“Shameless” Episode 5.11: Drugs Actually

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This week’s Shameless was uncharacteristically quiet for a penultimate episode, which are usually jam-packed with twists, turns, and dead bald eagles. It was almost somber, focusing on several of the kids’ internal struggles to align themselves with new and uncomfortable places in the world. Heck, even Frank did some much-needed soul-searching! Let’s dig in.

At a liquor store, Frank (William H. Macy) gives Bianca (Bojana Novakovic) a whiskey lesson that she cuts short by asking the clerk for the most expensive brand. He’s got one that’s over $10,000. She buys it, saying that she won’t be alive to pay off her credit card, so who cares?

Sean (Dermot Mulroney) is late for work and Fiona (Emmy Rossum) is all over him… because she needs to leave early. (Classic Fiona!) To visit Ian in military prison. (Okay, not so classic.) Also, Ian won’t be coming in for his shift today – again with the military prison. She breaks a glass and he tends to her bleeding hand. She fills him in on the situation. Fiona is pissed at Sammi to the point where she’s nearly foaming at the mouth – and now Mickey can’t take her to visit Ian because he can’t get the car. Sean talks her down and offers to help her work things out.

Helene (Sasha Alexander) bangs Lip (Jeremy Allen White) in his dorm. Really? Aside from being extremely risky, it’s also just kind of gross. (I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess that Lip doesn’t wash his sheets regularly.) He asks her what he needs to wear to some cocktail party that night where she wants to introduce him to a guy who runs an aerospace lab. He dashes to catch a train to see Ian but when she hears “North Chicago” she calls her husband to drive Lip because he’s headed that way anyway. Lip reluctantly accepts and helps her sneak out.

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Fiona gets home to find a shipping crate outside. Uh-oh – is Sammi (Emily Bergl) clearing them out? Fiona catches up with Debs (Emma Kenney) and Mickey (Noel Fisher) but Sammi interrupts to pull a gun on Mickey and tell them that she’ll be gone by tomorrow morning, adding: “Your family sucks ass”.

Theo (Michael Reilly Burke), Lip’s ride, is driving a Vespa. Ha!

Kev (Steve Howey) and Svetlana (Isidora Goreshter) feed the babies and chat – she offers the same deal as before but Kev turns down the “wifely duties” part. V (Shanola Hampton) comes in and makes it clear that she and Kev aren’t back together – Kev just got kicked out of the dorm. Surprised, he says that he wants to get back together – they are clearly still having communication issues, and are of course interrupted by a call from the Alibi about a busted pipe.

Frank and Bianca duck into the alley by her apartment when she sees her family outside – she says they’re gonna drag her to the hospital to get chemo. When she refers to Frank as “homeless” he corrects her, gently, saying that he has a home but he just isn’t welcome inside it. Important distinction! They go to the roof to drink her fancy whiskey on lawn chairs, drinking from plastic cups. She says it tastes “like the inside of a barn.” Her family calls but she ignores it and instead stands on the edge of the building, saying there’s no need to be cautious anymore. He joins her. They both nearly fall off, with Frank spilling his whiskey – he estimates about $600 worth. She suggests that they buy crack. Okay then!

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At the military prison – Sean drove – Mickey points out that Sammi snitched and needs to pay. He dreams up a torture situation and shares it with Debs – I’m actually surprised that he hasn’t enacted it already. Inside, the military cop reads Ian’s list of crimes. He says that he will decide if Ian will be court-martialed. Fiona points out that Ian is bipolar and has been diagnosed. The kids explain that Ian’s been acting strangely for a year and that they know bipolar because of their mother. Poor Ian (Cameron Monaghan) has to sit there and listen to his family and his captors discuss him as though he weren’t in the room. He asks if Ian should be medicated and if he is difficult to handle, and Fiona has to admit, “Yes.” Ian looks like he’s about to cry or vomit or cry-vomit.

The Alibi is a flooded mess – V and Kev work together and V asks if he banged Svetlana and he admits that he let her give him oral and when she lets the term “wifely duties” slip out he realizes that Svetlana went down on her, too. And he’s totally into it. Men! V says they’re not together, so he doesn’t get the details. Tommy comes in and offers to bring in a sump pump. Kev makes the leak worse. Of course.

