After last week’s Shameless premiere lacked many of the series’ previous regular characters, I expected us to catch up with some of them this week. Instead, we saw an even more narrowly focused episode with “My Oldest Daughter.” We still didn’t see any of Ian, and the Milkovich siblings were absent this week, as was Sheila.
However, as far as secondary characters go, Kev and Veronica continue to play a big part this season. We found out Veronica’s actually pregnant with triplets, and after the reveal of Stan’s death last week, Kev had a meeting with Stan’s son/daughter Alan to read the will. Stan decided to leave the bar for Kev, which he felt bad about, but Alan agreed to let him have it if Kev sends him $500 a month for two years. After finding out how poorly the bar’s been doing, having triplets on the way along with a fourth from V’s mom, Kev and Veronica will be looking for a way to justify having all these kids. Veronica’s been pressuring her mom to have an abortion, an idea Kev and her mom are not on board with. It should be interesting to see how much longer they can carry this on or what else the writers will inject into their storyline before the babies are actually born.
As for the Gallaghers, we saw more of Fiona’s budding relationship with her boss, Mike. He promoted her to a sales position and gave her a company car to drive, giving her a chance to prove herself. After a few meetings—which she later finds out from Mike led to big sales—she gets involved in a road rage incident and has the company car’s windshield smashed with a bat by an enraged driver. It looks like Fiona and Mike’s relationship will either succeed or fail based on trust. Mike continues to stress how much he values honesty, and when he gives Fiona more than one chance to own up to what really happened with the car, she repeatedly lies about it.
We’re seeing some of the after-effects from her relationship with Jimmy/Steve, who always lied to her. With him, she could lie because she knew he was also lying. With Mike, she quickly saw he will not let that go unnoticed. Will Fiona learn to change to make things work with Mike, or will she continue to fall back on “I’m a Gallagher” as her excuse for lying? Fiona has already shown signs of maturing with her new responsibilities at her job, and the other moment that really sold it for me was when she got upset at Mike for “setting her up,” and was storming up the steps to her house. A past Fiona might have continued and gone straight inside, or waited for either Jimmy/Steve or Mike to apologize. Instead, with Mike standing there waiting for her to say something, she stopped, realized she was wrong, and turned back to finish the conversation with him.
Lip’s struggles at college haven’t improved much. Most of his classmates around him are ahead on readings and doing better than him on assignments. Even worse, the girls at college, even the ones from his neighborhood, don’t respond the same to his advances as, say, Karen or Mandy. Lip’s storyline could go a few different ways, although all signs point to the end result being him dropping out of college. If that’s the angle the writers are taking him, I hope to see something more than just his feelings towards college lead to him dropping out.
Debbie and Carl’s puberty-related storylines picked up from last week. After seeing Debbie’s friends encouraging her to go all the way with the guy she’s been hanging out with, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I like that the writers chose to have Debbie speak up about her age right away, showing that even though her character has evolved from the first few seasons, the core of Debbie’s character remains there, as a sweet girl always looking out for people’s best interests and doing what’s right. What I didn’t like from that storyline was how the guy reacted after Debbie revealed her age. He didn’t do anything terribly inappropriate, but he did reach over and hold her hand. I hope this doesn’t lead to some form of sexual harassment, but I’m struggling to think of where else the writers will take it.
As for Carl, he’s still more open than most teenagers about their obsession with masturbation. More importantly, he spent a big portion of this episode looking for a new liver for Frank, whose liver is on its way out. After tracking down the blood types of his siblings, Carl tells Fiona she has to give Frank her liver since they’re the same blood type and she’s over 18. Fiona ends up telling Carl she’s not wasting her liver so that Frank can just ruin another one. Then, we were hit with a shocker, as Frank said he would ask his oldest daughter, Samantha, for a liver.
Just as I had begun to wonder if they’ll keep this season going on fewer characters than we’ve been accustomed to, we’re given a new character, Samantha, who wasn’t actually shown yet, but I can only imagine will appear next week. has had many twists in its few seasons. While some might be more predictable (for example, Veronica finally getting pregnant after they asked her mom to have the baby for them), this one came out of nowhere and I’m interested to see how it will play out.
With fewer characters to follow and fewer storylines going on, the beginning of season 4 has been arguably more focused than in the past. While I haven’t felt the same range of emotions I got used to over the first few seasons and there haven’t been many big moments yet, that looks set to change soon. Things take time to build, and the next few episodes will begin to tell whether or not these early season choices were good ones.
Carlo Sobral is a Winnipeg-based freelance writer and frequent contributor to Paste.