A few days ago, I rewatched “Nana Gallagher Had an Affair” and wondered why there were two episodes left in this season of Shameless. “Nana Gallagher” felt like the culmination of everything we’ve seen this season, but it left enough loose threads, and introduced enough new ones, to set the table for season two. I enjoyed “Daddyz Girl,” and it had plenty going for it, but I was left with the lingering question of why I’m seeing these story elements now. It just feels like an odd and incomplete coda following last week’s episode.
We began with Fiona, who was drafted to join Debbie’s classroom moms group after Monica skipped town. Debbie had been getting harassed by the other kids for never having shown up with a parent, and despite Fiona’s hesitance to be judged by the kids’ equally awful parents, she acquiesces. It was the first time we’d really seen one of the Gallaghers interacting with normals. Back in “Casey Casden,” I wondered why Fiona wouldn’t think it was a feasible option to explain that Debbie, a child, made a huge mistake and ask for leniency. Obviously she thought the Gallaghers were seen as such scum they wouldn’t get the benefit of the doubt. But how much of that was reality and how much was Fiona’s perception? I’d say Fiona is exaggerating the family’s untouchable status, but not by much. The classroom moms delight in cutting Fiona down for no apparent reason. But in the process, Fiona meets Jasmine (Amy Smart), a mother of three and self-proclaimed “dirty girl” who insists on positioning herself as Fiona’s BFF by plying her with booze and intimately kissing her goodbye. I’m curious about who Jasmine is and what her motives are, but is this the time to introduce a new character like this, one who clearly isn’t dropping in for a single episode? I’d say no, although I loved the scenes between the two of them and can only hope Smart will come aboard as a season two regular. Their friendship could be a great element for next season.
Speaking of next season, I assumed the identity of Ian’s father would be something the second season would explore, if only because Ian’s love triangle should be keeping him too busy to deal with much else. But there was no Mickey or Kash this week, just Lip pressuring Ian into finding out who his real father was. Lip is living vicariously through Ian. The DNA tests were his idea to begin with, and even though he wasn’t lucky enough to have come from someone other than Frank, if Ian can benefit from it, that’s a decent consolation prize. But, understandably, Ian has some reservations about the whole thing. His family and his identity are what they are. And what Ian gets from his family that he probably wouldn’t have gotten had he grown up with Clayton, the upstanding Gallagher boy, is the lack of judgment. When Ian told Lip last week about his romantic entanglements, Lip’s eyebrows barely raised. Being one of the ghetto Gallaghers has its advantages.
“Daddyz Girl” did deliver a great standalone story for Frank, who gets his workers comp benefits cut off after private investigators collect several clips of him looking plenty able-bodied. He has to find a job he can get injured on so he can reboard the gravy train. This could have been more of the same Frank chicanery we’ve seen all along, but something about having Carl and Debbie tag along to “learn the family business” elevated it to something funnier and more touching than it had any right to be. Debbie’s unconditional love for Frank is always nice to see, and Frank’s touchy-feely work bestie was an absurd bonus.
On to Steve, whose reign of grand theft terror looks to be coming to an end now that Tony has caught onto him. The battle for Fiona between Steve and Tony is an odd one, since the show hasn’t necessarily demonstrated that either of them is a good match for her. Tony seems sweet, but I’m just as suspicious of his motives as I was of Steve’s, as his interest in Fiona seems equally paternalistic. Still, he catches Steve in the act, and knowing full well busting Steve wouldn’t have the desired effect, he tries to convince him to skip town on his own.
And last but not least, we have Karen, whose story I put off until the end because I didn’t want to expend so much energy early on. Following the purity ball debacle, Karen goes into a spiral, acting out in even more extreme ways than she was before. First she starts her own vlog, then smashes out her dad's car window and wigs out on Lip before finally mounting Frank while her webcam captures it all. Surely I can’t be the only one who thought Karen and Frank’s will-they-or-won’t-they tension had been resolved weeks ago. Anyone who watched the U.K. version thought it was only a matter of time, but after flirting with the idea early on, I thought the writers were trying to draw a clear line in the sand between the original character and his American counterpart. And there still are major distinctions. Frank did his damnedest not to give into that particular temptation for whatever reason and apparently only did it in this case because he was hopped up on pain pills and Karen took advantage. It isn’t as much an illustration of who Frank is in this case as much as it is a plot driver. And I think we can definitely assume by now that Karen is pregnant.
- No Sheila at all this week, which was weird for two reasons. 1.) If she doesn’t leave the house, where was she when Karen was banging Frank? 2.) I was under the impression Joan Cusack is only signed up for this season. Will she return or will they wrap her up next week?
- “Shouldn’t someone be watching you?” “We’re latchkey kids.” One of my favorite exchanges of the season.
- Grammy on prison: “The food’s not so great but the pussy’s pretty good.”
- I liked Tony’s old partner, but I’m a fan of Russell Hornsby so I’ll take it.