After her battle for equal pay, it’s incredibly appropriate and poetic that Emmy Rossum stole the show in the Season 7 finale of “Shameless.” It was reported that the actress was asking to be paid the same amount as her co-star William H. Macy in order to sign on for Season 8 — later announcing she was excited to return.

If you weren’t sure before, the Dec. 18 episode, “Requiem for a Slut,” proves Rossum is worth every single penny she’s being paid — and so much more. Fiona (Rossum) and her relationship with her father Frank (Macy) have been a true whirlwind to watch over season seasons of “Shameless” and it all came to a head in “Requiem.” The death of Monica (Chloe Webb) — estranged mother to Fiona, estranged wife to Frank — was a tipping point for Fiona, and when she saw her dad mourning the woman she credits with so much that’s gone wrong in their lives, Fiona finally cracked.

In that scene with Frank in front of the Gallagher home, Fiona finally let him have everything she’s been bottling up, in an incredibly raw moment and one that’s been a long time coming. Everyone in the family has screamed at Frank at one time or another but Fiona’s dressing down is comprehensive, as she reminds him that the woman he loved abandoned the family, leaving a nine-year-old to pick up the pieces, keep her drunk father alive and raise her siblings.

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“I was in fourth grade, dragging your ass, passed out, in from the yard so you wouldn’t freeze to death,” she tells Frank, seething with contempt.

Those who have been watching “Shameless” since the beginning knows the rough lives the Gallagher children have faced. Hearing Fiona explain in detail how a nine-year-old is the only thing that kept a family alive all these years is devastating, though.

The soul Rossum brought to this moment is what makes it special. You can’t help but believe every step of the way just how horrific her upbringing was. Fiona has made questionable decisions throughout the run of “Shameless” — but has never forgotten how important the family is to everything she does.

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Without her, the Gallagher family would be in far worse shape than they are and Frank would surely be dead. She’ll never let that happen, though. Fiona Gallagher is a fighter and a survivor. Just as importantly though, she’s motivated.

She’s seen what the lives of her parents became and it’s not what she wants for herself or her siblings. She wants better for them all. If we’re being honest, Frank is a lost cause. While the family still makes time for him and puts up with his absurdities, he long ago crossed a line of no return.

Meanwhile, Fiona keeps finding promise. She acknowledges her mistakes and tries to learn from them. Now as she embarks on what could be a real estate development career, this might be her ticket to freedom. That time has to be drawing near. While she still has time to put in raising some of her siblings, perhaps Fiona is finally getting to a place where she realizes she can’t fix everything.

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At Monica’s funeral, Fiona reads a passage from “Siddhartha,” a novel about a man’s self-discovery by Hermann Hesse. After finding the book in her mom’s belongings, she finds a passage underlined. “It is not my place to judge another person’s life. Only for myself, for myself alone, I must decide,” she reads to her family. Fiona says she’s not quite sure exactly what it means, just that it must have been important to Monica.

We think she just might have figured it out, though. The lives of others aren’t for Fiona to dictate or judge. She needs to be responsible for her own. In the coming season — or hopefully seasons — we’re excited to see what becomes of Fiona as she takes control of her own destiny.

Just as much though, we’re excited to see Rossum portray the part. While “Shameless” is adapted from a UK series of the same name, this Fiona is quite different from the one in the original series. So much so that she’s truly the main character in this wild story. We’ve seen Fiona grow up through her time on “Shameless.” Likewise, viewers have watched Rossum grow and mature as an actress, able to build up or destroy those watching her with just a few words.

Without Rossum, “Shameless” would be an incredibly different story — and honestly, not one we’re sure we’d be as interested in watching..

Posted by:Chris E. Hayner

Chris E. Hayner is equal parts nerd, crazy person and coffee. He watches too much TV, knows more about pro wrestling than you do and remembers every single show from the TGIF lineup. You may have seen him as a pro-shark protester in "Sharknado 3." His eventual memoir will be called "You're Wrong, Here's Why..." TV words to live by: "I'm a firm believer that sometimes it's right to do the wrong thing."