A whiz-bang follow-up to last week’s jaw-dropper, this week’s episode may be the most aggressively miserable in the show’s history. And considering the number of accidental deaths, suicides, murders, breakups, overdoses, and counts of child endangerment the show has racked up in the last four years, that’s saying something. Gone was almost all of the show’s wicked humor, which is usually liberally applied to undercut the legitimately ghastly things happen to these characters (or because of these characters) day-in and day-out. The show pulled literally everything out from under Fiona (even her socks!), leaving her in the worst place we’ve seen her since… well, since Mike broke up with her over cake last week. But still: GAHHHHH.
We pick up right where things left off, with Fiona (Emmy Rossum) getting booked for feeding cocaine to babies and wee Liam being strapped to a bed and treated for his overdose-induced seizures. Not to make light of the situation in the least, but I’d bet the squirrel fund that poor Liam is never going to go NEAR Pixy Stix for the rest of his life. Lip (Jeremy Allen White) – who is now the de facto parental figure since Fiona is in cuffs and Franks is… well, Frank – has to step up. The sight of Liam strapped to the bed is agonizing, and makes me realize: God, we ALL take that little smoosh for granted, don’t we?!
Kev (Steve Howey) wants to get Fiona a decent lawyer, but Lip resists, and seems more concerned with the physics quiz he’s about to miss than the fact that his f*cking sister has just been arrested. College kids, amiright?!
Frank (William H. Macy), meanwhile, is also in the hospital after his sweat lodge non-starter, and Sammi (Emily Bergl) is watching over him, regaling him with stories about her mother’s double mastectomy (she had her nipples tattooed back on, which is an image I will never be able to leave behind, thanks very much). The ginger doctor from a few seasons back (played by Scott Grimes, who was apparently on ER but whom I will ALWAYS remember as the star of Critters) arrives and recognizes Frank. They have some witty banter that ends with the doc telling Sammi that she should seriously look into hospices that take the indigent, because Frank is basically a dead man walking. Yikes.
At the police station (or jail, or a leftover set from one of the Saw movies), Fiona has her things taken away and is strip-searched. In real time. It’s nauseating. She begs repeatedly for a phone call so she can check on Liam, but no one helps. Eventually, she gets her call and Lip – who is still being a total prig – almost doesn’t answer. He finally speaks with her and she completely loses it on the phone – just in time for him to hang up on her. It. Is. Terrible. He speaks with Ann Matlock from Social Services, who tells him that he’d better find Frank pronto or Liam’s going into foster care. Oh my God, can this get any worse?! Lip even volunteers to quit college to take care of Liam (which we all saw coming) but she won’t budge.
On the way home, Sammi asks Frank why he and her mom broke up and he tells her that it’s because she wouldn’t get an abortion. Which is… awkward. (How is it that Shoebox Greetings hasn’t come up with a card for this situation yet? I bet Maxine would know the perfect thing to say to break the tension!) She’s understandably upset by this news (though not as upset as I am by how filthy her tote bag is), and she urges Frank to look into hospice care. Later, they check one out that’s run by the church, and Frank is turned on by the promise of massages but ultimately bolts from the stress, insisting that they’ll murder him for his parts, or something. Not that he has any left that work. And wait, did anyone find that drive-by by the faceless priest a bit odd? What was up with that?!
Fiona gets called to meet with a public defender named Maria who is as overworked as she is overdone. She doesn’t have time to discuss the case with Fiona, and drags her to the bail hearing. They set her bail at $100,000 for a class 3 felony. OUCH. The gang is able to get a few words out of Maria and learn that they will only really need to post 10%. Lip snaps at Debs (Emma Kenney) and she storms off, giving him the finger. She ends up at her ex-boyfriend’s apartment. Okay – he’d better not pick today to go all Ted Bundy on her, because I don’t think my gay nerves can handle any more stress right now.
Kev and V (Shanola Hampton) mourn the shoddy state of the Gallagher clan, and pray that they will be better parents – but Kev is the first to admit that they were all there when Liam overdosed, and “sometimes shit happens.” Later, he goes with Lip to Sammi’s trailer, and he tries to convince Lip that it wasn’t entirely Fiona’s fault. Lip is buying it about thismuch: (). Kev and V try to scrape together $10 grand through the bar, but it ain’t happening. Kev moans, “I’m tired of bein’ poor…”
Fiona meets with Maria again, and insists that she’s not an addict or even a regular user, summing the entire scenario up with: “It was my birthday.” Oh right! That’s why Carvel sells those awesome Cokeypuss birthday cakes made of pure Bolivian marching powder (and those crucial chocolate crunches!). Maria tells her that the sentence could be knocked down significantly if Fiona rats out who gave her the drugs, but Fiona isn’t talking. Ooooh… this could get interesting…
Lip stops by the Milkovich compound to speak to Mandy (Emma Greenwell) about Ian, asking her to tell Ian to come home because they need him. He also sees Mandy’s dad get hauled off by the cops for violating parole. Or as he probably calls it, “carpool”.
