This week's Shameless clearly set out to reduce us all to puddles of hot tears, and the damp throw pillows on my sofa suggest that it managed just fine. This unhinged road trip was terrifying, frustrating, moving, and completely unpredictable - in other words, Shameless at its best. Let's dig in.
Fiona (Emmy Rossum) smacks the shit out of Jimmy (Justin Chatwin) outside the diner, demanding to know where he's been for a season and a half. Turns out he was chained to a pipe on a boat, then slave labor in a cocoa processing plant, got malaria, crossed paths with the Federali, the usual. He's furious at her for getting married and wants to know where that leaves them. She fills him in: "You're such a fucking asshole." They are interrupted by a call from Mickey about Ian.
Ian (Cameron Monaghan) drives the baby along some highway - they are headed to Florida. Ian is talking very fast and ignoring repeated calls from Mickey. He tells the baby that they are leaving all their problems behind, admitting that, as a baby, he probably doesn't have many to run from.
Svetlana wants to call the police because "carrot boy took my baby" but Mickey (Noel Fisher) tells her to wait, Ian will come around and bring the baby back. He thinks he just scared him with the talk of the mental hospital.
Lip (Jeremy Allen White) greets students in his new role as an RA. A student's mom tries to get him to give her daughter meds every day but he tells her this isn't summer camp. He tells a bunch of stoners to cool it with the porn and weed until the parents leave. In his room, Amanda is painting a Reubenesque nude woman on the wall and reminds him that he could have moved in with her. Her new Craigslist roomie calls herself "Muff Dagger" and rides a motorcycle. Well! Can't wait to meet her. Lip gets a call about Ian.
Frank (William H. Macy) accosts Gail, the mail woman, and asks if there are any government checks in there for him. He's not doing well. He comes home and Sammi (Emily Bergl) tells him all the bedrooms are locked and he's not allowed in any of them. She tells him there are new rules - if he wants to eat he has to pay. And there's a curfew - 10pm. Debs (Emma Kenney) and Carl (Ethan Cutkosky) are furious. Tomorrow is Debs' first day of high school - she notably doesn't eat her French toast - and Sammi tells her to be careful, adding that on her first day of high school she nearly got raped by the entire wrestling team and beaten up for daring to go into the bathroom without cigarettes. Sammi asks Carl to steal some school supplies for Chuckles, and Frank eats the dishwater-sogged French toast out of the sink. Yech.
Svetlana wants Ian to be put in a scene from a bad insane asylum movie, and Fiona wonders aloud to Lip if this is a true psychotic break. Ian, meanwhile, pulls over in front of some dusty power plant and throws the baby up and down, marveling at how beautiful it all is. Oh dear.
Fiona tells the kids that Ian is gone - Chucky can't remember who Ian is, so Sammi says "he's the gay one with all the problems." Fiona sharply tells her that his being gay has nothing to do with his problems and Sammi says she didn't say it did. Jimmy shows up and Lip asks what the hell he's doing there, especially now that Fiona is married. Debs is all, what's that now? Frank is stinking up the couch in his sleep this whole time. Fiona pushes Jimmy down front the steps and he asks what else he missed, so she fills him in on Liam's overdose, jail, etc. He admits that he's been spying on her via Angela and asks if she loves Gus. He asks if she still loves him and she says she doesn't. He tells her he loves her and she cries. The kids watch from inside, saying, "Don't do it!" But she turns and kisses him. Nooooooo!
Fiona wakes up next to Jimmy and Lip asks her if she's okay with all this. She says she's got it covered. She goes downstairs and Sammi has made breakfast for everyone - she asks if Jimmy is gonna move in with her and Gus, and says that she can handle things here when Fiona moves out. She gives Debs her lunch and buttons up her top. Fiona gets all excited for Debs on her first day of high school but Debs is clearly pissed at Fiona. Just then Gus (Steve Kazee) arrives and Fiona introduces him to stinky sleeping Frank and tells him that Ian stole a baby. He doesn't know who Ian is. Gus meets Debs and Lip, briefly. He says he can blow off work to help look for Ian but she says not to bother, it's fine - they kiss (Sammi watches) and he leaves.
