Shameless 9x14 “Found” Review
It’s the end of an era, Shameless fans. After nine hilarious, gut-punching, heart-wrenching seasons, Emmy Rossum has left the show for good. For the past eight years, her portrayal of the eldest Gallagher daughter has left viewers in fits of laughter, fits of tears, and everything in between. In her send off episode, she reminds us and her siblings just how much she will be missed.
In her penultimate episode, Fiona came into a large sum of money, $100,000 to be exact. Just as she had accepted her fate and gotten a job at the local gas station working nights, she was lifted from rock bottom and given the chance to start anew. So now, she must decide what she wants her future to look like. This is understandably difficult for Fiona because, well, she’s never really had that choice before.
She decides not to tell any of her siblings at first, but observes what their lives would look like without her in it. She’s raised each of them as best she could, and as she watches them get ready for their day the next morning, she realizes she’s done a better job than she ever knew. As nice as this is, it’s a bit of a gut punch when she begins to see that they don’t need her anymore. Debbie even asks if they can switch rooms so that she has more space for her and Franny, and asks Fiona what her future plans are. It’s as if they’re giving her a reason to leave without even knowing it.
And then there’s Lip, who kicked Fiona out of the house a few episodes back. While Fiona has cleaned her act up and gotten Lip off her back, it’s likely that his threat still lingers in her mind. It’s not just about if Fiona is needed in the Gallagher house, but does anyone want her there anymore?
As Fiona tries to decide what to do, the rest of the gang are up to their own shenanigans. Frank has been released from the hospital and is camping out on the couch. He needs around the clock care and complains relentlessly about need more Oxy, causing the family to consider dumping him under a bridge. Realizing they could get in serious legal trouble for that, given Frank’s age and poor health, they instead discuss getting him a caretaker. After all, their lives are too busy to be dealing with Frank, of all people.
Across town, Fiona’s hearing actually goes well. Her public defender tells her she must pay a few thousand dollars in fines, which she definitely has now. While out, she goes to visit Ian in prison to ask for his advice. After telling him she’s thinking about leaving, going someplace warm, he tells her to do it, that he’ll always be there for her. Fiona is a bit taken aback, but takes her brother’s words to heart. She knows she can’t stay in the Southside forever.
Ian also briefly mentions what’s going on in his life, how he’s working in the infirmary, got lice, and, oh yeah, is bunking with none other than Mickey Milkovich who works in the laundry room (Is anyone else getting serious Alex Vause vibes?).
Fiona supports her brother, and it’s clear that he supports her too. It seems like this is just what she needed — to be really, truly heard. And perhaps because Ian has spent some time away from his family, he knows how trapped one can feel in the Gallagher house. So with that, Fiona’s mind is made up.
While Fiona plans to distance herself from her siblings, Debbie and Carl grow closer. After butting heads over Kelly and both having their hearts broken by her, they bond (and vandalize her truck). So when Carl accepts a job as the manager of a nearby Captain Bob’s location, Debbie refuses to let him give up on military school. Unable to get through to him, she calls in Kelly for help, blaming her for her brother’s sudden lack of confidence. Together, the pair are able to snap Carl out of it. And after a brief time apart, Kelly and Carl get back together.
Continuing her maternal streak, Debbie goes to get Liam and bring him home. When she finds him at his friend’s house, he reminds her that he asked the whole family the previous night if he could move in, and they said yes. Liam, not willing to be ignored anymore, gives Debbie a list of demands the Gallaghers must meet if they want him back in the house. Most notably, he wants to be surrounded by black culture, which he feels he’s been robbed of living in an entirely white household.
Across town, Lip once again goes on a wild goose chase when Tammi’s BRCA test comes back positive. She has the “baby good” kind, leading us to assume she’ll want to have the baby, but Tammi is hesitant to bring a child into the world when she knows she may still die of cancer at a young age. While Lip tries to tell her he’ll stick around, Tammi refuses to believe he’ll be a good father. She jumps back and forth between decisions about the unborn baby’s fate, first wanting to have an abortion, then deciding she’ll have the baby, then opting to put it up for adoption. In the end, we’re left wondering right alongside Lip what she’s going to do.
