Mickey has moved in as Ian’s permanent caretaker, but they can’t seem to get intimate—which, to Mickey, is totally understandable, given Ian’s pill side effects. He’s an exemplary nurse, knowing exactly which medication does what, but the nursing is going uncheered by Ian.
At the diner, Ian zones out completely while collecting dishes, and in a frightening moment he puts his entire hand on the boiling hot grill, scorching it. When he arrives home with a cheap wrap around his hand, Sammi is there to greet him—despite her proud declaration that morning that she isn’t a Gallagher and no longer participates in the household business. Still, she gives him first aid, and he opens up about the military and the people who are looking for him after he went AWOL.
After a nap and a visit from Frank (who hasn’t had a conversation with Ian in months), Ian decides to storm out of the house, insisting that a concerned Mickey either come with him or stay behind. He leads Mickey to the baseball field where they once boned, and when Mickey shows more concern about Ian’s hand and his beer-medication combination, Ian flat out punches him in the face.
“I don’t need a f–king caretaker, alright?” shouts Ian. “I need the shit-talking, bitch-slapping piece of south side trash I fell for.” Mickey’s over-protection has taken its toll, and now Ian just wants the tough love that he always received from Mickey. They proceed to get into a huge, bloody fight—but it’s exhilarating in only the way that a Gallagher-Milkovich playground brawl can be. They shotgun beer. They laugh. It’s the first time in a long time that Ian’s felt anything.
Hours later, they’re drunkenly singing “Love is a Battlefield” as they arrive back at the house. A gleeful Ian, trashed on just one beer, suddenly comes to the realization that they’ve never been on a real date with proper clothing (like collared shirts) and restaurants (like Sizzler). Mickey and Ian exuberantly decide to go change clothes and go on a date… but their plan is interrupted by Sammi, who’s waiting inside the house with the U.S. Army.
It’s painful to watch as a finally happy Ian gets taken away, with Mickey—and Fiona, who’s just arrived in time to be shoved aside by the military—watching from the sidelines. They turn to Sammi, who’s solemnly standing on the porch. “It’s a shame when someone you love gets taken away, isn’t it?” she says gut-wrenchingly.
And I throw everything I own at my television because life is unfair that way.
Life with her abdominally gifted boyfriend Derek is going well—so well, in fact, that Derek and Debbie are on the same page when it comes to sex. They decide to have it that very night, at Debbie’s house, after a dinner thrown by Derek’s family (they’re having BBQ!).
In a smart move, Debbie requests Fiona’s help in going to Planned Parenthood so she can get birth control. Fiona initially discourages it, but Deb reasons that she’s been dating Derek longer than Fiona was dating Gus before they got married. BOOM. LOGIC. So Fiona makes the appointment, and they get Debbie some birth control pills from the clinic.
Here’s where things get sticky for Debbie (and viewers watching, worrying that Debbie is going to do something really, REALLY self-destructive). The doctor tells Debbie that the pills won’t work for 48 hours, so she’ll need to use alternate protection—read: condom—if she does have sex.
That would be cause enough for concern, but then we arrive at Debbie’s conversation with Derek’s de facto sister-in-law at the family BBQ. She tells Debbie about how she had her child and was quickly accepted into Derek’s family—an escape from her own nightmare clan. Debbie is, shall we say, intrigued at the idea of choosing her own family…and that night, when she and Derek start having sex, she eschews a condom and lies that she’s already on the pill. As a result, America collectively scolds her and sternly thinks DEBBIE because maybe she’ll hear our concerned plea to not purposely get pregnant if it’s in italics. (She also says “I love you” and Derek says “That’s so sweet,” which is a bigger red flag than a Clifford-sized bandana.)
NEXT: More bad decisions…[pagebreak]
Though he’s still struggling to wrap his head around the weird romance novel he’s in—Lip Gallagher and the Bizarre Open Marriage of Professor Helene and Doctor Theo—it’s safe to say that Lip and Amanda are just about done. She comes to booty call, and he rejects her in favor of his scholarly tryst with the professor. (Was telling Amanda about Helene a bad idea? Maaaaybe.)
Now that tuition is paid, the other concern on Lip’s mind is the presence of Kev, whose babies are keeping the dorm awake and whose laced, synthetic weed has sent the entire dorm into a convulsing vision quest of nightmarish landscapes… a.k.a., they’re all totally freaking out. Lip and Kev quickly bring all the spazzing kids into Kev’s room, where they hope to wait it out before anyone has to go to the hospital, but that ends when a delirious Joaquin (the hacker from last week) jumps out the window.
