blissfully asleep in the Gallagher household, save for one. As the heat of summer is only starting to creep upon Chicago’s Southside and the window fans twirl, Fiona lays wide awake in the morning worried about something other than her children/siblings. Downstairs, V is sleeping on their couch after finding out that Kev’s ex-wife (they’re technically still married because she won’t sign the papers but…it’s complicated) is staying in their home. Fiona rushes down to entreat Veronica to get over Kev having a wife staying over. Seriously, if Kev and V can’t work it out, what chances do Fiona and Jimmy have?
The initial sexual quandary this week came when Fiona and Debs went grocery shopping. The cashier who was tired of dealing with Debbie’s coupons and snot quit her job on the spot before cursing out her manager. Fi, never missing an opportunity to make some quick cash, follows him to the back to ask for the ex-cashier’s position. The manager seemed open about her taking the job, if she gave him a sort of open one in return. “The dude wanted a blow in exchange for a job, giving new meaning to blow job!” an infuriated Fi later raged.
Fiona storms out with Debs to take the MTA back home. On the bus, things only become more fucked up when Debbie notices a creeper pleasuring himself as he stares at her. Fiona unleashes a fury Greek poets can only dream of and chases the sketchy jerk off the bus. When she gets home, both incidents, dutifully ignored by the police, cause two major courses of action for the rest of the episode. The first is a pissed off Lip and Ian going to the sex offenders database to find out one is living in their neighborhood. The other is Veronica, still waiting for Sheryl (Kev’s ex) to sign the divorce papers, helping Fi get that cashier job by laying a honey pot trap for the nasty supermarket manager.
In the week’s most hilarious scene, Lip and Ian get the whole neighborhood riled up. The Irish-Catholic Gallaghers and their ilk walk in righteous anger alongside their Black and Latino neighbors to bring the Wrath of God on this pedophile living within their midst. They get to the door with lead pipes in hand when…it turns out this disgusting man is a 20-something blond woman. Yep, their local pedophile is one of those 8th grade teachers who got caught sleeping with a student who they were “in love” with. All the men apologize for bothering her and leave. A stunned Lip cannot believe the double standard at play for a woman. Ian, who had his own illicit affair with an older man in Season 1, when he was only 15, is completely okay with it being a hot young woman sleeping with teenage boys. But Lip will not stand for this. Thus, the high school senior dresses down like he’s a 15-year-old and performs a sting operation by offering to “trim the hedges” of the former educator. By the end of the episode, Lip’s undercover work turns into a real performance when he finds himself seduced by the fired teacher who shows he still has a thing or two to learn. Great job at delivering that sting, Lip!
Meanwhile, V dressed to kill in purple, easily gets the repellant manager to make the same offer to her about “handling the deli meats.” Caught on hidden video camera, he is forced to give Fi the job. Fiona even can ensure it’s only day shifts that will get her home by 6 o’clock. It was Veronica’s victory and it is ultimately her episode, because the major dramatic force is her accepting that Kev may have a son.
Despite saying that Sheryl is only a distant shadow from his past, Kev spends a lot of time bonding with the wife he forgot about. They reminisce about the foster homes they grew up in. They fondly recall their marriage in 2000 and how it abruptly ended. They even smile about thoughts of 9/11, which caused them to have a post-traumatic fling. Incidentally, it’s that fling that may have resulted in Sheryl’s son. They get so caught skipping down memory lane, they miss the notary who brought them divorce papers and forget about the son in question who is helping a traumatized Debs. Debbie is adorably considering whether to become a nun after what she saw on the bus, but Kev’s kid talks her out of the idea by giving Debs her first kiss.
While Debs’s story is infectiously sweet, V finding out that Kevin may have a son forces her to put faith in him more than she has ever done before. Fiona warns Kev not to get too cozy with Sheryl and, sure enough, he still wants to divorce Sheryl and be there for his son. It is only then that Sheryl let’s it be known that( a) She thinks V is a skanky slut, (b) that she came back to rope Kev back into marriage, and (c) that it isn’t even her son, but her sister’s. Veronica goes nuts and beats the ever loving matrimony out of Sheryl and, with her knee in Sheryl’s back as she holds her arm, forces her to finally sign the divorce papers. Kev only interrupts long enough to make sure that Sheryl initials in the correct places. With that, Sheryl is out of Kev’s life for good, but her nephew can stay behind to have dinner with Debs and the rest of the Gallagher clan.
Frank provided most of the laughs this week by figuring out that when the Chicago Bulls sign a basketball for Make a Wish children those autographed mementos are worth a fortune. Ergo, he convinces Carl he has cancer and shaves his head (he tells Lip and Fi that it’s for lice) and takes him to the Make a Wish Foundation. He fails in getting a ball, but Carl ends up going to the Bulls’ Basketball camp for free, so three points for Carl. However, the biggest laugh comes when Mandy finds out that Lip had sex with the pedophile. Though Lip is really 18, the older lady thought he was a much younger teen and Mandy will have none of it. She and her Milkovich brothers pay a late night visit to the new neighbor in the show’s final scenes. Mandy gives her an ultimatum, be done by the time her brothers finish digging a 6-foot grave in her front yard or be buried in it. After running out the lecherous competition, Mandy smiles as her brothers dispose of some unknown third party’s body in the freshly dug grave.
This week’s show is hands down the most irreverent and entertaining Shameless has been in a while. It constructs many subplots, even a few I didn’t detail, into one quirky tale of sex and double standards. The men in the neighborhood won’t run out an attractive blond lady who had sex with a student because they all wish they had teachers like that. Letting Mandy get the job done after Lip got his makes us finally love the Milkovich sister and creates a sense of cosmic justice. Also, letting Fiona and V turn the tables on a predatory supermarket manager both dabbles in the uncomfortable and sickening sides of our society that we’d like to ignore and the show wants to embrace. It is also very funny, politically incorrect and smoothly paced. The drama of Veronica afraid of losing Kev feels real, but is relieved when V gets rid of Sheryl for good by forcing a divorce at knee-point. The whole episode handles the questions of sexuality from the young pre-pubescent on through failed marriages and does so with a sly wink and a middle finger.
One of the subplots I glossed over is Jimmy faking his marriage with Estefania again this week. They dress as a bride and groom and crash a posh Magnificent Mile wedding photoshoot to stage it as their own. It is funny and silly, even when Estefania takes Jimmy’s broken pinky and forcibly uses it on herself. It also raises questions about Jimmy’s strength of character. At the end of the episode, Fiona is encouraged by V and Kev’s solidarity. She tells Jimmy, “I trust you. That’s bigger than love for me.” One may wonder if the faux-marriage drama is here to break Fi’s heart. However, it seems to me that they are setting Jimmy up to leave the show. In a body bag. He’s in a no-win situation between Fiona and Estefania’s father, but the comedy of him avoiding the bad graces of a drug cartel are finally giving way to genuine emotion. Something wicked this way may come.
Another week and another shameless amount of foul language and social norms blown wide open. Join us again in two weeks (they’re taking Super Bowl Sunday off) to find out what goes wrong for the Gallaghers next.