The Liam/lesbian storyline comes to an overwrought, tryhard end, but at least it comes to an end. And the twists and turns, with two episodes to go, are pretty interesting: While Liam is Frank's son biologically (see title), Ian is not. Apparently Frank has three brothers and Monica slept with one of them during her time as a PCP user. The only other thing going on with Ian this week is that Mickey is in juvie for trying to rob Kash, which is the story they came up with, and Ian goes to visit Mickey and is skin-crawlingly romantic with him, and it's super-funny and super-weird.
Eventually -- after a bunch of really great awkward and sad interactions with the kids and with Frank -- Monica and Bob take off in their giant truck after this big, emotional scene that is neither that big nor very emotional. It undercuts the stunning work of the cast throughout (once again, Lip outshines everybody but Fiona), which is sad, but honestly it just seems like the last-ditch effort to rescue the vibe with some Explosions-meets-Owl City manipulative bombastic violin-equivalent swelling heartstring-plucking nonsense.
Given the iffy line readings from just about everybody at different points in the episode, and the surprising number of repetitive and redundant scenes that help nothing, it seems likely the episode was just directed by somebody who doesn't understand things like line readings and what makes a big, emotional scene big or emotional. Which is fine, everybody's got a style, and the episode was still pretty awesome, so I'm not really dwelling -- I just really don't enjoy being instructed on how to feel about things.
Anyway, that unpleasantness means no more Monica, which is good because Monica is gross but bad because of the great things that it does to Fiona, which include making her freak out, trust Steve more and more, and also do some powerhouse acting. After hearing about Steve's home purchase, Hot Tony is now getting kind of stalkery toward him, which is a bummer but makes a lot of sense. Of course the well-meaning cop is the bad guy on a show about Gallaghers.
Karen's Purity Ball is easily 50 times more horrific than you could possibly have imagined, but the upshot is fairly great: After an attempt to play along with the Promise Keepers -- by describing her shameful personal narrative, in detail -- goes awry, Eddie calls her a whore in front of everybody and this is what causes Sheila to chase him out of her house, into the street and off in his car, forever. Luckily, Frank is there to witness this act of spontaneous healing, and seems to enjoy the sight of proud and ecstatic Sheila almost as much as we do.
Two episodes left. Seems the whole car-theft thing is going to resume being a big deal, but it's not so clear what else will be going on.
Bit of a fumble, this one. Disappointing, kind of frustrating after last week actually, but you've still got Lip, you got Ian, and you've got the Jacksons doing their shit, all of which are actually really well done, so whatever. Generally when this show has nothing to say it does so with aplomb and a lot of moving parts and charming poor-people antics, but we've eschewed that plan by completely ignoring the majority of the ensemble and focusing on having the same conversations fifteen times, between the least interesting characters, and then abruptly solving the central conflict of the episode pretty much out of nowhere, plus some bonus loud music to fool you into thinking you feel something.
Monica and Bob have a stage-whispered expository conversation about how Monica can't handle the kids hating her, they want to steal the baby, Liam is probably not Frank's, etc. They are still caricatures with a Boris & Natasha agenda and it's still a lot of show-don-tell. Because they are hanging out directly outside the boys' room, having this conversation, Ian and Lip have a very long stare at each other about how it's all so bleak and dire.
Next door, Fiona is listening on the baby monitor to what's going on in Debbie and Liam's room; what's going on is that Debs and Carl are playing Battleship, the game based on the upcoming blockbuster hit, and so Fiona sends them off to bed and they're sweet and Fiona is five steps ahead of them ("No reading under the covers!").
Next morning, all the kids need stuff, money and permission slips and lunches and things, and Monica rushes around acting dipshitty and everybody's unhappy. Bob sits at the table not moving a muscle and barking out stepfather orders and generally being just wretched. Perhaps you have a problem with authority in this way, and if so this is the show for you, but either way, as usual, the senseless autocracy of terrible parents comes down squarely on Lip and on Karen, separate geniuses in separate fucked-up houses; one assumes that they talk about this but maybe that would be taking the whole thing too far. It's hard to be Fiona but I think it might be harder to be Lip and Karen.
Fiona watches all this from across the way and bitches about them -- "This is a woman who burned a hole in Liam's footie pajamas when she fell asleep smoking while nursing!" -- and starts a fight with Steve about nothing, really, just total stress. He tries to be understanding about how much it must have killed Fiona when Monica left, and Fiona is super not having that, so he tosses her an iPhone and money for a couch and generally pretends like she's actually going to live there with him and not go rushing back the second Monica fucks up.