'Shameless' season 9 episode 14 review: Fiona 'did it all', one last time, but quite unceremoniously
As the lot of them sit around their breakfast table in a manner very reminiscent of the show's initial days, Fiona makes her exit quietly and without any elaborate goodbyes.
This article contains spoilers for 'Shameless season 9 episode 14: Found.'
In the original British version of 'Shameless', the acting matriarch of the Gallagher family, Fiona's story ends as she runs off with her on and off past flame Jimmy/Steve. In the US version of the hit Showtime dramedy, however, even though we had assumed that after nine strong years of ruling our hearts, when Fiona Gallagher's time on the show would come to an end the same way, that wasn't the case. For nine seasons, Emmy Rossum has made us laugh, and cry, and have our hearts broken time and again as her character elevated to the ranks of 'the queen of chaos,' but when the time came for goodbyes, Fiona did it all, but quite unceremoniously - as most things done by her. Fiona has always been the quiet worker, so when the time came for her to leave, she didn't make loud pomp and show either.
On this week's episode of 'Shameless' season 9, which was also the finale (episode 14: 'Found'), Fiona finds her will and bank balance both, to start afresh. For the first time, in probably her entire life, Fiona has the money and the option to choose her fresh start from. And she also makes the smart AF decision to not splurge the money around fixing the many dysfunctional things in their house, or the family either. Instead, she hides the money, and once her better judgment was seconded by a family worker, she decides it's time to leave the 'hoodrat, Southside Chicago life behind and get along with adulting.'
But what Fiona also finds - along the titular lines of the episode - is her ability to let go. Having stepped in her parents' absentee shoes ever since the age of six, and raising all of her five siblings by herself, for the longest time, Fiona sort of took up every responsibility on her. To say that the Gallaghers weren't entirely dependant on her wouldn't be wrong too, because she did everything - from changing diapers to fixing busted water pipes, and also bailing her siblings out of prison - Fiona did it all. And that doesn't magically change in the season 9 finale, even as she is preparing to leave the house she grew up in and has seen beyond hell for the last twenty-something years. The only difference this time is that her siblings are grown, and so has Fiona.
In that, Fiona doesn't magically grow out of her siblings or her inherent need to nurture or care for them. She just finally puts herself first. So even as Frank lies on his 'couch rest' hounding for beer and a dirty bedpan that needs to be changed, all we find Fiona doing is asking Lip (Jeremy Allen White) to take care of him for her, while she slowly slips out of the house that shaped her. Even as her youngest sibling Liam (Christian Isiah) lies MIA for a week, Fiona knows her other siblings Debbie (Emma Kenney) and Carl (Ethan Cutcosky) will take care of things. So as the lot of them sit around their breakfast table in a manner very reminiscent of the show's initial days, squabbling over who gets to take care of their deadbeat father for the day, Fiona makes her exit quietly and without elaborate goodbyes.
However, this exit doesn't come without some inevitable last-minute bonding though, and in their choice of who these people bonding with her are, the showrunners have excelled. Fiona talks in depth to three people before leaving: her brother, Ian (Cameron Monaghan), who's been in jail for the second half of season 9, her bff next door, Veronica Ball (Shanola Hampton), and of course - her dad. While with both Ian and Veronica it is her discussing whether this move to a different city would be a good idea or not, with her dad, it's more of a passive confrontation and an even more latent aura of forgiveness.
Not that Fiona and Frank have ever shared that functional father-daughter bond, but in the past couple of episodes, when she on her downward spiral, it was her dad who had been able to offer her the biggest wake-up call. So we had expected a little more elaborate a final scene between the two, but of course, Frank is Frank. He is cold and bitter, and so full of himself, that all he can utter as she prepares to walk out with her suitcase is 'You did a good job. Thanks for stepping in.' And this is where Emmy Rossum excels one last time as the fierce and bold Fiona we could never get enough of and sets records straight by saying: "I did it all."
Tonight, on my last evening as Fiona, I want to express my gratitude and love for the Shameless family and our faithful audience. It’s been an honor and privilege to be your Fiona. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/h1eNMiywzL— Emmy Rossum (@emmyrossum) March 11, 2019
And so she does, one last time, which we don't find out until the very end of the episode. As we see Ian looking up from his cell at an airplane flying away in the sky, we find Debbie walking back into the house to a loaded envelope on the fridge. Inside she finds $50,000 - half the money Fiona earned recently - with just a message that said 'Love you.' And let's not even get started on the last scene we see Fiona. She's in a flight, a little girl sitting next to her who has also boarded a flight for the first time in her life. Even as she leaves for the greater good perhaps, Fiona takes care of things for those she's leaving behind.
Too many feels at one go, The reason this goodbye came together so brilliantly is because of the way it unfolded. At the end of all the trysts and tragedies Fiona had faced so bravely all through these years, you'd think there would be a Prince Charming and a happy ending waiting for her, but it wasn't so. She has earned this freedom. But that isn't 'Shameless.' For years we have known the show to be a pioneer in depicting real issues and real struggles in a completely blunt manner, and this time was no less. In the end, having done it all, Fiona goes seeking a happy ending, and none of that will be directed at finding her man. She did it all by herself for all these years, and something tells us, she will be just fine.