The Season 3 premiere of ABC’s A Million Little Things started seconds after the shocking cliffhanger at the end of the Season 2 finale, in which Eddie was hit by a truck while crossing the street on his way home to renew his wedding vows with Katherine. A driver, presumably the one who hit Eddie, is heard calling 911 to report the accident without giving his name.
Katherine and Eddie’s friends rally to support the family, with Gary, Rome and Regina rushing to the hospital where Eddie undergoes emergency surgery. Eddie survives the crash but is left paralyzed, at lest temporarily. Rome and Regina are still reeling from the loss of their baby boy after his birth mother changed her mind and decided to keep him. The adoption agency offers them another newborn baby which had just been put up for adoption. Rome is excited but Regina makes it clear that she is not ready and needs time to grieve.
Gary and Darcy are still going strong even after she finds out that he went to the airport to see Maggie before she flew off to Oxford. Maggie’s romanic prospects also are looking up after a meet-cute with her hunky British roommate Jamie.
In the final act, the premiere fast forwards a month to Eddie being discharged from the hospital and taken home by Katherine where all their friends have gathered for the duo’s surprise vow renewal in the side yard. The ceremony had one uninvited guest — the father of Eddie’s high-school girlfriend whose tragic drowning has been haunting him. Reverend Stewart is seen watching the festivities from across the street in a truck looking exactly like the one that hit Eddie, and also on the scene of the accident.
In an interview with Deadline, AMLT creator D.J. Nash addresses Reverend Stewart’s role in the incident and his intentions toward Eddie, Regina and Rome’s bumpy healing process, Eddie’s recovery prospects and newly found marriage bliss, Gary and Maggie’s future with some promising news for the couple’s fans, and whether any of the group of friends or their loved ones would be infected with COVID-19. He.discusses how COVID-19 impacted Season 3 storytelling for the Vancouver-based show, teases Episode 2 flashbacks as well as a big new Season 3 storyline.
The season opener, which was reminiscent of the AMLT series premiere with the Jon cameo and a speech featuring the line from the show’s title, was dedicated to Nash’s father, Mel, who died last month. Nash fondly remembered his father, who lost his sight when he was 12. He was a big part of Nash’s life and continues to influence his work.
DEADLINE: Let’s pick up where we left off. In our interview after the Season 2 finale, I asked, “should we read more into the accident, that it may not have been an accident, that someone, like Alex’s father, for instance, intentionally hit Eddie? And you said “That’s interesting”. At the time, was is already the plan or is it something that developed later?
NASH: Do you want a writing credit, is that what that meant? (laughs) No, we had talked at the end of last season about where to go with this story, even things like, is Eddie dead? We talked about probably four possibilities, he’s either dead, he’s either unscathed, he’s either paralyzed or there was a brief second of, soap opera aside, did he just have memory loss? And we landed on him being paralyzed. And then the question was, every season we’ve had a mystery that we’re following and should the mystery be that we’re following who hit him?
I think I showed the cut of the finale to (AMLT exec producer) Aaron Kaplan and we were debating whether or not we should end with this shot or that shot. And he was like, why don’t you go out on impact and just have it go black? And I was like, oh, that is really interesting. And what he ended up giving us was the opportunity to examine that mystery. So, yes, that sort of editorial note gave me creative freedom to look and examine who hit Eddie and why they hit Eddie. It seems as though there’s a couple of possibilities. It could be the drunk guy at the bar that we saw in the finale. It could be Alex’s dad, as you just said. It could be someone else that we haven’t thought of yet. So, yeah, that’s part of the mystery we’re following this season.
DEADLINE: The truck that Alex’s father is in at the end of the episode looks very similar, if not the same to the one that hit Eddie. Have we established it’s the same truck yet or not?
NASH: I don’t think that’s known a hundred percent like the way that we know that Eddie’s the father of Charlie, but I think we’re certainly implying it’s a very similar car or truck.
DEADLINE: Alex’s father, what are his intentions? We saw him — or a man in a truck very similar to his — first hitting Eddie and then calling 911, so there’s some compassion involved. Why did he do it?
NASH: Yeah, I think we’re kind of left to wonder what’s going on. Because it definitely appears as though he certainly was there when Eddie was hit if he wasn’t, in fact, the person who hit Eddie, but then why is he calling afterwards? Does he have remorse after that? Did his anger get the best of him? Or, was it accident when he hit him? And so, that’s one of the mysteries we’re following this season. We also see him at the end of the episode in front of the vows. If you remember from last season, we introduced him as Reverend Stewart, so we know he’s clergy. He’s got a bible next to him in the car and obviously he could be showing up because he wants to help renew the vows. I don’t think that’s why he’s showing up. It could be that he’s there because he himself needs to make a confession.
DEADLINE: Will we find out the beginning of the next episode what he was doing in front of the house? Will that cliffhanger be resolved right away?
NASH: It’s not resolved immediately after. It’s certainly resolved in the first part of the season. We will learn a lot very fast. I’m not a big fan of making our fans wait. I like to tell that story and move to the next one.
