Shameless season 9, episode 2 recap: Lip shatters the Gallagher shackles

Jeremy Allen White as Lip Gallagher and Amirah Johnson as Xan in SHAMELESS (Season 9, Episode 02, "Mo White for President"). - Photo: Paul Sarkis/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: SHAMELESS_902_898
Jeremy Allen White as Lip Gallagher and Amirah Johnson as Xan in SHAMELESS (Season 9, Episode 02, "Mo White for President"). - Photo: Paul Sarkis/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: SHAMELESS_902_898 /

While Debbie battles the patriarchy and Frank takes politics to the extreme, Lip quietly becomes the most improved Gallagher in the latest Shameless.

Nine seasons into Shameless, and the confines of being a Gallagher still stands as a massive hurtle for each of the characters to cross. Whether it’s money or access or genetics, nobody from Fiona and Liam has an easy go of it. But in the latest episode, more than a few Gallaghers are learning how to maneuver around their limitations and rise to the occasion.

Shameless again tracks Fiona’s impenetrable ambition for making a name for herself in the business world, while Frank tries to do the same in the political sphere, though with different intentions and motivations. And as Ian struggles with his post-prison expectations, Lip finds himself at a small but life-changing crossroads. Can the sponsored become the sponsor?

Lip levels up, and it’s about time.

For a long time, Lip pushed people away to focus on his sobriety. But now that he’s mostly taken care of himself, he’s opening himself up to taking care of others. Although, Xan isn’t making that undertaking particularly easy. While babysitting for Kev and V, Xan steals a woman’s wallet in the park and runs off, leaving the kids behind.

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Meanwhile, a new AA member asks Lip to be his sponsor, which Lip initially declines. Gallagher’s don’t sponsor; they need sponsors. Even though it’s a slippery slope, Lip realizes that helping others circularly helps himself. With a push from Brad, Lip agrees to sponsor the young father, and he doesn’t give up on Xan. Two steps forward, zero steps back.

Fiona and Liam, the real estate tycoons.

It’s a shame that Frank got Liam expelled from his fancy private school considering how much he learned. In his short time studying with the rich kids, Liam developed a taste for the finer things in life and absorbed the knowledge necessary to help Fiona go toe-to-toe with a holier than thou real estate developer. With Ian’s 50K bail sitting in her pocket, Fiona decides to invest in bigger properties, a move Ford vocally disagrees with. But Fiona doesn’t fold when the developer belittles her and lands a coveted spot as a nursing home investor. Better hope this works, Fiona.

Debbie joins the resistance.

If not Debbie, who, and if not now, when? Debs continues to fight the good fight at work, calling on her fellow female employees to take a stand against the oppressive patriarchal double standards that cost her hard-earned money. The problem? There aren’t any other female employees. She does, however, meet another woman while protesting another job site, but this woman changes her appearance to pose as a man to fit in with her crew. Debbie’s got a date to compare notes, but could it lead to more?

Frank hits the campaign trail.

Fresh off of his STD outbreak scandal at Liam’s school, Frank’s lands on his feet with a thud and no money in his pockets. Ever the schemer, he takes to removing campaign signs for the South Side’s local election in exchange for under-the-table cash — Frank’s favorite kind. He then puts the signs back for more money from the other campaign.

Doing so, he discovers that there’s quite a bit of cash to be earned in local politics. Frank calls on Mo White, a not-so ironic name for a candidate competing against a black woman and a gay Latino man. The endgame for this overtly racist storyline isn’t clear now, but Shameless surely has a timely message in there somewhere.

Next. Shameless S9 premiere: It's the beginning of the end for Fiona. dark

Odds & Ends:

  • What’s going on with Ian? He doesn’t want to leave prison, and we he returns to his shelter kids having grown his Gay Jesus movement, he rejects the very power he held behind bars. As of right now, it’s hard to glean where exactly the series will take Ian this season, but with any luck, he’ll not try to get back behind bars to finish what he started.
  • Carl once again has bogarted the Gallagher basement to foster something unwanted, but this time it isn’t human beings. When his West Point application process takes him to a kill shelter, he spares the dying dogs and allows them the dignity to die on their own time in the basement. And he even throws a three-gun salute funeral for a veteran service bulldog.
  • Kev and V continue to explore their options for childcare, but with limited resources and a set of twins with behavioral issues, it’s an uphill battle. They spend the episode going from daycare to daycare, which is never an interesting storyline when compelling characters become parents. How about making Kev and V actually parent their children?

What did you think of the latest episode? Sound off in the comments!

Shameless airs Sundays at 9/8c on Showtime.