A surprise marriage, child kidnapping, and last-minute trip to Costa Rica. Yes, the fifth season of Shameless sure has tugged at our heartstrings. So it’s fitting that the finale episode is titled “Love Songs (in the Key of Gallagher),” since it concerned matters of the heart within TV viewers’ favorite messy Southside clan.
Let’s cut through a bit of the clutter first.
It looks like Kev and V are finally getting back together in the best way possible—V accompanies Kev to his STI test after having sex with all those randy coeds on Lip’s campus. Their storyline has definitely been one of the weaker ones this season, with their break and eventual make-up. We knew that they were gonna get back together. As Fiona so succinctly put it in an earlier episode: they’re V and Kev. They’re really the series’ only stable couple over the past five years. At least their marital problems triggered that fun recurring Eddie Murphy joke and Kev’s awkward college-boy intervention (since he was allowing all the girls he hooked up with to get off before he finished), really messing things up for all those less talented dorm tools trying to get it in. Oh, and lest we forget Svetlana performing “wifely duties”—aka. oral sex—to both Kev and V.
Lip getting frisky with his lady professor was a predictable move, but bringing in her husband and their open agreement was a strange curveball. The finale opens with Lip mid-Fifty Shades with his professor—that is, until the camera pans over and you see her husband silently observing from the corner (per their agreement). It seems we’re headed towards a threesome next season.
But Lip’s jerky storyline also gives us one of the season’s best scenes featuring poor Amanda, the girl he was “casually” banging prior to his newfound love for academia. She waits for Lip at the library where she clocks him. “What the fuck was that for?” he asks. “Making me fall in love with you,” she replies, and Lip argues he didn’t. Her flustered response is one we know all too well: “Yes, you did, because you're so fucking… you! You're not like anybody I know, or I’ve ever met, or ever will meet. You’re just… FUCK!” and she storms off. We feel you, Amanda, we feel you.
And then there’s Fiona, the heart of the show. Following her huge breakdown last season that left her behind bars, seeing her tortured over boys, including Mr. Patsy’s Pies Chicago, Sean, feels pretty marginal by comparison.
Now to the meat of the finale. A very intriguing plot point next season will be Debbie’s pregnancy. At the beginning of the episode, Debbie wakes up as her high school beau Derek is sneaking out. The two exchange their first “I love you’s,” and Debbie’s face lights up in that same embarrassingly adorable way it did when she first found out Derek liked her. Just a few episodes later, they’re saying the L word and having unprotected teenage sex. Who would’ve thought?
But what Derek doesn’t know is that Debbie’s birth control hadn’t kicked in yet, and that she wants to have his love child. Deb and Fiona get into a huge fight about it, with Fiona pleading, “Don’t do this, please. Don’t have a baby. It’s a mistake,” and Debbie firing back, “I know who I love and I know what I want.” And like that, the conversation is over. Fiona knows what it’s like to be young and naïve, and desperately seek validation in the eyes of another.
Frank’s arc helping Bianca live her life to the fullest (by drinking $10,000 whiskey and smoking crack) before she succumbs to cancer has exhibited a new side of Frank, a character most have pretty much hated since the beginning of the series. Seeing him give Bianca one last hurrah has made for beautifully cathartic television. After all, she’s always been the selfless one, dedicating her life to being a doctor and saving other’s lives, while Frank is the height of selfishness, using and abusing everyone in his life—most of all himself. Seeing these two polar opposites find common ground is poetic, and when Bianca lets the ocean take her, it’s a scene that’s both excruciatingly painful and wholly understood. When Frank is stirred awake by the bright Costa Rican sun, pitching a fit when he realizes Bianca isn’t there, it’s symbolic—his love has moved on, while he will live to fight another day.
And then there’s Monica and Ian. When Mama Gallagher showed up in the season’s penultimate episode, it was bittersweet. While Monica is always the source of madness and hurt, it was gratifying to see Ian confide in her about also being bipolar. She’s the only one that really gets him, and the only person he can trust. The two are en route to wherever Monica is living now.
Back in the neighborhood, Mickey tries to fuck his feelings away (doggy style of course, since there’s no other way he’ll stay hard) now that Ian has gone MIA once more.
Ian’s gradual realization of the danger that Monica got the Gallagher kids into during their formative years, and her own self-sabotage by refusing to take her meds, is soul-crushing stuff. The impressionable Ian is still struggling to come to terms with his bipolar nature, along with the understanding that he has to stay medicated or else he might hurt a loved one—like when he kidnapped Mickey’s kid and almost pulverized Debbie’s head with a baseball bat—and witnessing Monica’s pitiable state is a huge part of that recognition. She’s living in the middle of nowhere in a trailer with a meth cook, peddling his product.
“People like us, we can be happy. I love him. And that’s the most important thing—to find somebody to love, right? Who loves you back, for who you are,” she tells Ian.
That’s why the end of the episode is so crushing. Ian ultimately decides that there’s too much wrong with him and doesn’t want to put Mickey through all that hurt. Mickey tells him he’ll take care of him, through thick and thin, sickness and health. But Ian lets him ago.
And we don’t even get to fully process that Ian calls it quits because Sammi shows up like a bat out of hell. Yes, Sammi, who we thought Mickey had accidentally killed by slipping her too many pills, casually walks up to the Gallagher front yard and begins shooting at Mickey.
The finale closes with a peek at what Carl and Chuckie are up to in juvie. Looks like race wars, with the swastika-tattooed Chuckie on team white and Carl over on team black thanks to not snitching on his drug-dealing boss.
Quite the love song for the Gallagher clan. Can’t wait for the encore.