What a great turnaround. It's clear people didn't necessarily agree with what I thought about last week's episode, but I stand by what I said: the dysfunctional side of the show stuck out way too much and it felt really strange compared to the extremely well-written first episode. This episode brings us back to the character instead of the plot; we're given some great moments between Ian and Lip, Frank and just about everybody else and some legitimately touching moments.
For me, the story that stole the show was Ian. A girl named Mandy starts hitting on Ian and tries to have sex with him, but he pushes her away for obvious reasons.. however, things get more complicated after Mandy's brothers, a few psychopathic students, try to kick Ian to smithereens, assuming he assaulted Mandy. Lip and Karen try to hide him, along with the guy who runs that store, but Ian realizes things are spiraling out of control. In a random and completely awesome change of pace, Ian admits he's gay to Mandy and the two form some sort of strange bond, one where Mandy pretends to be Ian's girlfriend so he won't get beaten up at school... but based on that final scene with them, I'm really hoping it means they'll form a great relationship with each other. It could lead to some great scenes.
The rest of the episode was pretty good too, and it showed us a more vulnerable side to the family. We see Joan Cusack's character (still can't remember her name) trying to overcome her agoraphobia and we actually get some scenes that show Frank as a semi-respectable father figure. Of course, Fiona still seems to be the heart and soul of the family, but Frank being around made me actually feel like this family was once normal.. or maybe not. I really would love to see how these characters got like this. Nobody just IS this way; there must be an origin story as far as this dysfunction goes.
I'm still not sure how I feel about the Steve character, but I'm thinking he'll become better over time. Right now, he's this sketchy character who likes Fiona and seems forceful in the way he wants to get into their family. Let's hope his character gets fleshed out a little more.
I really liked this episode a lot, much more than last week. Next week seems a bit absurd, but who knows.. I thought this week was going to be ridiculous, but it turned out surprisingly nice. Also, that neighbor's comment on the Phillies hockey team made me burst out laughing.