That’s right, folks – the booziest, baddest, and most anally-fixated show on television is back for a new season of Old Style-fueled debauchery. I’ll be stepping into the mismatched sneakers of snicks this year (your other shoe is in aisle 3, pal!) to recap the Gallagher clan’s latest scams and sexploits every week. Just consider me your Monday morning hangover.
When we last left Frank, Fiona, Lip, Ian, Debbie, Carl, Liam, and friends, Steve (aka Jimmy) had apparently taken off for Costa Rica, Karen’s Promise Maker father had jumped into an iced-over lake hugging a cinderblock, Ian’s boyfriend Pigpen Mickey was in jail, and Lip had just tried to kill Frank for banging Karen on video (in Frank’s defense, he was even more messed up than usual when it happened).
When we catch up with the gang, it’s summer. Already things feel much different in Chicago’s South Side because there’s not three feet of snow covering everything, the men are in shorts, and Frank isn’t wearing that ridiculous Smurf hat. Everybody wins!
Frank (William H. Macy) is still shacking up with Sheila (Joan Cusack), who is now able to take 100 steps outside of her house. Karen (Laura Wiggins) – blond again and in a sex addict support group – warns Frank that since Sheila will soon be able to make it all the way to The Alibi and learn what a scam artist Frank really is, this gig is almost up and it’s time to make other plans. Despondent about the fact that the missing Mr. Jackson is no longer supporting Sheila, Karen, and himself, Frank hits the bar and loudly complains about the situation. He also bets a massive guy $10,000 that he can’t take two hits from a taser without soiling himself, which he promptly loses, much to the delight of easily amused barkeep Kevin (Steve Howey).
Fiona (Emmy Rossum), meanwhile, is a cocktail waitress at a nightclub where Veronica (Shanola Hampton) bartends. She’s apparently been seeing a young finance exec named Adam (Lone Star‘s adorable James Wolk) while dodging the ever-bizarre advances of Jasmine (Amy Smart), who is up to her usual party girl nonsense while her hubby is away. Later, Fiona has her Footloose moment when she hangs out of a speeding car waving a bottle of booze. Looks like she’s either doing very well at getting over Steve or she’s doing very NOT well.
Elsewhere, Lip (Jeremy Allen White) is making cash staging underground bare-knuckle fights with the help of gay bro Ian (Cameron Monaghan) and Mandy (played this season by Emma Greenwell, since Jane Levy was snatched up by the equally awesome Suburgatory). Ian’s coaching advice: “You’re punching like a fag.” Ah, kids and their gay self-loathing! Warms the heart.
Fiona comes home from an early-morning boff on the shores of Lake Michigan with Adam to find the strapping-but-kind-of-evil Officer Tony (Tyler Jacob Moore) – who is in the middle of remodeling the house next door, which he blackmailed Steve-nee-Jimmy into giving to him – on the sidewalk. Looks like he’s still actually thinking something still might happen between him and Fi. Good luck with that!
Fiona camps out in front of a fan and Lip comes down with a face like hammered skirt steak. Turns out he’s not a regular Fight Clubber, but he had to fill in when one of his scrappers “pussied out” on him. Debbie (Emma Kenney) is apparently singlehandedly running a daycare out of the house, complete with an above-ground pool sponsored by the Chicago Fire Department. She asks to have wee Liam moved out of her room in preparation for the “traumatic change” about to ravage her preadolescent body, but the boys are not having it. Fiona also reminds her that she’s only allowed a half cup of coffee. Kids these days with their stimulants!
Lip heads outside to visit the massive garden that cult survivor Ethel (Madison Davenport – two of my favorite Midwestern cities!) has managed to cultivate. Kevin – who now has a beard and long hair, btw – relaxes in a lawn chair and looks on approvingly. It’s like playing Farmville, only you get a check from Child Protective Services every week!
Over at Casa Jackson, Karen catches Frank digging around in Sheila’s things for her ATM card and “rainy day fund”, and tells him that she made her move it after “what happened last time”. Ouch.
Back at the Gallagher house, Fiona checks in the last tot of the day, reminds Debbie of the protocol (“Don’t wake you unless there’s blood or exposed bone”), straps on her earplugs and puts on the best sleep mask since Popular‘s Mary Cherry busted out “CUPCAKE IS SLEEPING”:
We then join Ian at the Kash and Grab, where always-chipper Linda (Marguerite Moreau from Wet Hot American Summer, which always delights me to remember) is whining about Kash not coming home and her having to open the store by herself. Ian says he doesn’t know where Kash was last night, and when a kid tries to buy cigarettes she barks, “What are you, eight? Get the hell out of here!”