Sheila Jackson (Joan Cusack), meanwhile, is having a kick of a time with her new Menominee beau Roger Running Tree and his “kids”. She makes them breakfast and calls them by the ridiculous fake tribal names that they gave her, but she eventually loosens her white-knuckle grasp on the little dreamcatchers and sends them away with peanut butter and Cheetos. She also apparently broke in her suitor, which means that he might be a little saddle-sore for a few days. After they head back to the reservation (where they live in a double-wide behind the casino), her house feels empty. So she packs up her things, throws on a turquoise necklace, and waves goodbye to her dusty little throw pillows that look like giant butterscotch candies. Wait – she’s seriously taking a 90-minute cab ride?! And how is it that she somehow seemed not to notice when Carl burned down the sweat lodge in the middle of the night?!
Why is Chuckles watching porn?!?! Seriously, that’s really disturbing. Carl (Ethan Cutkosky) tries to tell Frank that Lip is looking for him, but Sammi has doped him up on enough pills to give peak-season Tammi Faye Bakker a mild case of the drowsies. Carl eats Sammi’s Big Mac and drinks a beer – HE IS TWELVE – while Lip – WHO IS HIS GUARDIAN – asks, “Why is the world so f*cked up?” Lip tries calling Debs, but Matt moves her phone so she can sleep. This is still mad creepy, yo.
Fiona spends a night in jail. We are going full-on Kelly Green is the New Orange which is Has Already Been Established as the New Black here, aren’t we? I seriously thought they’d have her out of this by now, and it’s getting a little freaky. The next morning, she avoids some seriously scary-looking ladies in the cafeteria and some even scarier-looking oatmeal. The guard suddenly calls her name: someone has posted her bail. Thank God! Anybody wanna bet it’s Mike?
It’s Mike (Jake McDorman).
Turns out Carl called him because he’s “the only rich person” he knew. What, are the gay foster dads he robbed not taking his calls? Mike bails her out and she promises him she won’t skip town and will totally pay him back whatever he’s out. He tells her, “Just mail me the check, okay, because I never want to see you again.” OUCH TIMES A MILLION.
Debs shows up at the hospital with Matt, and everyone freaks out when they see how old he is. Liam is released, and they all descend on him and his How to Train Your Dragon stuffed animal like a flock of ravenous nannies. Sammi notes, “Liam is… black?” Good eyes! Frank, meanwhile, is slumped over in a wheelchair. The doctor asks, “That’s the father?” Ann Matlock: “I’m afraid so.”
Mike drops off Fiona, and she returns home to a completely empty house. Okay, now that’s just mean. She wanders through the house, calling names, and ending with “… anybody?” Nope. Nobody.
Notably Absent: Ian, Mickey, Robbie, the Russian Olympic Handjob Team
Ohmylanta. This show is going to be the death of me, I swear. I care more about these people than I do most people in my actual life, at this point – so I do NOT take this shit lightly. I felt bad for EVERYONE this week: Fiona (for obvious), Lip (for watching his budding college career go down the toilet), Debs (for almost getting molested 24×7), Sammi (for being Sammi), Kev & V (for being amazing, again, in the face of tragedy), even Frank and Carl.
But that image of Liam strapped to the hospital bed… I just can’t. This episode was so brilliant because it was completely accurate – we all do forget that that small person is living in the eye of the Gallagher shitstorm, utterly helpless to escape or improve his situation. Making everyone in the show step back and truly see Liam for the first time was brilliant. But stepping back a second, I do think they got a little greedy with the last scene, paralleling Fiona’s homecoming with everyone else reuniting with Liam at the hospital. Yes, what she did was stupid and irresponsible and almost fatal. But she doesn’t deserve this. (Wasn’t the burnt toast enough?)
You know, I gotta give it to Carl – he may be nuts, but he is a resourceful little bugger. And nobody seems to appreciate it, which is always nice. I sense something being burned down in 3… 2…
Seriously, Sammi’s tote bag was totes filthy. I can’t stop thinking about it. Actually, her entire situation is incredibly sad, all the more so because she is such a sweet and undemanding person. I really hope for the best for her.
Is Joan Cusack leaving the show? She’s been little more than set dressing this season, and I could totally accept running off to live on a reservation as a satisfying resolution for her batshit character, who has come leaps and bounds since she was a shut-in. Regardless, I think we can all agree that her scenes this week were literally from a different television show- namely, a heartwarming ABC Family comedy called Cleans with Bleach.
I give the episode a respectable nine out of ten Old Styles:
What’d you folks think?