Episode Title: "Casey Casden"
Writer: Cindy Caponera
Adapted from an original script by Paul Abbott
Director: Todd Holland
Previously on "Shameless":
Frank Gallagher (William H. Macy) moved out of his house and into the home of Sheila Jackson (Joan Cusack), an agoraphobic woman with an insatiable appetite for shoving rubber dildos into her sexual partner’s rectums. Although Frank’s first thought was to flee, the comforts of her home made him decide to stay there and even try to act like a father to Sheila’s daughter, Karen (Laura Wiggins); much to chagrin of Karen’s boyfriend and Frank’s real son, Phillip "Lip" Gallagher (Jeremy Allen White).
Meanwhile, Frank’s actual family discovered that he had been cashing the social security checks of his Aunt Ginger for years after her death. Fiona Gallagher (Emmy Rossum) lined up an impostor Aunt Ginger from a local rest home with the help of her friend Veronica (Shanola Hampton). Although the government was fooled, the youngest Gallagher daughter, Debbie (Emma Kenney) was devastated to see the fake Aunt Ginger go back to the home. Later, Fiona made up with her boyfriend Steve (Justin Chatwin) after briefly hooking up with Tony the cop (Tyler Jacob Moore).
In the Jackson home, Eddie Jackson (Joel Murray) — Sheila’s husband and Karen’s father — shows up without fanfare and moves into the basement, much to the surprise of Frank and the women. Frank also finds that Karen is attempting to seduce him in various ways, possibly to get rid of him. But for the most part, the family ignores Eddie and awkwardly goes about their day. Although Sheila seems to be uncontrollably baking muffins. Frank soon notices a party for the Casden family across the street, but they tell him there’s no booze, since it’s their son Casey’s birthday.
At the Gallagher house, the water heater is busted and Debbie is acting strangely. When Steve comes to visit, he and Fiona find that Debbie has kidnapped Casey Casden (who is two years old) and dressed him up as a girl. Debbie also washed his Superman costume, which shrank in the dryer. Also, the cops (including Tony), place an Amber alert and canvas the area for Casey. The Gallaghers realize that if they are discovered with Casey, they will be separated again into foster care. Fiona quickly calls the family together to make a plan, with Steve, Veronica and Kev (Steve Howey) assisting.
Through an elaborate scheme, the family smuggles Casey out of the house in his newly purchased Superman outfit, while the youngest kids and Veronica place calls to the police to report sightings of Casey. At his bar, Kev also loudly mentions seeing Casey until his coworker points out that they should call that in to the police. He also tries to nicely shoot down a girl who is hitting on him by telling her that he’s getting married. However, Frank overhears him and loudly tells the rest of the bar, including Veronica’s mother. Everyone gets a round on the house, but Kev looks worried about suddenly being roped into marriage.
The Gallaghers pull off Casey’s return with only a few hitches and his grateful parents drop money for them as a reward. Frank tries to claim it for himself, but his sons take the money back from him. Back at Sheila’s, Frank gets some useful advice from Eddie about dealing with Sheila’s annal fixations. Frank also gets an eyeful of Karen in the bathtub, when she once again tries to entice him. Back at the bar, a conversation with Veronica’s mother makes Kev realize that he really does want to marry her. He then runs home and proposes to her.
Later, Debbie buys the family a new water heater with the reward money, but she exhibits some troubling psychological behavior with the new doll that Steve bought for her. Also, in a moment of drunken lucidity, Kev admits to Fiona that the only problem he has with marrying Veronica is the fact that he’s already married.
Steve Howey deserves a shout out this week for making Kev’s first real character development work out nicely. Up until now, Kev has just been the annoyed neighbor of the Gallaghers who has to constantly reclaim things that they steal and borrow from him. It’s been a funny recurring gag, but it didn’t really tell us much about Kev. The reveal at the end actually managed to surprise me. I just assumed that Kev’s reluctance to marry Veronica was out of cold feet. The scene in the bar where the marriage announcement got out of control was great, especially for the look of unfolding horror on Kev’s face.
I also really liked the unexpected return of Eddie Jackson, which didn’t play out at all the way I expected it to. I guess he’s all too happy to have Frank take the anal sexcapades instead of him. And his advice for dealing with the pain was also priceless. I was surprised that he never even gave Frank any sh** about stealing his wife away. The scenes with Karen attempting to seduce Frank were kind of grotesque and uncomfortable to watch. Laura Wiggins is of age, but watching a girl who is supposed to be 16 or 17 coming on to a much, much older man is just creepy. I’d like that storyline to just go away.
There was a really funny interlude in which the Gallaghers recalled the last time they were separated into foster care, including a picture of the infant Liam with his foster father, Blago! Or, former Illinois Governor, Rod Blagojevich. That was hilarious. Other small touches that worked really well included Tony’s solution for his partner’s slurping and silent demonstration on how to use a straw, as well as the family’s attempt to steal a new water heater from a dead woman’s wake.
Steve was fully back into the fold this week, with most of his reconciliation with Fiona occurring off camera. I do like Steve’s character, but he hasn’t been served very well in the last two episodes. The one real moment that he gets is when he suggests that Debbie get some kind of consoling after kidnapping Casey, but the rest of the family quickly shouts him down. The thing is that Steve was right, Debbie is showing some very weird behavior that even her family can’t ignore anymore. At one point, Fiona asks someone if she’s fu**ing up the kids by bringing them up so haphazardly. And the answer is yes, she is.
I’m still really enjoying "Shameless," but it’s starting to come down from its early heights into a slightly above average dramaedy. But I want it to be great again.
Crave Online Rating: 7 out of 10.