As we move father into the series we are struck with some, “really? they did that?” moments. Now this isn’t always necessarily a bad thing. In most cases it really is good to stir the pot once in a while; sometimes it’s almost absolutely needed to revamp interest in a more slowly paced section of a show. In this case it’s definitely not needed because at this point we really need something to care about. This of course isn’t me saying that the show is starting to become terrible, far from it. Yet, there is something missing in this season that we saw in the others, and that is the overarching struggle or problem that the Gallagher family had to deal with as a whole. In the fourth episode of the season, we still see all the Gallaghers as separate entities only slightly interacting with one another at some moments, but that’s really about it.
The episode opens up with a really weird sex dream where Lip is surrounded by a bunch of strippers but wakes before he can do anything about it. He has a huge boner and Liam is “charging the fort” with his toys right by his feet. Very awkward for the first few seconds of the episode, but laughable. Fiona wakes up to Nessa’s call that one of her drug addict tenants has gotten his head stuck between some bars at the gate of the apartment. (How did this happen? The world may never know.) Meanwhile Ian and Carl discover that someone is robbing locals but Carl only really becomes invested when he’s told that a war veteran was robbed of his medals. Debbie returns home after finally being kicked out by Neil—her own fault of course. Yet, this is where we see this “really?” moment when Sean comes back to the Gallagher home. Like…really?
On the other side of events, Kev and V finally take the drive out to Kentucky to meet his real family who of course turn out to be really redneck, oh and Kevin’s real name is Bart. There’s some subtle racism from his aunt though it mostly serves the humor and social commentary of the “I’m not racist but…” type of attitude. This is offensive for a number of reasons, but it is also Shameless we’re talking about.
The men of the Gallagher family finally begin to comment on Frank, or rather St. Francis of the south side’s new holier than thou lifestyle. They also comment on Sean’s return and Lips inability to get laid due to his sobriety steps and having to deal with the consequences of constantly waking up with morning wood.
Fiona discuses her frustration at Sean’s return with Debbie as she gets the addict out of the bars and Debbie preaches the plight of the strong and independent woman. Frank on the other hand is becoming a stand up father, especially in front of some of the mothers at Liam’s school when he fixes one of the heels on their shoes with his tools. It really seems like Frank has changed, but knowing the series it’s going to be something to see them try to bring him back down. There’s still no excusing all he’s done already. Either way he tries to be more active at Liam’s school, discovering that they are taking full advantage of him being the only child of color for now, but not for long. Also he’s convinced to join the PTA. Lip’s recovering buddy suggests that no strings sex will aid his morning issues, but he needs to be up front with his addiction beforehand.
Sean appears again and tries to ask Fiona to dinner so they can talk. Kev and V get more comfortable with his new family as he has a memory with a stuffed animal named Binky that he used to sleep with. The new student, De’andre, arrives at gym class at Liam’s school. Lip tries to hook up with a waitress at Patsy’s but is turned down because she’s Sierra’s friend and that would make things super weird. So he turns to Tinder instead.
Nessa and Fiona bond over wine colors and her hatred for Sean; Debbie is both excited and sad that Franny had her first steps at Celia’s house and she missed it. At this point we really can’t tell if Fiona wonders if Sean is back to get back with her or not and whether she hates him or not. This is completely relatable because nothing like this should be simple, especially after what she went through with him. Veronica becomes increasingly uncomfortable as living with rednecks and their very subtle racism begins to become apparent little by little as Kev is told the story about how he got lost.
Ian is approached by one of Trevor’s at risk youths named Geneva who was cut by a dealer. She’s scared and he offers to let her stay with the Gallaghers for the time being. She sleeps on the couch but ends up in his bed which is weird for multiple reasons. Frank attends his first PTA meeting and basically shows up all the men attending who aren’t really paying attention by offering himself and Liam to partake in a car wash charity. He insults basically every dad there for not knowing what manual labor or hard work is. Carl sets up some traps in the yard for the would be robber. Fiona learns that her building is severely under powered as she tries to get sympathy from a stranger about Sean’s situation…awkward.
