I admit I was a little peeved when Cameron Monaghan announced on Instagram last week that this week’s episode of Shameless, “Face It, You’re Gorgeous,” would be his last. I thought he’d ruined the surprise.
It somehow worked in the opposite, however. Knowing that Cameron Monaghan was leaving gave me a sense of dread, as Ian decided to use his last day before going to prison to hang out at home and do nothing. I had the sense that bi-polar Ian was going to end his life, and I spent much of the episode furious with Shameless over that possibility. He had a fun day with his family. He had the perfect last meal (with a celebrity, no less). He didn’t seem like a man getting ready to go to prison.
But then he did go to prison — after a tearful farewell with the rest of the Gallaghers (“Thanks for being my brother,” “Like I had a choice”), and even in the final seconds, as he walks into his prison cell, I waited for the other shoe to drop. When he looks around his prison cell, I assumed he was looking for a place to hang himself. I was prepared to quit one of my favorite shows over this. They can’t kill off Ian so soon after killing off Monica! It’s not OK. I wasn’t even OK with the fact that the show was simply going to leave him in prison for two years, that there’d be an episode midway through next season where the Gallaghers discovered Ian had been murdered in prison. What a horrible, awful send-off for Gay Jesus. It was unacceptable.
And then Ian’s cellmate walked in.
Holy f*ck. I love this show.
The series could not have had a better send-off for Ian. I could hear the entire universe of Shameless viewers yelling “MICKEY!” in unison. Standing O, Shameless.
There was more to the episode than Ian, however. Lip plays sober companion to a celebrity played by Courteney Cox, which is a silly and kind of pointless diversion, except I thought it brought an extra layer of fun to Ian’s last dinner in the Gallagher home. Katey Sagal is on the show for some reason, too, as Frank’s potential Monica #2. And Bob Saget shows up as a filthy priest to lecture Kevin and Veronica about leaving sex toys lying around in the home. Poor Kevin and Veronica have been almost completely silo’d from the Gallaghers.
The real crux of the episode, however, is Fiona’s downward spiral, and what’s ironic about it is that when it was written and shot, they didn’t know that Emmy Rossum was going to leave the series (episodes 13 and 14 were rewritten after they learned of her departure). The story arc, however, feels as though it’s written with her exit in mind, and the performance that Rossum puts in on this episode feels like a f**k you to Emmy voters for nominating William H. Macy every single year but never nominating her.
Fiona’s entire world came crashing in on her this week. Not only is her brother going to prison, but she’s about to lose her $50,000 investment in a retirement housing, which will cost her the mortgage she has on her building, which means that the house of cards she has so delicately been building over the last couple of seasons is about to come crashing down. Meanwhile, she also found out that her handsome Irish boyfriend, Ford — who had just asked Fiona to move in with him — is leading a double life. He’s married (but separated) and has a kid, which he has somehow kept hidden. This revelation leads to a drunk Fiona speeding away from Ford’s second home and crashing into a parked car, from which she walks away.
Ian may not be the only Gallagher in prison soon.
It is worth mentioning here that though Cameron Monaghan has left Shameless, he is open to returning in some capacity in the future, though I suspect it won’t be until the series’ final run of episodes. In the British version of the series, I believe that most of the original characters — long since gone — returned for the final episode in the 11th season, which I suspect is how long the American Shameless will ultimately run.