Almost two months after A Million Little Things had its winter finale, ABC’s ensemble drama returned tonight with a midseason premiere. A significant part of it was dedicated to two developments set up in the finale, Rome’s new bout of depression and Maggie’s trip to Albany to face the mother of her former patient Justin who had committed suicide after developing feelings for her.
Rome’s depression relapse is so severe that he wouldn’t get out of bed or call his therapist. Running out of options, Regina summons Eddie who forces Rome to join him as he works as a ride-share driver and then takes him to a closed indoor pool where Sophie had created a makeshift version of Rome’s happy place, a Hawaiian beach. It seems to be working and, by the time both Rome and Eddie end up in the pool, Rome feels better. When he gets home, he calls his therapist and makes an appointment, starting the road to recovery.
With Gary as her driver/companion, Maggie makes the trip to Albany but, after sitting in front of Justin’s mom’s house for awhile, she decides not to talk to her in person. Instead, they drive back and she does a special episode of her show. Maggie’s new boyfriend, Bruins star Cam, fakes an injury to leave a game and join her at the studio after the two had exchanged “I love you”s during the drive with Gary listening in on a speaker phone.
Gary tries hard to play a supportive friend but, now newly single, he clearly has romantic feelings for his ex. With Cam in the studio and Gary listening from home, Maggie goes live on air, risking her job (again) to take responsibility for her actions years ago, apologize to Justin’s mother and implore her to get help. Both men sparkle as Maggie thanks “someone who went to great lengths to be there for me, someone I love.”
Along with creating a classic love triangle, the premiere also introduced a new couple as Katherine, also newly single, tracks down her girlfriend from middle school, Greta. The two were inseparable for years until, in high school, Greta asked her to be her date, prompting Katherine to freeze her out. Decades later the two get their first date.
In an interview with Deadline, A Million Little Things creator DJ Nash addresses the decision to have Rome’s depression come back, the status of the show’s star-crossed lovers, Gary and Maggie, whose timing always seems to be off and Katherine’s new romance. He also teases what is to come in the second half of Season 4, including a big finale.
DEADLINE: What made you revisit the topic of depression again this season? Will the show continue to follow Rome’s road to recovery that he got on in the end of the episode?
NASH: Like most of our stories, this one came from the room. One of our writers who suffers from depression shared that they were struggling again. Our writers’ room is a truly amazing place that I am so proud to be a part of. The writer talked openly about how their depression returned. Another writer shared that they had just written a script with them and didn’t realize, to which the writer who was struggling said, ‘Yeah, I didn’t want you to know.” Which just speaks to exactly what Rome is going through. We can be friends with someone and trust them completely, but still not want to open up about our struggles. Our writers’ room is a lot like the group of friends we portray on the show – able to joke and support at the same time. Rome’s journey is so important for us to tell. The series seemed like it was about one friend dying by suicide, but it is really about a life saved. Rome’s. But like Maggie’s cancer that returned, Rome’s disease has resurfaced. So many of our fans identify with Rome’s journey and we’re honored to keep telling this story. Romany brings so much heart, humor, and humanity to the role of Rome. I think fans will be so moved by his incredible performances.
DEADLINE: Maggie’s comment, acknowledging “someone who went to great lengths to be there for me, someone I love”. She looked at Cam but didn’t mention a name. Will Gary misinterpret it? And who exactly did she refer to?
NASH: We love that it’s not clear who Maggie is talking about. Gary is wondering just like the viewers are, did she mean Gary or Cam? If you polled the writers in the room, you would not get a unanimous answer. I think that’s because Maggie herself is torn. Cam is perfect on paper – heck, even Gary has Cam’s Bruins poster on his wall. But Maggie and Gary, because of their breast cancer, share a bond Maggie will never share with another man. Maggie’s life only gets more complicated in the next few episodes.
DEADLINE: Can you tease how the love triangle will develop in the coming episodes?
NASH: This is not a story fans will have to wait for. It all comes to a head very soon. Gary and Maggie have successfully shifted into friend mode where Maggie truly supported his relationship with Darcy and, as we saw in the mid-season premiere, Gary was supportive of his friend as Maggie and Cam said “I love you” to each other. But what happens when one person wants more? Does pride get in the way, or will these two finally be able to admit how they feel about each other?
DEADLINE: Eddie stood upright in the water, helped by buoyancy. Was that a precursor to him possibly walking again on land?
NASH: We talked a lot about Eddie possibly walking again. And we all feel pretty strongly that while that might be a great arc for TV, it wouldn’t be true to the journey most people with paralysis have. Instead, we want to tell the story about the true grit Eddie shows in embracing his new life. Our consultant, who advises us on both story and performance, has regained some movement, so I can’t say we would never do a version of that. But the idea that Eddie walks and runs the way he did before the accident doesn’t ring true to the authenticity we try to bring to our stories. What we love about that story is the gift Rome gives Eddie in return for the day Eddie gave his friend. They’re both dealing with challenges that will be a part of their lives forever. It speaks to the main theme of our show – that when you’re surrounded by the right group of friends, you can get through anything. This idea is challenged in a huge way as we get to our season finale. Our friend group will need each other like never before.
DEADLINE: For Katherine, her new relationship, is it a phase as her school friend Greta suggested, or is it the real deal?
NASH: We’re excited for the audience to experience that story the way Katherine does – unsure but hopeful that she will finally get the happiness she deserves. What I will say is, as soon as we had Cameron Esposito read with Grace, the chemistry was palpable. And Greta seems like someone who would fit so perfectly into our friend group. But the way our group meets her will make you laugh and cry.
DEADLINE: What else can you tease about what’s coming up in the second half of the season?
NASH: We are driving towards the biggest finale we have ever had. We are excited for our friends to get the happiness that have been looking for. And we can’t wait for fans to be moved by all the ways life’s hurdles will potentially get in their way. We have some of the funniest episodes we have ever had coming up and some of the most emotional ones. I just got back from directing an episode – my first time with our cast in two years. We laughed so much both on and off camera and the performances they delivered make it look like I knew what I was doing. Side note, the episode was titled “Fingers Crossed” even before I was named the director.
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