It’s time for a new season of Shameless and now is as good a time as any to remind you of the painful fact that Fiona Gallagher’s (Emmy Rossum) Shameless saga ended with season 9. But it’s been about a year, and heartbreak may have marred your memory, so before you dive into season 10, here’s what you need to remember what happened during Fiona’s goodbye.
Fiona’s New Leaf
Things are looking up for Fiona at the beginning of her final season. The tough-as-nails Gallagher sister with a take-no-prisoners attitude about life is an empowered business woman jump starting her real estate career and running around Chicago in smart-casual attire.
With the Gallagher brood practically all grown up (excluding their youngest brother), Fiona seemed to be shedding her matriarchal role and slipping into life as a hard hustling twenty-something. The brunette no longer lives in the iconic Gallagher house under the L tracks; she’s dating Irish carpenter Ford Kellogg (Richard Flood), runs Patsy’s Pies, and is the owner and landlord of an apartment building in a semi-gentrified corner of the South Side.
“I’m not going to apologize for enlightened self interest,” she tells Ford during a scene in the fourth episode of season 9.
However, things spiral downward quickly for the eldest Gallagher in the sixth episode of season 9. After realizing she won’t be able to invest the extra money needed into a real estate endeavor after a buyer backs out and can’t get the money she put in back, she realizes that she’ll have to foreclose her apartment building.
She starts drinking heavily. She also discovers that her gorgeous Irish boyfriend, who recently told her how much he cares about her, actually has a wife and a kid that he’s kept secret from her all this time. She learns this after tracking his phone to find him and confront him. She finds him in a house with his wife and runs from him, drunkenly crashing her car in the process and symbolically and physically destroying everything she’s worked for.
Things Get Messy As Hell
By mid-season, the HBIC of the Gallagher household moves back in with the kids and she’s a mess. She’s not paying her share of bills and she’s constantly drinking, causing fights, and making scenes. She sells drugs. She punches (an albeit racist) woman in the face who shut down her brother’s lemonade stand and gets chased by the cops. She even gets fired from Patsy’s, which is the one steady job she’s managed to hold down.
The Light At The End Of The Tunnel
But just as it looks like Fiona is doomed to a life just like her father’s, she gets back up again. She stops drinking and attends AA and Al-Anon. She swallows any pride she has left and gets a job working at a convenience store. As fate would have it, her former real estate partner stops by her new job.
He tells her that the buyer who backed out at the beginning of the season is going to buy the lot she invested in after all and that he’s going to give her her portion of the payout — a whopping $100,000 — in advance.
Fiona Says Goodbye, For Now
The last episode of the season wraps everything up neatly for the twenty-something Chicagoan. She gets her payout and avoids without jail time for punching out that woman at the lemonade stand. She stops by the prison and gets advice from her brother Ian (Cameron Monaghan) that finally seems to stick, even though everyone has been telling her to do this her entire life: Get as far away from the South Side as she can and never look back.
The matriarchal eldest daughter of Frank (William H. Macy) and Monica Gallagher, who spent her entire life up until this point raising her five siblings, caring for her alcoholic and drug addicted parents, keeping everyone together, and paying more bills and working more jobs than anyone can remember, finally does get free.
But as she makes her great escape to somewhere she won’t have to wear a parka or snow boots ever again, she doesn’t leave the South Side with a middle finger to Lake Michigan, as her father would. Instead, she delivers a goodbye as sweet and maternal as a kiss on the forehead. She gifts her siblings with half of her money — because even though they’re old enough to take care of themselves now, they’ll always be her kids.
Now, if only we can figure out how to go on without her, too.