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SHAMELESS 2.01 ‘Summertime’

Frank loses a bet and his son, forcing the Gallaghers to pool their limited resources.

Episode Title: 'Summertime'

Writer: John Wells

Director: Mark Mylod

Previously on "Shameless":

On the run from the cops. Steve asked Fiona to go to Costa Rica with him but she never showed up at the airport. After seeing the video of Frank having sex with Karen, Eddie committed suicide in his ice-fishing hole. Lip confronted Frank about Karen and then got back together with her.

Story:

With Eddie and his earnings MIA, Frank (William H. Macy) is hurting for money. And after losing a bet with a thug in the bar over whether the brute could withstand two shots from a taser, Frank is on the hook for ten grand.

While working as a cocktail waitress at a club, Fiona (Emmy Rossum) hooks up with a handsome patron. Meanwhile, Lip (Jeremy Allen White) takes a beating when he has to step in for a fighter in one of his underground matches.

Desperate for cash, Frank drops by the Gallagher's and takes Liam to make some sympathy money pan handling. Meanwhile, Kevin (Steve Howey) learns from his elderly father that the electric bill is through the roof, this month. He realizes it's due to the pot plants he has under lights in the basement.

Frank gets kidnapped by the thug he owes money to, who decides to take Liam for collateral. At the Kash and Grab, Ian (Cameron Monaghan) watches as a man wearing a full burka stops in for a back room rendezvous with Kash (Pej Vahdat).

After waking up from working all night, Fiona learns from Debbie (Emma Kenney) that Frank took Liam. Veronica (Shanola Hampton) tells Kevin that they need to get rid of the large crop of pot plants immediately. 

Fiona leads the Gallagher clan on a mission to get Liam back. Once they arrive at the thug's hangout, the kids hand over all the cash they have on them and Fiona takes Liam. 

At the store, Kash tells Ian he can't live a lie anymore and he asks for a little lead time as he runs off in a burka, leaving his pregnant wife behind. Fiona brings over some of Kevin's pot crop to pay off the rest of the debt. Kevin decides to burn the rest of the pot plants in a massive bonfire, giving the large gathering of friends a massive contact high.

After going for a run with her hook-up from the club, Fiona gets inspired to beat her old high school record at a local track.

Breakdown:

It took me a while to get comfortable hanging out in Frank Gallagher's twisted, depraved world but like his own family, it was only a matter of time before Frank's outrageously selfish and self-destructive behavior began to feel almost acceptable.

Yup, taking a toddler pan handling in the street, selling fake drugs and turning tricks at a gay bar isn't shocking, anymore. In fact, it's kind of endearing. 

The truth is that Frank is a total dirtbag. We know it and his family knows it. It's fine because we've all learned to live with it. Lip runs an underground fight club and slings pot from an ice cream truck. Debbie runs a day care out of the Gallagher home where kids end up in dog crates and Fiona serves drinks at a club that caters to former frat boys working in finance. And it's all incredibly entertaining to watch.

In its second season debut, "Shameless" proves that it's as smart as it is shocking, if it's even shocking at all anymore. In fact, now that we've gotten to know the Gallaghers, their collective and individual plights, it's almost inspiring. Like their dad, these kids are hustlers. But unlike their negligent father, they all really care about and love each other, including the man mostly responsible for their financial predicament, Frank. 

As an outside viewer, I, too, can sometimes find Frank endearing.  He's working within his own self-centered limits, trying to do the right thing and failing miserably.  We know he had no intention of losing his two-year-old son to gangbangers but hey, sh*t happens, as the saying goes.  Especially when you're plastered all the time.

What's exciting about this second season is that the Gallagher kids are changing and growing while Frank continues to orbit the family in a drunken stupor. In a really twisted, messed up way, he's actually bringing out the best in his offspring while continuing to sink lower and lower, himself. And hopefully, the worst is yet to come.

Crave Online Rating: 9 out of 10.