A MILLION LITTLE THINGS Post-Mortem: DJ Nash and Terrence Coli Break Down Gary and Maggie's Big News - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

A MILLION LITTLE THINGS Post-Mortem: DJ Nash and Terrence Coli Break Down Gary and Maggie’s Big News

May 18, 2022 by  

A MILLION LITTLE THINGS Gary cancer returned

A MILLION LITTLE THINGS – “just in case” – The strength of Maggie and Gary’s relationship is put to the test once again. Rome makes a sacrifice for a student in distress; Theo turns to an unlikely source to help his mom through a rough patch, and Eddie learns a shocking secret about Anna on the season finale of “A Million Little Things,” airing WEDNESDAY, MAY 18 (10:00-11:00 p.m. EDT), on ABC. (ABC/Darko Sikman)

[Warning: This post contains spoilers for the Wednesday, May 18 episode of A MILLION LITTLE THINGS, “just in case.”]

It was a good news-bad news type of finale for A MILLION LITTLE THINGS’ Gary (James Roday Rodriguez) and Maggie (Allison Miller): The duo was finally pregnant.

But, as Rome (Romany Malco) and Regina (Christina Moses) viewed the tapes Gary had been making of their possible-baby-journey, they learned the truth: Gary was sick. (Viewers learned he now has cancer in his lung, after seemingly beating breast cancer.)

So, what comes next? Executive producers DJ Nash and Terrence Coli broke down the big “just in case” reveals, and tease what’s ahead in season 5…

At what point did you know Gary’s cancer would be returning? And when did you clue the actors into it?
DJ Nash: We have an incredible partnership with the actors on this show. And you know, if you look at episodes that have been big and meaningful for us, whether it was Sophie being groomed or whether it was Rome and Gary in the back of the police car, a couple of seasons ago, we’ve really leaned on the actors to say, “What is your truth and how do you see this?” and involve them, to make sure that the roles they are portraying are consistent with how they see it. And it was no different here: James and Allison, we talked to them extensively, and for a while now, about this storyline.

We knew for a long time that we want Gary’s cancer to return. We knew that we wanted to flip it, and have Maggie be the caretaker of Gary and all the ways Gary took care of Maggie. And we wanted to see how the flip of that dynamic would affect these characters, because Gary is not very receptive to [help]. As much as he wants to help people, he’s not receptive to being helped. I thought TC did a beautiful job running the room this year, and finding things like the back ache that was there or throwing up and not being able to go to Maggie’s [appointment]; there were so many times that we even had to be careful that we weren’t tipping it. But I just think the progression was perfectly orchestrated by TC and the writers.

Was this something you landed on earlier in the season, or did it come into play when you were figuring out the end of the year?
Terrence Coli: I think we knew where we were headed from pretty much the beginning of the season. We knew we had 20 episodes, we knew that a lot of narrative. And we knew that we wanted to ultimately get Gary and Maggie back in each other’s arms, kind of right around when we did, and where it would lead from there. But we also knew that Gary had some personal growth that he needed to do to go from throwing a bag over a guy’s head at the end of season 3 to where he is today in our narrative. So, I think the the great thing about having 20 episodes, at that point, was to say we can really tell all of this story. We can have Gary do the self-enlightenment that he needs to do to kind of earn his way back to a place where he’s a viable candidate, romantically, for Maggie. And then we knew how we were going to card flip their future beyond that. We kind of stuck to the roadmap.
Nash: I’ve known since the beginning of the series that I wanted Gary’s cancer to return. It just was thinking about when’s the best time.

Is this the same cancer that has now spread or is this a different cancer?
Nash: That’s actually a great question, because the answer to that question is very relevant. The same type of cancer recurring is actually much more of concern than a different form of cancer showing itself. I don’t want [viewers] to know yet. But when Maggie says in which breast, and it’s neither, it’s in the lung, that could be good news, in that it could be that it’s not the same cancer coming back stronger, or it could be bad news is the same cancer that has spread.

Given Regina and Rome are now reeling from this news, will the show be picking up immediately from where we left off?
Nash: Season 5 will be a direct pick-up from where we left off. We will see Rome and Regina struggle with whether or not to follow their instincts and run to their friends and tell them what they know or to respect the privacy that obviously Gary is seeking. And what is interesting about that is when you accidentally discover a videotape or a letter or a note, it puts you in a weird situation of, “Do I acknowledge the misstep that’s happened, because I have information? Or do I try to put the toothpaste back in the tube?”

And I think that this group of friends, given everything they’ve been through with Jon, and with Rome’s depression, and Gary’s cancer, and Eddie’s lies with less drinking, I think there’s a real conundrum about how Rome and Regina should proceed. And I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s not on the same page.

