TV Club: Shameless: “Carl’s First Sentencing”

In “Carl’s First Sentencing,” familiarity doesn’t breed contempt, it breeds cautious optimism tinged with deja vu. It’s the first episode of the season that feels like “classic Shameless,” but in this case, that means many of its stories faintly echo plots the show has already burned through. Given that season five has been characterized by false starts and meandering detours, “Carl’s First Sentencing” feels like a refreshing return to form in some spots, and like a retread in others. But even the too-familiar beats are comforting after a run of episodes that have felt not quite right despite some great material sprinkled throughout them.

The milestone commemorated in the title takes up the majority of the episode’s time, with Carl and Chuckie facing time for Carl’s heroin scheme, and Sammi at odds with the rest of the Gallaghers over it. Each season of Shameless …

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