When we last left the Gallagher clan, everything was pretty much a mess, per usual. Frank had just ruined Fiona’s wedding by storming into the ceremony and outing her fiancé for still being a junkie; Lip was in jail for reasons pointing to his escalating dependence on alcohol, and was later dropped off at rehab; Debbie was dealing with the difficulties of becoming a new mother (at the age of 15) and refusing everyone’s help; Ian was doing his best to convince his new boss to trust him, despite having lied about his mental illness on his EMT application; and Carl, finally accepting his own apparent whiteness, was trying get his girlfriend’s cop father to accept him, too.
One thing to note from the beginning: At what point do we, the loyal viewers, stop getting berated for not watching last week’s episode? WE WATCHED! We don’t need to be scolded! One of my favorites yet was this episode’s, though — “Will you please pay attention so we can stop doing these f—cking recaps?”
To kick off a new season with Chicago’s most deplorable family unit (and three months early to boot), we’re subjected to a bizarre dream of Frank’s. He’s swimming underwater in his suit from Fiona’s wedding, and his children swim by him in outfits representing varying stages of their lives (save Debbie, who swims by attached by an umbilical cord to baby Franny). As the viewer, you think (and hope) Frank is perhaps dead — he’s drowned in the lake into which he was tossed at the end of last season, and everyone will finally be able to go on living in semi-peace without his periodic interruptions.
No such luck on this show. His existence, at this point, has got to be the best joke the Shameless writing staff has ever pitched. No one can cheat death as many times as Frank and still manage to truly wreak havoc on the lives of everyone around him, year after year. And yet here he is, still breathing. Frank is officially trolling all of us.
What everyone’s been up to in the past “30 days”
Frank was rescued from Lake Michigan, after which he landed in the ICU in a coma. The nurse cleaning him is humming Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger” as Frank awakes from his 100th near-death experience, and nothing in the Shameless universe has ever been more apropos. Frank is informed his coma rang up a $150,000 bill, and he attempts to flee the hospital as fast as his atrophied muscles will allow him to go. He’s also ridiculously upset to learn no one came to look for him in the 29 days he was at the hospital, seemingly unable to accept the fact that everyone truly wished he was dead.
Debbie is attempting to ditch Franny, admitting to herself that “Fiona was right. I can’t do this, I’m too young to be a mother” (and the older sister in me prayed that maybe, one day, Fiona will finally hear that herself!). She drops Franny off in front of a fire station, but thinks better of it when she sees Franny nearly get run over by an exiting fire truck. Debbie and Franny go to the park instead, where Debbie begins her foray into stroller theft, a venture she finds to be incredibly lucrative over the course of the episode. Not only does she steal a $4,000 stroller, but she also stole the attached diaper bag filled with lots of new clothes, toys, and cash.
Fiona has given herself a bit of a makeover in her latest attempt at “caring about herself before everyone else.” She dyed some of her hair blue, she got a tattoo, and she’s not cleaning up the messes of her siblings or their offspring, despite it being instinctual for her to do so. Instead she heads to Patsy’s Pies, where she’s still working as the manager (no mention of Sean whatsoever), and spends most of her time putting out fires there (but at least she’s getting paid for it).
Lip is fresh out of rehab and Professor Youens picks him up. His car windows are still missing and shattered from when Lip took a bat to them, but he seems to be doing fine. The professor offers to take Lip to an AA meeting, but Lip asks to go to the diner to see Fiona. She’s thrilled to see him, and Lip assures her he’s not an alcoholic and he’s doing okay, but he does need a job. Fiona is hesitant, asking Lip when he’ll be finishing school and finding a professional job, but Lip seems to think Professor Youens will have that all figured out for him.
NEXT: “Who’s going to wash my back?”
Kevin, V, and Svetlana have turned their threesomes into a fully polyamorous relationship. They organize and plan their children’s feedings, naps, and classes, along with their own work and sex schedules. They work, live, and sleep together with three kids among them, and yet this level of routine harmony still exists? That may be the craziest plotline Shameless has ever had (though I’ll bet it won’t be that harmonious for long).
Ian is doing well with work, but having issues with trusting Caleb. They seem to be living together happily in Caleb’s apartment and have a nice routine of their own. But when Caleb informs Ian he’ll be meeting an old friend — a female — for dinner that week, Ian is suspicious and isn’t quite sure why.
