“Shameless” 3.01 Recap: “It’s Like Taking a Sh*t Backwards”

Welcome back, lovers of dysfunction, willful wallowers and aficionados of absolute disgrace – Showtime’s trashcan opera Shameless is back for a third season of laughs, thrills, and all the rest. I hope that you put on your chin-pad, because your jaw is going to start hitting the floor in about 3 … 2 … 1 …

Fiona (Emmy Rossum) wakes alone in her charmingly messy bed to the sounds of standard Gallagher family chaos downstairs. Her shins are covered in red, itchy bites – yowch! Are bedbugs the new Karen Jackson? Because I don’t think I’m ready for that.

Downstairs, Jimmy-nee-Steve (Justin Chatwin) has gotten half the clan out the door and is finishing up with Carl (Ethan Cutkosky) and Debs (Emma Kenney) – who has been keeping track of the number of days that Frank has been missing (oh – and Frank has been missing) with ribbons and cards on the front fence. For the record, it’s been 137 days. Fiona and Jimmy bicker about money and who loves the kids more (at least some things never change) and almost do it in front of wee baby Liam.

We then catch up with Frank (William H. Macy) as he is licked awake by a dog in some hot, dusty alley. He’s in Mexico, and has no idea how he got there, or how he managed to miss Christmas. Shame – I hear your family roasted a bald eagle!

We then catch up with Lip (Jeremy Allen White) and Ian (Cameron Monaghan) as they flee (with security in hot pursuit) the university science building toting a metal suitcase. Lip takes the fall to let Ian escape, as he knows a rap sheet will mess with his military training. Aww!

Sheila (Joan Cusack) and Jody (Zack McGowan) are enjoying domestic bliss with Karen’s baby (which they stole) – meaning that neither of them is getting any sleep. The baby cries and Sheila tries to get Jody to attend to it, finally screaming, “Get your ass up, you goddamned ponytailed Fabio motherf*cker!” It does the trick – and the baby stops crying until Jody starts playing the bongos to it, which makes it cry even harder. Bless his stupid ponytailed heart!

Frank hitches a ride to the US/Mexico border on the back of a chicken truck, and tries to use an egg as a passport to make his way back in. The border police isn’t having it, telling him that he needs some sort of ID, be it a driver’s license or Costco card. Frank replies, “Do I look like I got a Costco card?”

Back at the Gallagher compound, Fiona is washing her face in the bathroom when Jimmy barges in to pee and then “wash” his hands in her beauty regimen water. Men! Amiright, guys? [imaginary high-five]

Fiona goes over to complain to Veronica (Shanola Hampton) and Kev (Steve Howie), who are getting ready for a live webcam show. First off, let’s all celebrate the fact that Steve Howie is back in fighting form this season, eh? Even with a broken leg. And let’s all contemplate the magnificent wrongness of their webcam concept: it’s a slave owner/slave BDSM revenge scenario. More on that later.

Fiona’s new gig is cleaning up toxic waste, apparently, and yet she’s upset that Jimmy has taken such a shine to being a househusband. V agrees: “There is nothin’ sexy about a man with a mop.” I don’t know what universe these women live in, but it’s apparently one without the Brawny Man.

At home, Jimmy is very, very nervous about the cars that seem to be parked outside at all times watching the house. He decides to confront them, and is immediately shaken down by … Estefania’s dad? Uh-oh.

Lip shows uncharacteristic maturity at his hearing, and the judge points out that he’s lucky he’s still a minor.

Fiona, in a hazmat suit, steps into the filthiest bathroom this side of Trainspotting. Seriously, it’s absolutely vile – and I may never eat Nutella again. She also misses a collect call from Frank, who is dialing for dollars in Mexico. He also tries Sheila – she initially gets excited because she thinks it’s Karen, but when she hears Frank’s voice she hangs up the phone.

Estefania’s dad drags Jimmy over to their happily-married apartment, where Marco (Thierre Di Castro) – gorgeous, mean, corkscrew-shy Marco – struts out of the bathroom wearing only headphones and strawberry lube.

They shoot him. A lot.

Estefania (Stephanie Fantauzzi) screams. A lot.

Frank joins up with a coyote – a guy who helps smuggle people over the border into the States. This is gonna end well.

