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Shameless Recap: Lock Up

This week begins with Chicago’s biggest ticking-time-bomb relationship, Steve and Fiona. Debbie interrupts the pair's goofy canoodling (turns out Emmy Rossum can put her leg behind her neck and sing the "Star-Spangled Banner"!) to urge Fiona to show up to a mom’s event at her grade school. While in their bedroom, she takes the time to nudge Steve about coming clean. "You tell her the truth yet, Jimmy?” Debbie asks. “You better.” He promises: “Tonight.” And thus, we know: He’s never going to make it to that conversation.

As the show nears its season-ender next week, Steve is running out of luck. Will he be revealed as a cheater with another identity, or arrested as a car thief? Will he be run out of town by Tony, or just beaten to a pulp by Fiona for landing Lip in jail? In the pro-Steve column, he bought Fiona a house, puts up with her crazy family, and dots her arm with little kisses as she fusses over breakfast. On the con side, he’s lied from the second he met her. Fiona, by choice, commitment, and destiny, is probably stuck in the Chicago slums. But he’s a tourist. Tony, jealous but growing a backbone, is suspicious. Outside the Gallaghers' house, he watches from his cop car as Steve kisses Fiona good-bye. His partner comforts him: “We'll find you another skanky hood girl to obsess about. “

Meanwhile, the men of the Gallagher family shop around, Goldilocks-style, for jobs and fathers this week. After his worker's comp is cut off, Frank goes on a mission to find a temp job, or rather a place where he can swiftly get re-injured. He takes the little kids along, explaining: “Time you learned the family business.” At an employment agency, he asks for jobs with hazardous conditions. “How do feel about metal splinters to the eye?” a genial employee who’s getting a cut of the disability asks. Debbie’s horrified, but Carl’s delighted at the various dangers — he really perks up at the talk of the splinters. Frank flees a factory that brags it’s 93 days accident-free and ends up at a furniture workshop where nails litter the floor. He's horrified to hear from his droning co-worker that it took the last employee who got disability seven years to acquire emphysema. Frank tries to speed things up by sniffing chemicals. Impatirent, he finally nail guns his own hand.

Lip, wanting better for his brother and perhaps another source for child support, is searching for Ian’s real dad. Maybe, unlike Frank, “he has a job or is sober or he likes kids." He invites Karen along, but she's still slashing clown paintings in the basement, not fully recovered from her dad calling her a whore. She now has black hair, a nose-to-ear chain that looks like she's aiming to be saddled for the Derby, and a video blog designed to make her dad miserable. (It’s going to work, but her entire freak-out seems a bit on the nose.) Lip’s no help, noting, “without judgment” of course, that she really is a whore.

Lip and Ian go see grandma to get info on Frank’s brothers. Surprise: It's Louise Fletcher in a traffic-cone-orange jumpsuit. She’s in jail for blowing up her meth lab and two college students along with it. In a crackling cameo, she gives them the name of their uncles and some crude wisdom about life in jail, all in exchange for cigs. Since parents pop up like pimples on Shameless, Frank's brothers prove easy to find. First is Frank’s long-lost twin, Jerry. His hair matches Ian’s but it soon looks like Frank is, if anything, the more warm and civilized of the twins.

On to another red-haired uncle, Clayton, who is prosperous, handsome, and an Ian look-alike. He's warm and welcoming to the boys. But his wife, who suspects he had an affair with Monica years ago, freaks. Ian bolts, not nearly as eager to trade up families as Lip is on his behalf.

At Debbie’s school, Fiona has to contend with a duo of snobby moms who bore her with talk of mortgage rates. But one mom who grew up in the neighborhood, Jasmine (played by Amy Smart), takes a fancy to Fiona, plys her with drinks and free clothes, and kisses her full on the mouth when she says good-bye. She seems like she's either scheming to enlist Fiona in an affair or a criminal scam.

Fiona has enough to deal with, without obsessing over Jasmine. Tony figures out Steve is a car thief and comes by the house to warn Fiona off. She doesn't take it kindly, runs Tony off, and tries to track down her boyfriend. Tony doesn't take the hint, tails Steve until he finds him stealing another car, and then beats the shit out of him, before offering him a deal: jail, or Steve disappears. Immediately. No good-byes, no explanations. What's interesting is that Tony, in pressuring Steve to get lost, is acting much like Steve when he had Frank spirited out of town. Both of them say they’re acting to protect Fiona, but it’s for selfish reasons.

We don’t find out, yet, what Steve decides, and we’re not quite sure what we’re rooting for. But two very bad things happen in the final moments of the episode: Lip and Ian, who have been driving around all episode in a hot car they borrowed from Steve, are arrested for car theft, by Tony. And Frank, doped up on oxy, goes down to Sheila’s basement when he hears Karen sobbing there. Next thing you know, a naked Karen is grinding on him, and airing it on her video-cam site "Daddyz girl." Oops.

Photo: Showtime