“Shameless” Finale Recap: “To Butt Buddies!”

Episode 412

Before we start, I just have to say: Goddamn you, Shameless. Last week you lulled us into complacency with a spirited episode involving organ harvesting and bar brawls. And then you turn around and dickslap us with what many have been fearing all along: that Ian Gallagher has inherited his mother’s mental illness. It was agonizing to watch, all the more so because of the recognition on his siblings’ faces (they are all too familiar with depression) and because it came at the point where Mickey is finally all-in with his carrot-topped beau.

So I guess the ultimate point of this script-flipped season was that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

We start with a wall of ice – wait, is this Game of Thrones?! I knew agreeing to recap both shows in one night was a mistake!

At the hospital, Frank (William H. Macy) is waking up. And freaking out. He finds both the catheter and his wedding ring. He recognizes Sammi (Emily Bergl) but not himself as “Mr. Gallagher” or the head of a brood of Native American kids. Okay, I’m already bored. Let’s get to the kids, amiright?

Lip (Jeremy Allen White) wakes, smokes, and complains to Debs (Emma Kenney) about the lack of heat. The management sends its apologies, Lip. Debs asks if Amanda is sleeping there, and decides, “I like her as long as she’s paying some bills.” Lip wakes Carl (Ethan Cutkowky) – and Bonnie – and seems concerned that they’re sleeping together. BECAUSE THEY ARE TEN. Carl says that it’s okay because they aren’t having sex because Bonnie was molested by a biker. Sweet Jeebus, somebody get me a hot water bottle…

Lip looks at the bills, and Debs sums it up for him: they need $1900 to pay everything off. He tells Carl that the house isn’t an orphanage, and Bonnie and her siblings have to go. Debs and Carl want to visit Fiona and don’t care how far away it is. Lip calls her prison a “country club” and “not Guantanamo.”

Episode 412

Cut to Fiona (Emmy Rossum) getting bed-checked and hit on by a fellow inmate who gives her a pill, saying, “It’ll make the day go by easier.” Ugh. Don’t do it, Fi!

Lip piles the kids into the car – including the trunk. As someone whose own mother rode in the trunk of a car to a Styx concert (of her own volition!), I agree this is an enterprising use of cargo space.

Amanda asks Lip if he has a suit, because she wants him to come to some bullshit sorority thing

Ian (Cameron Monaghan) spoons Mickey (Noel Fisher) in Mickey’s bed. Awww! Mickey gets up, and touches Ian’s face as he sleeps. OMG THE FEELS.

Real tears. The first of many.

Svetlana says to Mickey: “So you are rainbow boy now.” She is wearing… a strap-on. It is… horrifying. She offers, “You want it up in your poop place?” Maybe let’s start with coffee? But moments later the truth comes out: she’s a… lesbian? Because she hates the penis, or as she calls it, “The ugly fucking skin stick.” Wait, she’s been gay this whole time? That’s kind of amazing. She confirms this by checking out Mandy (Emma Greenwell) as she walks by in her underwear. But she still wants to make sure that the baby is cared for: “America – is land of choices, yes?” She ends the discussion by threatening to stab both of them with a screwdriver in their sleep if they don’t take care of the baby. Well then!

Sheila (Joan Cusack) wants the kids to say “Geronimo!” in a photo with Frank. Ugh, please just make this storyline go away. Chuckles asks Frank if his diaper is full, and the nurse makes him go on a meds-free walk. Sheila scolds Chuckles and Sammi balks at it. They take it outside, where Sheila tells Sammi to move out of her house, but forgives her for selling her furniture. Uh, I remember that furniture, and Sammi did you a favor.

Episode 412

Fiona does prison laundry, which is twenty times heavier than real laundry because it is weighed down by guilt. A very… um… masculine lady guard pulls Fiona off the laundry line to pee in a cup. SHIT.

