Note: This recap contains spoilers about the season premiere and the past three seasons in general. It also features frank, if not explicit, mentions of sex, drugs and all sorts of inappropriate matter. But then again, if you had a problem with sex, drugs, and all sorts of inappropriate matter, you probably wouldn’t be watching and then reading about Shameless.
Yes, you read that right: triplets. It turns out Kevin’s “magic penis” (yeah, don’t ask) produced not just one but four babies for his baby mama Veronica. But, as this is Shameless and nothing is ever simple, there’s a catch. One of the babies is growing inside V’s increasingly needy mother who refuses to get an abortion now that her daughter is pregnant herself. In episode two, we learn that it’s not just one but three babies living inside Veronica after an episode of bleeding led her to the hospital. While V and Kev are surely excited about their little bundles of joy, the extra mouths to feed are scaring Kev who recently inherited full ownership of the Alibi Room. Its previous owner Stan, a curmudgeonly (and often pantless) octogenarian, died in a nursing room and left his bar to Kevin instead of his gay son. While full ownership of the Alibi would be a great way to support his growing brood, Kev quickly finds out that Stan’s bad business dealings left the bar with loads of debt (and probably in hot water with the IRS too).
Meanwhile at college Lip is having trouble fitting in. His grades are slipping and his fellow MIT students aren’t putting up with the BS that made him popular back home. “You’re the kind of guy I went to college to get away from!” a fellow South-Sider-turned-MIT-student tells him at a sorority mixer after he propositioned they get high in the cafeteria kitchens and then fool around. The problem isn’t really that Lip has changed but that he hasn’t. In Chicago, he could get away with giving his teachers backtalk and half-assing in assignments; he was a big, smart fish in a small, dumb sea. But at MIT where everyone was the top of their respective classes, Lip is quickly finding himself in over his head.
While Lip is having trouble with his upper-middle class peers, Fiona is (mostly) succeeding in her transition into the corporate world. She’s making sales left and right and even goes on a few sales calls to local businesses. But while she succeeding in the job, like Lip, a few of her old South Side tendencies are still hard to let go of. While driving the company car, a fit of road rage provokes a fellow driver to smash her windshield with a baseball bat. The damage was bad enough but she decides to lie about it to Mike, her boss and squeaky-clean boyfriend, whose clinginess is starting to get to Fi in a major way.
Back at home, we continue where we left off last week. Debbie is still hanging out with her new slutty friends who try to give her good-natured, if not misguided, sexual advice for her date with an older guy she met at the arcade. Although he seems like a genuinely nice guy, Debbie quickly bolts when she learns that he is 20 and living on his own. From the start, Debbie has been one of the most interesting Shameless characters for the simple fact that she is so unlike the rest of the Gallaghers yet doesn’t disapprove of, or is alienated from, her family. In a group of siblings that all grew up way too fast, Debbie is, quite refreshingly, still a child. She gets good grades like Lip but doesn’t cheat and smart-mouth her way through her education. She’s responsible to a T and doesn’t do drugs. Even physically Debbie is behind her siblings (“When will I get my period?” she complains to her friends, one of whom is already pregnant). This season, we get a very interesting arch for her in that she is trying to experiment with her maturity and, yes, even sexuality. She is a Gallagher at heart. But at the core, this make-up and heals routine feels like nothing more than an elaborate costume, which is something Debbie will have to come to grips with this season. That all of Debbie’s complicated inner-life feels so realistic and sweet is, in not a small amount, due to Emma Kenney’s performance. She has literally grown up alongside Debbie and is able to inhabit her flawlessly with grace and humor and more than a touch of teenage brattiness.
While Debbie might be waiting, not too patiently, for puberty to come knocking, Carl’s body is swimming in hormones. Besides “masturbating ten times a day in the bathroom,” according to Debbie, Carl also has the arduous task of caring for his deathly ill father. Unable to ingest any kind of alcohol, Frank must resort to taking whatever drugs are handy to quell his detox pains. His liver, too, is shutting down and in this episode Carl takes it upon himself to get Frank a new one. First he tests his and his family’s blood type (Fiona is a match, but an unwilling one) and tries to scheme his way into the possession of a donation. But while the search seems to be bleak, Frank drops a bombshell in the last moments of the episode: he has a daughter Samantha no one has ever heard of.
What does this mean for Shameless is anyone’s guess. But you’ll just have to wait until next Sunday to meet the missing Gallagher.
Image Courtesy of Showtime/CBS