When Lip finally gets home, he finds Fiona packing her stuff. She reveals to him that she’s leaving and asks that he take care of everyone for her, metaphorically passing the baton. Lip agrees but insists they throw her a going away party. Fiona knows that if she stays for the party, she’ll never leave. And so, when everyone has left the house again, she sneaks out to the train station and then onto a plane, bags in tow. The scene beautifully parallels the Season 1 finale, in which Fiona almost left Chicago with then boyfriend Jimmy/Steve. The only difference is that this time, she goes through with it (and sadly, Jimmy/Steve is nowhere to be found).
Back at the house, the party goes on. As everyone drinks and dances, celebrating Fiona and the role she had in their lives, Debbie finds an envelope stuck to the fridge. In it is $50,000, half of the money Max gave Fiona, and a note that simply reads, “Love you.” And Veronica says it best when she reminds Debbie, “Yeah, she does.”
Looking back at this season, I realize I expected it to be like the earlier seasons — more outrageous, more dramatic. What I failed to realize is that Shameless can never be what it once was because the characters are no longer the same. They’re still Gallaghers at heart, yes, but they’re adults now and while they’re the same people, they aren’t the same family.
I think we started to see this shift in dynamics when Ian, played by Cameron Monaghan, went to prison and was no longer a regular on the show. He was barely mentioned by his siblings, and it seemed as if his sentencing had little to no effect on them — because it didn’t. I’m not saying that the Gallaghers are inherently selfish people, but they have their own separate lives. If it wasn’t for their monetary hardships, I think they’d all be living on their own right now, not in a shared house. As Fiona realized in this episode, they just don’t need each other anymore.
However, this doesn’t take away my frustration with the way Fiona has been treated for the entire second half of this season. Because in this episode alone, Debbie noticed Carl getting down on himself and refused to let him be upset for more than a day. And mind you, Carl was going through heartbreak, not being cheated on, cut out of a huge business deal, and a sudden alcohol dependency. The more I think about it, I feel like Fiona turned to alcohol because she couldn’t lean on anyone in her family.
This is why Fiona’s send off is so bittersweet to me. I’m ecstatic that she’s finally getting out and making a life for herself, but I’m heartbroken that she was pushed to do it because her family seemingly didn’t want her around anymore. Too bad she didn’t take Liam with her — he sure knows how she feels.
I hoped that this finale would be something unexpected and jaw dropping, but as I said previously, Shameless just isn’t that show anymore. Instead, Fiona left with a quiet and understated notion that this is her happy ending. She doesn’t need all the chaos and the trouble she thought she was addicted to. You can take the girl out of the Southside, and maybe, just maybe, you can take the Southside out of the girl too.
So what is Season 10 going to look like? Well, Fiona left half her money to her siblings. So maybe they’ll use it to get far away from each other and start their own lives too, as best they can manage with a little over 10K each at least. With no mention of Xan and Tammi constantly changing her mind about the baby, it’s hard to tell where Lip’s storyline is going. Debbie and Carl were left in relatively stable places at the end of the finale, and while Frank needs to be off his feet for the next few months, we all know that being the cockroach he is, he’ll come out the other side just fine (as fine as Frank can be, that is).
Perhaps the only promising aspect of the coming season is that Cameron Monaghan is set to return as a series regular, after only half a season being gone. Whether this means we’ll see him in prison with Mickey is yet to be revealed, but either way, I’m excited to see where his story goes.
For now though, I’d like to appreciate Emmy Rossum and her beautiful portrayal of the delightfully complex woman that is Fiona Gallagher. I’ve never seen a character quite like her, and I’ll forever be thankful for the smiles, laughs and tears she caused me while watching her on my screen. Truthfully, I’m nervous to see where this show goes without her. But regardless, there’s nine seasons telling the captivating story of Fiona to look back on. And though its on-screen end was quiet, I’d like to think it wouldn’t stay like that for long.
After all, if there’s anything we know about Fiona, it’s that she brings the party with her wherever she goes.