Shameless season finale recap: A beloved character returns to help say goodbye to Fiona
So long, our sweet Fiona.
For nine seasons, we’ve watched (and occasionally cried) as the acting Gallagher matriarch raised her siblings, found both happiness and trouble, and navigated the demons that have plagued her family. And now she’s gone, leaving the South Side behind for warmer pastures (the exact location will be revealed at the beginning of next season).
To hear more on Fiona’s departure, read our interview with Emmy Rossum from before the season 9 finale and our postmortem with creator John Wells. And while the Shameless shameless rankings are taking the week off in favor of a traditional recap, it’s still time to grab a beer, bail your sibling out of prison, and find out how shameless your favorite Gallagher was this week.
With Fiona now in possession of a check for $100,000, it turns out that Max isn’t the biggest douche on the planet. Fiona does what all smart financial advisors recommend and hides it under her mattress. Up bright and early, she encounters Debbie and Carl dressed in all black, prepared to “f— up a truck,” while Frank is on
bed couch rest. Fiona has already tired of the family having to take care of their injured father and his need for a sponge bath, with the annoyance only growing when he reveals that he could be like this for three to six months.
As Fiona later shares her frustration with Lip, Carl and Debbie return home from vandalizing Kelly’s truck, and Carl’s reward/punishment is cleaning out Frank’s bedpan. The siblings have a brief powwow about what to do with Frank, considering they can’t just throw him in the river again since would be elder abuse — even if Debbie insists that “no jury would convict.” Debbie decides to take charge of looking for a health care worker, quickly dismissing Frank’s point that this is what loved ones are for. “No one loves you, Frank,” she cracks, continuing to be on fire. Before she heads off for an Al-Anon meeting, Fiona offers to make breakfast for Debbie and Carl, but they’re grown coffee people now. It’s clear to Fiona that she’s no longer needed.
We stay in the Gallagher house as Fiona agrees to switch rooms with Debbie so that Franny can have her own bed. Staring at the small, toy-filled room that she will soon move to, Fiona is far from excited about the idea. Then, as Carl is headed off to work, she says how sorry she is that he didn’t get accepted to West Point. He argues that he’s stupid for ever thinking they’d accept someone like him. Meanwhile downstairs, Debbie is changing Frank’s bandages and getting the opposite of a thanks for it. Frank asks about Kelly, a.k.a. “that G.I. Jane chick,” suggesting that she probably is gay (“Softball, really?’) and Debbie just wasn’t tempting or smart enough. He adds in an extra dig by saying Fiona could have got it done with her “stripper-on-a-bender dangerous looks.” Debbie then calls the MIA Liam, leaving an angry voicemail since he’s the one who was supposed to be on Frank duty.
Next door, Kev has gotten his sexual swagger back, lasting a solid 47 minutes before V makes him wrap it up. “F— you, Mr. Vasectomy, I’m a man again,” he declares. He’s also a man with a cross in his bar. Hoping to take advantage of the supplies that he got from helping out the girls’ school, Kev is trying to rent himself out as Jesus, working bachelorette parties and whatnot. Fiona shows up at the Alibi, ordering a coke (the legal kind), and tells V about the money. “I feel like I got a second chance,” says Fiona, to which V replies, “And a third and a fourth.”
Speaking of second chances, Lip is at the shop and when Brad says he needs a mechanic, Lip suggests his sponsee, Jason. Tami then arrives, wanting to be with someone when she imminently gets her test results. She has the BRCA1 gene, which is good for the baby. But Tami doesn’t want to have the baby just to save her breasts. With her freaking out, Lip wants to talk, while she wants to f—. They drive under a bridge and go do her preference, before then arguing again. She’s decided to have the baby and give it up for adoption. When he says he’s not cool with that, she suggests that he will be a bad father, which is NOT TRUE. Marriage comes up, with Lip saying he likes her and could eventually love her. Well, she currently might hate him and drives off, leaving him behind. She must not hate him too much since she’s at the shop when he returns and they make up.
Also at work is Carl, who is surprised to learn that his restaurant’s titular Captain Bob is real and wants to meet their “very own White Panther.” Bob is very thankful for Carl stopping that robbery and begins selling the young man on a future at the chain, promising the chance to one day have his own Winnebago (the man is a good salesman).
After tracking Liam down and learning that he’s moved in with his friend Todd, Debbie returns home to find Carl packing up all of his military clothes to donate to Goodwill, revealing his intention to forego his remaining schooling for an assistant manager gig at Bob’s. Debbie isn’t having it, demanding that he go back to military school. “I’m a loser,” he says in an emotional rant. “A West Point reject with a shitty education and family history of alcoholism and drug abuse that’s bound to catch up with me sooner or later. Fast food is the best it’s going to get for me. I’ve accepted who I am, why can’t you?” He then declines to help her bring Liam home, adding, “He’s better off where he is.” Having watched Carl/actor Ethan Cutkosky grow up onscreen, that broke my heart. I’ll admit that it got a little dusty over here.
