The tone of “Killer Carl” plays a tad more sober than previous episodes, but is perhaps necessary to further highlight Frank’s inhumanity as a father. He continues his residency at the Jackson household—the other dysfunctional family—where Sheila dotes on him while her daughter Karen calls him “Daddy Frank”. Real dad, Eddie, lives in the basement now and partakes in family meals while making snide comments about Sheila who, in turn, treats him with venomous hatred. The reason for the disdain of the family patriarch still remains a mystery, as does Frank’s pitiful disregard for his own children.
Eventually, the writers of Shameless will to have to explain the background behind Frank’s behavior. There’s a sense that the Gallaghers, including Frank, were at one time a more normal family that took some sort of horrid turn. How else can one explain these children with exceptional minds and passionate hearts? Their missing mother is rarely mentioned but her disappearance is the elephant in the room. As viewers, we want a reason to like Frank aside from his “drunk appeal.” The writers offer an occasional look of regret on Frank’s face when he hurts his kids, but nothing promising ever comes from it.
This time, it appears, Frank has screwed up his part of an insurance scam and is being pursued by a couple thugs demanding $6000. When they come into Fiona’s house looking for him, it gives Fiona one more reason to hate her father. Another comes when Carl’s principal requests a meeting with his father on Parents Night. The warning signs at home (a penchant for torturing Barbie dolls and goldfish, among others) are even worse at school. (When the kids are asked to make a paper mache that represents the way they feel Carl makes a lifelike pile of dog pooh.)
Frank, of course, refuses to go to the meeting. But unbeknownst to Fiona, “Daddy Frank” does go with Karen. After Carl is saved, thanks to intervention from Fiona’s boyfriend Steve, the family runs into Frank and Karen in the hallway. Frank is clueless about the damage he’s done.
Ian (Cameron Monaghan) continues his affair with his boss Kash, the owner of the local quick stop. Kash’s wife Linda (Marguerite Moreau) is bitter and tyrannical, and when she sees that Kash is looking the other way when bullies shoplift she gives both guys some shooting lessons, something Ian the ROTC student, in a moment of foreshadowing, takes to easily.
Lip (Jeremy Allen White) finally gets caught for taking other people’s SAT tests for money. When the investigator discovers he’s not cheating, however, while oftentimes getting perfect scores, he gives Lip the choice of punishment or redemption, the latter being an invitation to come work with the investigator at the University of Chicago. Of course, all the SAT’s he took become invalid.
White is just another diamond in Shameless’s rough and ready cast. Each character gets their time but the sheer number of excellent actors make for shorter moments on screen—moments that the cast has a way of making the most of.
Later, when one of Lip’s angry customers threatens to drop Lip out of a second story window of the Gallagher’s house little Carl breaks the guy’s kneecap with a baseball bat.
The family cheers.