The time on Shameless is slowly ticking away, and Fiona’s grand farewell is going to be here before you know it. It’s been known for some time now that Emmy Rossum is leaving; it’s not a blindside to viewers, and nor is it a cast and crew.
Perhaps what is the most fascinating element of this at present is simply the mechanics of her big goodbye. This is a woman who, for the better part of this season, has been slowly circling the drain. We’ve seen her give in completely to drinking, to self-destruction, and venturing far past the successful businesswoman she tried to be. She’s lost her place, her job, and really all of her self-confidence. At the end of this past episode, she found herself at the bottom of the bottom, waking up and vomiting in a metaphorical hole in the ground. She’s got nothing, but we don’t think that this show is meant to keep her there. Shameless may be a series where terrible things happen and these characters flex a lot of unlikable muscles, but we do think we’re meant to root for them. We don’t think the intention is for any of them to end their journey in utter misery.
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For those wondering what Rossum herself has to say about all Fiona’s farewell, some of her feelings are fairly similar too what we’ve laid out — especially in terms of her finding some happiness within her goodbye. In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, she had the following to pass along:
Something that was set up previously kind of pays off for Fiona. A door opens and she walks through. She goes to start to make her life elsewhere, and the way in which she says goodbye is quite moving. I think the final moment between her and Frank is actually quite telling about really how much he loves his kids but just really can’t be a parent and there’s an understanding there. It reminds me of a scene in the pilot. There’s a scene with Frank and Fiona in the finale right at the very end where he’s trying to acknowledge what she did for the family and it’s in some way reminiscent of what Fiona wanted to hear in the pilot when he was passed out drunk in the living room and she was patting herself on the back and saying “Good job, Fiona.” Now, of course, she doesn’t hear those exact words because Frank is a terrible narcissist and not very generous with words, but there’s an understanding that happens and I think the way John blocked the scene was so smart. There’s a separation between the characters but there’s a lot unsaid and understood between them. I’m quite happy with the life that Fiona is going to make for herself and the things she’s put in place to take care of them before she leaves.
In hearing these words, most of our theories about Fiona’s exit are moot — including the especially-dark one where she may die at the end of this. We didn’t really think that the writers would want to do this, though — there’s always a chance that Fiona could return and the creative team wants to make sure that the possibility is still there for them. As a matter of fact, that is something that Rossum confirms she would be open to — though it does also seem like she’s happy with her exit. You don’t want to come back just for the sake of it; it’s always nice to have a substantial reason built in to a curtain call.