The creators of Showtime’s Shameless deserve a hefty “thank you” for ending season two with an episode filled with a sense of resolution, as opposed to closing with last week’s cliffhanger episode. Now I look forward to a season of new and compelling plot lines just waiting to develop.
After an exhausting night at the hospital, the family returns home to an abandoned Thanksgiving dinner and a bloody kitchen—leftovers from Monica’s wrist-cutting disaster. The kids go to bed, and Fiona and Jimmy are left to clean the floor, where Fiona finally breaks down as Jimmy holds her hand. When they make it to her bedroom they are interrupted by the appearance of Debbie, and then Carl and Ian, all searching for support after being traumatized by their mother’s attempted suicide. Debbie’s sobbing performance, once again, shows why she is one of the show’s best talents.
At Fiona’s request, Jimmy introduces her family (with Debbie, Ian and Carl) to his family at a classy restaurant dinner. As Jimmy’s brother heaps insults on his younger brother, we see that Jimmy’s dad is the rich realtor with whom Ian had a one-night stand. A new plotline is set for next season.
Karen stubbornly stands by her decision to not keep the baby, even though Sheila and Jody have kidnapped it. Her vitriol is both shocking and heartbreaking, even by Shameless’ standards. “I don’t want that fucking thing near me,” she says while in the same breath wondering if Wendy’s is still serving breakfast. At home, when she sees that her mom refuses to give up the child, she gives Sheila an ultimatum—the baby or her. Sheila stands firm on protecting the child, and Karen walks out with Lip telling her she’ll regret her decision. For just a moment she appears to change her mind but then turns and walks away.
Frank, who had bailed on the drama of Monica’s slit wrists, is now determined to break her out of the rehab hospital where she has voluntarily committed herself for 60 days. His and Debbie’s nighttime rescue turns into a comedic adventure highlighted by Frank’s discovery of Monica in the middle of a sexual liaison with Jill, a patient she had just met (wonderfully played by the talented Jenna Elfman). After learning that Jill was there because she had shot her husband 26 times, they succeed in their escape before Jill and Monica drive off with Monica shouting, “I love you, Debbie!” after realizing the whole family was better off without her. This obviously sets the scene for future Monica interruptions.
Frank comes home, looking for booze, only to get into a physical fight with Ian before Estefania (who has shown up after being beaten by Marco) hits Frank with a frying pan. In the end, as Lip returns back home, we find Frank on the lawn waking up in a fresh foot of snow. Things are back to normal, as much as normal can be with the Gallaghers.
In the best form of dark humor, Shameless deals with the traditionally unlovable, the ragged edges of society. It holds a collective mirror to our faces as a culture and to our attempts at protecting its more helpless citizens, even when the assistance is sometimes unwanted, often unappreciated and frequently ineffective.