If you want a tender old man with a slightly gruff edge who can sound sincere and elicit tears while delivering platitudes, you can hardly do better than Gerald McRaney. Then again, if you want a guy who can shoot someone in the face, whip up some racist resentment, or strike a corrupt deal as either a CEO or a Texas corporate attorney, you can hardly do better than Gerald McRaney.
In this week’s A Million Little Things, “Friday Night Dinner,” McRaney is introduced as the grandfather with Alzheimer’s, and unfortunately, he has no pearls of wisdom to offer, only a story about how his daughter, Delilah, met her husband, Jon, at an airport. It’s the one story his memory seems to hang on to, and it’s used to great effect at the end of the episode to bring Delilah back to the memory of her dead husband, a memory she’s been avoiding out of both guilt and shame since his suicide.
Avoidance is the theme of this week’s episode. Delilah is avoiding the memory of Jon; Regina is avoiding Delilah; Rome is avoiding his job; Gary is avoiding Eddie; Eddie is avoiding booze; and Maggie is avoiding her cancer diagnosis. Eventually, however, everyone — except Maggie — is forced to confront their issues.
Delilah and Regina’s issues are the most contentious. Regina resents Delilah for having an affair with Eddie, but more than that, she resents Delilah for not telling her about it before Jon went and killed himself. Delilah, however, confesses that she’d been hiding a lot of things, chief among them that Jon was kind of an asshole to her, illustrated in a flashback where Jon yells at Gerald McRaney for offering a drink to a sober Eddie. It’s not that Jon shouldn’t be looking out for Eddie; it’s just yet another instance in which Jon puts his affections for his friends over that of his wife. Regina and Delilah eventually make up, however, and Regina helps Delilah bring back one of Jon’s old traditions: Friday pizza night. It’s a big hit that also forces Gary to confront Eddie and admit that while they’re not yet OK, Gary’s willing to work to get there.
It’s during that dinner that Rome breaks the news that he’s finally quit the soul-sucking corporate job he hates, thanks to the advice from Maggie and the encouragement of his wife, Regina. And why not? Regina and Rome do not yet have kids, so there’s no reason to put anyone’s dreams on hold (we’ll see how they feel when the bills start rolling in). Rome, meanwhile, continues to have the weakest storylines.
While Katherine is avoiding Eddie this week, we get a glimpse of his old life as a rock star, apparently kicked out of the band because of his alcoholism. We find out that Eddie was drunk when Katherine went into labor, and we can only assume that the birth of his son is what provoked his sobriety. However, it also left Katherine as the sole breadwinner, and the hours she’s been putting in is exactly what led to Eddie’s affair with Delilah. All the same, Katherine and Eddie seem to have come to an uneasy truce. For now.
The storyline that holds most of my affection, however, continues to be the relationship between Gary and Maggie. Maggie finds out that she’s not the only survivor that Gary banged in the bathroom of the breast-cancer survivor meetings. She realizes that Gary’s just a player and that he’s never going to change, but Gary proves otherwise by removing his shirt and showing her the scar from his cancer surgery. It’s a weirdly sweet scene.
It proves, however, to have the opposite effect on Maggie than I might have thought. Instead of deciding, “Hey! I’m with this great guy! I want to live!” Maggie decides, “I’m not going to get cancer treatment. Instead, I will live my life to the fullest for the next 3 to 6 months and die within the next year!”
Bad decision, Maggie.
Scenes from next week, however, tease that someone is pregnant, and it’s not Regina. Is it Delilah with Jon’s baby? Or Eddie’s baby? Or could it be Maggie? Or maybe Ashley is pregnant with Jon’s baby?
In either respect, the season seems to have abandoned, at least for now, the mystery behind Jon’s death, as it continues to deal with the fallout from it. Almost surprisingly, A Million Little Things is also getting better and more heartfelt as the story moves further away from its genesis point. It’ll be interesting to see if they can keep up the momentum, even now that so many of the original secrets are out and have been at least partially resolved.
Header Image Source: ABC