Ian and Mandy bail Lip out (well, Mandy, mostly – her family gets a bulk discount at the bail bondsman, apparently) and Ian learns that she hasn’t seen Pig Pen Mickey recently, although he has asked her for more girl-on-girl porn, which is all he ever wants. Interesting?

Back at Estefania’s house, her dad makes Jimmy help him and his crew cut Marco into pieces with a power saw. YIKES. Remember last season’s boat party episode? I made a crack that it was like a crossover with Dexter just waiting to happen. Go ahead and double that. Her dad also tells Jimmy that he’s taking his daughter – Jimmy’s wife – to dinner.

Fiona gets fired because her boss – who is eating a bean burrito that looks to be composed of exactly the stuff that they were just knee-deep in – has to hire her nephew for the summer. Bummer!

Under the overpass, Lip is setting up whatever it is he stole from the university – it looks to be a laser? Oh, this is gonna end well…

Later, we see him attaching it to the top of a mini Mars rover.

Ian heads out for “study group”. Fiona’s concerned that Jimmy isn’t at home – mostly because it means that nobody fed the kids. Wait, wasn’t she just complaining that he’s home too much? Ladies! Amiright, ladies? [imaginary chest-bump]

Debs – who has seriously grown between seasons – lights a candle for Frank. Fiona assures her: “Don’t worry about him. Frank’s like scabies.” And apparently she’d know! Fiona then sees something out back and goes outside to find Jimmy, in his undies, burning his clothes. She doesn’t ask and he doesn’t offer, but he does throw his undies on the fire for good measure, and then invites her to take a shower with him.

Speaking of Frank, he’s the most annoying border-jumper that these coyote guys have ever seen. But before they can shoot him and leave him for the vultures, they’re ambushed by immigration officials. Frank gets chased and caught.

Ian is getting “tutored” by Lloyd (Harry Hamlin), whom he now knows happens to be Jimmy’s father. I’m going to just have to go ahead and create a keystroke shortcut for “This is gonna end well.”

Lloyd gives Ian a GPS thingie to help out with his military training, but Ian refuses the gift, mumbling, “I sort of have a boyfriend.” Lloyd responds, “I sort of have a wife.” Touche! He then asks if Ian and his fella would ever be up for a threesome. See? Now that’s the spirit – take a potential negative and turn it into positive. When life gives you jailbait with a boyfriend, make jailbait-ade.

Also, Cameron Monaghan has certainly grown up fast, hasn’t he? What are they feeding these children? Oh, right – bald eagle.

Lip’s hanging out in the school’s metal shop with Mandy, and he’s making… something metally. The guidance counselor pops in to tell Lip to spend his summer doing something productive to pad his resume, and Lip asks why everyone thinks he’s going to college. Mandy seems surprised to learn that Lip is a genius. Given her 1.2 GPA, this isn’t a shocker.

Fiona is back at Kev and V’s, moaning about how she can’t find a job. V’s getting ready for another webcam show, and asks, “Is this Aunt Jemima scarf too much?” No, V. No, it’s not. V advises against any job for Fiona that involves a uniform: “Everyone looks like they have a d*ck in those pants!” She and Kev then get down to the business of show: he is Thomas Jefferson (oh sweet Lord…) and she is Sally Hemings, who is whipping him for raping her in the barn. “We shall overcome, motherf*cker!”

Fiona decides to revisit the club she used to work at, where the manager once offered her an assistant manager gig (but Fiona blew it). Meg (said manager) – who is now pregnant – isn’t feeling it, but she tells Fiona that she will give her a night to promote if Fiona gives her $1000. Wait, what? Is that how that business really works? Later, V lends Fiona the cash (their webcam show was a big hit!) and gives her a pep talk about how she’s Fiona Gallagher and she can do anything. Fiona goes back to Meg – she’s reluctant to take the cash because of Fiona’s family obligations, but she does.

Jimmy, meanwhile, is on Dexter Morgan’s Slice of Life, and his father-in-law is eating pounds of exotic fruit and throwing parts of Marco’s exquisite body into the sea. Estefania’s dad – while skeet-shooting watermelon with a machine gun, I might add – tells Jimmy that he’s going to be the husband to his daughter that he promised to be. Jimmy needs to keep his nose clean, though, because he wants his daughter to become an American citizen. This means getting a job. He does give Jimmy permission to continue “f*cking that ghetto whore.” Manners, pal! It’s “making love to that ghetto whore.”

