‘Shameless’ Series Finale: The Gallaghers, for Good and for Bad, Move on (RECAP)
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the series finale of Shameless, “Father Frank, Full of Grace.”]
The Gallaghers are going out with a… fizzle? In the Shameless series finale, some loose ends are tied up but more are created as the Showtime hit reaches the last call.
Despite Frank’s (William H. Macy) purposeful overdose, once they determine he’ll probably wake up, they turn to their own problems. Lip (Jeremy Allen White) has the house to come to terms with; Ian (Cameron Monaghan) and Mickey (Noel Fisher) their new West Side life; Debbie (Emma Kenney) deals with yet another dicey relationship; Carl (Ethan Cutkosky) continues to punish the rich but could end up making a major decision; Kev (Steve Howey) and V (Shanola Hampton) are still stuck with the Alibi; and Liam (Christian Isaiah), remains the outlier worrying about Frank. Below, we break down the finale’s drama.
We all saw it coming and in a series that doesn’t pull punches, how could things have ended any other way? Yes, we’re talking it’s the end of Frank. But first, the episode, which takes place over the course of a single day, opens with the Gallaghers leaning over him to see if he’s alive, with only Liam truly worried. V determines that he’s hypoxic, but after noticing the drug paraphernalia around him, they decide there’s a possibility he’ll wake up over time. Frank does finally wake and stumbles out of the house, wandering the streets. He stops at the boarded-up Patsy’s Pies, keeps going and enters a church, where he heads to a back room thinking it’s mass and he’s an altar boy. The priest has a parishioner call an ambulance to take Frank to the hospital.
There, Frank mistakes a nurse, played by the actor’s real-life daughter Sophia Macy, for Fiona (Emmy Rossum). His seemingly random pitstops at Patsy’s and the church make more sense as he wonders aloud, where Fiona’s been all this time. Frank, going in and out of consciousness, tests positive for COVID, and the healthcare team reevaluates their next move when they discover his “do not resuscitate” tattoo. They try to find a contact number as, in his dream-like state, Frank remembers the years prior in the Gallagher house with Fiona, Monica (Chloe Webb), and the rest of the gang.
The dream becomes more surreal: A hospital-gown-clad Frank finds himself at his usual stool in the Alibi. Taking a big swig of the beer in front of him, it magically refills as he takes in the sounds and sights of his family, who are all there. Then we see Frank back in the hospital as his heart monitor goes flat. Frank is dead.
But his spirit isn’t, as he continues to imagine sitting in the Alibi. As the bar clears and Liam takes one last look at his father’s stool, which appears empty. Frank begins levitating through the Alibi roof into the sky. As he lifts higher and higher, his letter to his family, which was written in the prior episode (that goes undiscovered), is read aloud. It reflects the show’s pilot episode opening, as he remarks on his childrens’ qualities, many of which remind him of himself. His final piece of advice is true to his character: “Time’s precious, don’t f**kin’ waste it. Have a good time, I sure as hell did.” In a silly sendoff scene, Frank’s body is prepared for cremation, but its alcoholic contents cause a crazy explosion.
Lip’s Wakeup Call
Lip’s still upset about the real estate deal he let slip through his hands. His mood isn’t helped by the fact that Debbie is thrilled the house won’t be sold. He sits on the front stoop where Tami (Kate Miner) joins him and promises that no matter what he wants to do, she’ll support him. Lip shares that he’s taken a food delivery job to make money, and Tami drops the bomb that she thinks she’s pregnant again. But whatever they decide, says Tami, she doesn’t care as long and she, Lip, and baby Fred are together.
Lip gets some advice from Brad (Scott Michael Campbell) about the delivery job, and is also is offered a chance to work on mechanic jobs after hours with Brad to make some extra cash. Out on the road, Lip delivers to privileged rich customers. But some old habits die hard, so when he makes a delivery to a stockbroker and helps him with computer issues that he boasts just helped him win thousands of dollars but gives Lip a crappy tip, Lip writes “honk if you love pussy” onto the bumper of the man’s BMW.
