“Shameless”: “I’m Not Monica”

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This week’s a Shameless was a bit all over the place, but right now so are its characters. Most of the kids are in uncharted territory – marriage, school, work, the psych ward – and Sammi’s takeover of the house means that even home doesn’t feel like home anymore. Let’s dig in.

Ian (Cameron Monaghan) paces his shared hospital room, looking through the fenced window. Back at home, Sammi (Emily Bergl) wakes up the boys – including Frank (William H. Macy) – and tells them that Ian is coming home from the hospital. Carl (Ethan Cutkosky) asks why Frank didn’t just shoot Sammi after she shot him, and Frank tells him that he needs to learn the difference between a “skank bitch” and a straight-up psycho. He points out that Sammi is the latter, so he has to play the long game – and also that jail is not a great place for men with naturally great asses, as he thinks he has. Nice to see Frank… parenting, I guess? Anyway, Carl goes off to work selling drugs and Liam pantomimes shooting at Frank. Great – they finally give the kid something to do other than OD on cocaine and it’s miming gun violence?

Lip (Jeremy Allen White) and Amanda are having sex when they are interrupted by her lesbian roommate, who is in love with her. Amanda says that she never should have let her roommate go down on her – twice – because now she wants to marry her: “Turns out lesbians are really possessive.”

Derek helps Debs (Emma Kenney) train – she is picturing Monica’s face on the bag as she beats the crap out of it. Derek realizes that this is really about Ian and he tries to comfort her by saying that his dad has hemorrhoids and so does he, but his aren’t as bad. She stops beating the bag: “You’re awesome.” And that also explains why we never see him sitting down.

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Upstairs at The Alibi, V (Shanola Hampton) takes out a vibrator and starts to get down to business but is interrupted by a large rat dragging a trap across the room and loud ska music. (Turns out the latter is just on the soundtrack.)

Carl gets picked up by his boss, who teaches Carl proper business conversation etiquette (seriously) and tells Carl he’s being promoted. Because someone else got shot. They’re sending Carl to Michigan?!

Lip meets Fiona (Emmy Rossum) at the hospital. Neither is thrilled to be there. Lip asks if she’s still married, and she says she doesn’t really know – Gus is giving her the silent treatment. But he’s going on tour for a while, which might be for the best. Lip says he has a plan to get the money for tuition and she asks if it could put him in jail. He doesn’t say no. They get called in and Lip says he thought Mickey would be there. Fiona says she didn’t.

Mickey (Noel Fisher) gets out of bed… only to get back in with an armful of beers. Oh boy.

Ian’s doctor says that Ian is resisting his diagnosis and they need to supervise him closely until his meds kick in, which will take two weeks. She gives them a supply of antipsychotics – this will go well – and says they need to get him to a psychiatrist within a week. Fiona and Lip look worn out already. She brings Ian in and he hugs them without much energy.

Kev (Steve Howey) comes to visit the milk maids and screams like his pants are on fire when he sees the rat, which is still running around with the trap trailing behind it.

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Sammi checks Frank’s wound, which is infected. She tells Chucki that they need to train Frank like a dog, because he’s shitting all over the house and she’d rather not put him down. The kids bring Ian home and he gets hugs, a big one from Liam. Ian goes to take a nap and Debs mutters, “Totally Monica.” Fiona says she will be staying there for a while and Sammi bristles instantly at the idea – she tries to convince Fiona to go on tour with Gus, adding that once she slept with every member of Guns ’n Roses coverband Buns ’n Hoses. They discuss the 1000 Mile Rule that applies to guys in bands cheating on their wives. Frank can’t get over the fact that Fiona is married. Fiona gives Debs Ian’s meds and puts her in charge of Ian while she’s at work.

Lip visits Kev to see if he can help him get some money fast for tuition – he wants to sell drugs in the dorms. Eesh. Kev puts Kermit in charge of the bar and they run out.

Carl wakes Ian and asks, “What’s it feel like to be crazy?” He wonders if it could be him next, revealing that he sometimes thinks about pushing people onto train tracks. Why am I not surprised? He asks Ian if he’s ever been to Michigan.

Fiona runs into V outside, and V tells Fiona that she has a date with Eddie Murphy tonight (“Not that one”) but she doesn’t know if she’s gonna go. One of the Lesbian Lisas tries to interrupt to tell them that they bought the vacant lot next to the Gallagher house and they’re turning it into… Ta-Da… a community garden! They ignore her. Ha! Oh – there’s a $2,000 buy-in, and by the way their above-ground pool will have to go. Ouch. V and Fiona leave, muttering, “The neighborhood has gone to shit.”

