If you were expecting a happy ending, well, that was your fault

Credit: Warren Feldman/Showtime
S6 E12

The finale of Shameless was not predictable so much as it was expected. We’ve been following the Gallaghers for six years now, and the series has never been one to tie a neat, shiny bow on its story lines. If you were expecting a happy ending, well, that was your fault.

(And if you watched the episode, head here for a postmortem interview with Jeremy Allen White, a.k.a. Lip.)

Morning chaos

“Familia Supra Gallegorious Omnia!” opens with Frank sabotaging Sean for his role in getting him kicked out of the Gallagher house — and the wedding — for good. Creeping under the porch and through a vent in the middle of the night like the rat he is, he pees in Sean’s boots, puts his toothbrush down his pants, and steals his cash and credit card.

In the morning, Sean realizes what happened and first turns to Carl who, offended, tells him, “I’m not a boot-pisser.” Carl is actually a shirt-ironer — on Dominique’s father’s advice, he’s trying to help out more around the house. Look at how far we’ve come! Anyway, the family figures out it was obviously Frank.

Frank needed the money, after all, for his hitman, Bruno. Frank visits him at his work and asks that he move up the timeline and kill Sean today. But Frank got ripped off: Bruno plays dumb and dares him to go to the cops about it.

Meanwhile, Debs is still waffling over whether to attend Fiona’s wedding. First, though, Frances has a checkup. Her doctor is concerned about Frances’ care — she’s not as clean as she should be, and she’s bruised — but Debs insists that everything is fine, despite the fact that she won’t accept any help at home. The doctor tells her that “infants are a lot of work,” though, and that it’s important that Debs take care of herself, too. Given that Debs cops to having dropped the baby, I was kind of worried that the doctor would get child protective services involved, but she’s safe from that…for now.

NEXT: Ian gets his job back, somehow


Ian tries to get his job back at the university, but his former boss tells him to eff off — Ian left without any notice and totally screwed up the schedule.

After some futile job hunting, Ian heads to the EMT station and puts on his uniform like nothing happened, like he wasn’t fired for lying on his application and not disclosing his bipolar disorder.

When his former boss, Rita, arrives and threatens to call the police, he says that the excuse for his firing was “bulls—.” Ian refuses to believe that he would have been hired had he admitted to his disorder, and being dismissed for lying about it was an impossible choice.

Showing more understanding and acceptance of his disorder than we’ve seen so far, Ian tells her that she wouldn’t have refused to hire him if he had a physical handicap because it’s illegal to discriminate against someone with a disability. Ian says his bipolar disorder is just that: a handicap over which he has control, but, “If I show up and I’m acting all freaky and you tell me to go home, I will go home. But don’t tell me I can’t do this job.”

Rita is silent until a call comes in a moment later. The other EMTs refuse to take it without Ian, which is kind of funny. Like, someone could be dying? But Rita folds and tells them all to go on and take the call. Ian is re-hired!

NEXT: Good Will Lip

Lip, part I

Lip wakes up in a jail cell after taking a tire iron to Youens’ car. Although Youens isn’t pressing charges, Lip is still facing a charge for assaulting a campus cop.

Shockingly, Youens is the one who posted Lip’s bail. Looks like he’s still on Lip’s side after all, for some reason. He’s kind of a saint at this point — Lip crossed the line an unbelievable amount of times. Also, he’s expelled.

Youens tells Lip that he has a problem and that he needs to go to rehab. “I’ll see about getting you a job in the field when you get out,” he says and offers to drive him there. Fiona’s wedding is the next day, though, and Lip doesn’t want to miss it. Lip promises to head to rehab after that and to show up for his court appearance — “I can’t afford to forfeit the bail,” Youens warns. He’s probably going to have to forfeit that bail.

Lip heads to the Alibi, where exactly no one is amused by his expulsion. It reminded me of that “best part of my day” scene from Good Will Hunting, where Ben Affleck’s character gets pissed off at Matt Damon’s titular hero for wasting his “winning lottery ticket” by choosing to stay in the neighborhood. Lip doesn’t owe it to just himself to do well in college, but to the people he grew up with. That’s a lot of pressure for him to deal with, though, and he’s never been able to accept it. He doesn’t want to be anyone’s salvation. But as Kevin tells him, “Does the ass on that barstool feel nice? It should, ’cause that’s where your father always sits. Nobody likes a smart guy who wastes his potential.”