“Nope. I’m indestructible.”
Much of this episode is spent watching Frank drag himself around, in and out of the Gallagher house and the Alibi Room. I’m not sure how long his muscles will be atrophied (doctors, feel free to chime in below), but he’s not letting that stop him. At one point, Fiona literally drags Frank down the stairs and and punts his body off the porch, but Frank just wheels himself down the street to go huff some superglue and is back at it. By the end of “Hiraeth,” Frank has managed to get himself — with some beer and fried chicken — into Fiona’s bedroom, where he nails the door shut from the inside.
Lip seems to think his alcoholism was a fluke and everything will be fine with some parameters. He tells Debbie not to worry about the alcohol in the house and goes to the Alibi Room with no reservations whatsoever. When Kev and V ask why, he explains his strategic plan to continue drinking without ever creating problems for himself. His rules include not drinking before 7 p.m., not drinking on an empty stomach, drinking water to stay hydrated, and using his AA chips as tokens for how many drinks he’s allowed to have. Controlled chaos, if you will.
Speaking of Kevin and V, this episode revealed Svetlana is a secret math whiz. When V can’t balance their books, Svetlana steps in and wows everyone with her quick calculations. Later, V asks Svetlana to work on some of her and Kev’s personal finances. During a pre-arranged “family meeting,” Svetlana informs them things aren’t going so hot for them in the money department and they need to make some changes immediately. Unfortunately for him, Kev took a Viagra prior to this conversation, as he was under the impression it would be a different kind of “family meeting.”
Debbie is in the midst of a booming business venture with her stroller stealing, so much so that she’s hired a night nurse for herself. Joylemi costs $20 an hour and takes care of Franny throughout the night (and apparently while Debbie is in classes). Debbie struts down her high-school hallway as rested as ever, and brags about Joylemi to a hoard of other teen moms. “Premium child care isn’t cheap!” she informs them.
Then we have Carl. Carl is hell-bent on getting circumcised because he thinks it’s affecting his sex life with Dominique. Despite a lovely and informative chat about personal hygiene with his older brothers, Carl decides to go under the knife and use more buried money from his drug-dealing days to pay for the surgery. No word on what Dominique’s dad thinks about all of this.
Finally, episode 1 wraps up with Ian. Despite Caleb inviting Ian to come along to his dinner with his “old friend” “Denise,” Ian is still suspicious. Caleb recognizes this, explaining he was the prom king and quarterback and Denise was his high-school girlfriend, now married with children. Ian says he gets it and already had plans with Lip, but we later learn those plans are to follow Caleb to see if he’s telling the truth.
In the last scene, we see Lip and Ian watch Caleb greet a woman totally normally, before suddenly throwing her up against a wall in a furious makeout session (on a high-traffic sidewalk in broad daylight). Ian delivers a perfect final line of the episode that speaks directly to the audience’s shock and confusion: “Please, tell me she has a dick.”
Ep. 1 Honorable Mentions
- “She’s like the Michael Jordan of erotic stimuli.” —Kevin on Svetlana’s skills in the bedroom
- Fiona claims she’s “done with ALL relationships” in a venting session to Lip. LOL OK.
- “You sure? If you’ve never seen Radiohead in concert it’s really fantastic.” —Some guy hitting on Fiona
- “I can’t get an erection for four days. Then Dom will give me a blow job.” —Carl, when Fiona asks why he’s walking weird post-surgery
- “Wow, there goes a couple of billion brain cells.” —Frank huffing superglue out of a plastic bag and IMPLYING HE HAS SOME BRAIN CELLS LEFT?
- “We were kind of hoping you were dead.” —Carl (and literally everyone)
- Some of my favorite scenes in Shameless are when Lip and Ian team up or when Lip and Fiona do something together. Thankfully, with Lip back from rehab and college, this episode had both.
It’s not said enough just how great the music is on Shameless. I’ve personally found some of my favorite songs from this show. Each week during season 7, I’ll be mentioning a few that stood out to me during the episode, but feel free to add your own favorites in the comments!
- The song during Frank’s drowning hallucination: “The Fugitive Kind” by The Trigger Code
- The song during Carl’s surgery and Frank’s break-in: “Golden Sun” by Hotel Eden
- The song while Ian and Lip are staking out Caleb: “Free Animal” by Foreign Air