'Shameless' Season 10 Episode 2 review: Domestic troubles and scams rule the Gallaghers' attempt to reclaim power from Debbie
In an episode full of everybody scamming everybody, the biggest highlight is a hope that the Gallaghers can and will survive in a home sans Fiona.
This article contains spoilers for season 10, episode 2.
The first episode of Shameless' season 10 tried a lot - perhaps a bit too hard, to establish itself with just as firm a grounding as the previous seasons, in the wake of Fiona's departure from the plot. Luckily, all of that overcompensation with outrageous, over the top dramatic individual storylines comes to a steady balance in the second episode. In that, as Frank is inspired to 'reclaim his patriarchy' with his live-in buddy Mikey, he resorts to his classic scams which are somehow kind of genius, while the actual genius Gallagher - Lip, struggles to cope with his motherly duties towards his newborn. Oh, and Mickey and Ian are back, even though they might be on the verge of killing each other any second now.
After running out of the prescription drugs Frank and Mikey stole from the old lady at the medical store, the two decide to scam Uber drivers next. The plan is simple - one of them books a ride and engages the driver in small talk, distracting him or her just enough so the other can appear out of nowhere in front of the car and get hit on purpose, thereby needing the driver to take them to the ER for more medication. Come to think of it, this is pure evil genius if the drivers aren't smart enough, but since they are, Frank and Mikey have to resort to rebelling against Debbie for holding Frank's 'Fiona money' hostage.
With Lip struggling to be a good mother to his baby Freddie while the little boy's mother still recovers in the ICU, he is not entirely pleased with Debbie either considering she barely has the time to babysit Fred anymore. But that only allows us a glimpse into what Shameless does the best - take a very common aspect of society and turn the gender roles on it to give us a unique representation of what an alternate universe would look like. Lip is your classic single (for now) dad; sleep deprived, struggling to quit smoking, and broke enough to patch his kid up with sanitary napkins as he can't afford diapers for his green diarrhea struck baby. But that doesn't deter him from wearing a prosthetic breast to breastfeed his baby as it's good for 'attachment issues'. Cue all the 'aww's!
From falling asleep on the toilet to getting drenched in his baby's poop while the two are in the bathtub - as Liam announces, Lip is a walking advertisement for using a condom. But it is when he breaks down at the end of the episode from how tired and overwhelming the experience is that we realize what a great father he was always meant to be. Coming in hot and heavy on the sentimental aspect, this is the most heartwarming element of this episode purely because we don't get to see this single parent role reversal a lot on the screen. And it also offers a striking contrast to Debbie's own form of feminism, where she claims her offering to give a store clerk so he doesn't bust her scam is somehow not degrading as opposed to the guy asking her for it in exchange of letting her go.
The rest of the plotlines in the episode is pretty much people scamming each other. As Carl tries to sell off his military gear and go back to his day job as a fried-food joint employee, he chances upon a girl smuggling vape in fast food orders under the name of tartar sauce. Of course, Carl has to partner with her and he brings in Liam to cover a wider range of prospective customers from the black community, while Kev and V are off stealing and distributing packages from a delivery guy's van after he manages to strangle himself to death - mid masturbation - in The Alibi's bathroom.
For the most part, these seem to be developing as side plots only to juice up the episode when Lip's whining and Mikey blackmailing Debbie about her she-shed to get Frank his 'Fiona money' gets a little too repetitive. But the biggest relief it offers is from the constant bickering and arguing of the Gallavich couple in prison as they are sick and tired of each other's nagging. The whole prison-paradise angle of Ian and Mickey is a dicey situation in this episode: as annoying and unnecessary their constant snapping at each other might seem, we are thrilled to see the arguing, squabbling couple back. Ian and Mickey are your regular old couple who look like they've been married for some hundred years, and as much as we love them together, there's no taking sides in this game where each feels like they need isolation from the other. Not a lot of significant developments might be happening this time, but it's enough to give us hope that maybe the Gallaghers will survive in a Fiona-less environment and that's as good as it gets for now.
'Shameless' season 10 airs on Sundays at 9pm only on Showtime.