Grace (Regina King) – her probation officer – asks Fiona if she’s keeping clean. Fiona insists that she is. Grace takes the pee, leaving Fiona handcuffed to her table. Ugh.

Mickey tries to wake Ian, but he won’t get up. Oh jeez. Ian hides under a sheet. Mandy asks Mickey if Ian is okay. Um… well, not really. This is not good.

Kev (Steve Howey) is wearing his babies’ umbilical cords around his neck at the Alibi (thankfully, we do not see this). Mickey comes in and the regular dude whose name I can never remember makes a crack. Mickey snaps, “Was that a gay joke?” “Was it funny?” “No.” “Then it wasn’t a gay joke.” Kev says that he wasn’t surprised to learn that Mickey is gay, and everyone at the bar has a spirited discussion of gay entertainers ranging from Ellen to Jason Collins. It’s kind of amazing. Mickey is still coltish, but Kev talks him down: “Mickey, here, sit down, man. Nobody gives a shit who you bang. Let me buy you a beer.” He then makes a toast: “To butt buddies!” OMG this show…

Amanda gets Lip fitted for a fancy suit: “Let’s try the Prada.”

The guard uncuffs Fiona and walks her through the prison – Fiona barks “I didn’t take it, bitch!” to her admirer – and tells her to get the eff out. Well done, Fi. Grace picks her up outside and tells her that she needs to wear her seatbelt, and she’ll take her to Sonic. Please, hasn’t this girl been through enough?!

Frank gets his catheter removed. Remind me to never get one of those. He also gets his surgical staples removed, and is read a laundry list of side effects from his liver meds. Oh – and he can’t drink alcohol again. Ever. “Try near beer.” Sammi comforts him: “They didn’t say anything about pot.” That’s the spirit, Sammi!

Debs orders a pizza that Matty has to deliver, and seems to revel in the power that potentially withholding a tip from a loved one affords her. (Are they watching The Final Destination, btw?) She makes Matty drive her to a check-cashing place so she can pay bills.

Episode 412

Carl and Bonnie are in the kitchen drinking beers, because it’s Tuesday. Carl says that Bonnie and her siblings can stay because “It’s my house, too.” Well, technically, it’s Aunt Ginger’s house, but she’s not going to argue the point. He tries to give Bonnie a necklace but she refuses, telling him not to fall for her. Too late! She bolts.

Grace asks Fi what sent her on the bender, and tells her that she got out early because of overcrowding: “You got to take control of your own life. No more excuses.” The editing in this scene is giving me a migraine.

Episode 412

It’s after 5pm and Ian still isn’t getting out of bed or responding to anyone. Uh-oh. Mickey tries again to get him up, wondering, “What the fuck is wrong with him?!”

Sheila makes her case to the tribal council, but they still won’t let her take the kids, because they have a great-grandfather… ON THE COUNCIL. They offer her $500 for her inconvenience – “Or would you prefer chips for the casino?”

Grace puts a new ankle bracelet on Fi, and tells her that she owes her $420 for the last one. She drops her off at a diner run by the Comedian from Watchmen (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) – he’s her new boss and sponsor, I guess? And love interest? He has a scorpion neck tattoo, so I’m sure he’s fine. He asks Grace, “this one gonna make it?” She says she doesn’t know. Fiona gets shown the ropes by another waitress named Jackie, who I hope is around for a very long time.

Episode 412

On the couch, Debs and Carl discuss love, which they conclude pretty much sucks. Mickey comes by looking for… Lip?

Lip is of course at the sorority ritual, where he is suitably confused by the pageantry and white oleander and candles and general whitebreadery of it all.

Mickey brings Debs in to see Ian, who is still sleeping. In the most heartbreaking moment of the entire episode that will probably haunt my life forever, Debs turns to Mandy and says, “Yeah, we know what this is.”