Carl shows Frank the drug stash that he has to take to Michigan, trying to entice him to come with him. Sammi shoots the idea down. Frank gauges her crazy levels and acquiesces until she’s out of the room, when he tells Carl to strap the drugs on Chucki, because the cops will never check a 10-year-old for it. Frank gives Carl the money for a bus ticket for Chucks.

Ian calls Mickey but Mickey doesn’t answer, opting instead to shoot beer cans with a gun across the room. Come on, Mickey – get it together!

Fiona and Sean (Dermot Mulroney) catch up on Ian’s disorder and her cold war with Gus. Sean tells her it’s probably over but Gus just hasn’t told her yet and says that she should probably grovel while she has the chance.

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Carl tapes bags of heroin to Chucki in the van: “Why are you taping horse to my tummy?” Oh Jesus. Carl keeps calling Chucki his “niece” and says that this stays between them or he’ll tie a tire to his tummy and set it on fire. Later, Carl sits Chucks down on a bench in the bus station and throws a bag of chips at him. A cop with a dog comes in and Carl runs for it – before you know it, two dogs are barking at a confused Chuckles: “Uncle Carl?”

Ian comes downstairs and Debs doesn’t hear him go into the kitchen, where he pours out all his meds, scoops them up, and stares at them. Oh shit.

Lip lets Kev into an abandoned dorm room where a kid tried to commit suicide. Kev calls his house, where Svetlana is doing aerobics with her baby strapped to her while drinking a beer. It goes without saying that this is amazing. She tells him to stay – she’ll babysit his girls when V has to go to work. He hangs up, pleased.

Sammi covers Frank’s butt at the hospital and the doctor calls him “Frequent Flier Frank”. The doctor doesn’t buy Sammi’s story that his gun backfired while he was cleaning it, but Frank backs it up.

V wakes up from her nap to someone… um… having lunch at the Y. She thinks it’s Kev, but it’s Svetlana – that old trick! She gives V the same spiel she gave Kev about “wifely duties” and when V says she isn’t gay Svetlana says, “A tongue’s a tongue, no?” V goes for it. Okay, this is getting interesting.

Kev and Lip sell drugs and party at frathouses.

Debs finds Ian’s drugs are missing and panics. Ian is out in the garden smoking, where Lisa asks him when he can take down the pool. He tells her maybe in an hour or two, because he’s “coming down of some heavy lithium right now.” Debs asks him where all his drugs went – he says he flushed them and she asks why. He says they made him feel like like wasn’t worth living.

Frank tells Sammi that he’s touched by how devoted she is to her son. She buys it and thanks him, and her phone rings. Let me guess who. Frank smiles and watches – he called in a tip to the cops while he was at the hospital. Oh shit.

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Fiona asks Sean if she should really try to get Gus not to go on tour and he says no, and gives her lots more mixed messages. She’s lost. He tells her she needs to make a decision about Gus, and reminds her that she knows how to fight for something. They’re interrupted by a crying Debs, who tells her that Ian flushed his pills.

Lip pays cash to the financial aid office – but it’s not enough, and they don’t take cash. He suggests that Lip take a semester off, and Lip says if he does that he’ll never make it back, and tells him how guilty he feels about not being at home for his sick brother. He lays it all out – he either isn’t there for his brother in the hopes of doing something significant to help his family, or he goes home and never comes back. He almost falls apart. The guy gives him one more week.

Fiona argues with a pharmacist about getting a refill without a prescription for the meds. She says she’ll go to jail and tells them to get a scrip.

Svetlana and V lie in bed and smoke and drink. V asks how she fell in love with her baby. Svetlana says you just change. Svetlana is quite the philosopher, saying that it’s good that Kev made the changes, because otherwise their babies would wind up in a dumpster. Okay, I’m kind of loving this setup.

Carl is worried about G-dog coming for him, but Frank says he’ll be fine and needs to play it cool with Sammi when she gets back with Chucks. Fiona comes home and talks to Ian in the backyard. He knows all her tricks because he’s played them himself on their mom. He points out that Fiona pulled some crazy shit recently and nobody tried to medicate her. She reminds him that she went to jail and he says he did, too – “And now I’m out. And I’m not Monica.” Fiona goes to find Debs – Frank says she went out to buy drugs. Fiona subs out his joint and runs to find Debs. V comes along dolled up and Fiona tells her to cancel her date, because she’s going to ruin everything with Kev, and if they can’t work it out, Fiona gives up. V reminds her that she screwed around on her husband, so she’s not one to talk. Fiona gives and V struts that perfect backside down the block.