She finally meets up with him only to discover that he’s looking for forgiveness, not to get back together. Also he got married and Fiona was basically a stepping stone on his way to recovery. This of course earns him a face full of pasta as Fiona storms off angrily.
V struggles with the fact that Kev’s redneck family are nice and racist at the same time but can’t bring herself to tell him her fears. Frank reminisces in hilarious detail about all of his children’s first steps. They’re funny little memories, but they also give us more to hate the old Frank for. Ian is lectured by Trevor for the inappropriateness of letting Geneva sleep at his house due to her losing her spot at a shelter and the fact that he’s trying to teach the kids self sufficiency. He also finally brings up that Ian needs to stop using the kids to try and win Trevor back.
Kev gets closer to his family as V finds out about half of them voted for Obama twice. Yet, this time they were divided between voting for “the pussy grabber” or the “grandpa jew”. Clearly they were united in their hate for Hilary. Kev finally discovers the truth: he wasn’t left by accident, he was left on purpose. His father had nine kids and his mother ran off with a bible salesman.
Lip finally gets laid with the woman who works at the bike shop after we learn she’s recovering too and tired of hearing his whining. Fiona hilariously tries to tell Sean’s new wife about him being a horrible person and an addict, but ends up getting some poor other guy in trouble with his wife. It’s probably the funniest part of the episode as she runs away without us being able to tell if she’s laughing hysterically or crying. The episode ends with Frank getting hit on by one of the mothers at Liams school after the car wash, and Trevor telling Ian that he needs to learn about boundaries but still sort of semi-forgives him for Geneva.
As I mentioned, we needs something to bind all the family together. The season has attempted to have drama in the form of a meth dealer angry about seventy grand worth of product being stolen from him, but the story was short lived. It is really hard to say at this point whether the writers are simply out of ideas for things to bring our favorite dysfunctional family back together or whether this is an intentional path for the show. Either way they need to start moving in a direction where we actually care what happens to the family as whole rather than just a near hour long montage of what a bunch people are doing separate from each other.
As with most of the rest of this season, this episode was less centered on the Gallagher family as a whole, yet it does feel like they are at least trying to build up to something. I have no idea what it is, but at this point I’ll take the most ridiculously absurd situation to see my one of my favorite television families return to just that, a family. The most appealing story line at this moment is Kev’s return to his family and watching V deal with all their red-neckness. Of course racism isn’t funny, but the writers have done everything they could to parody the attitude of actual racists who try hard to convince everyone around them that they’re not racists (to the point that it’s obvious they are) with such good humor that it’s hard not laugh.
Sean returning to seek forgiveness from Fiona felt incredibly shallow. Sure, it shows how far she has come in learning to respect herself as well as to let the past go, but with one fell swoop she’s back to her old self just by seeing him again? I don’t buy it. There was literally no purpose, at least none that has made itself significant, to bring him back other than for Fiona to start doubting her own personal growth. Granted, watching her get petty gratification from trying to tear him down in front of his wife only to choose the wrong woman was really funny. Still, I don’t honestly see where they can go with that plot anymore. I’m pretty sure he left town after that incident anyway.
This episode did finally call Ian out on his inability to let Trevor go this time around, even if it was by him doing something genuinely kind for Geneva. While the two are on better terms than they were when Ian told Trevor he ran off with Mickey, Ian has been pushing some personal boundaries with him like Trevor said. It does sometimes feel like he was using the kids to get back into bed with Trevor. Ian hasn’t had the best experience with being in an actual relationship without sex being the first thing to draw him and the other person together, and it’s clear that’s not going to work if he wants to get Trevor back. It may not be entirely Ian’s fault that he’s being this way, but he definitely needs to learn from it and learn to have a platonic relationship with Trevor before thinking they can start any sort of romantic or sexual relationship again. But again. as Trevor said, Ian really needs to work on learning boundaries and when he’s just being plain pushy.