Shameless Recap: We Need Some Boundaries

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William H. Macy as Frank, Dermot Mulroney as Sean. Photo: Warren Feldman/Showtime 2015
Shameless
Show
Shameless
Episode Title
Sleep No More
Season
6
Episode
11
Editor’s Rating
4/5

As we barrel toward the end of season six, "Sleep No More" sets up a few important plotlines that sketch an outline for season seven. Many of these threads are driven by the drawing and erasing of boundaries. Suffering no fools, Sean draws his line in the sand most distinctly with Frank. Lip struggles to understand the mere meaning of the word. Debbie lifts some of her strictures with Fiona, as does Fiona with Frank (but then quickly replaces them). It's always fun to see what happens when the Gallaghers congregate back on South Side, and as with all things Gallagher, it makes for the best of times and the worst.

Debbie
Having just born a child on the Gallagher kitchen table, Debbie is determined to carry on like any normal 16-year-old high-school student with a baby. One minor roadblock: Babies and classrooms are not well suited to one another. So, Debbie begins to struggle through "distance learning," rocking baby Franny in one arm and cradling an English book in the other. For a moment, she appears to leap into the role of an early-Shameless Fiona, cheerily waking everyone up for breakfast and making eggs. Exhausted from Franny's all-night antics, though, Debbie falls asleep and the baby drops to the floor with a sickening thud.

An uncomfortable amount of time passes before the story returns to Debbie, and we learn that Franny is — at least superficially — unscathed. With the realization that she has absolutely no idea how to mother, Debbie finally allows Fiona a bit of room to guide her through the opening act of maternity, clogged ducts and all. Despite her acceptance of help, I'm still worried for Debbie. She seems to be slithering through post-partum depression, and embracing the dark solitude of young motherhood.

Fiona, Sean, and Frank
As Fiona and Sean's wedding draws close, Frank — somehow uninjured following the commune shoot-out — offers to pay for their celebration in exchange for his traditional role as father of the bride. A skeptical Fiona accepts, but expects nothing. Yet each time she's required to put down cash, Frank shows up with the dough. Little does Fi know that he's been panhandling with Liam and blackmailing Debbie's baby daddy's father to finance the flowers and reception.

When she does find out, she's upset, but not nearly as upset as Sean. Throughout the episode, he has been stewing as Frank lays claim to his boxers, toothbrush, boots, and diner leftovers. Now in the midst of the everyday Gallagher crazy, Sean insists that the family not allow Frank to turn the house into a circus whenever he pleases. It's the first time in a long time that anyone has cared enough to acknowledge Frank's despicable existence. Having acclimated to their deadbeat patriarch's mostly inconsequential comings and goings, the Gallaghers only begin to understand what Sean means when Frank headbutts him over a pork chop, leaving Debbie to cope with the idea that a potential relationship with baby daddy Derek may be forever ruined.

As Frank and Sean beat the hell out of one another in the snow, Carl heroically puts his father in a choke hold, momentarily lulling him to sleep. When he regains consciousness, Fiona orders Frank away, hardened from decades of watching him repeatedly disappoint each of her siblings.

It's difficult to unravel Frank's motivation to be a part of Fiona's wedding. One would assume it's purely egotistical; Frank pays and gets credit for the entire thing, elevating him to temporary hero. But somehow, it's all also wrapped up in the idea that he missed Franny's birth and is, maybe, ever so slightly aware that he's a terrible father. It's hard to know what his drug-addled brain can grasp.

The episode closes on a bloody Frank hiring a random guy on the El to kill Sean. This does not bode well for Fiona's big day. I'm predicting a red wedding.

Lip
For a brief moment at the beginning of "Sleep No More," it appears that Lip might be getting his act together. After realizing the necessity of his TA position, he doubles down on work and apologizes to Youens for last week's outburst, but Youens remains unmoved. Adding fuel to his simmering fire, Lip loses it when Fiona mentions Frank's role in the wedding, openly criticizing his father's ability to abandon and reappear whenever it suits his needs. Projecting this disappointment onto Youens — whose drunken, paternal tendencies land a bit too close to home — a very intoxicated Lip embarrasses the professor in front of a classroom full of students. To make matters worse, he pushes Youens into some walls while viciously degrading him. Unfinished, he takes a bat to Youens's car, and is tackled by a couple of campus cops. We can safely assume Lip's college career is now, indefinitely, on hold.

This is a shining moment for Jeremy Allen White, who consistently steals Shameless's spotlight. Ripped apart by the contradictions of masculinity while being trapped within them himself, Lip trembles with aggression and vulnerability. He fully embraces both anger and disappointment at his male role models. The damage of growing up a Gallagher is catching up with Lip, and White delivers his bundled complexity with precise, vexed intensity.

Carl
Now receding into the Gallagher tapestry, Carl's keeping it steady with Dominique and attempts to enter Junior Police Training. Things are looking up for the un-cornrowed Carl, and one can only hope he sticks to his guns — without the guns, of course.  

Ian
Having aced his EMT test, Ian is an official trainee under the direction of an intense squad leader, who brings him into the unit with great expectations. By the end of the episode, however, she informs him that a background check dredged up his mental-health history, including the voluntary commitment he served while dealing with a bipolar episode. She cans him on the spot. I predict he takes out his anger on Caleb, who suggested he omit his mental-health struggles. Things seem to be going too smoothly for Ian, which is never a good sign for any Gallagher.

Kevin, Veronica, and Svetlana
In the weirdest, most delightful twist of the season (which I predicted last week), Veronica and Svetlana have become infatuated with one another. While pretending to be an amorous couple in order to fool Immigration, they've truly grown fond of their affair, resulting in some sexy scenes that prove Svetlana's commitment to citizenship. V is into Svetlana's advances, and guiltily confesses as much to Kevin, who, unusually open-minded, is equally into it. By the end, they're mapping out a Big Love–like sex schedule so they can all share in thruple-dom.

Shameful Observations:

  • What happened up at the commune? I can't believe Queenie, Jupiter, and Chuckie disappeared that quickly.
  • And what about the internship that Lip interviewed for? Perhaps losing his TA spot is a set-up to slide him out of college and into a real-world job.
  • I did not enjoy that weird moment when Fiona danced around in a church by herself.
  • Immigration is still lurking around Svet; I wonder if the thruple situation with strengthen or weaken her case. One would assume there is strength in numbers, but Immigration may not see it that way.