Episode Report Card
Jacob Clifton: A+ | 6 USERS: D

Fiona is so overjoyed, as they head out into the crowded hallway, that she doesn't even really pry into how Steve solved this problem for her, and then out of nowhere: Karen and Daddy Frank. Debbie, of course, runs to him happily without even a thought to what a gross betrayal this is, but Lip shoots Karen a look I would never ever want to get from him. Frank grins cluelessly at Fiona -- "Did they expel Carl? What'd I tell you, drama and threats, all for naught!" -- and the saddest, most touching thing of the night is the teary eyes of Fiona when she looks over at Steve, like, "Do you see why I find it hard to believe this is my life sometimes?" Just the angriest grin, and so much shame, and no pride in her martyrdom at all. It's really, really affecting, like, this moment touched the place usually reserved for Sheila. I think it's one of the best little shots of the entire series to date, honestly. Good on Rossum.

Back at home Fiona explains very carefully that Carl needs to cut this shit out: "We love you, and we need you in this family. In this house. You need to stop biting and punching and hurting people." His response -- "How else do I make them cry?" -- is a red-flag perfectly deflected by Lip -- "Gossip and slander" -- and embarrassingly Steved by Steve -- "You know, when I get really angry, I usually just count to ten," he says, to absolutely no response from any of the Gallaghers. Then they all jump in with even better ideas: Hockey, karate, all of the usual kinds of "regulated, sanctioned violence for children," as Debbie unconvincingly supplies. And all of which would be awesome, except for what happens next with Carl, which I still don't really get.

Sheila's overjoyed to hear what little detail Frank can produce about the conference ("I would've known, if I'd been there") and he's like, "She was developing into an incredibly poised young woman." Oh, Sheila loves that. But then she gets to thinkin' and it all goes dark again and she realizes that Karen is a good enough reason to stop sucking. "How am I going to help her be the woman she's supposed to be if I'm locked up in this house? I can't even get through the doors of a pretend supermarket, how am I gonna show her the Grand Canyon? Life is going on all around me, and I'm missing out."

Which is bad and sad enough -- and I don't even want to think about how much less Frank would care about her if she were a functional human being instead of this prisoner Rapunzel mommy-wife -- "Why am I so pathetic?" That is too much even for Frank, you can see it hurt him, and he just promises her she's going to get through those doors "any day now, and never look back." And she tells him again, and again, that he is her light. And maybe he is, and maybe that's even okay.

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