A Million Little Things began with a death, as Jon killed himself, leaving his stunned friends to pick up the pieces and search for answers. With the mystery of Jon’s death largely solved, the upcoming 19-episode second season of the ABC drama will set up a new mystery and will also feature a death, AMLT creator/EP/showrunner DJ Nash recently revealed in an interview with Deadline. In it, he also teased the theme for next season, which will pick up the story right where it left off in the Season 1 finale. The theme is related to family, and the mystery early next season would be linked to a new recurring character played by Jason Ritter.
Nash talked about what is in store for the main characters, revealing that he has mapped out each of their stories for two years, the upcoming second season and a potential third.
A Million Little Things was inspired by Nash losing a friend to suicide, and the series continues to be very personal for him. He revealed that the Rome and Regina struggles with the idea of parenthood stems from personal experience. Additionally, in Season 2 PJ and Delilah’s baby’s paternity will get intertwined.
DEADLINE: In the last scene from the season finale, Eddie (David Giuntoli) appeared ready to share with Katherine (Grace Park) the secret that he is the father of the baby Jon’s widow Delilah was giving birth to at that moment. Can you reveal how that conversation went?
NASH: Eddie had an affair, which is not great, and then he got another woman pregnant, which is also not super great, but, ever since he’s come back, he’s done the right thing. He’s being patient, he’s being a good dad, he’s trying to make amends, and right before he has this dinner where he could come home, it appears as though he’s going to say this secret that he needs to share. We’ll leave Katherine in a really horrible situation, which is exactly where I love putting Grace Park; whenever she’s in pain, it’s a great scene.
It really is this question of, “Am I going to forgive him for the past, so that I can live my future?” So we’ll see them in a really tough spot with what they’re going to do.
As that’s happening, you have Rome and Regina who, like my wife and I did, made a commitment when they got married…no kids. And like my wife and I did at a car dealership, in a SUV, he tells her that he’s changed his mind.
Unlike Rome and Regina, my wife and I both changed our minds, so it’s tough for them. What do you do? Regina and Rome obviously love each other, especially after a year of her helping him through his depression and him helping her realize that she’s a survivor of child sexual assault. They’ve never been stronger, but this is an impasse. Do you have the kid? If they don’t, Rome may resent her for what their life could have been. But if they do, she might resent Rome for what their life has become.
With Delilah, you have a mom who has made this very selfless choice. It would be easy to say this is Eddie’s kid, he’s going to help out. But her kids lost their dad. They can’t lose their mom right now. They can lose them when they’re 18, but they can’t lose them now, and so, she’s carrying this really difficult secret. As that’s happening, we have PJ who will be back on the show with Barbara and Mitch, and it’s a cautionary tale because Delilah gets a front row seat, watching them struggle with their paternity issues. Later in the season, PJ will realize that the man who raised him was not his father, and we will see how that informs Delilah and Eddie’s situation.
Gary and Maggie, who happily moved in together, starting this next phase of their lives, a life Maggie didn’t think she would have. She’s in remission, it’s the perfect happy ending, but where do you go from there? Here’s this couple that met in a remission support group, and she was hiding her cancer, and then, she said she’s not fighting it, and then, because of him, she fought it. And now she’s going to live in remission. Their whole relationship…from first meeting through chemo appointments…has been about cancer. They’ve never existed without cancer. And they will struggle to figure out what their life together is without cancer. Maggie was prepared to die, so now that she has 40 or 50 years ahead of her, she’s wondering where do you go from here?
DEADLINE: So the cancer is gone?
NASH: She is cancer free.
DEADLINE: And there will be no more setbacks with the cancer coming back? That is a closed chapter?
NASH: For the moment.
DEADLINE: What are some of the major challenges the main characters will be facing next season. Any deaths?
NASH: Yes. There’s going to be some things that they have to deal with. There’s going be some challenges in this group. Patricia is Maggie’s mom, played by Melora Hardin. She comes back, and there’s a person from Patricia’s past, played by Jason Ritter, that is going to shake things up in a huge way. It’s a little bit of mystery we are following in the first half of the season. The other issue we are following in the first half is what’s going on with PJ.
Issues we have been dealing with, like depression, suicide, and all the things that happen in life, will continue to affect this group. There is a death that happens this season, and we will see how the group rallies to support each other.
The theme of the first season was: friendship isn’t the big things, it’s a million little things. This season is: what does it mean to be mean to be family? It doesn’t necessarily mean the person you’re genetically related to. It can mean they’re the person who’s there for you when you need it the most. So, we’re looking at that and what that means this season.
DEADLINE: Is it about the group as a family?
NASH: The group as a family. Whatever PJ’s paternity turns out to be, whatever this baby’s paternity turns out to be. Rome, in a lot of ways, acts likes PJ’s dad. So we ask the question, what does it mean to be family? Is Mitch his dad? He’s the man who raised him. How is he not your father? We’ll look at those issues, and thematically, how they juxtapose and dovetail with the other storyline.
DEADLINE: The person who dies. Is that a main character? Or somebody we have not met yet?
NASH: Someone you’ve seen.
DEADLINE: I feel there still was some ambiguity left about Jon’s death. Will we ever know for sure why he jumped?
NASH: The thing about suicide is, you never get to really know why someone did it for sure. As we said in the first season finale, as a loved one to someone who has died by suicide, you’re always trying to turn over that one stone that explains everything. But its not one stone, it’s a bunch of stones stacked on top of each other. So we see things from Jon’s past, like 9/11 and his business investments, but it’s never going to be one thing.
DEADLINE: Anything else you would like to tease about Season 2?
NASH: It’s interesting if you just want to think about thematic stuff. The first year that you lose someone is obviously really hard — the first Christmas without Dad and the first Valentine’s without your significant other. In the second year, in some ways, it can be more challenging.
I read this book over hiatus by Jennifer Ashton, a doctor who’s the chief medical consultant for Good Morning America — she’s actually going to be on our show this season, she plays herself. She was talking about how the second year of losing someone is almost harder because people aren’t looking out for you as much.
There’s a characterwho comes into our show played by Richard Kind, who’s amazing. He’s an old family friend, and he has not heard about Jon’s passing. Seeing our gang have to help him through this is going to be somewhat comedic in that it’s fresh for him, but they are, oh, he’s gone, so there’s a chance to have a little levity as we look at it.
I have to say, going into Season 2, I was like, oh, how do we do what we did first season the second season, and we found a mystery that’s independent of Jon, so we’re playing that out. We found a really moving story, we found things to happen to the characters. We have pretty much plotted out what happens for all of our characters through Season 3, but we know we only have the Season 2 picked up, so I feel like these stories are authentically coming together, and it’s all because of this incredible writers room who is filled with people who are coming in and just sharing these real stories and things that happened to them.