At home, he meets up with Liam and they ready to head out to the Alibi for a special gathering. But before they arrive, Lip chats with one of his neighbors, Shelby (Christopher Guyton) who’s interested in buying the Gallagher lot. Unfortunately, he offers nowhere near the $200,000 Lip wants. At the bar, he talks to Ian about the $75,000 offer, which means $15,000 for each of the Gallagher kids. Ian tells Lip it’s his decision and he can have Ian’s share to help with the bills.
Lip complains that between this, Tami’s pregnancy, and work, he’s being saddled with all the big decisions. Ian simply says it’s because Lip’s the closest thing any of them had to a dad. While Lip may have filled that role for his siblings, the sweet compliment from Ian doesn’t solve Lip’s problems.
Ian & Mickey’s Big Day
Meanwhile, Ian and Mickey are deciding which items to take from the Gallagher house for their West Side apartment, and as they move some furniture into their vehicle, Ian asks him if the date is the 20th or 21st, hinting at something Mickey doesn’t seem catch onto. Instead, Mickey’s focusing on a special event at the Alibi that night.
Kev and V offer to let them rummage through items they’re planning to sell before moving to Louisville, which includes a crib. A discussion about kids comes up. Mickey is surprised to learn Ian would want one, and questions how they could adopt given they’d both been in prison. But Mickey’s really scared about being a bad dad, and Ian reassures him he’d be a good one.
Later that evening when they pull up to the Alibi, Ian brings up the date again, seeing if it rings a bell with Mickey. He finally says it’s their one-year wedding anniversary and Mickey, still playing dumb, tells Ian to go inside, where he’s surprised by a big anniversary party with the entire family where, it turns out, they’re all expecting Frank to show up.
Kev & V’s Dilemma
V takes a realtor through the Alibi, who says it will likely sell quickly but probably won’t remain a bar. That doesn’t sit well with Kev, who promised previous owner Stan (Jack Carter) that he’d keep it going. The tension between them grows when she brings their twins to the bar wearing Bengals and Reds sports jerseys. It’s unclear what will happen to the Alibi, but Carl’s former partner Tipping (Joshua Malina) expresses interest in turning the joint into a cop bar when he attends the anniversary celebration.
Debbie’s Dangerous Love
Debbie continues her fling with criminal Heidi, repeatedly brushing off her daughter Franny (Paris Newton) throughout the day. When Heidi asks Debbie to go on an “errand,” they travel to a nearby car garage where Heidi gets out of Debbie’s truck, smashes the window on the BMW, which is holding a dog, and drives off to sell the stolen vehicle.
Well, Debbie, of course, loves this and she follows Heidi to a shady junkyard, where they soon have to make a quick getaway after dropping off the stolen vehicle. Back at home, the women enjoy some alone time and Heidi invites Debbie to join her in El Paso where she’s heading next. When Debbie wonders what she’d do with Franny, Heidi says to bring her along. Based on Debbie’s decision-making skills, we’re going to bet she’s taking Franny and going to El Paso.
Carl’s Handicap Stakeout
Continuing his meter maid duties, Carl keeps a watchful eye on handicap spots so he can hand out tickets to rich violators. Tipping swings by with some food and to check in on him, proving that their bond is growing despite some early differences. In a quick favor, Carl asks if Tipping can run Heidi’s name through the system. Not surprisingly, they learn she has a lengthy list of crimes, which Carl doesn’t seem too worried about, for some reason. At the Alibi celebration, Tipping floats the idea of buying the bar with Carl, and it seems like a promising partnership we wish we could see more of. (In a major loose end, Carl’s fling with Tish (Chelsea Alden) is never addressed after a shocking pregnancy reveal in the prior episode.)
Youngest Gallagher Liam does his best to find Frank when it’s discovered that he woke up and wandered off following his overdose. Trekking all over Chicago, he looks in all of the places he can think of before returning home to get ready for the Alibi celebration. There, he keeps looking at Frank’s stool, waiting for him to show up. Eventually, it would seem Liam comes to the realization that Frank won’t be showing up, but seems at peace with this. And as ghost Frank sits in the spot that looks empty, Liam leaves with a smile on his face to join his family outside of the bar where they watch a car burn and sing “The Way We Get By.”
Shameless, Sundays, 9/8c, Showtime