An original Last Man Standing star will be returning for this week's special Christmas episode after being absent for several weeks.
Kaitlyn Dever, who plays the youngest Baxter daughter, Eve, will be returning home for Christmas in Friday's "The Gift of the Mike Guy" episode. One preview photo from the episode shows Eve standing with her father, Mike Baxter (Tim Allen).
Another photo shows the entire Baxter family gathered together, including Mike, Vanessa (Nancy Travis), Mandy (Molly McCook), Boyd (Jet Jurgensmeyer), Kyle (Christoph Sanders), Ryan (Jordan Masterson) and Kristin (Amanda Fuller).
The Christmas episode will be Dever's third episode of the season. She only appeared in the season premiere and episode three. Since Eve was accepted to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, she has not had time to visit her family. In reality, Dever is busy with her upcoming Netflix show, Unbelievable.
"She's in the first episode, [and] she will be in the third episode," show executive producer Kevin Abbott told TVLine in August. "Kaitlyn Dever's marvelous and of course she took other work while we were off... She's currently doing a Netflix show, but they're being really, really accommodating."
Abbott later explained, "Kaitlyn's working really hard so that whenever she has a break, we will film her. We're going to write... B-stories [in advance] for the purpose of being able to shoot her in a scene and then drop it into a later episode."
Abbott said it was possible for the Baxter family to visit Eve at the academy, but that has not happened yet.
After Fox saved Last Man Standing earlier this year, almost ever member of the cast was available to return full-time, except for Dever and Molly Ephraim, the original actress who played Mandy. While Dever's schedule allowed her to make a few appearances, Ephraim's did not and she was replaced by Molly McCook.
"It’s a daunting task to replace characters that we love and adore. I come from the acting side of it: I’ve been replaced. It’s very difficult for the actor part of me," Allen told Parade Magazine of the recasting process. "Mandy [Ephraim] is a tough one to doppelgänger, so where we headed is not to doppelgänger. The new Mandy will not look like her because that’s trying too hard."
Aside from Eve's return to the Baxter home, "The Gift of the Mike" finds Mike having trouble finding the perfect gift for Ed (Hector Elizondo) and Vanessa trying to convince the family to keep their holiday traditions alive.
Last Man Standing airs on Fridays at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.
Photo credit: Michael Becker/Fox