The Gallaghers strive to to change their circumstances
Episode 801
Credit: Paul Sarkis/SHOWTIME
Episode 803

Hide your wallets and meth, because the Gallaghers are back! After seven seasons of drug trafficking, aiding escaped felons, and stealing babies, America’s favorite family of lovable degenerates return to commit a whole new set of crimes. And in case you forgot where Shameless left things, we get rudely caught up courtesy of the “previously on” segment, which is the only time I’m okay with being cussed out by TV characters.

Only Shameless would start a season with a dildo. “Nope,” declares Fiona as she stares down this blue creature. “I just really can’t do this anymore.” She might not be into it, but the adventurous fella in possession of the toy requests she at least help him finish. Fiona does help him — by throwing him some lotion on her way out.

It’s the crack of dawn when she returns home, but the whole house is already up thanks to Carl’s 5:30 a.m. alarm, which ensures that he won’t “get soft over summer.” How quickly he’s gone from dedicated drug smuggler to dedicated soldier. The two oldest Gallaghers chit-chat on the porch, with Fiona, a.k.a. “alley cat,” telling Lip that she’s over “sex with anonymous men chosen for their abdominal fitness.” I bet there are a few guys at the Alibi who would be interested to hear about this development. Meanwhile, Lip is craving a drink, so he’s going to do the seven-mile run to work. Maybe I should try that anytime I’m craving pizza; it might help me become a man known for his abdominal fitness!

Inside, Carl is making breakfast and teaching Liam the “warrior way.” While Carl has clearly bought in on making America great again, he’s also still working on selling the meth Monica left for them. “The most American thing is free enterprise,” he tells an unhappy Fiona. All little Liam wants to know is “Where’s my meth?” He doesn’t get any, which he’ll really be bummed about when he sees the new hot tub Carl bought. On the plus side for Liam, private school is basically just all-day recess, as he’s constantly being pulled from class and sent to the playground so he can be shown off to prospective parents as a sign of the school’s diversity.

The only Gallagher not living at home is hard at work. Debbie, with Franny in tow, has landed a day job at a parking garage, where she encounters some nasty customers, including one angry man who threatens her over a lost ticket. She scares him off with a warning of Tasing and superglued-shut eyes. After work, Debbie runs home, gives Franny to Neal, changes clothes, makes Neal a Hot Pocket, and runs out the door for night school. Hurricane Debbie is in and out in a flash, leaving Neal shell-shocked. While he’s stuck babysitting, Debbie goes for post-class drinks and gets hit on by a beauty school guy, who wants to cut off a sample of her hair. Serial killer alert!

Our last Gallagher child to catch up with is Ian. He’s still trying to win back Trevor, so he convinces his partner to stop by the youth center, because just like Trick Daddy, Ian love the kids. He’s really banking on handing out condoms to at-risk teens being the key to Trevor’s heart. So far, it’s not working.

Lip has landed a job at the auto shop where his new friend/AA sponsor Brad works. “I wouldn’t,” Brad tells him when Lip stares at an intimidating, tattooed female coworker named Eddie. Twenty bucks says Lip and Eddie hook up. Later at Fiona’s diner, Brad has more lady advice for his pupil: Don’t get back with Sierra, at least not yet. As this counseling session is going on, ICE storms the restaurant, arresting many of the cooks and busboys. This puts Lip on dish duty, which leads to him overhearing that Sierra can’t pay her electric bill and her babysitter canceled. No problem — Lip is down to watch Lucas, even after learning that she needs the sitter for a date with her ex, Charlie.

Now, let’s see where the Gallagher patriarch has been hiding. And of all the places you could have guessed, a monastery would seem to be the last place to find Frank. Praying in front of a Monica shrine, he’s looking worse than ever, which is really saying something. It might have something to do with his empty bag of meth. Upon completing his “mourning” period, Frank returns home and begins preaching “acceptance, resurrection, and enlightenment” to Carl. Somebody drank the Kool-Aid. Or maybe it’s because Frank admits he smoked half his bag of meth, giving away the rest to “the needy.” “Nasty side effects, though,” he opines as he pulls out one of his teeth. Then, Carl’s hot tub arrives, prompting Frank to ask, “You used your mother’s inheritance to buy that?” When Carl tells his dad that he did, Frank proudly responds, “She’d love it, son.” (Recap continues on page 2)

Fiona’s busy day continues when she stops by the building she bought at the end of season 7. There, she meets one of the residents, Nessa (Gossip Girl‘s Jessica Szohr), a lesbian accountant. As Nessa gives a helpful rundown of the other tenants, there’s a bit of sexual tension in the air, prompting Fiona to reveal that she’s not gay. “You’re not my type anyway,” shares Nessa, admitting she prefers “blond and bitchy.” And with perfect timing in walks Nessa’s girlfriend, Mel, who is both blond and bitchy.

