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'Shameless' recap: 'Carl's First Sentencing'

Carl and Chuckie get a taste of justice while Lip gets a taste of charity.

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Cliff Lipson/SHOWTIME


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


This week, the A story went to Lip (and, technically, Carl, but since he got top billing last week, I’m giving the edge to the collegiate).

Lip’s basically resigned himself to being kicked out of school, since there’s no way he’ll sell enough joints to raise tuition (can you imagine just starting to watch Shameless and reading that sentence?). He’s shirked his R.A. responsibilities and altogether given up, although the inevitable dropout doesn’t stop him from auditing classes he shouldn’t be taking.

That’s how he arrives at the discussion section of Dr. Maura Isles herself, Sasha Alexander, playing a critical theory professor named Helene Something. He makes such a strong first impression that, despite his technical un-enrolled status, she lets him sit for the class, provided he go to office hours afterward. When he gets to Helene’s office, she’s already found out that his time at school is up, which partly explains why they’re both so bold that they act on the sexual tension almost immediately. (The comic highlight is when she yells to an intruder “I’m with a student!” just while Lip is iggying her azalea.)

At his dorm, a frustrated student is waiting for Lip to do something about another dorm resident who’s been stealing things (namely weed) from other rooms. Lip tracks down the kid, Joaquin, and finds out that he’s a computer science major who can ostensibly hack into the financial aid system and fix Lip’s dilemma. The only problem is that they can’t use an on-campus computer, lest it be traced back to them, and so Lip can’t take Joaquin up on his hacking offer… yet.

And so, nothing particularly life-changing has happened for Lip in the past 24 hours—save for some sex and smoking, which are daily occurrences—which is why he’s flabbergasted when the financial aid office summons him. It’s the same Financial Aid Guy as before, who was clearly touched by his story despite not being able to offer help. Well, now he has help to give—his old roommate is now the CEO of a booming topless maid company, and he’s offered to pay Lip’s tuition until the grant kicks back in. Lip thinks there’s a catch, but there isn’t one… at least not until we’ve met this angel investor, who was kicked out of college as well before someone stepped in for him. Any guesses for how creepy this CEO guy actually is?

That night, Lip heads back to Helene’s house at her invitation. He delivers the bad news that he’s staying in school, which means no more fraternizing with the teacher. She asks how he got the tuition, and for a moment Lip wonders whether she had anything to do with the money—I’m still not entirely convinced she didn’t have anything to do with it. But for now, she said she doesn’t, and she introduces Lip to an Austrian painter that shares his angsty eyebrows as they have sex. When they finish, she’s sleeping when her husband suddenly arrives, but lo, he offers to make Lip an omelette instead of throwing him out. Because, of course, open marriages are a good idea when your wife is that insanely hot.


Carl and Chuckie are both awaiting their sentencing, and the women in their lives—Fiona and Sammi, respectively—are taking two very different approaches to preparing their boys for the judge.

Fiona’s trying to convince Carl to show some semblance of remorse, because at least then he can knock off a few months from his sentence. His publicly appointed lawyer insists that he give up the drug dealer, but Carl knows better than to rat. The best Fiona can do is dig up some of Lip’s old clothes—ones with collars!—and try to make Carl look as presentably upstanding as possible (sorry to report, but even Oscar the Grouch in a suit and tie still lives in a trash can).

Sammi’s approach with Chuckie is, surprisingly, the complete opposite. Despite his lawyer trying to argue mental handicap with his whopping IQ of 71, Sammi seems prepared for the inevitability that Chuckie will spend at least some time in juvie. She immediately begins to prepare him for the realities of prison by teaching him about rape and suggesting he jerk off the prison guards in exchange for protection. The lawyer is, appropriately, shocked.

The two secluded stories clash, however, when Sammi sweet-talks the guard into letting her visit Carl, who has already begun spreading rumors that he’s going to set Chuckie on fire in prison. “You will not touch one hair on his head, do you understand?” she says, dead serious. But Carl doesn’t balk. “You think you scare me? Bring it, bitch.” Sammi launches herself at his throat and by the end of their on-the-floor brawl, they’re both pretty bruised up as a result.

On the day of the sentencing, the entire family has shown up to lend their support—to Carl—but it’s Chuckie who goes first in front of the judge. He’s a little bruised up as well, and he doesn’t say anything in front of the judge when she asks him to defend himself. Sammi stands up and speaks for him, claiming he was taken advantage of by another family member. “If you’re going to blame anyone, blame his uncle Carl or his family who raised him, or me for putting an innocent boy in a den of wolves.” (Wow. Deep, actually.) The judge sentences Chuckie to a minimum of 120 days in juvie, with 60 days for good behavior.

And then Carl walks in. He’s dressed like some cross between Jimmy Neutron and Gary Oldman. His lawyer pleads guilty but tries to express remorse; when the judge asks Carl for comment, he blows it: “I did something really dumb and I shouldn’t have. I trusted a f–king retard with a man’s job. Next time I move a bunch of drugs, I’ll be smarter.” Oh God. He’s not done. “If your honor would lose 20 pounds, I would consider tapping that.” Aaaaand Carl is sentenced to a year in prison.

The Gallaghers go yell at him, but he’s excited—he’ll learn special skills like making fake IDs and earning street cred. “I’m going to make juvie my bitch,” he says on his way out, and not a single Gallagher believes otherwise.

On the bus to prison, Chuckie is immediately scooped up by a gang of neo-Nazi skinheads (who catch the swastika Sammi has imprinted on his forehead via a makeshift pencil-pen-needle tattoo machine which I definitely mistook for a prison shiv). Carl is snatched up by another crony of his drug dealer, who found out that he DIDN’T snitch and is thusly happy to reward him. And suddenly, Shameless became Orange Is the New Black: Juvie & Penis Edition real, real quick.

NEXT: Frank finds love in a hopeless place, and Kev gets a new job