Even by A Million Little Things‘ standards of heart-wrenching drama, tonight’s Season 2 fall finale packed quite an emotional punch.
In it, PJ’s paternity drama came to a head, with him confronting his parents, Barbara and Mitch, over the DNA test results he had found that revealed Jon as his father. The test turned out to be bogus as it had used a hair from Jon’s sweater that had originally belonged to his late best friend (and PJ’s real father) Dave. But the identity crisis that the test results had thrown PJ into, coupled with the depression he had already been battling, pushed the boy over the edge, and in a scene reminiscent of Jon’s suicide in the AMLT pilot, PJ came close to jumping off a roof. He was talked out of it by Rome who put his own life on the line to save PJ’s. Moved by her husband’s courage, Regina changed her no-kids stance, telling a beaming Rome that she wants them to adopt.
Elsewhere, Maggie and Gary broke up after he almost proposed as the duo continued to struggle adjusting to being in a relationship without cancer, while Delilah finally agreed to recognize Eddie as Charlie’s father and tell her kids about the affair.
In the final minutes of the finale, Eric, the new character played by Jason Ritter, is seen helping Maggie pack boxes when he took a call, telling someone, “Buddy it’s not the time to tell her.” Delilah’s kids did not take the news of their mom’s infidelity well. As Eddie and Katherine, who had been firmly by her husband throughout the ordeal — and pushed him and Delilah to come clean — sat down their son Theo to tell him the truth, they were drawn to noise coming from Eddie’s music studio. There they found Delilah’s daughter Sophie smashing Eddie’s guitars. Visibly distraught, she confronted Eddie and Inadvertently broke the news to Theo.
In an interview with Deadline, AMLT creator/.executive producer DJ Nash talks about the key developments in tonight’s finale, the intense roof scene, the toll Charlie’s paternity revelation will have on Delilah and Eddie and Katherine’s kids, is it over for Maggie and Gary, who is “buddy” and what is Eric up to. Nash teases a new mystery in the second half of Season 2, a new job for Gary, the arrival of two key new characters, Rome and Regina’s road to adoption and whether there may be another death this season.
DEADLINE: Let’s start with Eric. Will he shake things up on the show, what is his secret, and who is Buddy?
NASH: Who’s Buddy? Yes, exactly. Buddy was a really deliberate choice on my part because I wanted to make sure that people stuck with that, and it seems to have worked because Buddy probably isn’t his girlfriend. In terms of will he shake things up, yes, and it will happen immediately. It happens in episode 10, as soon as we get back, and the story is the part of our mystery that we’re following in the second half of the season. Jason, I can’t imagine anyone else playing Eric because he brings an innocence and you give him inherently the benefit of the doubt. Yet, there’s obviously something going on, and as we discover what it is. It pushes the limits of what we’re willing to accept because he’s doing something and keeping it from Maggie, whom we love.
In terms of who he was talking to, you’ll discover that in the second part of the season, as well.
DEADLINE: You mentioned the innocence Jason Ritter brings to Eric. Was that a deliberate choice? Will Eric turn to be a villain?
NASH: I think nobody in this show is innocent and nobody in this show is guilty, so,, right now, that innocent face is guilty of something, and we will see what those things are.
DEADLINE: The final scene of the episode featured Eddie, Katherine and Theo finding Sophie as she was smashing Eddie’s guitars. Why did you decide to end Season 2A run with it?
NASH: Since the pilot, we have been wondering, would Delilah tell the kids. Now that the kids know, we see her reason for not wanting to tell the kids was, they lost their dad, she didn’t want them to lose their mom, too. Based on Sophie’s reaction and even the way Danny got up from that table, it appears as though they have lost their mom. And as that’s happening, we see Theo learn the truth in the worst way possible, so while many have called Katherine a saint, and I love that, Katherine was certainly a catalyst in all this. She pushed for Sophie, Danny, and Theo to know the truth, and it is having a very adverse effect on those kids. Now the three of them are going to have to do a major cleanup to what’s going on in their family.
DEADLINE: What is the fallout going to be on the kids and the adults in the group?
NASH: Certainly, it affects the kids the most because the other people in the group already knew, but for Sophie and Delilah, I think the moment she smashes that guitar is the moment she went from being an innocent little girl to being a young woman who is now faced with the realities of life. If you think about it, when her dad died, it was devastating to learn that her mom was having an affair, and the only comfort she took in the last year really was from her music. Now to discover that the person that her mom was having an affair with was the person who taught her to play guitar is heartbreaking.
DEADLINE: The two big paternity cases came to a head in the finale and both were resolved but not conclusively. Conceivably, there could’ve been a hair of Jon on that sweater, and Eddie never took a paternity test for Charlie. Should we consider both of those cases closed?
NASH: It depends on who you ask. If you ask the A Million Little Things fan group, no, everyone thinks that a vasectomy doesn’t stick, there’s a hundred different A Million Little theories, but for me, as the person who’s past right now with telling the story with the writers, yes. PJ is Dave’s son and Charlie is Eddie’s daughter. Jon did have a vasectomy. I’m happy to put those to rest.
DEADLINE: Maggie and Gary broke up but are they meant to be? Is Eric just a temporary distraction, and will they eventually reconcile?
NASH: I think the whole series looks at a couple fanatic things like timing and the sliding doors of life and the idea that everything happens for a reason. Gary, if he hadn’t had breast cancer, if he hadn’t been in that support group, he wouldn’t have met Maggie, so they both needed to go through breast cancer and some horrific things in their life in order to find each other.
