Shameless Season 9: The decline and fall of Fiona Gallagher is a necessary tragedy for a show getting too happy for its own good
As we watched Fiona descend into the depths of an alcohol-washed circle of hell in episode 9, we got that warm fuzzy Gallagher feeling
The beauty of 'Shameless' is that no matter how optimistic you are about any given outcome, the writers will always find a way to take a sledgehammer to your pathetic little bubble. For a moment there was a sinking feeling that Fiona Gallagher was going to achieve what no Gallagher ever had: Peace of mind, money in the bank, and respect. Fat chance!
Fiona has been the rock of the Gallagher family, albeit one with more cracks than china in a shop that has just had a bull run through it, but a sturdy anchor nevertheless. Her run-ins with the law and other humans have mostly been born from an inherent frustration of a young, reluctant parent forced to devote the best years of their lives to ungrateful snot-noses, all the while being trampled upon by a parent whose skills are straight out of the 'Alcoholic's Guide to Screwing Up Your Child' playbook.
Without Fiona there would be no Gallaghers, sure there'd be Frank, but then again, even if the Earth was sterilized by a solar flare, then hit by an asteroid the size of Europe, there would still be Frank...King of the Cockroaches.
The Gallaghers need Fiona, and a broke, shattered, destitute Fiona is the perfect avatar. Her seemingly innocuous, but steadily strengthening relationship with Ford Kellog, must have sent alarm bells through fans. After all, in 'Shameless' smiles are a result of too much booze and dope, they aren't things that crack a face on a whim. Who the hell smiles for the sake of it?!
Ford turned out to be a smug dickhead leading a double life. The fact that he hasn't got a chance to explain himself yet sort of hints that even the writers were bored of his vaunted sense of self-worth. We hope we've seen the last of him, but like most Fiona's exes, they tend to stick like shit to a wall.
Alone and skint, we watched Fiona descend into the depths of an alcohol-washed circle of hell in episode 9, and we got that warm fuzzy Gallagher feeling. It was all going to hell, but at least the handbasket was comfortable and familiar.
Of course, this too shall pass, because well, this is Fiona's last season. Her alter ego Emmy Rossum has decided she's had enough, and it's time to quit the Southside. The writers could well keep the spiral going, giving us one last epic Shameless death rattle that could give rise to a 'Six Feet Under'-style montage in the season finale, or they could turn out to be real douchebags and permanently hook her up with one of the many deadbeats that have soiled her sheets over the last nine seasons.
Without Fiona things could be bleak for the Gallaghers, what with Lip turning into a bowl of mush, Carl and his GI Joe aspirations, Debbie finally digging responsibility, Ian in prison, and Frank thinking up novel ways to screw up six spanking new kids. Fiona is the glue, the tar that oozes over the potholes, filling them in, but not well enough to prevent the road from splitting the next time an 18-wheeler rumbles over it.
Season 9 has seen a distinct lack of big rigs, but maybe Fiona's Stoly-soaked sayonara has a full set of wheels on it. Maybe this is the long kiss goodnight, one stumbling step after another, long after last orders. Maybe we'll look upon this character years hence and over a few shots of gut-rot remember the one that made it out — in a casket, or riding the success pony, doesn't matter, she got out. Because in 'Shameless', the real heartache is not so much in watching people leave, but waking up to realize who stayed.