Shameless's Season 3 Premiere: Mexico, Battle Bots, and Brazilian Gangsters (Plus: Watch the Entire Full Episode Free!)

Shameless S03E01: "El Gran Canon"

Things seemed almost normal in the Gallagher household for a good 15 minutes of Shameless's Season 3 premiere—an eternity in Shameless screen time. When we left off, the summer of Season 2 had ended and the harsh reality of a Chicago winter was imminent. To kick off Season 3, the writers smartly skipped back to springtime, which should provide more opportunity for mischief to accompany the warming weather. Frank woke up in Juarez, Mexico after an extended bender. His family, naturally, hadn't missed him. Checking back in on the Gallaghers revealed that Jimmy has settled into his role as caretaker—cooking, mopping floors, and paying for Carl's braces. Fiona has been working hard to earn what she can; her latest degrading job involves cleaning up toxic waste at $14.50 an hour. Despite all the help from Jimmy, there's a bit of tension between them, but the love is still there.

Next door, Kev was on crutches due to an achillies injury, but he seems to have lost all the weight he put on without explanation prior to Season 2. This season, the writers have provided a reason for his return to fighting shape—he and Veronica have resorted to posting pay-per-view webcam acts online with a "Scenes from the Ol' Plantation" theme. Surely you haven't forgotten just how far over the line Shameless is willing to go. But now that you remember, prepare yourself for a season's worth of Sheila and Jody raising a special needs child. We checked in only briefly on their struggle, but it was enough to make me cringe throughout.

The rest of the Gallagher family is right where we left them. Debbie, still the heart of the family, has struggled with her father's departure, even creating a sad memorial in front of the Gallagher home. With Mickey still in juvie, Ian has continued sleeping with his older sugar daddy, who was revealed in the Season 2 finale to be Jimmy's father. We can expect plenty of fireworks if and when Mickey finds out. Carl seems unchanged, tagging along with his older brothers and surely picking up only the worst of their instincts. Meanwhile, the popular fan theory that he's destined to become a serial killer is alive and well. Little Liam maintained his title as the most stable Gallagher and possible best baby ever.

Lip managed to stay in school through the winter, but has maintained his bad habits, which led to his arrest for stealing a laser from a community college. Ian escaped with it, but Lip's attempt to beat up the rent-a-cops in hot pursuit resulted in another hearing in front of a familiar judge, who promised Lip hell once he turns 18. Upon returning to classes, he was greeted by a counselor pushing him to pad his resume to earn a full ride to college instead of a summer full of beer and weed. We know full well that if Lip is going to succeed, he's going to take the worst path possible. So far, though, that path has been mostly harmless, with the stolen laser contributing to an explosive victory in a battle bots competition. Defeating snobby, rich kids will never get old for Lip (or us).

Speaking of questionable paths, Fiona quickly made a disastrous decision of her own to start the season, spending her last $1,000 on a down payment for the right to promote a night at the club instead of paying a looming property tax bill. One of last season's most successful arcs saw Fiona and Lip butting heads over their individual responsibilities to the family; their regular showdowns elevated Emmy Rossum's already strong performance to award-worthy and marked the emergence of Jeremy Allen White's brooding and unpredictable Lip as the show's co-lead. With Lip possibly just a bit more mature now, Fiona's expensive club promotion could be a trigger to another blowout. In the past she's been one of the few characters we could trust to do the right thing, but with the belief that Jimmy is likely available to bail her out, Fiona has finally built up her ego to take a big risk. Little did she know, Jimmy had spent the day with his future in jeopardy.

Last season's Brazilian gangsters are back, led by Estefania's enraged father. With the Gallaghers out at school and work, the gangsters scooped up Jimmy, led him to Estefania's, murdered her lover Marco, cut up the body while Jimmy held it still, and took a leisurely boat trip on Lake Michigan for mimosas and a casual dumping of Marco's remains. Got all that? Jimmy sure did. The threat was clear—his marriage to Estefania must appear legitimate for her to stay in the country and get an education. And that will require Jimmy (Steve to the gangsters) to quit his car theft habit and keep a lot of secrets. Again.