The big question we are looking at in the second season is, what is their relationship without cancer. Obviously, they’re struggling because Maggie herself is struggling to figure out who she is without cancer, and Gary’s trying to figure out how he fits into her life without it. Last year, it was really simple, let’s save her life, let’s keep her alive, and now that she is alive, what is his role.
If you look at the sliding doors of life in this relationship, had she not applied to Oxford, she never would’ve been looking for her passport, if she hadn’t, she wouldn’t have found the ring, if the ring hadn’t come out, it wouldn’t have prompted a conversation and a reaction from Maggie that made Gary realize that he is more ready to say forever than she was. All of that is just really delicate and fragile, and now, what we’ll follow in the second half of the season is, as they fall out, do they seek love from other people, do they swallow their pride and come back to each other, what happens when the person you’re meant to be with, if something stands in the way of that, do you find a way to find each other or does life get in the way.?
DEADLINE Can you answer any of those questions?
NASH: No, I can’t, you know I can’t, Nellie, but we will follow all of it, and we will see them both struggle, and we’ll see the group — the group of friends represents us — knowing and feeling like, wait, you two are meant to be together, what are you doing, and so as that’s happening, it will put pressure on Maggie and Gary to examine their life and whether that life should include the other.
DEADLINE: When we spoke in the summer, you teased a death in Season 2. Rome’s mom just died in last week’s episode. Was that the death you were referring to or is there another one coming?
NASH: I will say that Rome’s mom died. Whether or not there’s another death, life happens, and so sometimes people die.
DEADLINE: Speaking of Rome, the scene with him and PJ on the roof, was it a visual throwback to the way Jon died but with a happy ending?
NASH: Yes. The experience of doing this show has just been so moving for me; I knew the stories and the themes of depression and suicide would resonate with people, I just didn’t anticipate how much I would, between some of the tweets I get and I did this walk a few weeks ago for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. They asked me to emcee this walk, and it was just 1,000 people there, all of whom had either lost someone to suicide or contemplated suicide themselves. To be with people, a lot of whom have watched our show and identified with our show, it is really, really profound. So when we were telling this story, it was really important to me, like everything, to tell it authentically.
We had set up from the moment we met PJ, last season, that he was struggling with depression, and then, as we discovered that he might be Jon’s son and as he thought he was Jon’s son, we saw him identify very closely with someone whose depression was so intense that it caused him to take his own life.
So yes, the understanding and the mirroring of Jon’s journey with PJ’s was very deliberate. It was also really deliberate to have PJ serve as a cautionary tale for Delilah and Eddie because, as Barbara and Mitch were debating what to do with the truth of PJ’s paternity, we were seeing the fallout of that scene by Delilah, and so you know PJ being on the roof, the whole sequence of that scene, it was essential that Delilah be present for it to have that be the catalyst that makes her come clean with the kids.
The stuff on the roof, I always vet it, and we try to talk about it and make sure we’re handling it very, very sensitively. There’s a warning at the top of the show, at the end of the show, I purposely came in short on time so I had time for the 30 second PSA. And probably most importantly, from the moment he steps on the roof to the moment the situation is resolved, we don’t break for commercial. You could have him step on the roof or step on that ledge and then break to commercial, but I would never do that suicide depiction on TV, so in telling that story, I wanted our fans, who have identified with our stories to see that, yes, sometimes people think about things, but it doesn’t mean you have to do it, you can step down off the roof.
DEADLINE: Speaking of Rome, as Regina changed her mind about kids, will we follow their adoption story in the second half of the season?
NASH: Yes, we will, and it picks up right away. We jumped three months ahead, so we’ll see them down the road in the adoption story. We’ll see the challenges that they face not only in trying to adopt, which is clear, but also for Rome and his relationship with his father and the loss of his mother, and for Regina with her very complicated history with her mother. When you go and make the decision to have kids, you are often examining how you want to be like your parents and how you want to be different than them, so that’s a very big part of our show in the second half of the year, and there’s a lot of challenges that the two of them will face, but they will face it like they always have, which is together.
DEADLINE: What else can you tease about the rest of season two?
NASH: There’s a journey that the children all go on individually as they deal with the fallout of learning the truth, and we will see how the friend group supports the children through this. Sometimes, it’s their own children, sometimes it’s someone else’s kid that you’re helping out because that child will hear you better than their own parent.
We’re certainly following Rome and Regina and their plans for adoption and their attempt for adoption. We’re following Gary and Maggie and the fallout of their relationship. Right in the middle of the fight with Gary, Maggie mentions Gary’s mom, which has obviously been a subject that we’ve touched on a few times in the first season and a few times this season, Gary’ will finally reach out to his mother and find her.
We will be looking at another mystery that presents itself in the second half of the year. We will also be meeting Eddie’s sister, who we talked about Eddie’s sister will be entering the scene, and we will see Eddie start a new phase of his music career. We will see Gary get a job again. We will see Maggie, now that she has ended her relationship with Gary, go on that journey to find herself that she promised herself she would do.
DEADLINE: Does the new phase of Eddie’s music career involve a different instrument because he ran out of guitars?
NASH: That’s amazing. No, one of the things that Sophie has to do is pay back those guitars, we will see her do that.
DEADLINE: You mentioned a new mystery. Anything you can tell us about it, like what or who it involves?
NASH: It actually plays out at the end of the season, and I think probably as we gear up towards the end, I’ll talk about it more. The first half has to do with Eric and what’s going on there, and then we transition to a mystery that will take us into season three.
DEADLINE: You mentioned Eddie’s sister and Gary’s mom, have you cast those roles?
NASH: Yes, and they’re phenomenal. I’m not supposed to say who they are yet, we’re going to release that pretty soon, but the mom was a huge get. I’m really thrilled that worked out.