Through the first eight episodes, ABC’s A Million Little Things has been surprisingly good at driving the narrative forward through a series of secrets — why Jon killed himself; Delilah’s affair with Eddie; Delilah’s baby with Eddie; Maggie’s cancer; Rome’s depression and suicide attempt; who is Barbara Morgan? — but it’s been even more effective at using those secrets to develop the characters. Eight episodes into the season, and I find myself legitimately invested in every character on this show except Eddie, because Eddie will never escape the curse of his blandly handsome face (Eddie belongs on Manifest and should immediately be exchanged for Jared or Melissa Roxburgh’s eyebrows). That’s particularly important for an episode like this one, where a secret is revealed, because without a solid cast of characters in whom we are invested, those revelations fall flat.
In this week’s episode, everyone else in the group not only finds out about Maggie’s cancer, but that she is also refusing to seek treatment. The way they respond to the revelation and the way that Gary has responded to that situation creates a rift that ends in a dramatic blow-out during a wine-and-cheese tasting at Regina and Delilah’s restaraunt.
To be sure, while the two approaches are different, both sides are hoping for the same result. Gary withholds his affection from Maggie in the hopes that it will convince her to seek treatment as a way of reuniting with Gary. He ends up traveling to Chicago in this episode to find something in Maggie’s past to that might help him to break down Maggie’s wall. In a conversation with Maggie’s ex, Gary finds out about Chad, the guy who originally broke Maggie, but neither Maggie’s ex nor Gary know the real Chad story.
Meanwhile, Rome, Regina, and Delilah prefer to smother Maggie with support. Ultimately, or at least I hope, their approach is designed to illustrate to Maggie that she has a lot to live for and that these friends — who she met only a month ago, by the way — are prepared to support her if she chooses to endure cancer treatment.
Gary, however, doesn’t see it that way. During the wine-and-cheese tasting, Gary blows up. “You’re really going to stand by and watch this woman kill herself? Shame on all of you!” I’d accuse Gary of being overly dramatic here if the stakes weren’t so high, but I also understand why Gary has taken his approach. Rome’s approach takes time — he’s playing the long game — but time is something that Maggie doesn’t have, as we see at the end of the episode when she collapses.
In either respect, I don’t think either Gary or Rome’s approach here will be decisive, because it looks like Chad — Maggie’s dead brother, who wrapped his car around a tree while drunk years ago — will ultimately change Maggie’s mind. Gary, of course, brought up Chad (and got a stern shaming from Maggie), but Maggie ends up telling the Chad story to Rome, who asks Maggie if she won’t save herself because she feels guilty for not being there for Chad when he needed her. That’s the epiphany Maggie needed. Indeed, after Maggie collapses, Chad basically tells her in a dream that it’s time to let him go and save herself.
That’s the good news: Maggie is on the brink of seeking cancer treatment. The bad news, however, is that Gary may have slept with Ashley. And yes, what the hell, Gary? Look: I don’t know how these things tend to work with normal people, but if I’m grieving over the decision of a woman I clearly love refusing to seek cancer treatment, the last thing I want to do is have sex with another woman. But maybe I’m the outlier.
And also, Ashley? WTF? Why would she specifically seduce a man who is clearly a wreck of grief and misery. She was there when Gary exploded. She must know how Gary feels about Maggie. I am not at all suggesting that Gary isn’t responsible for his own actions, but what the hell is Ashley playing at here?
I think that Ashley — who is also hiding Jon’s suicide letter from his wife, and is covering up Jon’s real financial situation — might be legit evil. I’m not so sure her motivations are pure, and given the fact that Gary is a beneficiary of Jon’s life insurance (while Delilah is not), I’m beginning to think that Ashley is interested in more than sex. Remember all those bills she had piling up? I do wonder if Ashley is looking for someone to support her in the way that Jon might have. (In fact, there’s one theory circulating right now that posits that Ashley is Jon’s secret daughter, and that Barbara Morgan is her mother, but if that’s true, why isn’t Ashley named as a beneficiary?).
— The mistep in sleeping with Ashley notwithstanding, Gary is a good guy. He forgave Eddie (just like he forgave Delilah), and he kept Maggie’s secret. If anyone understands where Maggie is coming from, it’s Gary, who had his own bout of breast cancer, which no one seems to want to remember.
— It looks like Eddie and the kid will continue to live with Gary, at least for the time being, after Eddie declined to sign a year-long lease. The production company clearly doesn’t want to pay for another permanent set.
— Does anyone on this show work besides Katherine? Seriously.
— Speaking of Katherine, she brought another blandly handsome man to the wine-and-cheese tasting in an effort to make Eddie jealous (it worked, and she also legit feels affection for the new guy). I’m just shocked that Katherine would show up to a dinner with her soon-to-be ex husband hosted by the woman her husband slept with. Katherine also found out that Delilah is pregnant, but she believes — like everyone else — that it’s Jon’s baby.
— Honestly, can we just go one episode without Eddie reminding Delilah of how much he loves her? IT’S OVER, EDDIE. MOVE ON.
Header Image Source: ABC