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…