Well it looks like this season has finally found its footing, though I’m not saying that it was the best choices in themes Still, at least we’re actually moving toward something. Keeping with a similar feel to the previous episode, we are subject to lots of blasts from the past. Of course, I don’t solely mean that in the form of certain characters returning to the show, but also a return of certain mentalities, and even some old ones in new people.
Spoiler alert: obviously one of these is Frank. I mean we should have seen a lot of this coming as it was pretty much foreshadowed with Lip in the previous season, yet who the drastic change will come from is a character we both expected and didn’t expect at the same time. At least not in this way.
This episode also tries to bring out a new issue to be resolved by the Gallagher family as a whole—something this season desperately needs. Even though the plot in question really only concerns two of them, it’s pretty easy to see that this is going to cause a rift in the family yet again as they all take sides of the issue. This is something that can be milked for all it’s worth, and it can be used as an anchor to let the series build upon. Either that or it’ll end up like the short-lived plot involving Monica’s meth partner, in which case I will really lose a lot of interest in the show. Raunchiness and insensitive humor can only appease someone for so long.
The episode opens with some more pretty violent sex between Lip and his coworker, and Carl trying to reeducate his captive back into sobriety. Suddenly Frank is back to his old self, taking advantage of how sexually repressed all these rich moms of Liam’s classmates are to get some. Carl and Ian bond over Ian’s plan to help Trevor’s at risk youth find a new shelter in halls of huge abandoned church. Fiona begins to make the apartment look better with Nessa, and she suggests security cameras for cheap or buying out the same huge church to get the homeless and drug addicts out from their squatting place.
V keeps up her end of the deal she made with Svetlana: she gets her out of deportation and Lana helps the bar get revenue again, though the two argue over how the cut should be split, Svetlana is fixed on 50/50 because a split between three people is not fair, so she combines Kev and V into one. Frank begins his…subtle work on the mothers, milking his job with all the innuendos he can to the point that it’s beyond cringe-worthy. Ian brings the church up to Trevor and the two decide to ask Trevor’s donor for assistance, as Ian suggests to get the kids to do something by fixing it up before it sells. Carl’s military school also no longer gives him financial aid because another student has more Native American blood in them and now he’s on a mission to earn 24k to pay his tuition before the semester. Which of course he lectures at his captive drug addict.
Fiona approaches her boss Margot, who is selling the church, when Fiona discovers that the only two potential buyers are actually just interested in leasing: a pair of local artists who want to use the property as a gallery and a homeless shelter which Fiona has no idea belongs to Trevor. Margot offers it to sell to Fiona for 200k, something she obviously can’t afford. On the Alibi front, the bar is split between an mostly Russian patronage while Kevin tries to use his…background to bring in some rednecks. Though he is pretty confused between the image of redneck and cowboy, which is hilarious. Carl gets a job back at Patsy’s cleaning out the grease trap…super disgusting.
We finally get to see Lip’s buddy’s baby! He’s super adorable, but it looks like fatherhood is taking its toll on him, so he has Lip do a lot of his work at the bike shop. Fiona employs Nessa’s partner to find out more about the artists who are interested in the church, but not before being forced to grovel and apologize for ghettoing her out in the last episode. Ian and Trevor discuss the church lease with Trevor’s sponsor, who offers them 10 grand to pay for the down payment and the first month’s lease. This guy is strangely familiar to Ian, who soon remembers he used to service him at the Fairy Tail. Lip also gets some advice from his buddy to get a new sponsor because with the new baby, he wont have time for Lip if he relapses. Frank hilariously blames standardize testing and its non-adherence to cultural differences as to why Liam failed his test at school.
Slowly but surely, Ian and Trevor find out that someone else is interested in the church but he still has no idea who. As for Fiona, he thinks she’s simply trying to help out the neighborhood’s image. It’s also pretty clear that Debbie is far beyond competent in her current field as she studies drunkenly with her coworkers but shies away when they ask her to go on a road trip. She glosses over how much she loves Franny and how Monica would never have cared like she does. Carl realizes that working at Patsy’s isn’t going to cover his tuition in time, so he resorts to all night Ubering. Ian and Trevor finally have the moment that has been building over the entire season and it seams that things are finally back between them, though not for Ian’s lack of heeling over him. Still it is sweet moment. Frank also shares a moment about rich women with Liam, stating how when they see a lower class man working it gets them excited, though he does admit that his whole St. Francis persona is wearing off. Typical Frank.