Frank begs for help and is taken to a guy who looks sort of like someone hit Bruce Campbell in the face with a shovel and then drew on a goatee. They yank down Frank’s pants, force him to bend over, and check out his sun-don’t-shine. Oh dear, I think I know where this is going – and not because it vaguely resembles most of the dates I had in my twenties. They issue Frank a fake passport and Flat-Face Bruce Campbell brandishes a massive lozenge of cocaine. Frank balks: “There’s no way I can swallow that!” They never said anything about swallowing it … or the other three that go with it.

Turns out Lip is building a robot to enter into a Robot Wars-style battle competition. Okay, this is awesome. The College Douchebag running the show recognizes Lip and tries to block his entry (“We don’t take food stamps.”) but Lip gets his ’bot in, with Ian and Mandy’s help. It initially looks like Lip’s rather sad-looking robot (which draws jeers from the crowd of generic nerd-types) is going to get trounced by College Douchebag, but the Lip activates the laser and blows the other ’bot the eff up.

Are we all on the same page here, folks? The Gallaghers have WORKING LASERS now. Hide your kids, hide your wife.

Frank makes it past the border guard who bounced him the first time, and he’s walking like he has a bowling ball in his pants. (Or a bowling-ball-sized eightball.) He’s greeted on the other side by a grinning girl in a convertible who tells him that he’s already earned the nickname “El Grand Canon” – because while the record for ass-coke-balloons used to be eight, Frank stashed a full EIGHTEEN. He replies, “It’s like taking a sh*t backwards.” Well, it’s actually like taking EIGHTEEN SH*TS backwards, but who’s counting? (Not the drug dealers, apparently – more on that later.)

Fiona nearly catches Carl watching Kev and V’s web show (he says he’s watching The History Channel), and Lip and Ian come in bearing a trophy and the $400 cash prize from the Nerd Olympics. He gives it to Fiona to put toward the property taxes, which have been hanging over her head the whole episode. The gang gathers for dinner, and Debs insists that they save Frank’s seat.

Sure enough, Frank shuffles up the walk, chortling at Debs’s display on the front fence. He steps inside and watches the gang talk animatedly around Jimmy’s big bowl of spaghetti. It actually looks for a moment as though he may not go in – but then one by one the kids spot him in the doorway and fall silent. Debs is the only one who welcomes him back – as she rushes to hug her dad, the rest of the kids go back to talking and eating.

Later, we see Frank taking a crap, which is every bit as delightful as it sounds. He gives himself a half-assed wipe (pun intended), and then turns, reaches into the bowl and plucks out a big ol’ coke balloon. He smiles: “Nineteen,” and then adds, “Thank you, Sheila!” Wait, wha- OMG, because she spent so much time breaking him in with those massive dildos of hers. Okay, that’s f*cking brilliant.


Not bad! It felt a bit like coming home, didn’t it? That is, if your home was being cased by Brazilian drug lords, you were housing a girl for whom you recently threw an abortion fundraiser, and your kids were building FRIKKING LASERS at the kitchen table. V and Kev continue to amaze me, I’m cautiously optimistic that Lip might get his shizz together and step up as man of the house, and Ian … well, let’s just say that I’m enjoying fully-cooked Cameron Monaghan a little more than I’m willing to admit. Big, round thanks to an alarmingly tan Justin Chatwin for delivering the rump roast this week, and let’s all raise eight out of ten Old Styles to dearly departed studmuffin Marco:


In 2003, Brian launched the world's first website devoted to horror film from a gay perspective (CampBlood.org), mining an untapped (and occasionally unintentional) source of entertainment and bringing together a huge and colorful population of gay horror fans and filmmakers. When he's not pulling skeletons out of closets, Brian writes reviews for horror megasite Bloody-Disgusting.com, general film site Freezedriedmovies.com, and can be found on the ever-informative RottenTomatoes.com. Brian is also a filmmaker, having produced, written, and directed two shorts (the dark romantic comedy An Apple a Day and the eerie suspense piece Two Story House) that have played at film festivals worldwide and left audiences generally uneasy. A born-and-bred Midwesterner, Brian studied Mass Media and Film at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. (I know – crazy, right?) before fleeing the district for the warm and occasionally stinky shores of NYC. Brian is a proud member of the Online Film Critics Society, loving husband to illustrator Andy Swist, and benevolent overlord of their two cats.