No Shame in a Finale

After a season of hitting rock bottom, college life, and a coming out that resulted in a bar brawl, Showtime’s “Shameless” ended its fourth season.

The season started out with the the family separating and living their own lives: Fiona finally reaching her dream of “middle class,” Lip at the University of Chicago, Ian supposedly in the army under Lip’s name, and the younger Gallagher’s Carl and Debbie facing the perils of puberty and romance. The finale, however, had the dysfunctional family coming together.

The episode “Lazarus” opened with Fiona in jail after a season long trip to the kingdom of pathetic. She started out at an office job at a cup company that offered her benefits such as dental, a retirement plan, and a compassionate boss who turned into a stable love interest. She lost it all after a series of stupid decisions that involved cheating on her boss, Mike, with his brother, becoming best friends with the bottom of a bottle, and using cocaine in the house and almost killing her youngest brother, Liam. She got probation, seemed to be making changes for the better, but then violated the terms and landed in jail.

The finale saw her getting an early release from jail due to over-crowding and getting set up with a job waiting tables, allowing a possible redemption in the next season. When she returns home, she’s greeted by tearful siblings and the responsibility of slipping back into her big sister robes to help a troubled Ian.

Ian Gallagher appeared in the mid-season of the show after leaving for the army and then going AWOL, causing the family to search for him. They eventually find him working at a bar called the White Swallow with a new appearance and an overly enthusiastic, possibly drug-fueled personality. They weren’t able to get Ian to go home and security kicks them out, prompting Ian’s sort-of-boyfriend Mickey to take matters into his own hands.

Mickey and Ian’s complicated relationship continues where it left off, except now with a baby from Mickey’s marriage to a prostitute and Ian’s need to no longer simply be Mickey’s secret. In the episode prior to the finale, Mickey comes out at the local bar and faces a pummeling by his homophobic father that leads to full bar brawl.

The finale has Ian refusing to leave his bed for unexplained reasons and Mickey turning to the Gallagher’s for help, who reveal that Ian has bipolar disorder inherited from their mother. Fiona, released from jail and ready to sister-it-up, comes to offer possible options for Ian that include hospitalization. Mickey was panicked at the idea of losing Ian again and insisted Ian wasn’t leaving that house, even if he had to care of him himself.

Other moments for the Gallagher’s in the finale included Frank, the father, getting the liver transplant he’d been waiting for all season but still continuing to drink, Carl dealing with his first heartbreak after Bonnie disappeared without a word, and Lip living the high life with a girlfriend that comes from a family with deep pockets and doesn’t mind sharing that wealth.

The episode ends with  cliffhanger as a car pulls up in front of the Gallagher house and seated in the back was Jimmy/Steve, Fiona’s former boyfriend who was thought to be dead, and is now going by yet another name: Jack.

Shameless will return in 2015 to continue the escapades of Chicago’s favorite family.