“Shameless”: “Carl’s First Sentencing”

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Well that certainly went downhill fast! Major developments for the Gallagher clan on this week’s Shameless, particularly for budding psychopath Carl, as you might have guessed from the episode title. But it was the involvement of half-sister Sammi and poor Chuckie in his plans that made the last few scenes some of the show’s darkest yet. Let’s dig in.

Fiona (Emmy Rossum) and Sammi (Emily Bergl) fight again as Fiona gets ready for Carl’s sentencing. Sammi keeps insisting that Fiona’s husband is history because the groupies will get him. Ugh – Sammi, give it up already. At this point you’re just lingering in doorways and moaning at Fiona like a bottle-blond ghost of Hamlet’s father.

Ian (Cameron Monaghan) wakes up in a panic, convinced that the MPs are coming for him – he runs around he house screaming, grabs a baseball bat, and nearly clobbers Debs (Emma Kenney) with it when she comes out of the downstairs bathroom. Mickey (Noel Fisher) talks him down, showing him that there’s nobody outside coming for him. Fiona tells him that it’s only going to get worse, and Mickey tells him that they’re going to a clinic right away to get him more meds. Frank (William H. Macy) is his customary jerk self. Debs looks seriously rattled.

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Kev (Steve Howey) comes stumbling down the dorm hall with two drunk sorority girls – turns out he’s become the designated “Rape Walker” who helps wasted chicks get home from frat parties without getting assaulted by lacrosse players. Oh, and he’s living in the dorm. Lip (Jeremy Allen White) looks amused.

Carl (Ethan Cutkosky) would rather go to juvie than back to school – his lawyer reminds him that he lost his boss a LOT of money and he will have guys inside waiting to take him down. He encourages Carl to turn in his boss, but Fiona tells him that Gallaghers don’t snitch. Chuckie, meanwhile, has an IQ of 72, making him “functionally retarded”, but he will still be doing some time for this. Oh Jesus. Sammi tells him that he’s going to get raped in prison unless he makes friends who will protect him: “Jerk the guards off, Chuckie.” She says that she’ll teach him how. The public defender is suitably horrified.

Lip arrives to a class – critical theory – late, and the impossibly gorgeous teacher shakes him down. She’s tough but lets him stay.

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Frank returns to the young lady doctor who helped him earlier and when she looks at his gunshot wound she suddenly wigs out and walks away. He chases her down and she says that she found out ten minutes ago that she has stage 3 pancreatic cancer. He takes her to the Alibi for a morning drink. When V (Shanola Hampton) won’t give her a free drink, the doctor buys him a drink as well. He tells her his story, noting that he’s been given last rites three times. She toasts to all the time she wasted in med school. She’s never gotten drunk and done something irresponsible – never even tried weed.

Mickey argues with the doctor at the clinic about what kind of drugs Ian needs. She says that it’s trial-and-error at the beginning, gives them a few to try and tells them to come back in a few days. It dawns on Ian that he will be medicated for the rest of his life.

Lip goes to office hours with his new teacher. She says it’s a shame he’s leaving school because he’s smart and tells him to leave. Instead, he goes down on her on the desk. Is this one of those pass/fail schools?

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Sammi visits Carl. He’s mad at Chuckie for turning him in and plans on setting him on fire in juvie. Carl says he’s not scared of Sammi so she jumps across the table and starts beating the shit out of him.

Lip and Fiona talk on the phone and Lip suggests maybe getting Ian a job at the diner to keep him busy. Frank and the doctor buy weed on the street and she nearly blows it with the dealer. Lip gets nagged by an annoying resident who got his weed stolen from his room – he wants Lip to do something about it. Sean tells Fiona that his ex is moving away and taking their kid with him. He is thinking of following them. Fiona asks Sean if Ian can have a job – he offers him a dishwashing gig.

Kev is napping when he gets a call from a girl who needs the Rape Walker. She’s on the floor of The Cantina… in the middle of the afternoon. He reluctantly agrees to go get her. Later, he gets another call. It’s like he’s Batman but his nemesis is Four Loko.

Frank and the doc smoke up on the lake beach and he tells her it’s the best place to scream at God. She says she’s Presbyterian and they don’t shout. She gets high and talks about how her prom date got stolen from her.

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Lip talks to the kid – Joaquin – who’s been stealing weed from other people’s rooms, and ends up chatting him up about why he came to school. Turns out he’s a computer science major and Lip floats the idea of Joaquin hacking into Financial Aid for him. He’s up for it but they can’t find a computer to use.

Ian is sleeping and Mickey and Fiona get clothes out of the attic for Carl to wear to his arraignment the next day. Fiona asks Mickey if he knows how to use an iron: “Sure. As a weapon.” You can take the boy out of Milkovich Manor…

The lady doc is not interested in spending her last days sick from chemo. She throws her phone away and says she’s gonna go out with a bang. She tells him her name – Bianca. They streak their way into the night.

Kev tells Lip about the Rape Walker gig and all the non-drunk ladies he’s having sex with. Lip tells him about Professor Helene and his failed hacking attempts.

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Fiona brings Carl clothes and tells him he’s wearing them whether he wants to or not – including a pair of glasses she took from the lost and found.

