While this comedy/drama often features the sad and tragic, the show never quite reaches the extremely horrible stage of sad and tragic, as in the death of a child or a primary character, although this week it came close.
Monica’s return to the Gallagher household, though unexpected, comes with some guarded acceptance from her children, whom she had abandoned years earlier. (Chloe Webb’s performance as Monica, with her Pollyann-ish drug-induced look at life, is eerily similar to her role as Sid Vicious’ girlfriend in 1986’s Sid and Nancy.) Even Fiona begins to soften and seriously thinks about getting a better job and going to college. Sure, Monica and Frank still like to party and indulge in their vices, but she’s making breakfast every morning and he’s hanging with his kids. Regrettably, the writing on the wall hits the fan (just the kind of mixed metaphor Frank would use) when Monica finds the family’s “squirrel fund” containing a few thousand dollars in savings. Incredulous, Monica’s first thoughts are to grab Frank, with baby Liam in tow, and to buy drugs and a car. We cringe as she downs pills with a beer while driving and arguing with an also intoxicated Frank, as Liam sits in the back. When Lip discovers what Monica has done, he comes down hard on Fiona, who appears to have lost all hope. Frank, as usual, sees no problem with any of it.
Monica even convinces Ian to try and enlist in the Marines before discovering he’s too young. Ian is just trying to escape from Mandy’s father Terry, who believes Ian knocked her up. But Terry is obviously in denial when it becomes apparent that he is the father of his daughter’s unborn child. Now that is shameless.
Steve’s saga of being trapped in a marriage with a drug lord’s daughter continues to drag out while Steve reminds an apathetic Fiona that he will be available to her soon. Thanks to Lip, Steve finds a way to bring his wife’s true lover Marco to the States by hiding in a sealed shipping container. It all turns disastrous when the container can’t be found. It’s a humorous nod to the old Marco-Polo pool game to see Lip and Steve walking through a stack of hundreds of containers shouting, “Marco! Marco!”. But things turn serious when Marco’s phone signal, food and water begin to run out while Steve’s wife tells him “You’re a dead man.”
Sheila continues to have guilt over her earlier tryst with Karen’s husband Jody and offers to take in hospice patients, her first being a deaf meth addict with a tracheotomy. Jody has apparently switched his undying devotion from Karen to Sheila.
For the past few episodes, the only two characters who seem to have their heads on straight (though often wobbly) are Kev and V, who were hoping to have a child. But V discovers that she has PID. Even so, they remain optimistic and continually demonstrate a devotion to one another that is anything but shameless.
Monica’s transgressions are so great (she even allows Carl to drive the car—which he promptly runs into a tree—and bloodies his head) that it’s difficult to imagine how Fiona could think she could be trusted. Again we learn that Fiona’s goodness is constantly compromised by her bad upbringing. Every week the show’s creators bring us to the edge of disaster before offering a resolution that ties the family bonds again. But Monica’s appearance has left some ambitious and hopeful bonding to take place with only two episodes remaining this season.