Frank, briefly

Frank stands outside of Patsy’s with a gun, watching from across the street as Sean walks into the diner. He doesn’t take a shot, though. Instead, he waits for the diner to close and climbs into the back office via a broken window.

NEXT: Fiona’s wedding day falls apart

Wedding day!!

The scene of Fiona’s wedding day opens with Lip vomiting into a toilet, which pretty much sets the scene for what’s about to happen.

Svetlana worked her magic on Monica’s old dress, and Fiona is absolutely glowing. Debs even shows up for the ceremony, claiming that she wanted to make sure that Frances was in the wedding photos.

Ian introduces Caleb to everyone, and I can only hope this relationship will continue after what this poor outsider is about to witness.

When the priest asks who’s giving the bride away, Frank appears. As Ian and Lip rush to muscle him out the door, Frank claims it’s his “duty” to walk his daughter down the aisle. “Jesus, are you high?” Fiona asks. “Yes I am, actually, but that’s beside the point.”

Fiona begs Frank not to f— up her wedding day, but that train has left the station. Frank reveals what he found in Sean’s office — a box hidden under the invoices in the bottom drawer of his filing cabinet that contains needles, rubber tubing, and baggies of brown powder. He’s using again.

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As all of this is going on, it’s important to note that Sean’s son, Will, is in attendance. Tears streaming down her face, Fiona asks Sean if it’s true. The answer is clear. “Your husband-to-be is a junkie, through and through,” Frank says. “I’m surprised we’re not better friends, Sean — we have so much in common.”

Will runs out, and Sean goes after him. Kevin calls Frank an a–hole, a charge Frank cannot deny: “At least I’m an honest a—hole.” Lip punches Frank in the face.

In the next scene, Lip’s hand is shaking with the DTs. Debs sits next to him, and he tells her she made the right call by showing up for the wedding. “Family’s family, right?” she says. She asks Lip if he’s okay, and he admits that life is “kinda f—ed up right now.” Concerned, Debs wants to know if it’s true what Frank said — that Lip is drinking too much: “I don’t want you to end up like Frank.” Interestingly, she’s back to calling him “Frank” — “Dad” and “Daddy” no more.

Outside, Fiona is smoking a cigarette as the train of her dress trails on the wet, snow-covered cement. Sean says he’s sorry but admits that he’s been using for the past few months, even on their wedding day. “It doesn’t really affect me as much anymore, you know? It just takes the edge off,” he says. Her face is impassive: She’s heard it all before. Sean wants to make it right, but Will is the most important thing to him at the moment. He needs to go to his ex and beg her to let him continue sharing custody. She shivers. He does not offer his coat. “I have to go,” he says.

He doesn’t promise to quit, and he doesn’t promise to make it better.

NEXT: Lip’s future is left up in the air, and final thoughts

Lip, part II

Youens drops Lip off at rehab, telling him that the first week will be tough but that it gets easier. Lip can’t afford to pay for it, but Youens is footing the bill, and he promises to be right there to pick him up in three days for his court appearance.

Lip gets out of the car and stands facing the rehab center. Youens drives off prematurely. We don’t see Lip walk in.

In the post-credits scene, the Gallaghers throw Frank over a bridge into the ice-cold river.

Maybe it’s my own projecting, but I’ve always felt Shameless to be particularly painful for how it reflects the worst parts of ourselves. Dropped in the same punishing environment, could you really say that you wouldn’t make the same choices? Let he who has never gotten in their own way cast the first stone, right? And while I certainly can’t praise the show as a flawless depiction of our collective, flayed-open id — there are a number of dropped story lines and seemingly out-of-character choices that give me pause — I have to give the show credit for not taking the easy way out. Fiona was not going to get her happily-ever-after with an addict. Debs was never going to get an abortion, nor was motherhood going to be a smooth ride. Lip was not going to just go to college and be able to shake off 18 years of a royally messed-up childhood. That’s not real life. Real life is messy, and it can be frustrating and draining to see it reflected back at you, but at this point, a happy ending for the Gallaghers would have been unrealistic, out of character, and safe.

Still, there’s always next season. I can only hope that Fiona will spend some time alone and figure out what she wants from her life independent of the kids, independent of the men who come in and out of her life. I hope that Lip is able to make the right choice, that Debs becomes the mother she always wanted for herself, that Carl continues to keep out of trouble, and that Ian will continue to have firm control over his disorder. I hope that Frank never surfaces from the river. Leave your own thoughts and predictions below.

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