After last week’s upsetting miss, it is nice to see “Shameless” back on track. The newest installment of Showtime’s hit comedy strayed away from allocating too much time toward shallow storylines and instead found a worthy blend of comedy and drama.

Writer Sheila Callaghan deserves a good amount of the credit for this week’s success. First off, it was an excellent decision to have Kevin and Veronica return to their respective supporting roles. Their relationship is only interesting enough to the point where audiences need one or two scenes of filler. Besides, the couple has been trying to have a kid since last season––we get it.

Steve Howey is great as Kevin. It is obvious that Howey is comfortable in the role, and this makes viewers glad to see his character on screen. We love the big oaf because of his truthful take on things, which makes him a respectable mentor. Kevin is also a pleasant plus to have in Phillip Gallagher’s life because he acts like the childish but wise uncle who can mediate a tough situation, even though he is slinging pot on the side.

Carl and Debbie Gallagher were also a delight this week. Emma Kenney is a talented young actress and even though I am not quite a fan of Debbie, I can appreciate Kenney’s aptitude for assimilating into a dexterous role. Ethan Cutkosky, on the other hand, still has a few kinks to work out with his character Carl. Cutkosky is unable to manage emotional scenes, such as when he discovers that he does not actually have cancer. I still enjoyed the destructive younger sibling as he lit bombs in the Gallagher backyard and provided some comical quips about certain aspects of sexuality.

This brings me to some of the older actors, who are usually the backbone of the show. I will start with some disappointments. The area I thought was lacking was Sheila and Jody’s relationship. Although it was funny to have a nun determined to stick to her vow of silence while she hung around their house this week, it was the story line’s only credible adjunct because Sheila and Jody’s sex life just isn’t providing “Shameless” with anything remotely valuable. Jody is a sex addict and Sheila has some odd kinks of her own, but there really is no need to progress into that subject matter if creator Paul Abbot can’t find a humorous way of incorporating it.

Sheila and Jody’s relationship may be a failure on screen, but Lip’s and Mandy’s is not. Jeremy Allen White is superb as Lip whose character is funny as well as compelling due to the constant struggles he deals with. In this episode, we see that Lip can put on a nice face when needed, but is obviously a deeply troubled teen that is having a hard time dealing with his personal life and the burdens of his family life. It is understandable that a relationship would be the last thing on his mind. Unfortunately for Mandy, she needs Lip in order to make sense of her own life, and the two bounce back and forth between bliss and a lover’s quarrel

Episode 305
Ian Gallagher (Cameron Monaghan) is mixed up in his own strife as well. Last week, Jimmy finally found out about his father’s once-closeted homosexuality and his involvement with Ian. Jimmy struggles with this information and this situation could have been relatable, but all he really does this week is complain about his father. Meanwhile, Ian attempts to prevent his semi-boyfriend Mickey from continuing to be emotionally distant by using Jimmy’s father Lloyd. Ian is just as appealing as Lip due to Monaghan’s ability to portray a rational and secretive inner city child who finds himself entangled in necessary evils––which results in a gunshot to Mickey’s lower back.

While all of the Gallagher children run around dealing with both family and personal issues, Frank is drinking beers left and right. Frank is stuck in the most ill-fated circumstance this week because it involves digging up a dead body before city employees come to fix the sewer line in the morning. After all, you can’t keep collecting those social security checks if someone who is thought to be alive winds up dead. The father of the Gallagher clan is caught in quite the pickle, and Macy has plenty of fun with his role as he drunkenly recruits other barflies to pick up a shovel with him.

Last but not least is Fiona Gallagher. Emmy Rossum gives the strongest performance as Fiona, but I would like to see Fiona do something more than work at a grocery store, throw in a load of laundry and support her siblings in every possible way. The oldest Gallagher isn’t one to do anything extremely significant with her life, but this is only because she is stuck between a rock and hard place, taking the reins of the motherly role while dreaming of better things. Rossum does fine work throughout the episode but especially well during her peak scene where she blows up on boyfriend Jimmy.

“Shameless” earned my stamp of approval this week. The showrunners got laughs, deserved empathy during the solid dramatic sequences and even garnered some WTFs. The comedy was witty and dark, and the drama blended well with the fast paced and quickly transitioning storylines. As a result, the ending to the episode was pitch-perfect and added the kind of absurdity and comical madness I expect from the life of the Gallaghers.

Rating 3.5 stars