The “new Fiona” is here, which means no more Mrs. Nice Girl. While we’ve seen Fiona try to change herself and her circumstances many times before, will this be the time it really sticks? And is it just me, or is she being a little harsh with Debbie? Plus, the episode’s events take place on “the hottest day of the year” and just about everyone’s a little more pissed off than usual. Let’s break down “I Am a Storm,” which was also Emmy Rossum’s directorial debut (and a fine one at that!).
Fiona’s Reign of Terror
Fiona’s in the midst of making major changes at Patsy’s. She’s keeping the place open 24/7 in an attempt to catch patrons who are leaving the clubs, and after a tip from her competition, she decides to throw a theme party and secretly serve liquor. She’s really trying to make Patsy’s her own and spruce it up, like when she decides to add an outrageously priced artisan grilled cheese to the menu.
That afternoon, Fiona and Debbie once again clash. Everyone else besides Debbie is able to pay their rent, and Fiona lets her know she’ll have to stay at Frank’s homeless shelter if she doesn’t pony up. She gives Debbie an application for a job at a donut shop and Debbie goes to interview there. However, Debbie left Harry at home with Fiona, and when Fiona gets called back into work, she drops Harry off Debbie’s interview, ruining all chances she might have had to get the job.
In the last few seasons, Fiona and Debbie’s bickering has been reasonably accurate to that of a teenage girl and her mother, so I can’t fully say it’s getting too ridiculous. But I do think Fiona’s being extra harsh to Debbie most of the time. Fiona’s not wrong — she told Debbie from the beginning she did not want to take care of her baby, and that having one was going to be more responsibility than Debbie could handle at her age. But at the same time, when Debbie is attempting to secure a job so she can pay you what you asked, why crash her interview and make things exponentially harder? There are layers upon layers of unspoken resentment between these two, and it might take years of therapy to crack.
Later that evening, Fiona returns home and finds Lip chain-smoking at the kitchen table. Fiona starts to talk about work, Lip tells her about his internship, and all seems well. Then, Lip mentions how Carl and Debbie repeatedly called him throughout the day, and he didn’t have time to answer them. This turns into another fight between Fiona and Lip, and Lip belittles her job by saying he has the potential to make REAL money in his career and help the family in the long run. Fiona doesn’t believe he’d care about helping the family, reminding him that regardless of her salary as a restaurant manager, she took several supportive steps to get him to college, where he then drank himself half to death. “In the past 10 years, I’ve taken care of every single Gallagher in this family except one. I’m done,” Fiona says before grabbing her clothes and bedding, opting to sleep in her office at Patsy’s.
NEXT: A selfish Fiona pays a visit to V
This argument was sad to see, if only because Lip and Fiona tend to work so well together. Sure, Lip is being especially unfair by acting like Fiona’s job doesn’t matter. It’s cruel and unkind of him to keep bringing it up. And Fiona’s correct about taking care of everyone else, of course. But to a certain extent, she’d embraced and, at times, even begged for that role. Remember when she fought for custody of her brothers and sisters when she was a young 20-something? Fiona has always been the only parental figure her siblings could count on, so how could she think she’d be able to suddenly give up that responsibility practically overnight?
Next on Fiona’s tour of terror, she stops at The Alibi. She asks V for some beer for her party at Patsy’s, and asks her opinion on what outfit she should wear to the shindig. V doesn’t take too kindly to this and points out that lately, Fiona only shows up when she wants something. Of course, Fiona immediately goes on the defensive, and the two break into a “You don’t care about my thing, no YOU don’t care about MY thing” type of argument, eventually causing Fiona to insult Svetlana and leave.
At this point, after having three arguments in 24 hours with people she loves and cares for, don’t you think Fiona would maybe ask “Is it me?” Fiona needs to stand her ground and make decisions for herself, sure, but there’s probably an easier way to go about it than alienating half of your closest friends and family members. She’s all about bettering herself and becoming successful, which is great, but it doesn’t mean she can effectively disappear from the lives of the people who have come to depend on her.
Finally, Fiona’s story this episode wraps up with a very successful prohibition/speakeasy/old Chicago(?) themed party at Patsy’s. Carl, Ian, and Ian’s new friend (Trevor) show up and agree she did a great job. Lip also comes and brings Fiona an old iPad from his internship, with an installed POS ordering system to replace Patsy’s broken cash register. They both agree this was an apology for Lip being an ass.
What Went Down for Everyone Else
Frank’s neighbors are trying to shut down his homeless shelter. They think its presence creates an unsafe environment and encourages behavior they don’t want in their neighborhood. Frank decides to attend the meeting his neighbors have called to discuss the shelter. When one of them states says it isn’t what they want for their community, Frank makes a (very valid) point, saying “We are the community. We were here first. You bought up all our shit, you’re the reason we’re homeless!” His neighbors pretend to hear him out, but ultimately vote against him. Later, Frank calls a local news station to cover the discrimination he feels he and his people are facing from the neighborhood.
This story line may be the best thing the writers have done to make Frank tolerable. He still has funny lines, but he’s not ruining the other characters’ lives all the time. Despite him coming into possession of the house under wholly unrealistic pretenses, I don’t mind watching how the show decides to play this out.
NEXT: Lip makes a discovery at his internship
Lip gets a promotion at his internship, and we finally have an understanding of what exactly this company does (they process credit cards for fantasy sports!). He spends some time teaching the new intern how things work and thinks more about why the FBI would keep tabs on them so often. While in the office alone one night, he decides to break into the company’s server room. Lip discovers they’re using a proxy server to do some illegal rerouting of funds so they can offer services in areas where gambling on fantasy sports is illegal.
The next day, Lip’s supervisor sees on the office’s security cameras what he did and tries to get him to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Before he does, the Feds return to the office and tell everyone they can’t leave because they’re under investigation. Lip manages to sneak out.
Lip goes to Professor Youens’ to ask why he’d set him up with an internship at a company with illegal business practices. Youens tells Lip this is truly the best route for him — he’s smarter than these people, and he stands to make a ton of money by using his skills and working the system the way he knows how.
Ian makes a new friend named Trevor, who he finds out is transgender while partying one night. The reveal results in an argument of sorts, but Ian apologizes and says he doesn’t intend to be rude. He simply doesn’t understand what transgender means. Trevor takes Ian to meet some of his friends from the LGBTQYA shelter where he works, and Ian is exposed to a plethora of new terms and practices he’s never been privy to before, like using a person’s preferred pronoun.
Kevin, V, and Svetlana fight over whether it was safe to have Svetlana’s dad watching the babies. Spoiler alert: He did not sell them into slavery and is generally okay taking care of them, at least so far.
Carl starts to spend time with Dom’s dad, resulting in a hilarious turn of events. They go shooting together and Dom’s dad takes Carl under his wing. He convinces Carl to consider military school, especially if he thinks he wants to work in law enforcement.
And finally, there’s Debbie. After missing out on the donut shop gig, Debbie asks Kev if he’ll hire her at The Alibi. He can’t, but Svetlana gives Debbie some advice on how to get money to care for her child and keep a roof over her head. “Find a man to keep you,” Svetlana suggests. “You find someone weak, stupid, and desperate [to take you in]. And you wear bras so your breasts levitate.” Debbie takes her up on the suggestion and creates a flier advertising herself.
Head on over to the comments to let us know what you think about this episode and the “new Fiona.”
Episode grade: B+
The song in the last scene, as Fiona stands outside Patsy’s looking in: “Hollow Heart” — Silverbird