After two relatively tame episodes of Shameless to start season 4, “Like Father, Like Daughter” saw the show return to its more dysfunctional, disturbing side. With Ian still absent and most of the secondary characters having limited screen time, this episode spent a lot of time on fewer characters, making it an even more focused installment than last week.
Although Ian was absent, his presence was still felt in a short but powerful appearance by Mickey, who approached a red-haired woman and asked her if she wanted to bang in the bathroom, later pretending she was Ian behind him. The only times we’ve seen this side of Mickey on Shameless involved Ian, and Mickey seems to be the one missing him most right now.
I like the direction they went with Kev and Veronica this week, choosing to keep it simple and not do too much with the baby storyline. Veronica’s trying to sell some of her various pills to raise extra money for the babies. As for Sheila, who is still babysitting Liam regularly, she gets into the online dating game. Eventually, after some advice from a naive Debbie (or at least her friends) to “ask if they’re DTF,” Sheila lands a date with native-American, Roger Running Tree, which goes well.
Speaking of Debbie, we see her 20-year-old “boyfriend,” Matty, be slightly less creepy this week, covering Debbie up when she exits the bathroom dressed inappropriately. I’m still not sure exactly where this storyline will go, though, because it showed them sleeping in the same bed later, albeit with their clothes on. Hopefully Matty’s intentions become clearer soon. Carl’s storyline worked a lot better, as they mostly ditched his masturbation-focused angle while keeping his determination to help Frank as much as possible. Giving Frank the money for drugs that Sheila had asked Carl to get groceries with, followed by him stealing groceries and then dogs to re-sell them for more drug money for Frank, showed just how much Carl will do for his father.
Before getting to Frank, there’s Lip. He’s late for work, late for class, and stays up all night writing a paper he feels happy with, only to get a 77% on it. When he’s on the phone with Fiona, he struggles to find words when she asks him how he’s doing. He says he’s been better, but even then he’s holding back. We see nothing go well for him here, and it’s only a matter of time before something changes.
Last week’s reveal about Frank’s “other daughter,” Samantha, set the stage for an encounter this week. As the episode’s title suggests, we were meant to assume we’d see similarities between Frank and Samantha. In his typical scheming fashion, after having scoped out Samantha and her kid, Chucky, Frank offers a joint to another kid nearby to go rough up Samantha’s kid. Frank then runs up to “check on” Chucky and claims to be a hospital volunteer, keeping his true identity from Samantha. Touched by Frank’s generosity, she invites him to lunch, and they hang out for a while.
Here, we see Frank’s disturbingly manipulative side once again. Everything he does is for himself above anyone else. He’s done a lot of terrible things over the course of the show, and it seems like Frank will go pretty far with this charade and take advantage of his daughter. After bonding with her and seeing plenty of himself in her, knowing she’s looking for more than just friendship with someone she has no idea is actually her father, Frank remains set on getting her liver. Whether it’s next week or further on in the season, expect Samantha to find out about Frank at some point, whether on her own or through his own admittance.
Frank’s other daughter, Fiona, is who the episode title refers to more directly. At the family dinner scene at Mike’s, as soon as Robbie walks in and starts talking, it becomes obvious he will have a significant role to play. After Robbie loses his cool and storms out, Mike apologizes and Fiona brushes it off, saying her family is the same. Later, Mike tells Fiona that Robbie used to be his protector all his life, and he didn’t mind returning the favor to his brother now. Emmy Rossum really sells the look of appreciation on Fiona’s face in these two scenes, first for seeing his wealthy family still had problems just like her own, and secondly for seeing Mike’s caring side for his brother. So, even though I expected Robbie to interfere with Fiona and Mike’s relationship in some way after their initial conversations, I didn’t expect to see him having sex with Fiona on the counter while Mike puked in the bathroom just a few feet away (at least not so soon).
In many ways, this is a disappointing move for Fiona, a character who many consider the heart and soul of the show. But is it really that surprising? Thinking back to past seasons, many of Fiona’s happiest moments have been surrounded by mystery or danger in some way. When Steve showed up with a stolen car, she was thrilled and went along with it. When he showed up after being gone for a while and was burning his clothes in the back yard, rather than ask questions, she was just happy to see him. Tony, the cop and her old childhood friend, could never get very far with her. Whether she knows it or not, Fiona is attracted to drama and chaos. Or, as Robbie put it, more bluntly, she’s an addict. Still, it was easier to understand in the first season when Steve instantly came off as a more likable character than Robbie has so far.
Unsurprisingly, Fiona tries to keep that mistake a secret, telling Robbie they will take it to their graves, but he insists he’ll see her again soon. After being called an addict, Fiona walks past Carl’s room and catches a glimpse of herself in her sleeping father, leaving us to wonder whether next week will see Fiona wander further down the wrong path and continue to use “I’m a Gallagher” as an excuse, or try to enjoy the stability in her life for once.
Either way, this was the best episode of the season so far, and after an uncharacteristically slow start the past couple weeks, we now look set for an eventful next few weeks.
Carlo Sobral is a Winnipeg-based freelance writer and frequent contributor to Paste.