Unlike the other two fall dramas that I’m following (Manifest, which is decidedly bad, and New Amsterdam, which is decidedly bland but comforting), ABC’s A Million Little Things is slowly growing on me. I didn’t like how they turned a man’s suicide into a scavenger hunt, but I will admit to getting caught up in that scavenger hunt (and no word this week on the identity of Barbara Morgan, though I still suspect it’s Constance Zimmer).
In this week’s episode, “Save the Date,” the character drama took over, and with a cast as solid as this one (aside from the blandsome David Giuntoli, who plays Eddie), it’s hard for the characters not to take center stage. I find myself becoming invested in these people’s lives through the sheer power of their performances and likability.
This week’s episode center on Gary’s (James Roday) birthday. He hates his birthday, which is exactly why his friends insist on celebrating it, because real friends needle weaknesses. I appreciate that. Meanwhile, John (Ron Livingstone) was so adamant about razzing his best friend Gary on his birthday that he arranged a big birthday surprise for him before he killed himself: A fantasy camp day with the Bruins.
Those plans, however, are quickly derailed when Eddie’s wife, Katherine (Grace Park), intercepts a phone call from a hotel notifying Eddie of a missing necklace, which unravels Eddie’s affair with John’s wife, Delilah (Stephanie Szostak). Within the hour, the secret is out to the entire group of friends.
Gary takes it the hardest — arguably, harder than Katherine — and there’s a lot of “How could you’s” being thrown around, although it’s odd that Gary seems to blame Eddie almost entirely for the affair while he seems ready to quickly forgive Delilah. Delilah confesses to Gary at the end of the episode that John got so wrapped up in being a great friend and a great father and a great boss that he forgot about his own wife, and she and Eddie — trapped in a loveless marriage with the career-focused Katherine — clearly found some common ground. Gary finds sympathy for her (while also joking that he’s hurt that Delilah didn’t seek him out instead of Eddie).
On the other hand, the series finally started to explore Grace Park’s Katherine this week, which is great because I was beginning to be concerned that the Battlestar Galactica star would be relegated to a full-time background character. It turns out that she had a lot in common with John — they both sacrificed time with their loved ones to support their families financially — and when she finally confronts Delilah over the affair, she can’t even bring herself to yell. “You’ve already paid the ultimate price.” It’s true. Also, saddling her with the guilt is a lot more effective than anger.
That said, Katherine does not hold that anger back when she confronts Eddie about the affair. Eddie admits that the affair is over, and says that he is willing to do anything to make things work with Katherine. “Do you love her,” Katherine asks Eddie, and his hesitation is the only answer she needs. She slaps the shit out of him, and walks away, as she should. Grace Park kills it this entire episode, turning her character’s tropes inside out, and owning who she is. John was lauded for being a hard worker; she shouldn’t be punished for it because she’s a woman. Eddie, meanwhile, is a douchebag, even if he is not entirely responsible for John’s suicide, as Rome suggests in that horrible title drop. “It isn’t just one thing. It’s never just one thing. It’s probably a million things.” Booo, show! Booo!
The couple I find myself most invested in, however, continues to be Maggie and Gary, two repressed broken individuals who clearly belong together. Maggie won’t talk about herself or her damage, while Gary turns all his damage into a joke. They’re going to be great together if they can ever get past each other’s walls, but that doesn’t happen this week, because Maggie still wants to have fun, while Gary — after finding out about Eddie — is in no place for fun. After her second diagnosis with breast cancer, Maggie’s world is about to come crashing down on her, however, and she’s going to need Gary and this new set of friends to help guide her through.
Look: A Million Little Things is a relationship drama, and while it gets a lot of things wrong, it does seem to have a fairly good understanding of relationships, and the more we get to know these characters, the easier it is to get swept up in this show.
Header Image Source: ABC