DEADLINE: With Reverend Stewart back in the picture in a major way, will we see again his daughter Coleen, played by Betsy Brandt?
NASH: You know, COVID has affected some of our storytelling. Colleen, played by Betsy Brandt who’s a very dear friend of mine, she is the reverend’s daughter. And so, we are having the reverend tell his story this season as opposed to having Betsy tell it. We would’ve loved to have Betsy back, but the two-week quarantine and her schedule and her being a mom made it challenging. So, we hope to have her back in the future, but right now, while Vancouver still has a two-week quarantine, she’s not returning.
DEADLINE: What other adjustments to the story did you have to make because of COVID?
NASH: There’s some storylines that we had to tell in a different way or do it over Zoom. it’s hard for me to ask an actor to come up to Vancouver, quarantine for 14 days to shoot one day. So, we’ve made some adjustments that way. But I actually think that while it was tough and frustrating at first to have to write around it, the end product, I personally feel like it’s either as good, if not better, because we found a different way with the characters to tell the story. Some of our featured recurring characters from the first two seasons are absolutely back, and we’ll see them throughout the whole season.
DEADLINE: When Rome called the adoption agency representative back, he walked out of the car and we never heard what that call was about. At Eddie and Katherine’s vow renewal, he is still with Regina, and there is no baby with them. Did he indeed pass on the new adoption or did something else happen that we will find out about?
NASH: It’s so fair after three seasons for people to be suspicious whenever you’re not hearing a whole call or something. In this case, I will happily clarify that he was carrying the message that the family wasn’t ready to adopt right now. And so, what we’re going to watch this season is Rome (Romany Malco) and Regina (Christina Moses), who are dealing with the exact same loss, but dealing with it in such different ways, trying to cope with and get over, if possible.
I think I said this when we spoke at the end of last season that if, God forbid, the child had passed away it would be so clear what they need to mourn. It would be very clear why they’re mourning. The fact that the birth mother elected to have the child stay with her makes it really complicated, because in some ways people should be celebrating that. But for them there’s a huge loss and they are struggling with how exactly to mourn that. And more importantly, how to get through that together as opposed to having their loss tear them apart. And so, what we’re watching this season is a couple really trying to get through this horrific loss.
DEADLINE: The fact that they are still together a month later, shouldn’t it give us hope that they are getting over it?
NASH: I think, certainly, it’s better than them being apart, for sure. I think what we’ll see in the next episode is that what they’ve each been doing in that month is not growing together, but rather growing apart. And so, as we learn more in episode two about what the last 30 days had been like for each of them. While Rome’s depression and Regina being a survivor of child sexual assault allowed them to lean on each other more in the past, right now they’re not turning to each other, and that is troublesome.
DEADLINE: In Episode 2, will we also find out how Regina’s new hairstyle came about?
NASH: It came about because Christina Moses said I’d really love to do that. And I thought, well, then let’s do that. Romany did not want to do a hair change. He was happy with his hair.
DEADLINE: What about Eddie and Katherine? After some rough patches, their relationship seems a little bit too perfect. Will the fairytale continue or is this bliss temporary, with issues from the past still bubbling up?
NASH: Here is what the decision to have Eddie be in a wheelchair was based on. The stories of our room always come from a real place. It’s usually about the writers sharing some personal pain they’ve had in their past or something they’ve experienced to lend authenticity to our show. David Marshall Grant, who has been with us since the beginning, him and I, we share a bunch in common, but one thing we definitely share in common is that we both have parents who were physically challenged.
And so, we will see Eddie (David Giuntoli) not be the father that he thought he was going to be, not be able to be the husband that he wants to be, not be able to be the friend he used to be. And he has a choice of either embracing that and redefining how he’s going to be those people to his loved ones or imploding as he struggles to reconcile that. I think Eddie has this real opportunity, for lack of a better word, but also a real challenge. If he embraces it and rises to the occasion, it’s going to be incredible. And yet if he can’t, it’s going to be the source of his self-destruction. So, we’re going to watch that and we’re seeing this couple tested yet again. Katherine seems to be understanding more than anyone else I’ve ever known, and we’ll see how much of it she can endure.
DEADLINE: Will Eddie walk again? How long will he be in a wheelchair?
NASH: Here’s what I’ll say about that from the showrunner creative side, not the storytelling side. David Giuntoli’s been so unbelievably impressive at his embracing what Eddie’s going through both physically and emotionally. I’ve seen him do the work to present it right on camera physically and to really try to get inside Eddie’s head emotionally. We’ve had incredible conversations about tracking what Eddie’s going through. I think I’ve seen the greatest work I have out of David since he’s been in a wheelchair. Nothing in our show is forever but for right now, I’m enjoying seeing him show Eddie’s true grit bound to that wheelchair.
DEADLINE: On to the last — now former — couple in the group, Gary and Maggie, who now has a handsome roommate. What is your plan for the two of them this season? Will they continue awkwardly to try to be just friends while they have their new romantic interests or are they bound to reunite sometime soon?