Lip watches the slow descent into exhaustion of his newly fathered friend as he freaks out for something bike related. Frank uses his tactic with one of the mothers of Liam’s friends to not only get into bed, so to speak, with her but also to get the standardized test questions moved in favor for Liam. The scene is weird only because her idea of dirty talk is how dirty his hands are and how much money he paid in taxes last year. On the other side of Chicago, Svetlana forces herself on V in order to get what she wants. Fiona learns that the artists who were interested in the Church wanted to show off urban art and help underprivileged youths express themselves by art, but the Church was far too much to fix up.
When V tells Kevin what happened with Svetlana, he’s surprisingly not all too upset about it, but understands that V won’t be able to make an unbiased decision around her so he decides to go with her to the next meeting. At the same time he’s trying to embrace his southern culture by playing the banjo and learning the lingo. Trevor finds out about the art gallery being interested again and Ian suggests to buy it. Ian says to use the sponsor, but he feels the man gives them far too much already. He decides to use the Fairy Tail to his advantage only to realizes the mans wife already knows. They decide to help buy the church only if Ian puts his famous “mouth” to work. Debbie has a surprising encounter when she asks Celia to watch Franny so she can go away with her co workers only to discover Derek is back, with his new girlfriend. Debbie takes Franny and leaves.
Carl finally lets his captive go, and the man is surprisingly clean and sober again. He’s so grateful to Carl that he hilariously brings his girlfriend to him for the same exact treatment and offers him a few thousand dollars saying it was better than rehab. Suddenly Carl has a way to make money in order to get back into school.
On the other side of addiction, Lip finds out that Brad has relapsed due to exhaustion with the baby. Lip goes to confront him, but it gets violent as the two get into a fist fight. Brad drives off drunk but, not before spewing some really selfish things, the addiction shown for ugly it is without any punches pulled. The episode ends with Debbie being shown in a drugged induced stupor on her trip with her friends…and Franny. Suddenly we see Monica again in her. Ian and Fiona finally realize that they’re both trying to get in on buying the church. The two argue as to who would use for a morally better purpose, but Fiona has the last word by telling him to find another church.
This episode was definitely a step in the right direction in establishing a central plot for the season. Is it perfect? No, but it’s trying again and that’s really what counts. Obviously what the issue for the future of the season, hopefully, will be what happens between Fiona and Ian and the fate of the abandoned church. As I said before, this is probably something that may cause the rest of the family to take sides, and if the writers are smart they’ll use this separation to bring them back together again. What I really liked about this plot point is that Fiona and Ian have never really been known bump heads. I mean sure she has put him in his place after doing something stupid in the earlier seasons, especially before his diagnoses, but this is a new kind of conflict for the two and also a good chance for some great characterization.
Another plus for the episode was Lip’s whole new situation, and now I don’t mean his sex life. We saw earlier this season him get Brad and his buddies together to get help for his old Professor who at this point is probably going to prison for drunk driving into someones house. Brad finally learns the exhaustion of parenthood and it drives him back to relapse. It’s hard to say if he was telling Lip to get a new sponsor because he was truly too busy for it now—no doubt he was—or if he felt that he was becoming unfit for the task due to his own relapse. Either way it’s going to be interesting to see where this goes.
My biggest issue with this episode is the return of Derek. I mean he was not the only bomb dropped on a Gallagher this season as Fiona was forced to see Sean in the previous episode; this felt equally as shallow. Granted the reaction led to something else that is interesting, the execution was too cliché and once too much used already. However, another well-used trope within the show is definitely well done and that’s Debbie’s current mental state resembling Monica. Granted she’s not as closely paralleling her as say…Frank as Lip, but it’s hard not see that she is her mother’s daughter. Maybe even more so than Ian who only really inherited her mental illness.
Another weaker moment for the episode was Svetlana’s return to the fold. It’s not that I don’t like her character; I really did at one point. But she’s overstayed her welcome. I wish I had a different word to describe it, but it’s as shallow as bringing Derek back. At this point, V is pretty much set on the fact that it’s really just angry sex and basically Svetlana uses it to get her way. Unless this is going to have a purpose later all I’m saying what is the point?