On the way out of the prison, Fiona gets a call from Gus (Steve Kazee) – his tour has been canceled and he’s headed home in a few days. Just as Sean is playing dad to her siblings in the car.

Tommy helps Kev and V fix things up and Kev says that it’s nice doing something with V. She tells him that she went on a date but it was no big deal. He says he didn’t date anyone but admits he banged girls at the dorm but he didn’t even enjoy it and anyway a date is worse than sex. He doesn’t want to fight but V explodes on him and storms out. Gah. Get it together, people.

Helene picks up Lip – turns out the cocktail party is in his neighborhood, and the host is a gentrifying realtor. She gives him a jacket and tie to put on.

Sean drops off the kids – Debs and Mickey dream up more tortures for Sammi and Sean invites Fiona and kids over for dinner. The kids aren’t interested so Fiona goes along with him by herself.

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Frank and Bianca are halfway through their bottle and looking for crack by the train tracks. She says that the worst thing about crack is long-term addiction, which isn’t a problem for her, so why not? He tentatively asks her again about recovery rates, and she again says that she’s definitely dying and not interested in fighting it with medicine. She stops on the train tracks, saying that it feels good to stand on them against her instincts. Her heart is pounding and she wants to have sex on the tracks with him. Oh my. Even Frank thinks this is a bad idea, but she starts undressing and he’s all in.

Helene and Lip arrive at the renovated house, which Lip isn’t impressed by. Lip chats with Theo, who insists that he isn’t threatened by Lip before noticing that Helene gave him his own tie. Hmm. They meet the owners, who talk about how scary the neighborhood was but it’s getting better. Helene mentions that Lip grew up down the street and the guy gently insults Lip’s community and Lip gently explains how people like the realtor are ruining the neighborhood. He calmly excuses himself. Well done, Lip!

Bianca rides Frank on the train tracks and he feels that a train is coming – but so is she, so she won’t stop. He barely manages to get them rolled off in time – an all-time high for Bianca, of course. Frank tells her that this is past his safe zone, but she thought that his being an aging alcoholic with no purpose put them on the same page. He says he has a new liver and he intends to enjoy it and she apologizes, saying they understand each other now, and that what she does is her decision. Frank howls in anguish… because the whiskey bottle was broken by the train.

V and Kev argue more. A pipe bursts in between them and Kev tells her through the waterfall and gives her the filthiest apology ever for not having sex with her for a year, and then they do it on the pool table. Hey now, people – this ain’t Merlotte’s! Anyway, glad that’s taken care of.

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Oh shit – enter Hurricane Monica (Chloe Webb). She visits Ian, who is happy to see her – turns out he called her. Oh, Ian… She hitched her way there, and she has a boyfriend now. Aww! Her girlfriend was my favorite thing about her. He says he’d like to meet him sometime, and she cuts to the chase: “There’s always gonna be people who try to fix us, because it breaks their heart.” He mentions Mickey and she tells him he should be with people who understand him and love him for who he is, not try to change him. She tells him she loves him. It’s heartbreaking.

Sean serves up steak and eggs with a side of double entendre (it’s on the Specials menu) and she gets a text from Gus inviting her to a show. Sean tells her that Ian can have his job back and she wonders if she’ll end up taking care of him or if Mickey will. Sean mentions that he’s not supposed to lean on anyone who he’s deeply attracted to, according to AA.

Lip smokes on the porch, interrupting a guy who is peeing in the yard – hey, isn’t that Lenny from Nurse Jackie? Lip stops the guy before he insults the neighborhood but he insults it anyway. They bond over mutual hatred of the host – Helene comes out and introduces him as Aerospace Norman. He suggests that they split to grab dinner and everyone’s up for it.

Mickey visits Debs, who has come up with a plan for what to do with Sammi: she wants to roofie her soda bottle, tie her to a chair, and put jumper cables attached to a car battery on her nipples. We get to see this play out. Yeesh. Mickey tells her that he already roofied her and she’s passed on on the floor downstairs. Debs is thrilled until she notices that Sammi isn’t breathing. They realize that she’s dead. Holy shit. Mickey is surprisingly blase about it but Debs freaks out. Liam is poking her body while Mickey casually thinks his way through possible solutions.

Okay, that was… anticlimactic?