Episode 412

Mandy waits on Lip and Amanda at the Waffle Squirrel (where, thankfully, she no longer has to wear the hat). She freezes him out when he tries to talk to her – even though she was a perfectly lovely waitress. Lip tries for small talk: “I didn’t know you worked here.” She storms off. He awkwardly calls after her: “Thank you.” Amanda asks, “You know the waitress?” Yes. Biblically. And our brothers are banging!

Fiona comes home to find an empty house – AGAIN! – complete with clean laundry and a stocked fridge. She falls asleep. The next morning, a dog pees on the fence and it’s life as usual. We see Debs waking up – which is kind of shocking, since that’s usually Fiona’s bit – and she comes downstairs to find Fiona: “I’m making French toast.” Hugs. Tears. Some of them not on my couch. Carl and Liam join the hug. But Fiona can tell that something is wrong…

Episode 412

They take Fiona to see Ian. She can’t get him out of bed, either. She says that they have to find Lip: “It could be bipolar disease.” And there it is.

Mickey won’t let them take Ian away: “Let me take care of him ’til he gets better. He’s fucking family. He’s not going to some nuthouse.” Oh, bless…

Last time, I promise: GODDAMN YOU, SHAMELESS.

Bonnie’s van is gone.

Fiona goes to her NA meeting.

Sammi gets Frank-blocked by Sheila, and they fight in the hallway. Meanwhile, Carl sneaks in and sneaks Frank out. Chuckles waves. Oh, Chuckles!

Episode 412

Lip comes home and finds Fiona there. They sit on the porch. It’s nice. “Bipolar, huh?” Not so nice. Fiona says, “I always worried it would be me.” God. “Is alcoholism genetic?” Uh, is the pope Catholic? Fiona asks, “Is this family ever gonna catch a break?” Not until you stop getting renewed. Lip reminds her, “You’re not perfect, Fiona.”

Sammi pulls her trailer up to the vacant lot next to Sheila’s. And Sheila offers them pot roast. Oh! Okay, if anything can bring Sheila’s storyline back on track, this might be it.

Carl pushes Frank to frozen Lake Michigan. Frank pulls out a bottle of booze, stands facing the lake, opens the bottle, takes a sip… and keeps drinking. “That all ya got?!” Okay, we get it.

Back at home, a car pulls up and pauses – some blond chick in the driver’s seat says something to WAIT WHAT THE FUCK!? JIMMY?!

Okay, you know what, Shameless? Now you’re just getting greedy.


Notably Absent: Carol, Robbie, Mike

Notably Undead: Jimmy

Okay, maybe I shouldn’t be so upset about the truth behind Ian’s erratic behavior. Many, many people live with severe depression and bipolar disorder. But even in the most stable environments and with the best care, it still can be a very rough road. And Shameless is, after all, an engine fueled by drama, so this is NOT going to be easy. I feel so bad for Ian and Mickey and Debs and Fiona and everyone, because this is something that they will be fighting forever. Hurricane Monica has come home to roost.

Now, about the Jimmy thing. It’s a tad unfair, as I’m preeeeeeetty sure I remember hearing the people behind the show say point-blank after last season’s finale that he was dead. So now we have gotten used to his not being around anymore and here he is again. At this point, Jimmy is essentially bedbugs. Because no matter how many times she washes her sheets, Fiona just can’t seem to shake him. I just hope that this time around he has more to do than evade Estefania and change diapers. (And am I wrong to still kinda hold on to hope that she’ll get back together with Mike?) The weird part is, the episode was excellent without little Speedobuns rearing his adorable head again in the last few seconds. It actually took points off, for me.

Thanks for watching the season with me – it was a great one, even if it did get pretty damned dark for a while there. (Which is hilarious, considering that this is the season that the show decided to reclassify itself as a Comedy for awards purposes – is that a joke?!) I’m already counting the days to next January, when Debs will be a six-foot rocketship and Carl will speak in the velvety voice of Barry White.

Old Styles for everyone:



Writer-filmmaker Brian Juergens launched CampBlood.org, the world's first website devoted to horror films from a gay perspective, in 2003.