With nowhere else to turn lest he turn himself into the cops, Lip brings Joaquin—who’s got a nasty broken leg—right to Helene’s door. Neither she nor her husband are actual medical doctors, though, which Lip should have been smart enough to know. Helene calls an ambulance, much to Lip’s horror, but she presents him with a choice: Will he do the right thing and help Joaquin, regardless of the consequences, or will he revert to his outlaw ways out of some misplaced loyalty to Kevin and the law of the south side? Lip is truly conflicted, but in the moment, he has to accept that Helene has made the choice for him by calling the paramedics.
While Joaquin is carted off to the hospital, Lip arrives back at the dorm to kick out Kev. “This place is actually starting to mean something to me, and I don’t want to screw that up,” he reasons, and it’s valid—especially since his tuition is now paid for and he doesn’t need the extra income from the weed business, which is why Kevin came to school in the first place. Kev doesn’t want to leave, but lo, Lip insists that it’s time he goes back home to be with his kids and, most importantly, V. (He does, and his quiet reconciliation with V is understated, beautiful, and just a little mysterious, too.)
Lip goes to the hospital, and he’s by Joaquin’s side when the supposed “Sun god” jumper wakes up. Joaquin briefly jokes with Lip that he told the cops about Kev, but reveals that he didn’t say anything to the police, largely because they don’t actually care about some stoned co-ed who fell out of a window. “Where I come from, we got each other’s backs,” Joaquin says, and a relieved Lip suddenly turns serious, as if it’s the wake-up call he needed to remind him who he really is—or was, before he got here. But the question remains: Is that the person he still should try to be?
Frank Gallagher is in love, and he has absolutely no idea how to proceed. Bianca has immediately kicked him out upon sobering up and realizing that a homeless man is in her chic apartment. Despite Frank’s plea that their chemistry is off the charts and that she’s his “favorite dying person,” she kicks him out, and he spirals over to the Alibi, where he seeks advice from any woman who will listen.
V is there to raise an eyebrow when Frank swears there’s no scheme or scam behind it. Frank wonders why Bianca wouldn’t want to be with him, and it’s perhaps the first time he truly questions himself and the flaws that he has never been able to grasp. V questions his good qualities, which Frank hilariously lists as “a lust for adventure and a bottomless libido.” Finally, she gives in. “This is for real?” she asks. “Make it like the world stops spinning when you look at her.”
With that advice, Frank cleans up—as clean as he can be when the house is water-less for the “one day all year I gotta shower”—and goes back to Bianca’s apartment. He brings flowers, but he’s coldly greeted by Bianca’s sister, who says, “You must be the homeless guy.” She refuses to let him in, but indefatigable Frank tries to go up the fire escape to Bianca, only to land in the dumpster.
Frustrated, he shouts up at her to open the window, which Bianca does. She seems more distraught than angry. “I can’t offer you much, but what I can do is be your chauffeur on the limousine ride to the pearly gates,” says Frank sweetly. “If you want to squeeze every last drop of gratification out of this world before you croak, I’m your man. Stick with me, woman, and you will not go gentle into that good night.” It’s that last bit of poetry that seems to make Bianca blush, until her sister slams the window shut. Left alone with vodka, Frank sets up camp.
Later that night, Bianca’s sister storms out, and a tearful Bianca is amazed that Frank is still there. The two women had been arguing over Bianca’s refusal to seek chemo treatment, and Bianca sits with Frank, exhausted at having to prove that she’s fighting for her dignity even if she’s not fighting for her physical future. She gives Frank a skeptical look—a why are you doing this? expression—and Frank doesn’t have an answer. But he does promise to never ask her to do chemo or think healing thoughts or tell her how much he loves her. This seems to satisfy Bianca, and she insists they go get tattoos. Awww.
As promised, Fiona is watering the plants in Gus’ apartment, even though her husband is on tour and definitely violating the thousand mile rule. She calls him and they make a plan to have Skype sex later. Unfortunately, when Fiona dresses up for the occasion, Gus is nowhere to be found—so she calls Sean, who rebuffs her invitation to come over. He’s saying goodbye to his son and ex-wife, who are moving to Pittsburgh.
For some reason, Fiona feels the compulsion to go see Sean as he’s sending his family off. Obviously, it’s exactly at this time that Gus chooses to call, and Fiona ignores it, because she’s Fiona and of course she ignores it. With Sean so distraught, they go to a bar—not drinking, though—and Fiona is giving him the same kind of concerned treatment that Ian resented Mickey for.
“You make it your job,” says a resentful Sean. “When you focus on other people’s problems, it’s a lot easier to ignore your own.” Fiona insists that she likes Sean, and he rudely gets overheated in calling her out for her insertion into his life. His anger attracts the attention of a drunk pool player, who starts another brawl and slams Sean into the bar.
Outside, she tends to his wounds, and they realize that they’re both chaos machines—and they can be each other’s. They kiss. And somewhere out there on the road, Gus’ puppy-dog eyes get even bigger and sadder.