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'Shameless' recap: 'Drugs Actually'

Posted on

Monty Brinton/SHOWTIME


TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
William H. Macy, Emmy Rossum
Comedy, Drama


I would say that Frank is continuing his string of misbehavior with cancer-stricken Bianca, but it’s now she who’s leading the charge on impulsiveness and bad decisions. She buys a $10,000 bottle of whiskey, reasoning that she won’t be alive to pay off her credit card debt. She drunkenly Black Swans around the edge of a rooftop, teetering dangerously close to peril and almost knocking Frank to the ground. She insists that Frank have sex with her on an active train track, narrowly rolling off the rails with just milliseconds separating coitus and corpse. Frank(enstein) has created a monster.

It’s all too much bad behavior for Frank, who is buckling in his vow to support Bianca’s death wish, especially when it almost kills him, too. “Part of feeling alive is being alive,” he screams after the near-death train track sex. Bianca thought they were on the same page—her, being a walking time bomb, and him, an aging alcoholic with no purpose—but Frank forces her to recalibrate. They come to an understanding that Frank doesn’t have to indulge in all of Bianca’s choices, but that doesn’t stop Frank from feeling like she shouldn’t be making them, if only because he’s realizing that he wants more time with her.

Still, Bianca tears through her vices while ignoring her family’s (and Frank’s) desire to intervene. “Let’s get crack!” she cheers, and suddenly she’s lighting a pipe in Frank’s bedroom, despite his concern that crack wreaks more havoc on an immune system than, say, some light weed. They smoke and have sex, but when they awake in the morning, Bianca’s family arrives in Frank’s bedroom… because Frank, in a high stupor, texted them from Bianca’s phone to come pick her up.

Bianca is furious at the betrayal, even though Frank explains it’s all out of love. “I am not in love with you, Frank,” she declares, and you can almost see his heart breaking. She says she’s going to Costa Rica, and Frank slowly realizes that she doesn’t mean the two of them. It’s almost all over between Frank and Bianca when she walks out…until Frank chases her down as she gets into the taxi, waving his passport (under the name Diego Mustafa, of course) and insisting that he get in the cab. Bianca, neither excited nor upset about it all, scoots over and they drive off.


Reconciliation apparently did not come immediately after Kev silently returned home to V last week. As it turns out, V has learned that Kev only came home as a result of being kicked out of the dorms and NOT out of the virtues of his own heart pining to mend his relationship with V. Kev tries to explain this, but she won’t listen.

Fortunately, a broken pipe at the Alibi Room forces Kev and V to air their grievances as they work to fix the leak together (but not “together together”). Almost immediately, they decide they’re even when it comes to Svetlana’s “wifely duties”—oral manipulation for both Kev and V has leveled the playing field. But when V confesses that she went on a date, Kev is heartbroken, and when Kev confesses that he slept with multiple college co-eds, V is equally distraught.

As the water pipe finally comes close to full repair, Kev pulls back his pride and tries to apologize. V admits that their entire break-up was because she felt alone that Kevin didn’t want to sleep with her. Suddenly the water pipe bursts again and it rains down on an incredulous Kev, who’s standing in the downpour straight out of a romantic comedy as he says that he masturbated three times to the homemade porno he made with V. She melts at the sweetness of the gesture, and they have sex on the pool table underneath the mist.

Like a broken water pipe that is suddenly mended, Kev and V are back together. The pipe is actually still broken, though.


When it comes to his bedroom, it appears as though Lip has officially replaced Amanda with Helene, who sports a giant hoodie and sunglasses when entering and leaving Lip’s dorm for her walk of shame. Helene is quite literally taking care of him in every way: sexually, for one, and gastronomically (assuming her open-marriage husband is still making him omelets and crepes). In fact, she’s even arranged for Mr. Helene to drive Lip up to the military base where he’s going to visit Ian—an offer that Lip tentatively accepts and most likely immediately regrets when he realizes that the professor drives a Vespa.

On the professional front, Helene’s invited Lip to a cocktail party that evening so she can introduce him to a friend of hers who works at an aerospace lab. It’s being thrown right around the corner from Lip’s house, but the Gallagher household this is not—it’s a gentrified explosion. Despite his new suit and tie (courtesy of Helene), Lip politely butts heads with the host, who’s making a show of disparaging Lip’s neighborhood. (To the point of Lip standing up for himself, he also finds himself apologizing to Mr. Helene for his continued presence in his life, but the good doctor doesn’t seem to mind that much. In fact, he doesn’t ever seem to show much emotion at all. Helene, drop this yogurt cup and move on.)