And I stayed on the verge of tears as a pissed off Kelly confronts Debbie outside of the Gallagher house. Kelly apologizes for giving the wrong signals, but Debbie makes it all about what she did to Carl and blames Kelly for him throwing his life away. While that seems more than a tad harsh, the scene still worked me over pretty good. Cutkosky and Emma Kenney really brought it this episode, clearly seeing all that potential extra screen time that’s about to be available! (The recap continues on page 2)
Oh yeah, let’s not forget about Fiona, this is her big goodbye episode and all. She’s scored a sweet plea deal of time served and a $2,500 fine, as well as some tough love advice from her lawyer: “You seem like a smart girl, Fiona. Time to leave this South Side hood rat crap behind you and get on with being an adult.” Damn, bringing the heat, unnamed attorney.
And avoiding jail time apparently has Fiona wanting to go visit jail. You remember how she no-showed for Ian’s send-off? She’s now making that right and visiting her incarcerated brother, who seems to be doing well. She confesses to him that she thinks it’s time for her to leave, go somewhere warm. “You should get the f— out,” declares Ian. “You deserve it.” She’s surprised and was kind of hoping he’d talk her out of it, revealing, “I’m scared.” He replies, “Go as far away from here as you can and don’t ever look back. I’ll always be here for you. Always.” Why are all of the Gallaghers trying to make me cry?
Carl might be soon crying tears of pain as Kelly shows up at Captain Bob’s, tackling him, tying him up, and him out. Once back at the Gallagher house, she tells him to stop feeling bad for himself and to go to Officer Training School instead. “Are you done being a p—y and ready to get back to being the man that I love?” she asks, leading to a passionate kiss.
Debbie is done messing around and goes to Todd’s to get Liam back. Wearing a James Baldwin T-shirt and staying in a room decorated in African-American history, Liam reveals that he wants to be surrounded by his own culture. He has a list of 46 demands that need to be met for him to consider coming home, and no, Debbie, Lucky Charms won’t be enough “for a young proud man of African descent trying to find his identity in today’s white America.” Unclear if inspired by Liam, Debbie returns to the Gallagher house without Liam, but with Shamus, a black neighbor, who, despite clearly not having a nursing degree, will help take care of Frank.
As Shamus’ sponge baths of Frank begin, Debbie goes upstairs and finds Fiona packing. This sends her frantically running down to tell Lip. He’s happy for his big sister, who doesn’t know where she’s going. “Take care of them, will ya?” she says, to which he replies, “Promise.” Lip insists on throwing her a big going away party, sending everyone out for supplies. But there will be no party, at least not one with her present. Fiona leaves a note for Debbie and heads for the door, afraid she won’t leave if she stays. I’ve got to say, that’s kind of messed up. I’d be pretty pissed if one of my siblings just left forever and couldn’t even wait until I got back with some pizzas to say goodbye.
One Gallagher does get to say goodbye. Before Fiona walks out, Frank, who never turns around to face his daughter, says, “You did a good job. Monica wasn’t up for it; you stepped up and helped. Thanks.” She’s offended, saying that she “did it all.” He replies, “Well, if that helps you sleep better.” They never look at each other, but the emotions on Frank’s face says it all for us. Previewing her final episodes, Rossum told EW of the scene, “I think the final moment between her and Frank is actually quite telling about really how much he loves his kids but just really can’t be a parent and there’s an understanding there…. There’s a separation between the characters but there’s a lot unsaid and understood between them.”
Upon coming home and finding Fiona gone, Lip can only smile. The party does happen, giving us a preview of what the show will look like come season 10. Lip and Kev share a nice heart-to-heart on fatherhood, with Kev rightfully saying that Lip would make a great dad. “It’s hard to f— them up if you just love them,” shares Kev. Over in the kitchen, Debbie opens up the envelope from Fiona, which includes a check for $50,000 and a note that reads, “Love you.” I have to believe that $50,000 worth of Lucky Charms might lure Liam back.
We haven’t seen the last of Fiona as the episode concludes with her boarding a plane for an unknown destination. My personal guess is Hawaii based off of the flight attendant outfits and logos on the seats. But who knows where you can go live for less than $50,000 nowadays.
I take it back, we don’t end there. Back in prison, Ian is killing it in a game of pick up basketball. Like the Chicago Bulls are so bad that they could use that jump shot and post moves. He takes a brief break from the game to look up and smirk as a plane flies over. Thankfully, this isn’t the last we will see of Ian as Showtime previously announced that Cameron Monaghan is returning on a full-time basis next season. So out with one Gallagher, in with another!
What did you think? Did you want a different ending for Emmy Rossum? Were you pumped to see Ian back? Oh, and enjoy this tribute to our beloved Fiona.