Episode 5 - Father's Day
6 February 2012
Synopsis: Richard takes Fiona to a wedding and proves to be a good guy. Lip wants to know if he is the father to Karen's baby. Ian is upset when a Westpoint application arrives for Lip and not him. Debbie tries to learn how she might attract Little Hank. Eddie's body washes up and Frank tries to get hold of his money. The police think that Frank might have killed him. Karen protects him as a thank you for killing him and only helps prepare his grave for Sheila's sake.
The Good: I thought this was a bit of a mess. The one thing I will say in favour of the myriad of developments here is that Shameless isn't planning on becoming predictable. Some genuinely surprising and nasty things went on here which keep you guessing about what the show is capable of.
There were too many stories going on all at once here. The memorable ones were therefore the simplest. Kev and Veronica continue to be a delightful couple. His desire to improve his reading was sweet and the post it game she devised was beautifully appropriate for their oversexed intimacy. I also liked that she gave him the chance to tell her the truth (earlier in the episode) in case she has genuinely misunderstood him.
Debbie's attempts to attract Hank were simple and relatable. Her earnest search for answers and the different responses she received was entertaining and believable given what she is surrounded by. Her terrible taste in men seems particularly appropriate for a Gallagher. It was a nice touch that her knowledge of how to deal with drunken relatives is what made Hank finally notice her.
I missed the pregnancy announcement last week but Lip's response to that had some good moments. Naturally he wants to prove he is nothing like Frank and his love for Karen makes the situation super charged with emotion for him. I liked that he and Fiona sat on the bed, the adults of the house, to talk through the situation. The confrontation he then had with Karen in her house was pretty good. You got a sense there that maybe Karen has deliberately pushed Lip away. It isn't just that she met Jody. It may be that Lip scares her a bit. Or the feelings he has for her. Either way that story has potential to go to some very interesting places.
I liked that Sheila was using a "bed pan" to illustrate how far she has shrunk into herself after the plane wheels fell out of the sky. Her emotional scene with Karen, as they look at cribs and avoid talking about Eddie, was well acted. The continuity over Eddie's death and the sex video of Frank and Karen was solid.
The Bad: As I said above there were just too many plots being dealt with in one episode. This problem is exacerbated when so many of those stories involve high emotions or sex and drugs. Even on a show like Shameless those things need time and space to have an emotional impact on the viewer.
The fact that Karen's pregnancy slipped past me last episode may be a symptom of this. It could just be I wasn't paying full attention though. Regardless it's a story which should have been more prominent. The question of paternity and the effect on Jody and the marriage needed to be addressed. Instead Eddie's death took over proceedings and we learnt nothing new about Jody.
The paternity issue leaves the nasty question of whether Lip or Frank (or someone else) is the Dad. I have talked a lot about the tone issues with Frank and there was something unsettling about his pep talk to Lip urging him to run away. Frank was giving a speech about how he was blessing the kids by leaving them to fend for themselves. It's so hard not to see that as a cheap comedy monologue given how often Frank bleats that sort of self serving logic at the bar. But with Lip standing in front of him it felt both odd and kind of disturbing. If Lip had attacked him for saying what he did (both trivialising what he has done to Lip and reminding him that he slept with Karen) I would have found that scene easier to believe. Instead it felt like the two characters were in different shows with Lip forced to stand there and not react.
The rest of the episode contained a prostitute, an accusation of prostitution, forced marriage rape talk, a prison murder, two beatings, a murder investigation, underage drinking, a potential castration and urination on a grave. I'm sure I have missed a few incidents but you get the point. This was verging on True Blood territory and that's never a compliment. The prison stabbing was particularly unnerving. Either Malik had Ethel's husband killed or it was a misunderstanding. Either way it's a bad storyline but to throw in that scene out of nowhere in an episode about Eddie's death was all wrong. The other misunderstanding between Lip and Ian also felt strained. Ian looked immature for getting so upset over an understandable mix up, especially considering how selfless Lip is being in helping him. Their fight was then followed by a further beat down for Lip which made each scene seem less significant.
The lack of follow up on the plane wheels was another worrying sign for the show. You would think Frank would be all over that incident trying to manufacture a lawsuit. Fiona and others probably should have raised the issue too given how a few metres difference might have ended their lives. When one major incident can be ignored it makes you wonder how much you should be investing in others.
The Unknown: Fiona's story was fairly basic as Richard acted like a nice guy. Steve's return made his chances of winning her heart much slimmer of course. I don't remember clearly how much dirt Tony has on him and the fact that Tony has only made the briefest of cameos this season didn't help with giving his return much impact.
Karen's decision to "thank" Frank by telling the police that she "raped" him was an odd moment. I thought she was about to say that she didn't want her mum to lose him in her hour of need. By claiming that she was motivated by hatred for Eddie was less convincing. The fact that she then pissed on his grave made it clear how much anger she still holds toward him. That's a tough story to relate to of course and I'm not sure where that anger will push her character.
I also thought Kev's desire to improve his literacy would be linked back to his plans to buy the bar (203) but they haven't been mentioned since.
Best Moment: The extremes of Veronica and Kev's relationship were well illustrated by the two different sex games she came up with. The post it note idea was particularly sweet and clever.
The Bottom Line: This was a worrying episode in certain ways. It was more chaotic than last week and the ambition of some stories was not matched by their delivery. I hope the writers aren't just trying to serve all the actors each episode. That is counterproductive and will just drown out the moments which matter.
Add your comments on this episode below. They may be included in the weekly podcasts.