I’m actually kind of glad that I kept my expectations pretty low for the second half of this season because wow, it has actually gotten so much better. The same problems are still there: the lack of unity, no formalized structure of central story, too much filler for liking. But at the same time, it’s still really damned entertaining. When you really think about it though, that is one thing certain high caliber, no nonsense reviewers tend to forget about including in their criticisms of any media. Sure they’ll get into the technical stuff: acting, set production, script, etc. But honestly the most important factor to consider in any sort of media is whether you enjoyed it or not. At the end of the day, it could be the most under budgeted, no named actor type of film but if you really enjoyed watching it, then the cast and team did their job correctly.
For Shameless, the first half of the season wasn’t their best, especially with their proven track record of being one of the most enjoyed shows in the world. While many of the problems still need some fixing, the last three episodes have been something really special in retrospect. My family isn’t quite back together yet, but it seems like they all may be heading in the right direction. Most important of all, however, is that I’m starting to care about them all again. Even minor storylines like Carl and Debbs are starting to stick out again. I find myself eagerly awaiting what comes next in their lives and hoping for the best, as I did with the series itself. Given my frustration recently, I find this pleasantly surprising. My biggest complaint is that it took the show half a season to get to this point.
The episode opens with Frank taking another group of refugees across the border to Canada, yet he seems to be a bit lost. Everything changes when Canadian Mounted police get on their trail and cause them all to disperse, leaving Frank arrested and stuck with one of his more overly cautious and annoying clients. Ian wakes up with Trevor in his bed. The scene doesn’t imply anything sexual had taken place but is both tender and cheeky. While Trevor still won’t say they’re an item again, Ian seems to think so. Ian and Eddie’s fling seems to be getting a little more personal as they begin to unload a little more information about one another, bit by bit.
Kassadi continues to get more and more insane as Carl approaches the time that he needs to go back to Military School. We could tell when we first met her that this was going to be a very unhealthy relationship. Debbs is also making more money babysitting a dog named Toto who won’t stop barking. Fiona is upset at the fact that everyone in the family is getting laid except her. We also get more of the dominance skit, which acts as the only filler of the episode. Yet, we can see that it is slowly wearing out its welcome as Kev does get a little too much with V. Then, Frank’s luck changes as the Mounted Police get distracted along the road and end up in a car accident. Hilariously enough, Frank is still stuck with Rami…handcuffed. He also refuses to go back to the US.
Fiona ends up having to spend more money fixing the apartment. She gets a good discount by offering to introduce the workers to Margot so that she’ll use them more often. Kassadi begins to show her overly needy and codependent side more and more as she and Carl argue about what she’s going to do without him. Ian, Trevor, and their kids are approached by a priest and a deacon for the message that was spread in their YouTube video in the previous episode and they completely support it, which is amazing to see. Ian ends up going to a support group-ish thing full of Queer teens who have been discriminated against, lending his voice to help them learn self-acceptance and self-love. Lip finally ends up seeing a lawyer for Youens, and he’s not optimistic for the sentencing at all. Lip is then called away by Charlie about the situation with Sierra and the fact that he still hasn’t told her he got another woman pregnant yet.
Debbs gets to the tuition office for her trade school only to realize she doesn’t have enough money or the time to pay it, considering she needs $2,500 by the next day but only has a few hundred. She uses her baby, and the fact that she wants to be a good mother who can afford to give her daughter a good life, to gain sympathy from the bursar. It works to buy her some extra time. While cute, Toto tends to bark at random people. Soon enough Debbie realizes that Toto is actually a dog who smells out drugs, and this gives her a grand idea. Meanwhile, Frank and Rami’s wilderness adventure continues as they look for ways to get their handcuffs off. They end up finding a cabin with some tools…and a horse.
Fiona and Ford become more friendly as they begin to talk about the apartment and his love for architecture with a hilarious innuendo about wood. Fiona does give him shit about looking interested in her but being weird about it, and this leads him to asking her out to go bowling with a few friends. Kev and V try to set Carl on the right path with Kassidi, and V ends up telling Kassidi that the most important thing is Carl staying in school. Kassidi storms off pissed. Svetlana has an unexpected visitor from a former sex worker who is now successful from a rich marriage to an older man. She pretty much arrives to gloat and throw money in Svetlana’s face. Lip becomes morally conflicted, as he wants to tell Sierra about Charlie but at the same time he see’s that she’s happy to have her son’s father in his life. Fiona pretty much tells him the same thing everyone else does: to let her figure things out on her own.
Frank and Rami finally get free of one another and attempt to steal the horse in the cabin only to realize it belongs to a young girl. She begins to cry for her father and Frank punches her in the face. It is both extremely offensive but equally hilarious as honestly, who would punch a child in the face? The duo realize that riding a horse is harder than it looks. They both go down, Rami busting his knee. Meanwhile, things get weird with bowling as Fiona discovers all the girls there have dated or been with Ford at some point. The weirdness ends when one of the guys working on Fiona’s roof falls from it. Kev and V becoming increasingly paranoid seeing Svetlana on her laptop so much. Things with Sierra and Charlie finally come to a head when Charlie leaves during dinner because his other woman goes into labor.
Eddie and Lip begin to show that there is a closeness growing between them. She begins to ask him more personal questions, and he learns to be better detached. They go for a quickie before Eddie goes for pizza with her niece that is interrupted when Sierra walks in on them in tears because of Charlie. Lip, of course, goes to Sierra and Eddie leaves angrily. Lip tries to be there for her, but she decides to leave. Elsewhere, Frank ends up leaving Rami alone but with some money. Ian begins to take his new image to the next level and goes onto forums and any other way he can send out his message. He ends up going to another church where a conversion is taking place and enters with a bunch of kids protesting the act. While they are forcefully evicted they continue the speech outside and the priest is so overwhelmed by them that he has a heart attack, like an actual one. Luckily Ian is there bring him back to health.
Debbie hits the jackpot with Toto when she uses the dog to find a car trunk filled with a few pounds of weed. Suffice to say, she now has enough money to get her tuition in order. Svetlana finally breaks the ice on why she’s on her laptop, and it is sort of heart wrenching no matter how much anyone dislikes her.
Charlie tries to get Lip to help him get back together with Sierra, who has kicked him out. We see that he does want to make an effort to be in his son’s life and stay clean. While Ford doesn’t tell Fiona why all his exes were there, she does confront him about it. It does seem like they can go somewhere but there are no hints if that’s the direction they’ll go. Carl ends up buying Kassidi a really expensive promise ring to ease her anxiety about him leaving and he gets a completely different reaction than he thought. She says yes to his supposed proposal of marriage, and Carl has the look of someone who just made a really big mistake.
Lip also makes a huge mistake by going to Sierra to at least try to help Charlie, but the two end up having sex. The episode ends with Lip realizing he might have done the wrong thing with Sierra and leaving her. He seeks the refuge of the bike shop, which takes his mind off of things he can’t fix to things he can. Frank gets attacked by all the people to whom he had promised cheaper meds for not having the meds or their money. Fiona and Ford finally share a moment, and it seems like she may have found someone good.
As I said at the start, this was a great episode when put into the context of the rest of the season. The filler was very light and mostly focused on Kev and V and their Svetlana situation. While there were some undertones of Kev’s dominant streak getting out of hand, I’m sure that will be addressed in future episodes along with what revenge Svetlana has planned on her old enemy.
Carl’s contribution to the episode—the amusing and worrying relationship with Kassidi—was both funny and insightful. Kassadi is everything her father said she was and more, way more than we expected anyway. She is overly needy, dependent, and emotionally abusive. Poor Carl has seen some of the worst in his former lovers, and, given what he has seen his siblings go through, it is understandable that he just wants to find authentic love. Yet, there is no hope for that with Kassadi, who emotionally traumatizes him to the point that we may not see him go back to Military School. I will be highly upset if this couple is endgame given what we saw.
Lip was my favorite thing about the episode. It seems like his sponsor is finally teaching him a thing or two about his own codependency with people and he’s beginning to try and worry about his own life. He’s no longer threatening Charlie to tell Sierra the truth about his second child, for example. Some of his old self still remains however, like with his inability to let Youens go. The fact that even though he’s got something good going with Eddie, he runs back to Sierra as soon as he see’s her in distress speaks volumes as well. Granted he was being a friend. Still, he further cements that he hasn’t moved on when they end up having sex near the end of the episode. Neither of them are in the emotional or mental state for this not to come back to haunt them.
Ian’s plot was also very well done, though it seems a little fast paced when he’s gone from local hero to full on movement starter. Though the cause is a great one, the final scene of the episode for Ian does give us a hint about how it will be received. Loads of people caught video of him resuscitating the priest back to life. The problem he will inevitably face is the fact that the demonstration gave the priest a heart attack in the first place. That’s all the fuel bigots will need to try and shut down Ian’s genuine message of love. I guess we’ll see how this works out in the near future.