The Gallagher family is at risk of losing everything this week as their relative, Patrick (Brent Sexton), attempts to take their house out from under them. I did not expect much in this newest installment since the show has flip-flopped between what directions to take with the plot this entire season. However, with two feuding sects of the Gallagher family fighting for the house after both sides submit a fake will for their aunt’s death, the show strikes comic gold for the first time in a while.

Uncle Patrick was a great inclusion in the newest episode because he is just like all the other Gallaghers, willing to screw everyone else over just for a buck. Patrick comes by every now and then to fix up the house before flipping it, and the Gallagher children continually try to get him out of their lives. It is one failed attempt after another until a surprising moment when Debbie Gallagher accuses Patrick of illegal activity. Emma Kenney’s performance earns some much needed applause from audiences after her well-played scene.

Of course, all of the siblings are focused on the same objective since they all need the house. The only sibling that has something else on his mind is Phillip due to the return of his previous lover Karen (Laura Wiggins). I still have mixed feelings for her as a character due to Wiggins’ acting. This week she was decent, but it is obvious that her character is scheming something.

Lip, on the other hand, now has to balance his love life between Mandy (with whom things are not going well) and Karen. I have all the more respect for Lip after watching him spit truth to both of the girls and try to take care of business concerning the Gallagher home. I would have liked to see more of Lip as he does tend to be the most enthralling, but he only minimally contributes to the larger plot line. In a fitting twist, though, Carl actually ends up doing more than Lip to serve the family, until Debbie comes along.

There has always been something off about sibling Carl, and this episode stays true to that fact. Ethan Cutkosky seems to be doing better work as Carl continues to develop this season. With this newest episode specifically, audiences may be witnessing the birth of a sociopath as Carl shows no emotion, but rather an elated pleasure, as he watches his cousin Patrick suffer after being unknowingly fed rat poison. Carl’s blank stares and shrugs are in line with his attitude earlier in the season, and would explain some bumps in Cutkosky’s previous performances where I thought his acting was lacking.

Jimmy and Fiona are teetering on the edge of major relationship issues while all of the aforementioned chaos is going on. Fiona is now the legal guardian of her siblings and has an overwhelming responsibility, so she picks up one odd job after another in order to save her family. Emmy Rossum is good once again, but the performance is all too familiar. I would like to see her character undergo some major changes without being carried by her family’s misdoings.

Jimmy, on the other hand, is more interesting to watch as he once again gets a taste of his once-known sweet rich life when he goes out to party with some old friends. Jimmy somewhat tries to pitch in by enduring the low level jobs that Fiona finds for him, and it is funny to watch especially as he completely fails at being able to even manage a simple barista position. Justin Chatwin does nice work here, but is still not as compelling as he once was since his acting has become more mild mannered. Granted, he is supposed to be in the midst of pondering on his identity crisis, but Chatwin once took a more serious approach to his acting when Jimmy had things all figured out, which resulted in a better performance.

William H. Macy steals the show again as he tries to find a new place to live. Lucky for Frank, he is able to squeeze his way into another accommodation simply by finding someone desperate enough: Christopher (Christian Clemenson). Viewers get the impression that Franky’s creepy new roommate may be a serial killer, and not a quiet man whose favorite hobby is taxidermy. Aside from Clemenson’s over-the-top performance, Frank is still a riot to watch. Macy hits all the right notes as expected and I am compelled to see where this odd storyline will go.

Paul Abbot and writer Davey Holmes did a fine job crafting a believable, but still outrageous and comical episode for this week. I am pleased to say that “Shameless” is heading in a nice direction as the season slows to a close. Even the side story about Kevin and Veronica was funny and not as ridiculous as it has been in prior episodes. I am excited to see the Gallagher children next Sunday on Showtime.

Rating: 3.5 stars