NASH: It’s a great question and I think the answer is yes to all of that. I think there’s a part of our fan base that has definitely, from the beginning, been team Maggie-Gary. And I think what they saw was Gary going to the airport at the end of the finale and say, I want you to have this year and then I want to hear all about it. Now that year appears to include Jamie, played by Chris Geere, as you point out, the very handsome Chris Geere, I’m not sure Gary wants to hear all of that. I think what Gary and Maggie share is a love and respect and a care for each other that is bigger than just being boyfriend and girlfriend. And we will see both of them have these different chapters in their life. Gary goes to Darcy at the end of the finale. She is a single mom, she has a kid and basically, it’s an instant family, he’s almost getting the family that Rome and Regina wanted for themselves.
People who are team Darcy are going to be really happy with Gary in this chapter of his life with her right now. And Floriana Lima, who plays Darcy, is just incredible. People who tweeted at me over the course of hiatus about being team Maggie-Darcy, they may not get everything they want that way, but they are going to see that these two people have to forge a friendship and be in each other’s lives, because Gary is in their lives. I think what the writers have done so eloquently is, there’s a moment that happens this season where in an instant Gary is forced back into Maggie’s life. And just when you think they’re sort of surviving and doing well separately, they’re put back in each other’s lives; one of them needs the other one, and they turn to each other.
DEADLINE: Will Maggie remain in London for the duration? With the pandemic, most college classes have became remote.
NASH: I want people to tune in and see that journey. I don’t want to tip the hand in that journey. Yeah, the world gets shut down and she has to decide am I staying here or am I going there?
That’s what we’re following this season too, that COVID affected everyone. And I think Maggie, who is away from her friends just as they’re going through some of the most difficult things and most difficult challenges they’ve had to face, is going to have to deal with, how do I do that from afar?
And yes, the pandemic hits and it will turn everything upside down. I don’t want it to be heavy though. I don’t want to use the pandemic just for sadness. I want it to be used for authenticity. And when we were deciding whether or not to include COVID in our season, we really talked about it a lot because our show is inherently optimistic. It’s not about a friend dying, it’s about seven friends finally living. And I think in a similar way, I hope people who watch feel seen by our show, whether they are breast cancer survivors or survivors of domestic violence.
DEADLINE: We have a large group of friends and their families. Will any of them get the virus?
NASH: What I will say is, our show lives in the authenticity of what really happens in the world. And so, statistically speaking, I would think someone they love gets COVID. I know how scary it is right now. Our set we’re doing every single thing we can to make that the safest place it could possibly be, while still at the same time making sure that 250 people, who have rent and mortgages, still continue to be able to keep going. And I think that this friend group is sort in that place too, where they want to be careful, but they also have to keep going.
DEADLINE: What else can you tease about Season 3?
NASH: I want to tease one storyline and not be too specific because I don’t want to have the fans see it coming. It is probably the story I’m most excited about us telling this season, probably, if it’s not the story I’m proud of us telling, it’s right up there. There’s something that’s going to happen to one of the people in our friend group, and they all are not going to see it coming and have to do everything they can to be there for them. And it’s going to test this friend group in ways that it hasn’t been tested before.
It’s going to be really, really moving, and it’s going to have fallout for each of them in very different ways as they relate to it in some ways, as they feel that they should’ve been aware of something. There’s a whole bunch of things that will happen from it, and I’m hoping that it does for our viewers what some other episodes have done in the past, which is make people who previously hadn’t felt seen feel seen, and I can’t wait for our fans to see that story. It’s some of the best work that I think the writers of the show have put out.
DEADLINE: Is it coming soon?
NASH: It’s starting soon. But I think the sad part is, people may not catch it right away. I was hesitant whether or not to mention it because I don’t want to tip, but it is such an important part of our season, and it’s actually what our season is building to that to not tease it seemed wrong.
DEADLINE: You mentioned your dad. The season premiere of AMLT was dedicated to him with a card at the end.
NASH: ABC was really generous at the end of the episode. I lost my dad three weeks ago. It’s been a whole process for me of going like, that was my North star, and when I think about how I am as a son, how I am as a husband, how I am as a boss, anything, a friend, it really was from this role model that my dad set.
DEADLINE: We know a little bit about him from J.K. Simmons’ portrayal on your NBC comedy Growing Up Fisher, which was inspired by him. What else can you tell us about his role in your life and your work?
NASH: He was incredible. It’s a huge loss. It really does inform so many of the stories that we’re telling in the writers room. The writers and the casts have been so unbelievably supportive and sort of gave me this virtual group hug. And obviously, because of Growing Up Fisher, everyone’s aware of just how important he was to me and is to me.
This is a show about loss and it’s about the writers taking their real experiences and turning them into stories for the sake of good TV. And hopefully, I’m able to return the favor with the writers and provide some myself. We’re right now, literally, as we get off the phone, I’m about to go pitch them a story about Rome still trying to get over his mom and the loss of his mom that I think is coming from such a personal place for me right now. So, I’m excited to have this platform to hopefully turn pain into a cathartic experience.