Lip runs into Kev and V – who are soaked – outside the party. He introduces them to Helene et al and it’s awkward, with Kev apologizing for being “wet and grimy”. Hmph. Don’t you apologize to those people! They’re no better than you- hell, you just banged the hottest lady in the zip code on a pool table.

Fiona eats and Sean toasts Cokes to “self-sabotage”. She asks if this is a date and he’s not sure. They talk it out and she walks him through the whole 5-minute marriage thing and says that it’s really not the best time. Sean can wait.

Mickey and Debs put Sammi’s body in the shipping container out front and are interrupted by Frank and Bianca – Mickey’s reaction is priceless. When they leave he asks Debs what the hell a girl like that is doing with Frank.

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Lip goes out with his new pals and Fiona and Sean dance around Patsy’s Pies, getting gradually closer and closer. Frank waits outside the bathroom as Bianca pukes. He brings her a banana for her tummy and she asks how they smoke the crack. He suggests weed instead. She’s not budging from crack and he reluctantly helps her smoke it. She gets really high and Frank smiles and joins her. Hey, it’s crack! It’ll get you high! It’s actually an oddly touching moment. They kiss.

Sean and Fiona wake up on separate booths in the morning. She tells him that Gus called and she didn’t tell him anything about anything that is going on in her life. Sean says no disrespect to Gus but when he saw her that morning she told him everything, in detail. As she falls back asleep, he brushes her hair back from her face. He walks to the back room, pulls out a bag of heroin out of his pocket at the sink, and catches a glimpse of himself in the mirror. Awww dude, please flush that shit.

Bianca and Frank wake up with a start – because her family is standing in the room. Talk about a rude awakening! Bianca accuses them of breaking in and they say they didn’t break in – turns out that Bianca – or someone – texted them. It was Frank. Bianca freaks out. He says that chemo might be a good idea because he wants to have another couple of months or years with her – she counters that she’s not in love with him. She sends her family downstairs, apologizing to her dad. Bianca says she’s taking the back stairs and headed to Costa Rica. Frank runs to grab his meds to join her but she tells him goodbye. Bianca hops in a cab as the moving crate gets picked up outside – but Frank runs out and gets in the cab with her, fake passport in hand.

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Fiona, Debs and Mickey visit Ian but are told at the gate that Ian was released. The kids are thrilled until they learn that he was released into the care of Monica. Gallagher. Oh shit.

Monica and Ian hitchhike and Ian ignores a call from Mickey. Monica is thrilled that there is a dog in the back of the flatbed that picks them up. Ian wears her pink scarf. Crap, this is going nowhere fast. Unlike Sammi’s moving container, which speeds through the city – with Sammi beating furiously on it from the inside.

Okay, well that’s kind of a relief, anyway. She deserves a far worse fate than the one we thought she got!

SCENE

Notably Dead: Sammi (for a while, anyway)

Notably Absent: Carl, Chuckie, Derek, Amanda

As mentioned earlier, this episode placed several of the characters at turning points in regards to how they fit into their “new” lives outside the household. Fiona is at the intersection of Gus and Sean; Ian is opting out of the Gallagher family to be with his mother; Lip is slowly drifting upward into a different class. All led to cringeworthy moments, with Ian’s desperate outreach to Monica being the most heartbreaking, but Lip’s encounter with Kev and V on the street was the moment that stung the most.

Meanwhile, did Mickey deliberately pull the wool over Debs’ eyes in Sammi’s fake death? He did seem oddly calm throughout. My only question would be why – is he softening or is there something else going on? I would have hated to see Mikey on the hook for killing Sammi, but I would have loved to see her meet an untimely end somehow. As it is I expect to see her back and set up for some kind of confrontation with Frank, who is the one who actually orchestrated Chuckie’s downfall, remember.

And I can’t believe I’m saying this, but this was one of the best episodes in years for Frank. Charging him with a sidekick who has even less concern for her own life than he does for his – and who is still somehow very likeable – was a brilliant move, as it allows them to call his bluff in a number of his vices. Frank’s a broken, terrible human being – but for once he was allowed to be a human being rather than just the ever-present bogeyman of loserdom. I expect it to last another episode at most.

Again, not what we are used to expecting from an Episode 11, but it hit a lot of great notes. I’d say it gets a solid 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.