After 11 seasons and 133 episodes, Shameless aired the penultimate episode of the series, “The Fickle Lady is Calling it Quits.” It was not an episode worthy of second-to-last, and aside from what happened in the episode’s final seconds, it was virtually indistinguishable from most episodes of Shameless. A self-pitying Debbie develops a relationship with a trainwreck; Mickey and Ian fight over what feels like an insurmountable difference, but — as always — prioritize each other over everything else. Carl spins his wheels, and Lip continues to break our hearts by doing absolutely everything wrong.
More broadly speaking, Debbie spends half the episode moping that she can’t find love, but then sparks fly when she meets an ex-con who is even more of an insecure mess of a person than Debbie is. Mickey hates living in a nice apartment on the West Side and nearly sabotages their lease, but he and Ian ultimately come to an understanding that will allow them to continue living there (I still think they’re destined to return to the South Side). Carl is demoted to a meter maid, where — in a particularly low moment for the series — he performs an extended TikTok dance with a fellow police officer played by Joshua Malina (in a career-low for him, as well). Carl also discovers that the woman who raped him may be pregnant with his child, and seems … wistful? Kevin and Viv sell their house and put the bar on the market as they continue their plan to relocate to Louisville.
Lip, meanwhile, continues his attempt to sell the Gallagher home so that each of the Gallagher children can move into their own separate homes. At one point, Lip believes he has an offer from a gentrifier who is going to demo the house. So Lip sells all the appliances inside, only for the buyer to back out, leaving Lip with a busted-up house full of nothing.
The final seconds of the episode, however, seem to upend everything. Frank — who has succumbed to alcohol-related dementia — intentionally kills himself by overdose (hey! That’s how my Dad did it!) and leaves behind a note to his family. We’re not positive he’s successful because the episode ends on a cliffhanger, and we’re not sure what’s in the note. However, I can tell you from experience with Shameless that Frank will be successful because the series is never better than when someone dies, and that whatever is in the suicide note will be some sort of Deus ex Frankina. That is to say, his words will probably keep the Gallaghers together emotionally, and he will probably also provide access to enough money to fix up the house and keep everyone living there. After all, we learned in the last couple of episodes that Frank used to pull off grand heists, like the Isabella Stewart Gardner theft, and that he may or may not have a gold brick buried in the back yard. Shameless would not be Shameless unless a huge lump sum of money the Gallaghers could quickly burn through weren’t occasionally involved. There’s probably a reason why they waited until the final episode for Kevin and Viv to sell the bar, too: They’re gonna keep it in the family, so to speak.
Indeed, the biggest question that remains for the finale is not whether the Gallaghers will stay in their home — they almost certainly will — but whether Fiona will return to join them? Alas, I am feeling skeptical — a moment like this would almost invariably leak (and Showtime would probably want it to), and I haven’t heard a damn thing. Meanwhile, if it weren’t COVID times, an even better finale cameo might be David Threlfall, the original UK Frank Gallager.
Header Image Source: Showtime