Fiona runs.

Debs storms into Milkovich Manor, where a naked Mickey is playing air guitar to blaring heavy metal. She asks if he can get her drugs for Ian but Mickey’s brother says that no, there’s no market for those drugs because nobody takes them to get high. Mickey asks if he can get him crack but he doesn’t have any money. Debs notices that Mickey’s face is all bruised but he won’t tell her how it got that way. She turns off the music and asks him if he and Ian broke up and why Mickey hasn’t come to visit. Mickey is too drunk (or just too Mickey) to put together a response and Debs says that Frank used to get this way with Monica: “You can’t drink him away, Mickey. It won’t work.”

V goes to a fancy restaurant to her date with Eddie. He kisses her instantly and asks her how long it’s been. He asks if she wants to sit or if they should go somewhere more private. She says that she’s married and has twins, Amy and Gemma – he thinks she’s talking about her boobs. She walks. Atta girl!

Kev, meanwhile, is draped in drunk girls at a frathouse. Uh-oh.

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Fiona finds Gus (Steve Kazee) and his bandmates loading the van – they freeze her out and she drags Gus away to apologize again, insisting, “I respect the shit outta you.” He kisses her and she says that after a few weeks when Ian is settled she can join him on the road. He laughs at the suggestion and tells her that would be a bad idea for a number of reasons and she doesn’t take it well. This feels like a goodbye.

Ian floats on the filthy water of the pool, and Carl throws some sort of electrical device into it. Ian asks if he’s trying to give him shock therapy and adds that he would need to plug it in first. Debs, meanwhile, plays fake-crazy in an emergency room to a bemused doctor, who will not write her a scrip for lithium no matter how many knives she sees coming out of the walls. When he says “72-hour hold” she makes a run for it.

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Lip and Fiona come home to screaming. Everyone’s yelling at everyone – Sammi is furious because Chucki has been arrested because of Carl. Turns out that Chucki is 13, not 10 like they thought – oh shit. Suddenly the cops are at the front door and Carl runs for it – but Sammi lets them in, telling Fiona that she told the cops it was Carl and told Chucki to tell them the same thing. Wow. Carl runs for it but a block away he’s surrounded. He gives up, yelling, “Don’t shoot, I’m white!”

The Alibi is out of control – like when the Gremlins take over the pub when Phoebe Cates is working – with Kermit passed out on the floor and that damned rat still running around. Frank slides it a shot of hooch.

At the police station, Ian says that he thinks this is the end of him and Mickey, with his diagnosis and all. Fiona says that she managed to ruin her marriage without the help of a diagnosis. Ian says it’s good to be home and Fiona says that she’s coming home, too. The guard tells them that it’ll be a few hours for Carl’s questioning and they all run to the bulletproof window, shouting at Carl not to say a thing. Carl – with mountains of drugs piled on the table in front of him in the questioning room – tells the cop, “I want a fucking lawyer, motherfucker!”

V bathes the girls and tries to get a hold of Kev, who is passed out naked in a dorm room with some girl. Dammit, Kev!

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Ian is in bed when someone comes in – it’s Mickey: “Sorry I’m late.” He crawls into bed with Ian, who at first doesn’t react. Mickey touches his face and kisses his forehead, and Ian finally relaxes and closes his eyes. Oh the feeeeeeelz.

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Monica’s shadow is all over this episode, with Ian resisting his siblings’ insistence that his illness is going to play out the same way hers has. He’s definitely not fully accepting that he had s legit psychotic break, but he may be right, and watching him gradually pull his way out of the sedative-fogged aftermath was fascinating. I wasn’t expecting Mickey to come around so quickly, but with most of the other major romances on the show being on the outs right now, maybe they figured they needed to get at least one of them back together. (Not complaining.) I guess we have Debs to thank for that, as it seems that her visit worked on Mickey.

Carl’s troubles are unfortunate but sadly not terribly surprising, and given that he has been one of the least relatable and sympathetic characters from the beginning, it’s hard to get too worked up about his arrest. I’ve tried to be patient with Sammi but she’s really wearing out her welcome, even if what Frank did to her and the boys was a major dick move. I mean, is it really worth getting two kids taken in by the cops and angering a local drug lord just to piss off your clingy daughter? That’s stupid even for Frank.

I’d give it eight out of ten Old Styles:

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Writer-filmmaker Brian Juergens launched CampBlood.org, the world's first website devoted to horror films from a gay perspective, in 2003.