I really like “Killer Carl” for the hilarious principal and his off-the-cuff remarks, but the episode manages to encapsulate the show very well. With Carl needing a serious adjustment, Frank is nowhere to be seen–except he’s with Karen while Steve salvages the situation. Frank is a deadbeat loser who doesn’t care about his family, and as Fiona and the rest of them gather together on one side and Frank and Karen on the other, both parties seem to understand.
Similarly, the episode does a good job showing how bad, or even illegal, actions might not be too bad. Lip helps everyone cheat on the SAT and write papers, but it’s a good use of intelligence and he gets good money to support his family. And Carl smacking the football players leg? Well, he had it coming.
The episode also solidifies the relationship of Fiona and Steve, with Steve succinctly breaking down exactly why Fiona is scared of relying on him. She doesn’t want to rely on him because she’s been reliant on herself all her life. And if she relies on him too much, believing that Steve will always be there, one day Steve may not be there just like her mother and father. I can definitely buy that explanation.
While the Gallaghers are trying their best to survive, some other characters need a serious case of manning up. Could Kash become more pathetic? First, he’s committing statutory rape and now we see him unwilling to stop a shoplifter who simply walks into the store, puts what he wants in a box, and walks out. And Sheila continues to be stuck in her house, unable to even be normal in a virtual setting. Unless these characters are supposed to contrast with the Gallaghers, I don’t see why they are given such prominent roles and they haven’t shown signs of changing yet.