Ian sleeps in the car at the side of the road - the baby screams in the back seat. He changes the baby on the hood of the car and when he realized he doesn't have any diapers, he uses a heavy metal t-shirt instead. The baby won't stop crying and he realizes it's probably hungry but there's no food. He thinks they can forage. Oh my God. Oh - they are sill in Illinois, apparently. Mickey leaves a message that starts angry and ends desperate - "I love you." Damn you, show!! Svetlana tells Mickey that she's calling the cops if the baby isn't back soon. Mickey is left all alone in the house.
Fiona stares at Jimmy's bare ass in her bed. She throws his clothes at him and tells him she wants him out, now. She storms out of the house. Jimmy comes down for breakfast and Sammi is sweet to him. Uh-oh.
Next door, V (Shanola Hampton) tells Fiona that she and Kev are separated - though they are still living in the same house. V says that this isn't working for her, with the babies all coming first and everything. She has to run to open the bar - but before heading upstairs she asks Fiona what she came over to talk about. Fiona says it's nothing.
Debs arrives at high school (it looks suitably horrifying), where she is immediately shoved around. One girl asks if she's "Deadly Debbie" and Derek from the gym saves her from a fight. He says she's going to get a lot of challengers because of her video. Uh-oh.
We meet Muff Dagger, who is clearly enamored with Amanda and getting all nesty with her. Amanda thinks it's kind of intriguing, telling Lip that college is all about experimentation. She gets an application for a credit card from a booth on campus, saying that her dad took all hers away. Lip is surprised that they'll just give any kid a credit card. He tries calling Ian again.
Ian is at a truck stop, where he grabs diapers and food and Red Bull. He doesn't have enough money, so he tries to buy just a few diapers instead of the whole pack. A lady in the line gives him money for the diapers and he tells her that she's very nice. He then tries to change the baby right there on the counter but the checkout lady tells him he can't do that here. He hits the road.
At Patsy's, Sean (Dermot Mulroney) says Gus came looking for her and asks who she was beating up the night before. He asks her if she slept with Jimmy and she glares at him. He says Jackie is getting out of the hospital, and he's calling the parole officer on her because that's part of the deal. Angela (Dichen Lachman) comes by. Fiona asks if she and Jimmy are lovers and she says no, he's not her type - Fiona is. She is his business partner and just needs to know if Jimmy is going to stay in town - Fiona says she doesn't know.
Kev (Steve Howey) is at the park rambling to a woman on the park bench about how having a kid is a full-time job and V doesn't get that. Julie - the girl from the other night - reminds him that the handy-j was a one time thing, clearly not interested in humoring him.
At the hospital where Svetlana is about to give birth, her friend flirts with the guy from the couple that Svetlana is carrying the baby for, telling him what he can get for $100 or $200.
Ian leaves the baby in the car as he goes to a gay bar to turn a trick. A woman notices him leave the baby and tries to get into the car as Ian drives off with a john. When he comes back the cops are there and they've opened the car - they tell him that he can't leave a baby in a car on a hot day like that. He completely loses it, accusing them of trying to steal his baby. He grabs the baby and runs - much too quickly for my tastes, with that baby in his arms - and they corner him in a deli, where he has a complete breakdown. Oh Jesus.
Frank is in really bad shape - he asks Sammi to help him but she tells him it's not her fault he won't take his meds. She says his body's probably rejecting his liver. She tells Chuckles and Liam not to help Frank, so he crawls to the phone, which falls off the wall and hits him in the face.