Frank had quite the ordeal of an episode, but it was nice to see him suffer a bit as he struggled to get back to the U.S. First he promised payment to some enterprising border crossers, then he became a legendary drug mule by sneaking in eighteen sizable drug balloons for the cartel and one for himself. The cartel hilariously dubbed him "El Grand Canon," in honor of his time sharing a bed with Sheila and her unique sexual preferences. The biggest reason for Frank's vacation, though, was to provide some breathing room to reestablish the family without the threat of their father robbing them of their earnings. I'd argue this is a clear sign that Frank's character has run its course, but it would be difficult for Showtime to send an Oscar nominee packing in order to highlight the younger players.

With its huge cast and manic pace, Shameless's writing staff has seemingly endless options for contorting the Gallaghers' hopes and dreams while occasionally bringing everyone together just enough to warm our hearts. The series hinges on this unique balance of comedy and drama, and the season premiere nailed it perfectly by bringing Frank, the show's true antagonist (you could even say villain) back into the fold during a happy family dinner. Only Debbie hopped up for a hug, while the rest of the family, wary of the endless threat that Frank poses to their survival, tried to enjoy the moment as if he were still sleeping in an alley in Mexico.

With the premiere on the books, how do you feel about the Gallaghers' future? Where would you like to see Season 3 go?


Notes & Questions


– There was a brief mention of Karen when Sheila answered Frank's collect call from Mexico, but I could use a nice long break from the character. What more would you like to see from her?

– Loved Carl's ritual kissing of his Jessica Alba poster before going to bed.

– Mandy is basically living with Lip these days. "Her dad is mixing vodka and speedballs again, so…" Despite her issues, they're sort of a cute couple, don't you think?

– Was anyone else tripped up by the changing accent from Estefania's father? He almost sounded Irish at one point.

– Was that CGI fruit in the Lake Michigan scene?

– You do have to love William H. Macy's brief pause to react to Debbie's shrine out front. A confused head nod. Frank would never offer anything more.

– With Fiona and Lip on a crash course again, whose side are you on?


Comments (29)
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So, I'm on a marathon as it just joined Netflix. I know I will have the mystery of searching out season five and six, probably by Saturday at this point, but I'm enjoying it.

Just a random question that I got distracted by, I think, somewhere in the middle of season 2, I get that they might switch toddlers for child labor reasons, but did they seem to go like a whole year younger? The Liam in season 1 and beginning of two was actually two and seemed ready to take that step into trouble making toddler hood. The one I'm currently watching seems like he hasn't taken his first step yet.

But, to some of your questions, no I don't miss Karen. Her story actually started to wear on me in Season 2, I sort of felt like the whole Jackson family was sort of this interesting idea in Season 1 (basically the family that from the outside looks so much more put together than the Gallaghers but in reality are kind of more screwed up than them) that the story lost its thread and the Jackson house was just basically another set the show could perhaps cheaply rely upon (I mean, because it was basically the Gallagher house).

Last season, I was actually kind of on Fiona's side, she should have known better, but, conceivably the circumstances would have not gotten as bad if Lip hadn't decided to drop out of school. Hell, yes, Fiona maybe should have offered the or else ultimatum solution differently, my mother's was if you weren't in school, you got a job and paid rent. Or someone to point out to him, that sure, maybe you have that problem of the baby, but, you could finish the first half of school and maybe look into testing out as was suggested you could have the previous season. But, Fiona's life stopped when their mother left, basically so Lip could have one, she was entitled to what appeared to be two days off when she likely still was home more often than any other 21 year old. This season, I'm sensing I will be on Lip's side.

I'm not sure I have been feeling the new Mandy, maybe it was because I had an aww, Suburgatory once Jane Levy left, but sometimes I feel like, oh, clearly this was a matter of actresses likely willingness to do nude scenes, or at least topless ones.

I sort of spoiled myself on what is going to happen next with Veronica and Kevin, so I'm just waiting for the news to be discovered.
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Ian is my fav Gallagher. That boy is too too sexy!
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Karen kinda got the same treatment I gave Lori from Walking Dead. Rage. Followed quickly be yelling to get off my tv screen.
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She's way up there on my least favorite characters on good shows list.
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I gotta say I loved the character Mandy Milkovich when Jane Levy played her but since they got that new actress I honestly can't stand her and am annoyed whenever she's around and just yell 'GO HOME!' at the screen.
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The actor that plays Estefania's father is Portuguese, and it's probably hard for him to do a Brazilian accent, without sounding stupid (it does to me, 'cause I'm portuguese), but I'd blame that on the casting, not on the actor...
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Interesting! Appreciate the info.
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Staff
Favorite Ghallager: Lip
Favorite Character: Kev
Shameless should not get rid of H. Macy's character Frank. No one poses more danger/provides the most laughs than him. He is great.
My favorite scene from this episode was Sheila/Jody fighting for whose turn it was to get up and pay attention to the baby.
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I know I should've been disturbed during Marco's murder scene, but Jimmy's face and reaction was too funny.

