'Shameless' Season 10 Episode 3 review: Fatherhood, appreciation, and a sense of belonging bring about a wholesome ending
Lip being more than just a mother, Frank being appreciative of his 'nasty genius' Debbie, and Liam finding a fellow brother to guide him through reclaiming his ethnicity is what this episode is made up of.
This article contains spoilers for season 10, episode 3 'Which America?'
'Shameless' season 10 episode 3 takes us back to those rare moments of wholesomeness on the show that comes off as odd, yet somehow fit effortlessly into the ongoing developments of the season. Lip's initiation into fatherhood has long transcended gender-based stereotypes with him breastfeeding, but this time, despite his earnest denials of not being a mom, he becomes just the same through every little step he takes in parenting his newborn. And speaking of parents, we have a genuinely proud father in Frank when he can't fathom Debbie's con-man genius with her plan of buying, wearing, and returning clothes just in time, while Liam finds a similar figure in a fellow 'Black brother in need' as he is 'sherpa'-ed into being a black man in white America with ground rules that will make one rethink.
When we meet the Gallaghers this episode, the in general air shows everyone quite sullen. Everybody's anger at Debbie for keeping their 'Fiona-money' hostage dissipated slightly at the end of the previous episode when she gave them their own individual ATM cards, but turns out she used their individual social security numbers for those cards too, causing their loaded cards to get declined from every outlet. And while this is a minor inconvenience for Frank's alcoholism, for Lip it means either diapers for Freddie or flowers. The choices aren't easy and it gets only more and more difficult when smoking gets in the way of walking Freddie.
The new father-son duo's walk is interrupted with Lip's need for a cigarette, and he catches a smoke break in front of the church where the regular self-help anonymous meetings take place. As he fluctuates between catching a drag away from Freddie and rushing back to him, leaving the burning cigarette in a bystander's hand, it becomes clear just how meant for the role Lip has always been. Luckily for him, the woman holding his cigarette offers to hold Freddie until Lip can finish the remaining bit of smoking. The lady is also a fellow young mother attending new moms anonymous meetings that she feels Lip should join, but he so profusely denies being a mother even though he goes back to doing more than a regular mom would for their newborn.
This is the first time we see Tammi also after she hemorrhaged from giving birth to Freddie; in her hospital bed, Tammi looks far from interested in holding her newborn as the needles sticking out of her make things way more painful, supposedly. It might be the initial symptoms of an imminent post-partum depression but it looks like Lip is in this all alone in the long run - which is good because when Ian is finally able to Facetime him from prison, the sheer shock on the two gleeful boys' faces is enough to establish just how far the whizkid Lip Gallagher has come from dropping out of MIT and diving straight into alcoholism.
The same joy is exhibited on Frank's face when he discovers for the first time ever what a diabolical genius his daughter Debbie is at conning capitalism. Mikey takes Frank to Debbie's 'she shed' and instead of diving into straight-up stealing her stuff and selling it off, Frank stalls to appreciate his daughter - or 'student's intelligence over this carefully crafted elaborate scheme. He calls her a 'conniving, nasty little genius' and her con-scheme a 'real craft'. This one discovery causes in Frank a 'deep love for her' and he claims 'she earned all of this fair and square'. Sure, he goes on to sell all of Debbie's stuff to clear his own debts right after, but this statement of pride is big coming from the man whose entitlement knows no bounds when it comes to his children. Then again, it was Frank in the last episode who gave Lip the subtle confirmation that he wasn't going to hurt his baby, so maybe in the wake of no-Fiona, Frank really is stepping up as the parent.
Sadly, the one child who needs Frank's support the most has to find it outside his home. Yes, we are talking about the mystery of Liam Gallagher's ethnicity and as the little fella embarks on this journey to dig up his roots, he doesn't have to go far to find answers. Living opposite the Gallaghers is the family that contributes to Liam's blackness, but when he goes looking for answers at their place, he is met with a demented, cranky grandma and her somewhat much kinder nephew. It is this really charming and extremely attractive nephew who becomes a 'sherpa' in guiding Liam though the American he lives in. That's the titular reference that the two black men aim at debunking as Liam learns the basics of being a black man in white America. Think no dark hoodies, no walking out after 6pm, no expressing sexual desires around white people, eating sushi and attending TED Talks, and complimenting police officers - that's your black man in white America 101 according to Liam's sherpa. So here's looking forward to Liam adhering to the rules in his new relative's handbook.
That's all we have going for this week if you exclude the extremely drawn out trouble in paradise for Mickey and Ian. The only respite is that their relationship might just survive Ian's parole in the long run. But the highlight still remains to be the different arenas of parenting and fatherhood exhibited in tonight's episode, which is made better by that ever so touching ending where we see Lip and Freddie Facetime Ian.
'Shameless' season 10 airs on Sundays at 9pm only on Showtime.