There's a knock at the door, so Mickey grabs a gun. Damned Girl Scouts! It's Carl, asking if he's heard from Ian. Carl says that he's seen Monica do some crazy shit. Mickey offers Carl a beer. They talk business. Okay, this is an odd pairing. Mickey gets a call that the cops have Ian and the baby and asks Carl, "Where the fuck's Terra Haute"?
Jimmy and Angela ambush Fiona on the way home - she tells him that she's not up for talking as she enters the dark, quiet house. Her phone's dead and she can't find the charger. Jimmy says he's sorry for everything and she says that's not enough. He tells her he loves her another 100 times and she eventually caves. They do it in the kitchen but she cries, telling him to stop. He does and she asks him to leave. He goes.
Lip and Debs are on the road, with Mickey and Carl in the back seat. Mickey apologizes for not taking Lip's warnings seriously - he didn't know it could get this bad. Lip says it can get much worse. They get to the police station and Carl is afraid to go in - Lip asks why and he says he has a pound of weed on him. Whoops! Lip is not amused. Inside, the very nice arresting officer tells them that they need to get Ian help. He asks whose baby it is and when Mickey says it's his, he asks what his relationship is with Ian: "Partner. Boyfriend. You know - family." They get Ian, who has been sedated and looks like hell. They all hug him, Mickey last - he touches his face and holds him and cries. They bring Mickey the baby and he thanks them, kissing the baby's head.
Fiona comes home to Gus's apartment, and finally recharges her damned phone. Se gets into bed with Gus and he wakes up and kisses her. They have sex and she cries as she holds him.
Frank is in the hospital. The doctor asks him if he's "retarded". He says he's not, and she tells him that he needs to get his shit together. She tells him to cut with the drugs - if he loses this liver, he's not getting another one.
On the ride back to Chicago, Mickey says they have to have Ian committed - even if they have to call the cops to put him away. Lip tells him that this isn't Mickey's fault - that he tried, which is more than a lot of people do.
Fiona wakes to find Gus and another guy playing the guitar, like feet away from the bed. A bit rude, no? Gus tells her there's coffee and that her phone has been going off. She talks to Lip and rushes to the hospital, where she hugs Ian. He's going to allow himself to be committed. Ian hesitates before signing the voluntary committal papers, but Mickey gives him a nod and he signs. Ian says goodbye to the baby but he can't face Mickey - he walks right past him. Mickey runs after him and hugs him. This is going to kill me, I swear. Mickey asks the doctor if he can go in with Ian but she says no, he cant. The doctor leads Ian away and the door shuts behind them, and Ian walks down the brightly lit halls of his new home.
Oh this show...
Notably Absent: Sheila, Mandy, the Lisas
Is there anything that didn't make it into this episode? Ian on the lam with the baby, Fiona and Jimmy reconnecting, Frank nearly dying (again), Svetlana having the baby, Debs starting high school - it was fast and furious. Poor Fiona looked exhausted, but that might just be because she's having sex forty times a day. I really hope that this Jimmy thing isn't going to last, and I hope that Gus doesn't get destroyed in the crossfire. Having Carl and Mickey connect - over drug dealing, but every friendship has to start somewhere! - is interesting, because now that Ian has been committed I worry that it will mean less Mickey. And considering that he has emerged as one of the most interesting, consistently entertaining characters on the show, that would be a bad thing.
Speaking of Ian, that was just agonzing to watch. The scenes with him and the baby were scary as hell, and watching him spin further and further out of control was unbearably tense. Who else thought that baby was going to fall off the hood of the car? Now that Ian is in the healthcare system, I haven't the foggiest where it is going to lead. It's a bit troublesome that Cameron Monaghan just booked what could be a significant role over on Gotham, because I would hate to see Ian disappear for too long, even if it is comforting that he is finally in a place far better suited to address his needs. But if all we get for Mickey and Ian is tear-stained visiting hours, I don't know how long I'm going to be able to take that - I'm all cried out as it is.
A great episode. I'd give it nine out of ten Old Styles: