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'Shameless' recap: 'Uncle Carl'

Posted on

Cliff Lipson/SHOWTIME


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

That’s right—we recap Shameless now! Sure, we’re well into this crazy season, but it’s never too late to keep up with the Gallaghers. Let’s get into this week’s hearty installment, in which Ian’s homecoming has everyone edge (except for Sammi and Carl, who are just always on edge to begin with).


Ian’s return from the psych ward is understandably met with a certain amount of trepidation from the Gallaghers, who are glad to have him home but tiptoe around on tenterhooks when they see how fragile he is. Lip and Fiona are the first to see their hollowed brother when they pick him up from the hospital—with Mickey conspicuously absent (he’s at home, drinking).

The doctor informs the eldest siblings that Ian’s release is contingent on taking three different medications daily. Once Lip and Fiona escort Ian back to the house, he’s greeted warmly by Debbie and Liam before he immediately goes to lay down—sleep being a major side effect of the medication. Hours later, Carl bursts into the bedroom and accidentally wakes Ian. “What’s it feel like to be crazy?” he cuts in, before revealing that he thinks he might actually be a little crazy himself, considering his stream of certifiably crazy behavior. (To his credit, Carl does his part to try and help bring Ian out of the abyss, throwing a toaster into the pool later as Ian lays in it… because, shock therapy.)

Ian wallows listlessly. When he bounds downstairs after his nap, Debbie is distracted, texting her new boyfriend Derek. She doesn’t notice that Ian walks into the kitchen and grabs his pill bottles, emptying them out in one fell swoop. When Debbie finally does take notice, Ian is gone—and so are all of his pills. She rushes outside to find Ian smoking a cigarette, and when she asks him why he flushed them, his response is heart-wrenching: “They make me feel awful, Debs. Like life is not worth living. I feel so much better just knowing they’re gone.”

Debbie, in tears, rushes to Fiona at the restaurant to let her know. They immediately head to the pharmacy, but the doctor won’t refill the prescription without a prescription, despite Fiona’s well-reasoned plea. Fiona confronts Ian about the pills—sternly but familiarly—calling it “a full-on Monica move.” That strikes a nerve with Ian, especially since he doesn’t agree with his diagnosis. “You pulled some pretty serious shit not too long ago and everyone didn’t try to turn on you and permanently medicate you,” he retorts. Fiona says she went to jail for it. “So did I,” says Ian. “And now I’m out. I’m not Monica any more than you are.”

A frustrated Fiona goes inside and finds out that Debbie has gone out to buy drugs, and so she runs… not after Debbie, but to Gus. Debbie, meanwhile, has gone to Mickey’s house, at first begging him to find new pills before turning the conversation to Mickey’s drinking and failure to come see Ian. “You can’t drink him away, Mickey,” she warns him, and off she goes to her next plan: faking a psychotic breakdown at the hospital in demand of lithium. Hilariously and obviously, it doesn’t work.

With no other solution, Ian’s pill problem goes unresolved. But that night, after a squabble in the Gallagher household wherein Carl gets arrested (see: next page), Ian is in bed when Mickey finally arrives. “I’m sorry I’m late,” he whispers, and he climbs onto the bed. He holds Ian’s head and kisses his forehead. And finally, Ian is, for the first time, at peace.


As Fiona deals with Ian’s recovery, she’s also toiling over her trouble with Gus. After confessing her Steve-Jimmy-Jack sleeping sin, Gus is going on tour, and Fiona is planning to move back in and let him.

Almost everyone agrees it’s a bad idea: Sammi and Lip cite the Thousand Mile Rule, wherein “when you’re on tour a thousand miles away from your wife, adultery doesn’t count.” Even Awful Sean at the restaurant says giving Gus space is the worst decision Fiona could make. He suggests groveling, and when she doesn’t indulge, he insists that she hasten the end of the marriage. “Either fight for this marriage, or cut him loose,” he commands.

Once Fiona embarks on the brief mission to find pills for Ian and finds out Debbie has gone to buy drugs herself, she takes off running… only she was never going after Debbie. She runs right to Gus and the band, who coolly receive her. She reaches Gus and spouts her feelings to him in one giant monologue. “All day today, when everything in my family was falling apart, I just kept wishing you were with me, and that’s what I know,” she declares.

Gus kisses her, and she thinks all is well—she just needs a few weeks to get Ian in order, and then she’ll join them on tour. But Gus laughs. “It’s a bad idea,” he says. “I think it’s a bad idea for our marriage to be apart right now,” says Fiona. “I think what was bad for our marriage was your decision to sleep with your ex,” Gus responds. And just like that, Fiona knows there’s no chance Gus will call from the road, and there’s no chance she’ll water his plants. It’s over.

NEXT: About that Carl thing…[pagebreak]


Now that he’s a budding drug dealer, Carl is moving up the ranks—thanks to one drug runner getting shot, he’s now promoted. His first big job is doing a run to Michigan, but Carl is visibly nervous about the whole situation. He asks Frank for advice and accompaniment, but under Sammi’s stern eye, Frank refuses to act out (lest he incur the continued rage of the deranged psychopath). After Sammi shot him last week, Frank knows that the best way to get Sammi out of his life is to smile and nod his head at whatever crazy she throws at him, even if it means being treated like a dog (and not even a cute one but, like, one of those gross thin ones).

Frank suggests that Carl use Chuckie as a mule on the Michigan run, since nobody would look twice at Chuckie as a drug carrier. Chuckie is Carl’s slave, after all, thanks to their deal last episode, so he doesn’t question when Carl tapes the heroin to Chuckie’s stomach and orders him to keep his mouth shut. But at the bus station, Carl has barely bought the tickets when two drug-sniffing police dogs enter the lobby. In classic Carl fashion, he bolts, leaving Chuckie to be arrested.

As it turns out, Frank placed an anonymous concerned citizen’s phone call to the cops tipping them off about drugs at the bus station. But the plan backfires when Chuckie gets arrested and Sammi, absolutely bonkers yet again, turns the police onto Carl. The entire Gallagher family is home tossing blame when the cops arrive; Carl flees, and Sammi immediately points them toward Carl’s direction.

He runs and runs, but can’t outrun the handful of squad cars that track him down. “Don’t shoot, I’m white!” he cries. They arrest him, and once he’s taken to the police station, the cops inform Fiona and family that Carl’s interrogation might take a few hours. Everyone leaps to their feet, yelling to Carl not to say anything. “I want a f–king lawyer, motherf–ker,” he says gleefully to the detective as a huge pile of drugs is laid out in front of him.


Lip’s tuition money troubles are piling up, but luckily he has an idea. He approaches Kev to gauge his interest in resuming their weed business. Between the packed dorms, fraternity pledge week, and Lip’s status as an R.A., he sees the opportunity to seize the sellers’ market and convinces Kev to come resume their ice cream truck drug ring (except without the trucks).

Kev is reluctant to leave his babies, but decides to indulge the plan for the sake of making money for his daughters. He moves into a spare room in the dorm and begins rolling joints with Lip. Almost immediately, they clean out their supply at the frat houses while playing beer pong and selling blunts left and right.

Lip brings the cash—a portion of his tuition—to the financial office, but the staffer asks if Lip would consider just taking the semester off instead. Lip tearfully recounts why he can’t go home, lest he never leave because of his guilt that he’s not there to help take care of Ian. He decides that the only way to take care of the rest of his family is by staying in school. Despite his passionate plea, Lip only manages to buy himself a week’s extension on the tuition before he’s forced to drop out.


Kev, meanwhile, is missing his kids, and he calls Svetlana to inquire about V and, by proxy, the bar. The message gets slightly muddled, though, and Svetlana doesn’t tell V that she’s supposed to bartend that night (resulting in the trashing and free-boozing of The Alibi). But Svetlana has instead gone to give V the same treatment she gave Kevin last week: oral pleasure for the sake of paying rent and/or stress relief. V goes along with it, because she’s already “halfway home” by the time she realizes what Svetlana’s doing.

Still, V can’t help but wonder if she’s doing the right thing taking a break from Kev. She’s set up a date with an old flame, but after pushback from both Fiona and wise old Svetlana (who, hilariously, is the best mother of the bunch), V decides not to go through with the date… only after she meets him for lunch and realizes how skeezy and horny he is. She shrugs him off and goes home to call Kev, but it’s too late—he’s asleep, naked in bed with a sorority girl. After their equal cheating, they’re most definitely not even anymore.


—Debbie’s already way too enamored with and distracted by her new boyfriend Derek, which may suggest she does something to screw things up, if she’s anything like her self-destructive big sister.

—The lesbians who want to renovate the vacant lot with a community garden are beginning to show the cracks brought on them by the Gallaghers. How long until they’ll do something drastic that will send the Gallaghers (and, by extent, the Milkoviches and every other crazy person in their giant web) into battle mode?