So the Chatsworth Housing Estate's local brothel has a new, feisty young prostitute, Bonnie. And the brothel's madam, Lillian, has taken her under her wing and become her "mother". There's no adoption involved, though. Bonnie merely changes her surname to Lillian's. Which happens to be Tyler! Geddit?
Meanwhile, Libby, who used to be Mrs Doyle from Father Ted, has become a post woman and hires a carer, Jenny, to look after her elderly mother, Patty, during the day. It soon becomes clear that all is not well. Patty has not got the crossword clues in the paper at all right; she's written "she's" and "drugging" and "me" in the squares, regardless if they fit or not!
The episode progresses, with liberal use of the word "cunt". By a woman, no less! But in the final act, these two strands are played out side-by-side. Lillian goes to see her new "daughter", Bonnie, in her posh apartment, while Jenny, wheels Patty (in her wheelchair) into the woods.
All quite innocent you might think. Except that Jenny, the carer, has tied Patty to her wheelchair, and, back at her apartment, Bonnie is downing Smirnoff like it's water. And true to form, when one character has been drinking, and the other is about to kill, the explanations start to flow.
If you think your life is bad, well it's not as bad as theirs. Probably. You can tell that, because the strains of "Time to Say Goodbye" well up in the background, as they tell their respective tales.
Jenny, the carer was denied a normal girl's life by her father's long illness. When he finally died, her mother became ill, and she was forced to care for her too. She was actually doing Libby a favour by tying her mother to her wheelchair and leaving her to die from exposure. Bonnie's real mother, however, was quite well. Apart from the fact that she'd forced her ten year old daughter into prostitution!
As the editor turns up the volume of "Time to Say Goodbye" Libby turns up and rescues her mother. At the same time, a tearful Bonnie, having downed even more Smirnoff, retreats to her bedroom, tells her new "mother" to go. She edges towards the balcony, and to the final bars of the track, falls back and plummets to the ground.
Shameless, while very watchable, is normally full of drugs, masturbation, teenage sex, repressed sexuality and shoplifting. However, this episode, with the help of Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli on vocals, was quite moving and shocking.