Emmy Rossum wrapping up her tenure as Fiona in the Shameless Season 9 finale wasn’t exactly a shock—fans have known her departure was imminent for a while—but still, it felt pretty sad to see her board a plane in those final scenes.
Although we aren’t yet privy to where she’ll land, showrunner John Wells tells Deadline her destination will be revealed very early in Season 10, and that Fiona isn’t looking to erase herself entirely from the family. She may even pop back into the picture for the odd phonecall if Wells has his way. Her departure also doesn’t herald the beginning of the end of the show, Wells reassures. But more on that below.
The finale action kicked off with Fiona stashing her much-needed check from Max for $100K under the mattress, just as love-spurned siblings Debbie and Carl head out to trash Kelly’s truck. Sadly, they set off the vehicle’s alarm while pouring sugar into its gas tank and misspelled ‘heartbreaker’ in spray paint—they might as well have signed their names.
Meanwhile, a couch-bound Frank is screaming for Oxys and beer and leaving nasty things in bed pans following his leg break. With six months of this to look forward to, Fiona is bound to crack. Or leave.
At last Liam’s absence is noticed. Debbie goes to Todd’s house to retrieve him and it turns out Liam had asked to go and live with Todd, only no one noticed. So far, so Shameless. He asks her if she’s noticed he’s black, points out she’s done nothing to support his cultural and racial heritage and sends her away with a list of 49 demands that must be met before he’ll come home.
“Liam’s decided he’s black and he wants us to do a bunch of black s**t” she tells Frank.
Then there’s Kevin, who’s contemplating a new side gig as Party Jesus. He’ll be hired to attend events dressed as the Messiah. “I think that’s called church services,” V says. But turns out he’s thinking more ‘Jesus stripper’ so that’s okay. On the upside, he’s finally proven to V that his sexual prowess is intact. After lasting 47 minutes in bed, she rolls her eyes and instructs him: “All good things must come to an end.”
Over at Captain Bob’s Shrimp Shack, the great Bob himself has stopped by to offer Carl a management position as a thank you for defending the business from robbery. “The sky’s the limit,” he tells Carl. “You could even end up with your own winnebago.” Obviously, a delighted Carl rushes home and starts packing up his school uniform to donate to Goodwill. Enter Debbie, who’s having none of it.
“Fast food is the best it’s going to get for me,” he yells as Debbie. He may be right, but echoing the mom role Fiona always played (and is clearly about to vacate), Debbie surely won’t let him go down without a fight.
Meanwhile, Fiona’s court case is neatly settled with a $2500 fine and time served, thus, with her check in hand everything is pointing her in the direction of abandon ship. “Time to leave this South Side hood rat crap behind you and get on with being an adult,” her lawyer says. Well there you have it.
Fiona goes to see Ian in prison, which provides a nice comeback for fan favorite Cameron Monaghan, whom we’ll see more from next season apparently. She blurts out she’s thinking of moving “somewhere near the equator”, and he kindly tells her:
“Go. Go as far away from here as you can and don’t ever look back, okay?”
Then there’s the Lip and Tami situation. First comes the revelation that Tami has tested positive for the BRCA-1 gene, making her more at risk for the breast cancer that killed her mom. Should they have the baby she’s expecting? Who knows, but at least they clarify they’re not in love. After a romantic hookup under a freeway overpass, Lip tells her, “I like you and I think we could end up loving each other.”
“Be still my heart” a furious Tami replies, then drives off leaving him stranded.
Over in the Gallagher neighborhood, Kelly catches up with Debbie and demands to know why she and Carl trashed her truck. “You broke Carl’s heart. He may not be able to spell but he’s a human being!” Debbie yells, glossing over the fact Kelly broke her own heart too. She tells Kelly that all this rejection has driven Carl to quit school in favor of a fast food future. And next comes perhaps the best scene in the episode:
At Captain Bob’s, Carl is getting some management training when Kelly’s truck screeches up out front. She promptly tackles him to the ground, zip ties his wrists and drags him out of there, screaming, “He just quit” at his boss.
“Now that’s a woman,” the awestruck boss says.
In the truck, Kelly kisses Carl, it’s all back on between them, and Carl is thoroughly, happily restored.
At the house, Debbie and Lip catch Fiona packing. She confesses her plans to leave and she and Lip have one last classic Shameless sibling moment together. As always with them, so much is unsaid, and yet their love for each other is movingly palpable.
“So where to?” he asks.
“Not sure” Fiona says. “Baby?”
“Who knows,” Lip says. “Life, right?”
Plans are made for a farewell party, and everyone—except couch-bound Frank and his new nurse Seamus, who is horrifyingly mid-sponge bath—rushes off to gather celebratory supplies. But Fiona wants to slink out fast before she changes her mind.
“You stepped in and helped, thanks,” Frank tells her, grudgingly.
“Helped?” she says. “I did it all Frank.” And thus, once again, the fantastically narcissistic Frank fails to appreciate what’s in front of him.
