Showtime’s Shameless finally reached its conclusion after eleven seasons. Following years of trials and tribulations for the Gallaghers, “Father Frank, Full of Grace” delivers a series finale that fails to reach the emotional climax of a true ending.
The episodes leading up to the final installment give some clues about what to expect for the main characters but only truly guarantees endings for some.
Frank is the only Gallagher who gets a real resolution. After spending several episodes with dementia, Frank is taken into the hospital with a positive COVID-19 result. He spends his final moments remembering his family as they once were, including flashbacks to the show’s early days. Frank dies in a hospital with only a doctor for company. However, his spirit appears to be with his family at the Alibi.
As for Kevin and Veronica, their endgame was revealed earlier as well, as the duo prepares to move their family to Louisville, Kentucky. Already setting up Kevin and Veronica’s jobs when they move, all that is left is to sell the Alibi Room.
Ian has the clearest ending of any of his siblings, as his happy ending with Mickey has already been dealt with. Instead, the couple discusses the possibility of having children.
However, Shameless fails many of its other characters when it comes to their conclusions. The series even does it in such a way where it feels like the show made a deliberate choice to avoid giving a solid ending to anyone’s arc. “Father Frank, Full of Grace” feels more like a penultimate episode with one last hour left to complete story arcs and prepare for what it would mean to move on.
The finale instead finds a way to make the entire season that lead up to it feel irrelevant. Lip spends much of the back half of the season wanting to renovate the Gallagher family home to sell and divide the money amongst his siblings and himself.
Yet, when the time comes for Lip to have that opportunity, he gets greedy and squanders his chance, losing a sale and ending up stuck with the house. The series finale hints at another potential buyer for the house. Still, even in the show’s final minutes, it seems that Lip has not made a decision or discussed the possibility with anyone other than Ian.
As for Carl, there is talk of him and his partner, Arthur Tipping, putting in an offer to buy the Alibi and have it be a cop bar. It is never revealed if Kevin and Veronica sell it to them or to another buyer. The Alibi Room had become a prominent setting on Shameless, and, unfortunately, even the bar doesn’t have a clear next step.
It is not surprising that Liam’s role moving forward is the simplest. However, with the house not selling like Lip believed it would, Liam’s anxiety over where he would be living doesn’t have the same emotional pull, especially when showing how relieved Liam was to know he would have a home with Lip and Tami.
Debbie’s ending may be the most confusing, because her final storyline doesn’t even revolve around her. Instead, Debbie’s story is more of a throwback to the days of Jimmy Steve, with Debbie’s new girlfriend turning out to be a car thief and offering to let Debbie and Franny join her Texas. Still, this is a choice that could have made sense if the house was definitely selling. But, as that was never made clear, Debbie’s final choice lacks any emotional weight or growth.
Specifically, it’s unclear if Debbie ever actually makes a decision. The scene cuts off before she can reveal her answer about whether she’ll leave or not, and the episode carries on not bothering to announce Debbie’s decision or reference the possibility again.
Shameless didn’t need to conclude with every storyline tied in a neat bow, and there is something to be said for some open-ended storylines allowing the audience to fill in the blanks of what happened next on their own.
Still, there are points where Shameless felt like it didn’t even have the answers to some of the most significant questions in its series finale. Such a decision to avoid making a choice only hurts the characters as their arcs are left incomplete.
There is never even a scene where the Gallagher siblings reference if they have informed Fiona of what has been happening, and other than Frank, no one else manages to mention her at all. This could have been an opportunity to reveal what became of Fiona after she left Chicago during “Found,” but even that gets wasted.
The remaining Gallaghers don’t find out onscreen that their father is dead, which could have been a more emotional ending, even with how complex their relationships with Frank were.
Mickey, who spent years as a supporting character and in and out of Shameless, gets more closure and reaction to his offensive father’s death than any Gallaghers get toward Frank. Given the Gallagher family was the centerpiece, it doesn’t make sense that Mickey had a bigger response to his father’s passing.
Shameless had the chance to deliver a series finale that gave its main characters strong conclusions and an emotional sendoff. Sadly, it managed to do neither.