Lip excuses himself for a smoke when he encounters Norbert, Helene’s aerospace friend, peeing in the bushes and seemingly sloshed. The two hit it off, and as we can tell from a fun-and-games montage wherein Helene, Lip, and Norbert hit the town, there’s only good news ahead for this new mentorship, and a possible job, too.

The only foreseeable drama is Lip’s internal struggle against having to choose the new road that Helene is leading him down and the old one that loyally leads him back to the south side. When he and Helene come face to face with Kev and V in the street, you can sense Lip’s disappointment in having to choose one life over another. He’s at a crossroads where, no matter which path he picks, forging the future and honoring his past are mutually exclusive decisions.

NEXT: A murderous subplot[pagebreak]​


In what’s perhaps my favorite Shameless subplot in the entire series, Mickey and Debbie are going back and forth weighing options of how to torture Sammi in retribution for what she did to Carl and Ian. (And for pointing a gun at Mickey when he tries to mess with her moving boxes.)

On the eve of Sammi’s departure from the Gallagher household, and despite Fiona’s demand that they stand down, Debbie (with a colorful Google search history that’s heavy on waterboarding) decides that she wants to roofie Sammi’s orange soda and tie her up with electrical clamps on her nipples. To Debbie’s surprise, Mickey informs her that he’s already taken the liberty of roofie-ing Sammi. Except they go downstairs and find that, oops, she’s actually dead.

The difference in Mickey and Debbie’s approach to this murder is everything that makes this show so brilliant. Debbie is absolutely freaking out, while Mickey is cool and nonchalant about it—what’s another bad deed to add to his list? “You got a hacksaw?” Mickey opines, and I laugh and laugh as Debbie puts Liam to sleep before putting Sammi’s corpse into the moving crate she’s ordered outside the home.

Fortunately, this is not How to Get Away with Murder (that OTHER show I recap). As Sammi’s moving crate gets taken away at the end of the episode, a burst of shouting and knocking from within tell us that she’s alive and well. Or, at least just alive.


At the restaurant, Fiona is so tightly wound about having to go visit Ian in military prison that she breaks a glass in her hand in a panic. Luckily for her, Sean is there to clean her up and drive her and the Gallaghers to northern Chicago to see Ian.

Ian’s been charged with going AWOL and destroying federal property, as the investigating officer explains to everyone in the room at the military base. There’s Mickey, Lip, Debbie, and Fiona, and Ian sitting at the head of the table as the officer determines whether Ian will face a court martial. Suddenly, everyone is offering up their own version of Ian’s bipolar tendencies, regaling the officer with anecdotes as Ian’s face sinks deeper and deeper. Mickey, for what it’s worth, says nothing.

As we know, Ian has not accepted his diagnosis and is particularly angry whenever his family compares him to his mother, Monica. It’s revealed tonight that he’s actually stayed in touch with Monica this entire time, who comes to visit him at the prison. She reminds Ian how much she loves him, and she encourages him to surround himself with people who can accept him for who he is, rather than try to change him (into a mentally healthy person). Ian realizes that even Mickey has turned into one of those people. It’s a gut-wrenching surprise when Fiona finds out that Ian has been released into Monica’s custody… turning the tables on Ian’s escapade with the baby, as it’s now Ian who’s being carted around by an unstable caretaker.

During this time, Fiona has been getting most of her emotional support from Sean, whom she was there for when he went through hard times losing his wife and son. Wouldn’t you know that just as Fiona is beginning to wheel around on her feelings for Sean, Gus calls and lets her know that his tour is canceled (the lead singer has nodes! NODES!!!) and he’s coming home. He’s excited to see Fiona, but she’s nonplussed—and in fact, she tells Gus that she has “nothing to report” when in fact she has a thousand things to report.

But Sean, who cooks for her and dances with her and accepts all of her family’s chaos, is in tune with everything in her life. Sean knows what she has to report, and Sean even transports her to and from the drama. He knows how self-destructive she can be when it comes to relationships, but he’s there to take on the risk regardless. That’s the happy ending she should be seeking, but she still can’t fully cut the cord from Gus. At least not yet. And happy ending might be the wrong choice of words here, considering that we last see Sean going into the bathroom and opening up a bag of drugs… possibly for flushing, or possibly for relapsing. Neither one very fun.