After a strong Season 2 premiere that settled us into to the Gallagher clan's summer lifestyle, Sunday's episode of Shameless, "Summer Lovin'," hinted that there are some bleak moments ahead for the family.
Frank was the head of a household, but once again, it was the wrong household. This time he was acting out of the kindness of his heart to help a former drinking buddy. At least, that's what he'd like everyone to believe. The reality of the situation was a bit darker—Dottie, a former regular at The Alibi affectionately known as "Butterface," was in desperate need of a heart transplant, with maybe only months to live. Having worked for the city of Chicago for 20 years, she'll have a nice pension coming her way soon. As soon as Frank heard this, he showed up at her door, eager to help with a laundry list of chores and to keep her company.
Every scene with Frank was uncomfortable—we're so conditioned to his evil ways that seeing him acting nice is hard to endure. It was clear something awful was about to transpire, and there were plenty of clues as to what it could be. First, Frank suggested he could change the battery on Dottie's beeper to make sure she wouldn't miss out on her heart transplant. Then, after he decided the way to Dottie's heart was through her bed, she informed him that having sex would raise her heart rate too much and cause her to die.
There's a sizable amount of money at stake here; how long until Butterface croaks? How will Frank manage to get his hands on her pension? And is this the darkest storyline we've ever seen on Shameless? It may already top this season's premiere, in which Frank handed over baby Liam to gun-toting thugs in order to temporarily settle his debts.
As Frank focused his life on winning over one woman, Fiona's romantic possibilities grew. We didn't see her J.P. Morgan buddy this episode, but she was still trying hard to win over the DJ at her club. Plus, Jasmine introduced her to a much older suit named Richard, hoping of course that Fiona might join her as a sugar baby. Thankfully, Fiona doesn't seem interested. Yet...
Lip's love life also hinted at darker possibilities. He's always tried to be satisfied with only having a physical relationship with Karen, but he's uncharacteristically starting to crack as he watches her falling in love with Jody from her sex addicts anonymous class. Lip has even taken up a hiding spot behind a lamppost to watch the couple's goodbyes as they become increasingly romantic. Kevin tried to offer Lip some helpful advice, but only made things worse by letting Lip know that girls who wait to have sex (as Karen is doing with Jody, but not Lip) are dangerous: "Chicks that hang out with you and don't sleep with you? Run the other way, dude. Because she's ready to stop playing and settle down."
Debbie's storyline, while not romantic like the others', was particularly worrisome. Headed toward puberty, she wanted some privacy and kicked baby Liam out of her room. She also witnessed a death in the nursing home, which surely can't be good for her as she shoulders the weight of running the summer day care job. With Fiona sleeping most of the day, Debbie may be the most important Gallagher, but "Summer Lovin'" did a great job of reminding us that she's far too young for the role she's been saddled with.
The Gallagher Family Crib Sheet
- The depth of Frank's delusions is impressive. He used his fellow patrons at the bar to convince himself of his good intentions, spouting off about Dottie, "I may love her. I don't know. Time will tell."
- Ian and Mickey's banter in the little league dugout and in the Kash and Grab was fantastic. They may be slightly dysfunctional, but is there a more original gay couple on TV right now?
- You have to admire Frank's ability to negotiate another moneymaking scheme in his spare time. This time it was to rent out a room the Gallaghers very much need to a pregnant Chinese woman. This led to a number of amazing one-liners:
Debbie: "Are we gonna get bird flu?"
Frank: "This is a human rights issue!"
Carl: "Are we going to have a brother that looks like Jet Li?"
Fiona: "Start filling cups with apple juice, or I'll have you and your commie fetus deported faster than you can say Saigon."
- A few of last week's commenters noted the re-casting of Mickey's sister Mandy. Season 1 standout Jane Levy has moved on, having landed a prime role on ABC's Suburgatory. But the casting department did a decent job in finding a Levy lookalike in Emma Greenwell. Hopefully Greenwell will get an expanded role soon, so we can see how smooth the transition really is.
- Shameless does a great job reusing minor characters, like Ginger, the forgetful elderly woman who the Gallaghers "borrowed" from the nursing home in Season 1 so she could pose as Frank's sister. She's back, and hilariously inappropriate as a nursing home flirt.
- This week, the increasingly mischievous and angsty Carl found and read Fiona's high school diary to a living room full of children. Later, Jasmine poked the subject of that diary entry, Craig Heisner, on Facebook. Something tells me we'll get a chance to meet Craig soon...
What did you think of the second episode of Shameless? Which Gallagher are you most worried about going forward?