Shameless Review: "Just Like the Pilgrims Intended" (Episode 2.11)
In what is easily the most emotional episode of the series, everything breaks loose when Karen has her baby, Monica attempts suicide, Steve goes back to being Jimmy and Carl shoots a bald eagle with an Uzi. The dichotomy between the show’s heartlessness and compassion rises to a peak befitting a season-ending episode, except that it’s not. Lucky for us there’s one show left.
After spending the family’s savings on drugs and booze, Monica falls into a deep depression. “I don’t want to be me anymore,” she says as Frank softly sings “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.” Meanwhile, Carl finds an Uzi and shoots a bald eagle, mistaking it for a duck. When Jimmy asks what’s for Thanksgiving dinner, Kev holds up the eagle. “Just like the pilgrims intended.” But thanks to Steve it turns into a full-fledged turkey dinner until Monica slits both her wrists in the kitchen.
This is normally the place where a TV character like Frank would suddenly change, sober up and take responsibility. But Shameless, even with all its exaggerations and slapstick, doesn’t do normal for TV; it does normal as real life. While people are screaming and Monica is bleeding, Frank walks out the door to get drunk and pop some pills before passing out on the sidewalk. He is both heartless and hopeless.
While that is happening, Karen is at the hospital having her baby and not enjoying it as she screams at all surrounding her, including the Gallaghers, who have come from downstairs after seeing Monica in stable condition. But as the baby is born it becomes obvious that the father is Asian, plus the child has the signs of Down syndrome. This is not totally surprising considering that Karen smoked and drank during the entire pregnancy. Somehow I thought Karen would change when the baby was born, but she didn’t even want to see it, asking the nurse to tell the adopting parents to “come get their fucking baby.” Lip storms out and throws the videotape he made for whom he thought was his child in the trash.
Minutes later, Sheila kidnaps the baby and rides away with Jody on his motorcycle, again showing that they are two of the most compassionate individuals on the show.
Remarkably, there are no hypocritical judgments by the others regarding Karen’s actions. There is a sense that everyone is guilty of something, so who has the right to judge Karen? Her look of defiance while lying in bed says “I dare anyone to speak up.”
Debbie takes part in a short but sweet subplot when she begins to worry that she may suffer from depression, too. But Conrad, the homeless man who takes baths in their yard pool, tells her not to worry because the condition skips a generation. (Debbie gets her life lessons from whoever is available.) Debbie promptly invites him to Thanksgiving dinner.
Steve finally has Marco rescued from the shipping container and delivered into the arms of Steve’s wife Estefania. After hours of listening to the love birds’ coupling, Marco suddenly threatens to kill Steve when he discovers that he had slept with his girlfriend (yes, Steve’s wife). But Steve turns over his passport and identity to Marco and leaves, supposedly never to see them again—if we’re lucky. This story got old rather quickly. So now Steve can go back to his real identity as Jimmy. Fiona immediately takes him back into her life. With one episode remaining this season, it’ll be interesting to see where this goes.