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

And the total sadness underneath it, because Sheila's just as trapped as Fiona but in such an extended metaphor that you get some really awesome effects, like how Fiona's claustrophobic life is basically Frank's fault, while Frank is the only thing making Sheila's agoraphobic life livable: He is her Steve, moving in on her territory and assuming the husband-role, but whereas Sheila desperately needs it to the point of overlooking Frank's drawbacks, Fiona is so desperately afraid of it that she overlooks Steve's strengths.

Punishment and redemption, flipping back and forth. Which parallel in turn comes through in this episode because of the whole Daddy Frank thing, and the fact that it's easier to be somebody else's pretend dad than to accept that you have failed your own kids. Especially in this episode, but also generally -- and almost entirely because Joan Cusack is so phenomenal that she raises her storyline so high -- it's interesting to think about how this could be read as the story of two single mothers, and the various complicated ways their sad lives intersect. These two households he's getting his Frank all over.

Fiona finds Frank at the Alibi, and goes off on him about how she was just threatened by goons, and he does that talking thing that he does -- he was supposed to drive this car somewhere so that it could be blown up for insurance, but then the car was stolen, maybe by Steve for all we know -- and Fiona changes the subject to how Carl is going to be kicked out of school if Frank doesn't show up at this Parents' Night, because the note said something to the effect of "Carl is a lunatic and a danger to the children," complete with flashbacks to Carl's various gleeful offenses.

"He's a boy. This is what boys do! When I was growing up, Joe Palazzo bit off a kid's finger. Sister Irmalita picked up the nub and wrapped it in Kleenex. She always kept her snot rag stuffed in her sleeve." He assumes Fiona will take care of it, and she gets a big laugh from the bar when she specifies that they want a parent, "a real parent," and not even that lays him low. Then a speech that is so self-indicting and obnoxious that you have to enjoy it word-for-word.

"I have never been threatened by teachers, and I am not going to start now. I am fed up with these pangender hermaphrodites who hate that human beings are a species with two distinct genders. It's like they've declared war on testicles! They want to remove all the masculinity from the schools, fill the world with yogurt-eaters. Well, do your research! We're all descendants of barbarians, and the sooner we face it, the sooner we'll have a civilization worth celebrating. So hell no, I won't go, because no one scares Frank Gallagher!"

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