Speaking of bitchy, thanks to Svetlana, V has had to take shifts at the diner, causing her to wonder out loud if running over her wife could be the solution to getting the Alibi back. “I could do four years,” she theorizes. V gets even more pissed when Kevin shows up with news of the Alibi’s new name: Putin’s Paradise. “Russians always win,” he quips.

Kevin is off to a shift at the gay club, but V reminds him of her “no BJs” rule. “V, we could really use the money,” he begs. That need for cash leads Kevin to go out back with an older gentleman upon being offered $200. He allows the customer to get near his below-the-belt area, but Kevin insists he won’t get turned on, “no matter how hard you blow on it.” The guy gets pretty handsy, feeling up Kevin’s breasts, which quickly leads to the troubling discovery of a lump. Following the nice man’s referral, Kevin learns that he needs an immediate biopsy.

Meanwhile, V heads to Putin’s Paradise, where she finds a bunch of Russians, along with two familiar faces in Tommy and Kermit. She wants the bar back, but Svetlana says that’ll only happen if the two of them and Kevin become a throuple again. “You and handsome Kevin husband are stupid people,” opines Svetlana. “You need caring for like babies.” A throwdown between the wives ensues.

When violence doesn’t solve the problem, V resorts to another tactic. Inspired by the diner raid, she tracks down the lead ICE guy at a bust and tips him off to illegal immigrants at Putin’s Paradise. “Russians aren’t a really a priority,” he responds. And when she asks why, he fires back, “Do you really have to ask that?” She eventually convinces him, and ICE storms the bar and takes Svetlana and company into custody.

Wifeless and methless, it’s time for the beginning of Frank’s redemption tour. First up is Carl, as Frank apologizes to his son for “whatever I’ve done to you that I can’t remember.” “What do you remember?” asks Carl, to which Frank responds, “Honestly, not much.” Also on his “long list” are an old lady whose TV he thinks he stole (he really doesn’t remember much), a guy named Aldo whose dog he surely did something terrible to, and two dead guys who luckily were buried near each other. Thankfully, many of the next people he owes an apology to — or a thousand — are together.

After a hard day of working two jobs, Lip returns home to find his three brothers enjoying the new hot tub. He joins them and gets another nice surprise: Carl has his share of the meth money. Meth and hot tubs: bonding, the Gallagher way. When Lip asks Liam how school is going, the youngest sibling replies, “Good, some cracker told me that my life mattered.” It becomes a true meeting of the Gallagher men when Frank shows up, swiftly summarizing where he’s been. “Smoked up all my meth, got over your mother, and now I’m a new man,” he declares, adding that he’ll make amends with them tomorrow. He then strips down naked and hops in the tub (add that to the list).

And Frank wasn’t lying, as he starts off the next morning by apologizing to Fiona. When he hugs her, she stands confused and motionless. “I’m off to learn how to try and be a grown up,” he says. Once he departs, Ian chimes in, “He smoked half a bag of meth. Could be major brain damage — too early to tell.” It’s not too early to call Fiona’s investment in the apartment building a success, considering her first open house ends in a bidding war for the vacant unit. That night, she and Nessa have a celebratory smoke and chat, which abruptly ends when Ms. Blond and Bitchy calls her girlfriend inside.

So what do we think Lip is going to do with his meth money? Above-ground swimming pool? Go back to school? Nope, he’s going to pay Sierra’s electricity bill. His good deeds for his ex-girlfriend continue when he babysits Lucas. When Sierra gets home from her date, he’s clearly hoping something will happen between them, but Charlie already scored the ol’ “Do you want to come up for a drink?” Awkward. Making things even more awkward, Sierra offers to pay Lip for his services. Craving a drink, Lip runs to his professor’s house to give his mentor the rest of the meth money. “Thanks for the rehab,” he says before going back to running. He might not have a future with Sierra, but at this rate, he’s got a chance to become the South Side’s Usain Bolt.

The most shameless character of the week: Everyone was trying to be good for the most part. Well, besides the whole selling-meth thing. So let’s go with Carl.

What did you think? Are you buying Frank’s new outlook? Is Fiona on her way to becoming a mogul?

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Episode 803
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