[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the A Million Little Things Season 4 finale “Just in Case.”]
A Million Little Things pulled the rug out from under us, with one reveal we’d expected and another that changed everything we thought about recent episodes.
First of all, Anna (Erin Karpluk) did kill her ex-husband, Peter (Andrew Leeds) — the teacher who’s assaulted Sophie (Lizzy Greene) — albeit accidentally and was arrested after confessing. Meanwhile, Gary (James Roday Rodriguez) and Maggie (Allison Miller) found out they’re having a baby, but then Rome (Romany Malco) and Regina (Christina Moses) watched one of his videos and found out Gary has cancer. In happier news, Katherine (Grace Park) fixed things with Greta (Cameron Esposito).
Executive producers DJ Nash and Terrence Coli break down the finale and tease what’s ahead.
What can you say about the story you want to tell for Gary this time when it comes to cancer?
DJ Nash: In an earlier episode this season, Gary said that thinking that his cancer might back be back used to keep his cancer from coming back. Having met so many people who are survivors of cancer in general, that fear of the cancer returning is just very, very real and now it has returned and seeing Gary and Maggie switch roles from the one we saw first season, where now it’s Maggie helping Gary through this, will be really telling and challenging for their relationship. Gary is one who’s very quick to offer help, but at the same time, very reluctant to receive help and he’s gonna need the support of his friends and his baby mama.
Will the fact that Gary has cancer affect the kind of parents that he and Maggie are going to be?
Nash: Whether or not the cancer had returned, Gary and Maggie are two cancer survivors who are practical and aware that nothing in life is guaranteed. Certainly as you look back at our season now with the card flips of the finale, you realize that their decision to have a baby was sort of taking control of their life and saying “we’re not gonna let cancer dictate what we do and what we don’t do.” So I think we’ll see them have to go into it with a solid plan, probably a plan B. They are determined that in whatever amount of life they have left in the world to get the most happiness and joy that they can. I think that’s a promise they made to themselves after Jon died that perhaps this recent news reminds them just how important it is to follow that plan.
Regina and Rome only know because of the video.
Nash: I think there’s something really interesting about when you find out critical news in a way that you were not supposed to, whether you accidentally see an email, whether someone forwarded something to you or you happen to be in the room or you overhear something. Rome and Regina are in a very difficult situation where their instincts are to run to their friend and say, “Hey, we know, what can we do?” but clearly their friend didn’t want anyone to know, so what do you do in that situation? What happens if Rome and Regina don’t agree? And Rome, someone with his own disease, is in a big dilemma of, am I gonna respect my friend’s wishes or am I going to trust my gut?
Katherine and Greta are back on track, and Katherine’s planning to ask her to move in. Will they get to stay in that happiness?
Terrence Coli: It’ll be an interesting journey for the two of them. Their relationship has been road tested now in a couple of different ways — exes coming back, Shanice coming back. The real joy of this season has been watching Katherine find happiness, personal happiness, and going back to this relationship that escaped her in high school. Now we’re gonna probably see more conflicts coming from the outside — family — and [them] tested as mom and potentially stepmom in this dynamic that they have with Theo.
Could Cameron be a series regular in Season 5?
Coli: We’ll have to wait. We love Cameron. Adding her to the cast this season has been not only brought a lot of comedy to the show but just been a great new voice for us to write for. The writers love her so much.
Nash: We’d love to see her a ton next season. She’s a successful touring standup comic, so we wanna also be respectful of the other hat she wears.
When did you know the path you were going down with Peter’s death and Anna’s role?
Coli: Probably midway through the season, we knew we wanted to reintroduce Anna. At the beginning of Season 3, we just briefly see her on camera with Peter in the earliest episode that he’s in. We knew that Erin was an incredible actress and we would be lucky to have her take that part, even though we knew it could get bigger and we had thoughts of how it might get bigger. Then when the relationship with Eddie [David Giuntoli] became a possibility, it made so much sense to us that we would explore all the complications of what happens when a good friend of yours starts dating someone who you have a very complicated history with. So, we knew that Peter was gonna come back into Anna’s life and then therefore Eddie and Sophie’s lives and cause more havoc. I don’t think we knew until probably Episode 14 or 15 how exactly the mystery of what happened to Peter was gonna play out. We had a couple of different options, but ultimately we chose the one that worked out the best and made the most sense and was the most complicated for Eddie.
Nash: Just to sing Erin’s praises, if you look at the finale, you have Andrew Leeds and Erin, it’s very rare in our show to go to a scene that has two people in it and neither of them are series regulars. I think it really speaks to how much we become invested in these characters and how talented these two actors are. Because we really are invested in her for Eddie, it makes it that much more powerful that it appears as though she’s in some pretty big legal jeopardy.
How’s Eddie going to be handling this? He thought he found happiness with her.
Coli: Is there a path through the choices that Anna made? Is there a future for their relationship in spite of everything that’s happened? Eddie definitely understands what it’s like to make some really grave mistakes in your life, in your relationship because you have an addiction problem. Of all the things that Anna was hiding down the stretch, the one thing she was being very honest with Eddie about and is true is she has an alcohol problem and Eddie knows what it’s like to find your life in a shambles because of that.
Nash: Because Eddie and Katherine share a child together, it can complicate things for that. We saw how concerned Katherine was when Anna dropped a glass at the party. Now when Katherine learns about Anna’s involvement in Peter’s death, does she feel the need to micromanage his relationship even further?
Rome and Regina seem to have found their career paths with him teaching and her with the food truck, but then you have Tyrell going off to college. Is the uncertainty in their life more at home versus work now?
Coli: I think they’re really gonna experience what it’s like to be empty nesters now. They really got into a rhythm and a groove with Tyrell in their midst. If he goes off to college, what does that do to their dynamic? Is it like the early years of their relationship? Or do they feel that something’s missing?
Sophie really came into her own, partially due to what Peter did, but also because Delilah’s [Stephanie Szostak] out of the country. Will that continue?
Nash: What Lizzy Greene brings as an actor in Seasons 3 and 4 is so huge for us, not only in terms of the development of Sophie as an adult, but also just the maturity that the actor playing Sophie brings to the character. We hope Delilah is a part of Season 5 in a much more substantial way.
Anything you can tease about a new mystery in Season 5?
Nash: Some of the mystery that we will follow in Season 5 has already been planted and you may not even be aware of it yet, and some of it unfolds as the season progresses. We certainly are dealing with a lot of unresolved things that presented themselves in act six of our finale. … If you get a chance to watch and rewatch the finale, there’s some great things there.
With the move to midseason, do you have any idea about an episode count or is that still TBD?
Nash: TC and I, having done 38 episodes really back to back — we were still editing Season 3 when the Season 4 writers room started — were really looking forward to having a little bit of break, to catch our breath and perhaps doing a shorter episode count this season, it seems like that’s what the network plans are too. We don’t officially have an episode count, but we’ve had some discussions about what we’d like it to be and the number we threw out and the number they threw out were exactly the same number.
A Million Little Things, Season 5, Midseason, ABC