And when it comes to Fiona vs. Lip, I'm on Fiona's side. She's made very few selfish decisions, which she deserves, and everything she does always comes down to the family. I just have no more sympathy for Lip, he stands in his own way. I know it may be annoying to have people tell you what you are going to do, but it doesn't mean you should have a hand in ruining your own life. And he may even be scared to fail, but his knowledge seems pretty fool-proof, and there doesn't seem to be any reason for him to be scared with those odds.
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I agree about Lip. I love his character. But that's my big issue with him. I'm enjoying the threat of head at the table being taken away from Fiona. Keeps things interesting. Though I'm not surprised, he is in the next in line age wise.
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Without Jimmy's reaction, that scene definitely would have crossed into horror.

Agreed on Lip to the extent that the show has already gotten a lot of mileage out of his stubbornness... curious how Mandy will play into the equation.
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Jimmy is my Fav
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I have to pull for Fiona here, even though the risk is huge I think she's smart enough to make the club promotion a success. Hopefully the pay off will be worth the risk and she can sink her teeth into a job that she not only deserves but will also lend some sort of financial stability for the clan.
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I think that was Lip telling her that. She has taken on a huge responsibility at such a young age. At any time she could have dipped and never looked back. Family is like that though. Its gonna be fun watching them as the two oldest kids butt heads a bit. Its bound to happen in such a tight knit crazy ass group.
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Teasers for next week (or the season) suggest otherwise. It also had a snarky comment by one of the kids... along the lines of "mess up like this again and I'LL be taking over the finances"

Like w t h. She's been taking care of you guys for years... one slip-up and mister high-and-mighty is going to take over? really?
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Well if that's true it would be the second time since she wasn't paying attention when Monica took the squirrel fund. But I see your point and it is a little ungrateful considering Lip baled on the family entirely last year.
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Off topic question: I've only watched the UK version--how does the US version compare? Similarities? differences?
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One thing I'm aware of is the US version stopped following the UK blueprint in order to keep characters around longer.

From what I've read about the original, the US version also feels more like a darker drama at times, especially at the end of seasons. Though maybe you can verify.
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I really enjoy the US version and I would love to help you out with similarities and differences between the two, but I tried to watch one episode of the UK version in which I got halfway through and did not understand one word they said so I had to stop.
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You ain't lying! Some British (and Scottish) shows need subtitles. It's like listening to a Sting song. You only understand every fourth word.
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Lip seems to only go after the most damaged girls but he has no idea what to do with/for them. Mandy is way more damaged than Karen and that relationship could go real dark real fast if Lip starts ignoring her. I realize she is playing a lead in "Suburgatory" but I wonder if Jane Levy misses "Mandy Milkovich" at all? This show has to be more fun to work on than an ABC sitcom.
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i love shameless. but i miss their winter episodes.
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Winter will be back next season. Though I loved it too. I kinda like guessing which seasons each season will be.
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There was definitely more of an edge to them... but the spring/summer routine lets them avoid getting caught up in the details like how the hell the family affords heat.
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That was kind of underwhelming. A few good jokes here and there, but definitely nothing really hilarious like the previous premieres. Most storylines were basically rehashes of season two and didn't even begin to go anywhere and Frank's scenes were completely useless (pretty good anus jokes, though). Only Jimmysteve's bit seems to be leading to something worthwhile.
I also really hate this show's habit of getting rid of its most interesting characters. Grammy, Monica, Karen, Kash, Ethel... I love the regular cast, but just them is kind of bland. Bring back the color!
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Jimmysteve FTW
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No shade... but.. its the first episode of season 3. Some shows do make their season opening episodes kinda of rehashish to refresh peoples minds. Also.. it hasn't been too long (time frame) wise from season 2. Patience is key.
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agreed
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That's interesting. To me those characters are almost cartoonish and a distraction from the primary plot lines. I'd much rather see an extra scene or two of Lip trying to figure out his life than keep up with another subplot. Maybe the solution would be more single episode guest stars. I think those always work out better than the extended arcs, which the show has a habit of letting linger on (Grammy and Monica in particular).
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