When I was 17, I was arrested with a few of my friends for a crime we very much committed (the details aren’t necessary to this story). We knew it was coming, and we all settled on a specific story, and one by one, those stories crumbled during an interrogation by a local detective and an agent from the Tobacco and Firearms Commission. My interrogation came last, and by the time it had arrived, the truth had already been revealed. My interrogation was a formality, but a formality that I couldn’t go through with because, while all of my friends had already gone through with the question and answer session and left with their parents, I was left alone in a waiting room because the cops couldn’t locate my father.
When he finally arrived, hours later, I went through the interrogation, got caught in all the lies we’d made up with our settled upon story, and like my friends before me, copped to the truth. It was, in a way, a relief, an even bigger one in the end when they finally let me go, knowing that I would not have to face the consequences alone.
My father didn’t see it that way, however, and on the drive home, he wouldn’t speak to me. I tried to underplay the arrest, explain to him that it wasn’t a big deal, that we’d probably get off, and that the police knew we were smart kids who’d got caught up in something we shouldn’t have. My father, however, was having nothing to do with it. He stared straight ahead, visibly upset. After he drove a block or two further, however, he broke his silence with a sob, and ultimately had to pull over because he couldn’t stop crying into his steering wheel.
As it turned out, it wasn’t my arrest he was upset about. The reason why he couldn’t get to the police station earlier for the interrogation was because he’d been preoccupied. Earlier in the day, he’d walked in on my brother in his bedroom. My brother had a belt around his arm and a razor blade in his hand. He was attempting to kill himself.
My brother was 14. And with that, my big day at the police station was a complete afterthought.
That’s the kind of devastation that last night’s episode of Shameless captured so well. After dealing with one horrible situation — the threat to Fiona’s job caused by her own reckless sexual behavior — and celebrating the fact that she’d overcome it, the Gallaghers were hit with an even graver one. While the Gallaghers were dancing and partying because Fiona was not going to be fired, four-year-old Liam had gotten into the cocaine that Fiona’s ex-boyfriend’s brother had left behind, and that Fiona had rejected. Liam had straight up ingested a large quantity of it, however, and was found by his older brother unconscious on the kitchen floor.
Liam, barely clinging to life, was brought to the emergency room by paramedics, Fiona was arrested for endangering her brother, and that threat of losing a job — a concern that had taken up most of the episode — suddenly felt small and insignificant.
That’s how you deliver a sucker punch, Shameless style. When you live in a family like the Gallaghers, every minor victory is hit with an even bigger defeat. Every small mistake begets a bigger one. Fiona let her sex drive get the better of her and slept with her boss’s brother. Ultimately, that may not only cost her the job she worked so hard to get, but a brother she’d struggled for so long to take care of.
This is what it looks like to be stunned by disappointment, shame, and fear.
In better news, however, Ian is back after going AWOL from the military and maybe stealing a helicopter, and guess what? He is fabulous.