The next morning, Bianca screams at God, med school, and her pancreas. She says there’s one more thing she needs to do.

At the hearing, Chuckie is bruised – the other kids beat him up because Carl told them he was a rat. Yikes. Chuckie has nothing to say, and when he doesn’t, Sammi speaks on his behalf. He gets sentenced to 120 days, 60 with good behavior. Sammi reminds him to be nice to the guards as they walk him out. Yikes. They lead Carl in and his lawyer says that Carl is sorry for what he did. Carl admits that he did something “really dumb” – letting a kid do a man’s job. He asks to go to juvie and calls the judge fat in order to get the maximum sentence – one year. When Fiona asks him why the hell he did that, he tells her that he’s going to learn how to be a criminal mastermind in jail, and it will be good for his street cred. When Fiona wonders aloud to the other kids if Carl will get “scared straight”, they reply in unison: “No.” V says that he’ll be running the joint.

Bianca visits the girl who stole her prom date 14 year ago. When she answers the door, she punches her in the face and runs.

Lip and Ian smoke and catch up, with Ian seeming very down about his future. Lip tells him, “You got this.” Lip visits the Financial Aid office to take his lumps, and the guy tells him that his former roommate – who went on to become a multimillionaire after creating a topless cleaning service – is paying his tuition until his grant kicks in. Lip asks what the catch is, but there isn’t one – someone did it for this guy when he was in Lip’s shoes. Lip doesn’t take good news well.

Fiona brings Ian to meet Sean as he had requested but he’s AWOL. She calls him, concerned, and her coworker shows Ian the kitchen.

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Kev arrives at a girl’s dorm room to “escort her to a world of pleasure” but it’s an ambush – it’s a bunch of guys. Kev tells them that he doesn’t do gangbangs, because they’re “kinda gay”. The guys are mad because Kev is treating the girls well, which is making them look bad. He shows them a pic of V and they ask why on earth he would leave her. He realizes that he married the best, and none of these girls is V. He thanks the guys for the “great talk”. Later, he gets a call but tells the girl that the Rape Walker is no longer in service. He sits in his dorm room and looks at photos of V and the girls on his phone.

Sammi visits Chuckie and tells him that she’s sorry that it came to this but she’s going to make sure that no one will ever mess with him again. She takes apart a ball-point pen and pulls a pencil with a needle jammed into the eraser out of her sock. Whah?

Lip visits Helene to break the bad news to her that he’s still enrolled and they can’t “fraternize” anymore. She tells him that’s alright, he wasn’t that good anyway. Ha! That’s a sticking point for him, so she lets him in and he asks for another chance. He then tells her about his Financial Aid angel and wonders again what this guy’s angle might be – she suggests that maybe there is no angle. She tells him for the second time that he reminds her of Egon Schiele and shows him a book of his self-portraits. Then she drops her dress.

Fiona visits Sean’s apartment – she finds him on the back deck in the cold. Apparently he can’t go to Pittsburgh because of the terms of his parole, so he’s losing his son. She tells him to go inside where it’s warm and he says that if he moves from that spot it will be toward his dope pusher on the corner, so he’s not moving anywhere. She gets him a coat and sits with him.

Bianca and Frank ride the bus and she thanks him for the best two days of her life – she’s tired but he’s trying to talk her into staying out and buying opium for them. She falls asleep on his shoulder and he puts his arm around her… to pick her pocket. Later we see him tucking her in on a couch.

Lip looks at the Schiele book as Helene sleeps. Suddenly a man’s voice calls up from downstairs – Lip wakes her up and she murmurs that it’s her husband. She laughs as Lip scrambles to get his clothes on, but when the man comes in they don’t look the least bit bothered. He asks Lip how he likes his omelets. Academics!

Chuckie gets on the bus and the poor kid has a swastika tattooed on his forehead. Shit, Sammi – I can’t decide if that move was brilliant or disastrous. Sure enough, he’s pulled into a seat by a guy from the Aryan Brotherhood. Carl, meanwhile, gets chatted up with one of G-Dog’s boys, who tells him that they know he could have snitched and he didn’t. He hands Carl something – oh sweet Lord it’s a du-rag. He puts it on. This just got infinitely more interesting.

Notably Absent: Svetlana, Derek, Gus, Amanda

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Seeing Carl and Chuckie go to prison is scary enough, but seeing them go in as sworn enemies with opposing alliances is downright terrifying. I don’t know what the hell is going to happen with poor Chuckie but I’m a bit scared to find out.

Frank’s storyline, meanwhile, feels recycled. Terminally ill people with money just seem to fall out of the sky and land on him. Bianca is fun and all and it’s interesting to see him falling into a father/daughter relationship with someone (not any of his actual daughters, of course), but it’s not exactly breaking new ground so far. (The same could be said for Lip’s innate ability to find guardian angels who just want him to get a good education.)

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Mickey being there for Ian is lovely, and I hope Ian sticks with the meds this time. But honestly, the character I’m worried about most at this point is Debs, who seemed legitimately rattled for her few moments of screen time this week. Hang in there, Debs! Go kick the crap out of something.

Anyway, another solid episode and one that spells big changes for several characters. I’d give it a respectable 7 Old Styles, with the possibility of 8 for good behavior:

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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.