Lip awakes to Helene licking his ear and tying him to the bed—two acts that could potentially be sexy, were it not for Creepy Professor Theo sitting in the corner, watching his wife pour wine into the chest crevice of a promising young college student. Ahh, so this is what Lip’s dalliance in an open marriage has been building to: a scenario straight out of a low-rent porn site. Lip is shaken by Theo’s presence, and yet he doesn’t ask Helene to stop, instead closing his eyes because, hell, he’s come this far, so what’s wrong with just a little more creepy?
After all, he’s falling in love with Helene—at least he thinks he is. But that presents a problem for Amanda, his sort of girlfriend who has her own sort of lesbian lover (truth: I never understood that story line). As always, Amanda has begun showing up uninvited in Lip’s dorm room, jealously inquiring about Helene and trying to stir up sexytime with Lip despite his obvious disinterest. When Amanda jokes about her obsessive girlfriend being “homicidally obsessed with me,” should we assume that this is simply foreshadowing for Amanda’s own obsession with Lip?
At one point, Amanda leaves Lip’s room to warm up pizza, and he flat out ditches her! So when she catches up with him in the school library, she punches him in the face, blaming him for making her fall in love. She storms out and the library cheers, but Lip doesn’t exactly look pleased—perhaps because he knows that Amanda could very well be back next season, only 10 times crazier.
For now, that leaves Lip to dwell on his feelings for Helene, which he reveals to Ian are the early beginnings of love. Watch out, Mandy Milkovich—Helene’s coming for your man’s heart.
The season’s most tragic Gallagher is hitchhiking with Monica, listlessly staring at photos of a trucker’s family in the back of a big rig while Monica giggles up front. It suddenly seems to occur to Ian that he’s not quite sure where Monica is taking him, and as they leap off the truck and head toward a diner, it suddenly occurs to him that he has no money. The news takes Monica by surprise—she imagined he had a whole payoff from the army, ostensibly forgetting that she rescued him FROM JAIL—but she’s got a plan.
Ian watches as Monica brings a truck driver out of view and re-emerges from behind a truck with cash—and one ungloved hand. Did she give him a quick tug in exchange for lunch money? Ian floats the possibility, but Monica is offended and says she sold the trucker something of little importance. As they sit down to a very bizarre lunch, Monica proves to have little to no memory of Ian’s childhood, and yet she still manages to win Ian over by saying things like “I did f—ing good making you,” which warms him.
The warmth evaporates when they hitchhike to Monica’s “home”—a trailer park inhabited by Walter, a shirtless, tattooed thug who kind of looks like a sexier version of Kev if he was on a gritty HBO drama. Monica introduces Ian to Walter, who’s nonplussed about meeting her son. As Ian snoops around, he realizes that Monica sold the trucker crystal meth, and Walter is a meth cook. (His name is Walter. Come on, now.)
Angrily, Ian confronts Monica, who defends her choice by saying that she loves him. “People like us, we can be happy,” she tells her son. “And I love him. And that’s the most important thing, is to find somebody to love, right? Who loves you back for who you are.”
Ah, and this whole time, Ian’s been ignoring phone calls from Mickey! The radio silence has prompted Mickey to angrily hook up with random strangers, but finally, when Ian calls Mickey back, the look of happiness on Mickey’s face is enough to break your heart.
Oh, wait. You want your heart broken? Then consider the scene where Mickey runs right to the Gallagher house with the blatant speed of the final moments of a romantic comedy. It’s cry-inducing, but when Mickey arrives, he finds that Ian only has bad news—he doesn’t want to take his meds, but he thinks that Mickey will never be able to accept him if he doesn’t. “Too much is wrong with me. That’s the problem, isn’t it?” Ian asks. “Too much is wrong with me, and you can’t do anything about that. You can’t change it. You can’t fix me because I’m not broken. I don’t need to be fixed, okay? I’m me.”
Mickey realizes that this is a break-up conversation, and the range of expressions on Noel Fisher’s face should really drive home that this kid deserves some Emmy Awards love for continuously delivering the series’ best performance. As the reality of the break-up sets in for Mickey, another reality arrives: Sammi’s alive, and she’s got a gun.
Suddenly, Mickey is sprinting away from Sammi, who’s firing at him as she chases him around the neighborhood. Soon, the cops are pursuing, but Ian simply goes inside the house and lets the crazy run its course. Their crazy, not his.
NEXT: A goodbye and a (maybe) hello…[pagebreak]
Frank and Bianca’s jaunt to Costa Rica isn’t as glamorous as it might have sounded… if you think that a homeless man and a cancerous lady with a death wish sounds glamorous. Though Frank’s in paradise with the ample sex, exotic breakfast, and the freedom to pop pills and drink booze, Bianca is growing increasingly erratic as the pain escalates. She swims in shark-infested waters, doesn’t eat, is hyper sexual, and wants to buy a gun. A really big gun.
When Frank obliges and purchases a gun for her, a completely unhinged Bianca plays Russian roulette, right there in the middle of the tent. Frank wrenches the gun away from her, and in the shuffle it goes off, grazing Frank’s arm. They both freeze. Suddenly, Frank laughs… and Bianca cries.
Frank tends to Bianca’s pain, and she thanks him for making her happy. The next morning, Bianca removes all of her clothes and jewelry, swallows her pain medication, and dives naked into the ocean. When Frank wakes, he finds an envelope that says, “Please give this to my family.” As Frank rushes out onto the beach, shouting “Bianca” in the waves, he holds her clothes and crumples onto the sand, realizing that his brief wild romance is truly over.