Lip comes home laden with farewell party food, but finds Fiona’s room empty. He smiles and shrugs in complete understanding. And the Gallagher show must go on. Lip and Kevin have a good chat about fatherhood and it’s clear Lip wants to make a go of it with Tami and the baby, while Debbie finds a $50K check from Fiona stuck to the fridge. She looks at her rowdy, crazy family crammed into their down-at-heel house and smiles fondly. This is surely the birth of a new Fiona-mom figure.
Finally, we see Fiona board a plane. We have no idea where she’s going, but the destination doesn’t seem to matter and good things must surely find her. All is right in the Shameless world, at least for now.
As for how the family will survive without Fiona, what chaos awaits next season, and how long we can expect Shameless to continue, John Wells was on hand to provide some answers below.
DEADLINE: So where is Fiona going? Somewhere warm presumably?
WELLS: Yes, absolutely, and we didn’t really mean to leave it a mystery. The episode was about eight minutes too long when I finished it—my fault, I wrote too much and then had way too much fun directing it—and so we cut things, and there was a conversation at the end between the little girl who is in the seat beside Fiona, in which we learn where Fiona was going, and for time we cut it, and now it’s turned into kind of a mystery. So, we’ll be revealing it very quickly at the beginning of the next season.
DEADLINE: How are the rest of the family going to find out where she went, because she didn’t leave a trail? Will she call? Send a postcard?
WELLS: Yes. She’s not trying to be lost from them. We’ll talk to Emmy, and see if she wants to do a phone call for us or something, and she may be available to or not, but we’re not going to keep it a mystery, and she’s not going to disappear from the face of the Earth.
DEADLINE: Can the Gallaghers survive without Fiona?
WELLS: I think they can, but I don’t think it’ll be easy. I think they’re going to discover just how much she did and be a little irritated by the fact that she’s not still there to do it, much the same way we all are when we move away from our parents and can’t wait and then get out there and go, “Oh, damn, it’s a lot harder than I thought it was going to be.”
DEADLINE: Is Debbie ready to step into Fiona’s shoes? Is that where we’re going?
WELLS: I think she thinks she is, and then she’ll do what we all do—She’ll do some of it well, and she’ll fail at some of the rest of it, and then she’ll learn. Fiona, for all intents and purposes, even though she was the older sister, was the mother to all of them, and it looks easier from the outside than when you’re actually doing it, so I think we’ll have a lot of fun with that. I think that’s going to give us a lot of wonderful story. For Lip, as well.
DEADLINE: Do you see the show going on and on?
WELLS: As a writer, there’s always more story. The world keeps changing, which means there’s lots to satirize and to talk about. We like to pretend in America that there isn’t a class system and that we’re a true meritocracy. And it’s absolutely not true, so that reality gives us a ton of material to work with, not only with what happens in the individual lives of the characters, but also just the world that they have to inhabit, which millions of people in the United States inhabit, trying to struggle up from very difficult economic circumstances just to make it through every day and to have some fun and have some joy in your life and make sure there’s enough food on the table. So, I think that the universality of that theme is such that we could do that for a very long time.
DEADLINE: It was great to have Cameron Monaghan back as Ian. How much are we going to see of him next season?
WELLS: I called him and I asked him if he’d come back and do the last episode with Fiona in prison, and he was happy to do it, and we got to talking when we were out there doing it, and I said, “You should come back and do some more, we miss you,” and he said, “Oh, I’d consider doing that.” He thought about it a little bit, and we had a few other conversations, and he agreed to come back and do some more. So, that’s one of the great things about these ongoing shows where you can have people come and go, that’s kind of how our lives are, people come in and out of them, our family members, so we’re delighted that he’s going to do some more.
DEADLINE: You said you might get a phone call out of Emmy in the future, but are you also hoping she’ll come back and guest star sometimes?
WELLS: I think she will, but you know, I don’t know. We’ll have to see what she wants to do. She has been nothing but a pleasure to work with, and she’s obviously a very talented actress, but she’s also a very talented writer and director, and she’s interested in exploring some other things creatively for herself. I’m hoping when I call her that she’ll say, “Sure, I’ll do it,” here and there, and if not, I’ll completely understand and still love her.
DEADLINE: Can you hint a little about what’s coming up in Season 10?
WELLS: I think the tone will be pretty similar. We like what we do and enjoy it, and as I say, there’s always something else in the American political system and class system to satirize, so we start by just all getting together and screaming at each other about everything we hate about what’s happened since the last time we saw each other and then see if any of that can be turned into story
DEADLINE: That moment when Kelly drags Carl out of Captain Bob’s is so fantastic. In fact all the women are powerful and smart and running the show. Did that just evolve naturally for you?
WELLS: I’m going to say this as if it’s a joke, but I don’t mean to joke. That is the way it is. It was the way it was when I grew up, and it’s the way it is in my life now. I appreciate that the women in my life let me occasionally pretend like I’m actually stronger than they are, but it’s utter rubbish. The women in my world are strong, and they have their agency, and they’re far more resilient than the men that I know. I appreciate how willing they are to simply put up with it, and so we have a lot of fun on the show just showing that. I think that families and workplaces are completely held together by the women who put up with a certain amount of ridiculous male ego because they’ve unfortunately been trained they have to since childhood, God bless them all.