Soon, Frank is back home at the Gallagher house, where he informs Lip and Ian, “She’s gone, boys.” They laugh, having no idea what he’s referring to, but it’s perhaps the first time we really empathize with Frank, finally understanding that even a man like Frank Gallagher, whose wicked deeds are countless, is not immune to love and loss.
And then there’s Debbie, who loved and lost both her virginity AND her sanity. Convinced that having a baby with Derek is a foolproof path to an instant family, Debbie goes on the pill and isn’t prude about how often she sleeps with Derek. (Fortunately, at least Derek is reciprocating saying “I love you” to Debbie, which was my biggest concern when she concocted this pregnancy plan last week.)
But lo, Fiona isn’t on board with any of it when she walks in on Debbie and Derek mid-coitus. The two sisters get into a huge blowout about Debbie’s misguided scheme, and it’s revealed that although Debbie’s thinking is cloudy, a huge amount of blame is on Fiona. After so many years of self-destructive behavior with men—marrying Gus, falling for Steve/Jimmy, that whole disaster with the brothers who manufactured cups—Fiona’s poor taste has rubbed off on Debbie and made her think that her nascent relationship with Derek is at least more stable than any of Fiona’s. “I know who I love and I know what I want, even if you don’t,” Debbie declares.
It’s quite sad, actually, to realize that of all of the ways Fiona could have rubbed off on Debbie, it’s her romantic entanglements that have taken the worst toll, convincing Debbie that an insta-family is an attainable and healthy goal. At the end of the episode, when Debbie takes a pregnancy test and her face lights up at the results, we realize that we’re most likely in for one hell of a teen pregnancy story line.
KEV AND V
They’re thisclose to making up—all they need to do now is find the status quo they had before, and that means making sure that Kev’s co-ed dalliances haven’t left him with any lingering STDs. V forces him to get tested after finding out that he slept with upward of 20 girls, but that’s not going to satisfy her.
V’s mother is the one who comes up with the bright idea that if Kev was screwing schoolgirls, then maybe V should give Kevin what he wants, which is ostensibly a schoolgirl outfit. Embarrassingly, V goes out and purchases an “Oops I Did It Again”-era babydoll uniform, but when she tries to seduce Kev, he gives the complete opposite reaction, and she storms out and locks herself in the bathroom.
Then, the babies begin crying, and it brings Kev and V full circle to the topic that divided them in the first place. Forget the babies—this entire break-up was about him putting the twins over V. V assumes that Kev is going to go hold the babies and let her cry alone in the bathroom, but Kev makes a decision: V. He waits outside the bathroom until she emerges. They hug as he tells her, “We’ll go do it together.” (Honest rant: I will never be okay with V demanding Kev put her over the children they’ve created. There’s insecurity, and then there’s full-on selfishness—and this is definitely the latter.)
NEXT: And saving Fiona for last…[pagebreak]
Finally, that brings us to Fiona, who has arguably had the least interesting story line this season with her repetitive romances with Sean and Gus. It’s not that I don’t want her to be happy—it’s just that I’ve learned that it’s pointless trying to care about Fiona’s relationship trouble. Episode to episode and season to season, is it even worth giving her your emotional energy anymore? Give me a Fiona story line that has nothing to do with her heart but instead challenges her mind or her intelligence or her philosophy. Don’t give me any more “who will she pick!?” ultimatums. Anyway.
All season long, Fiona has had Sean’s support in her ridiculous family drama, yet the one piece of her chaos that he doesn’t want to hear about is her marriage to Gus. With Gus back from tour, Fiona thinks she can tell Sean about their shared night together, but Sean couldn’t be less interested, and suddenly Fiona realizes that her connection with Sean is currently nothing more than awkward small talk.
She tries to change that. When she hears Sean having a fight with his ex-wife Nikole, she tries to be supportive… but whereas the pre-Gus’-return Sean would have opened up to her, the post-Gus’-return Sean won’t allow her in anymore. Then there’s talk of “But we’re friends!” and that basically seals the deal that Sean and Fiona’s romance can’t exist as long as Gus looms.
On the flip side, when Fiona finally opens up to Gus about all of her problems, he says, “That’s what friends are for.” Yikes. Suddenly she realizes how it feels to be told by someone you love that they consider you just a friend. Gus won’t spend the night, and Fiona won’t leave the house, and they arrive at their own crossroads. “You haven’t decided whether you really want to be with me yet,” Gus says. “It doesn’t have to be tonight, Fiona. But soon, I need to know.”
The next morning she goes to Gus’ apartment and finds that he’s already left. His bandmate is there, and their exchange is PERFECT when he says, “If you don’t love Gus, you’re going to have to man up and leave. He won’t do it. He’s too nice a guy. And you…”
Poor Fiona. Rejected by Gus, she shows up at the diner to see Sean, finally declaring that she thinks she’s in love with him and she thinks he’s in love with her, too. But Sean doesn’t have the answer for her that she wants when she says that he makes her happy. “Happy is overrated,” he says coldly. “Grow up, Fiona.”
And so Fiona is alone, wondering whether she’s a good person as she finds herself back at home, watching Sammi chase Mickey with a gun.
CARL AND CHUCKIE
By the way, they’re in a gang war.