The good news is Maggie is pregnant. How will she be handling the pregnancy amidst Gary’s health struggle?
Nash: I think what happens is these two have made a determination that they’re going to, despite both having cancer that has now recurred for both of them, live life on their terms. And they’re not going to let cancer dictate stuff.

I just remember when Maggie made the decision to have her abortion, she was talking about how, again, cancer dictates my life. And you see that with Gary, where every time he goes in for a checkup. I think what is truly, despite the obviously grave news that they have received, there is an optimism that the two of them have found together and they’re determined to retain. And I think we’re gonna see the joy of parenthood, with Maggie, and, hopefully, with Gary.

Looking to Eddie and Anna, she confessed she pushed Peter down the stairs…and didn’t help him, before he ultimately died. She’s clearly in legal trouble, but is their journey over?
Coli: I think there’s always a road forward. I would say Eddie is completely understanding of what it’s like to get inebriated and make a mistake. He knows how important honesty is to the path of sobriety. And I think he knows that, aside from the stutter step of not telling him the truth at first, she ultimately came clean. So maybe there is a viable path for the two of them forward. I think the question is, what will that do to his relationship with Katherine and his co-parenting with Theo. Is that going to complicate things, if he tries to keep Anna in his life?
Nash: It is a beautiful way to to really sum up what’s going on for Eddie in 5×01. He is processing this. Obviously, his heart is broken. He had a whole plan for how Katherine is moving forward with her life, and he was, too. But he really is a place of like, “Hey, I’ve made mistakes before, too, because of my drinking. Is that a reason to push someone out of your life or to run to them and support them more than ever?”
Coli: Well, and he knows he has to be a dad first. So we may not always have the luxury of choice when it comes to making the best decisions for his life, when it comes to how he’s going to parent his child.
Nash: Katherine had a reaction when Anna dropped the glass at the party. Imagine what her reaction might be upon learning that she did this while drunk?

There’s also a parallel between Gary keeping his role in the attack on Peter from Darcy, with Anna keeping this from Eddie. Assuming Eddie doesn’t immediately find out about Gary’s cancer and pivot to that, will they be discussing the similarities?
Coli: That’s an incredible parallel.
Nash: It was one that we became aware of, because there are similar things—even when Eddie says, “Don’t tell me any more of this,” it is similar to Darcy’s desire to protect Gary.

I think what I love most about the show and it has been there from the beginning, is just when you think the issue is going to affect just one of the characters, it affects all of them. Things hit these characters in different ways, and I’m really excited to see how the issues we leave in the finale are going to hit not only the characters that are directly affected, but even potentially more so than the other characters as we continue to tell the story.

On a different note, Katherine and Greta, as well as Regina and Rome, ended the season in a fairly solid place, couple-wise. What’s next for them?
Coli: Well, I think one of the things we’re seeing at the end of this season is how solid a couple, ultimately, Katherine and Greta are. And we love Cameron [Esposito], who plays Greta—we’re so thrilled to have added her to our show this year. I think in our minds, Katherine and Greta are solid. But that doesn’t mean that they won’t be tested with all of the other things that come at a couple. Of course, [there’s] the exes and the parents who are just starting to come to terms with the fact that these two are in a real relationship. So I think we’ll see all of their happiness very road-tested next season.
Nash: I was really thrilled to see how much I enjoyed watching Katherine be happy. So much of the writing has been about putting Grace Park in these horrific situations, where her pain is just below the surface or often on the surface. And seeing Grace, as an actor, take care of Cameron, and also just see the two of them, find this story, this unexpected story, it was so much fun to see. When I was directing my first episode, it was such a big part of it: Katherine bringing Greta to game night. But I’m really excited to continue to tell those stories and have their complications be not as much between them but about how the rest of the world is accepting them and also how Greta has to help Katherine navigate this incredibly challenging time with Eddie and Anna.

Is there anything else you want to share about this season we haven’t discussed?
Coli: Well, I just want to say one of my favorite things about this season,  for all the narratives that we told, that I love DJ directing his first episode of the series; he stepped behind the camera and did an incredible job. And it was just a joy to see how the cast came alive and how the episode just kind of sparkles, truly. And I’m excited that he’s going to come back and do a couple more for us next year. It’s just been fun to watch a guy who’s given so many other actors and writers and creatives an opportunity on the show to have a new opportunity of his own this year. It was really exciting and I think re-energizing.
Nash: From my perspective, this is a whole show about a group of friends who sort of have each other’s back no matter what and help each other get through the day. Having TC step up and run the show this year really allowed me to do the directing I wanted to do, allowed me to do more episodic writing that I wanted to do on the show. And I’ve just been so appreciative.

The storyline of Rome going back to the school, it was such an important story for us to tell. I encountered horrific antisemitism when I was in high school, and the idea that we could tell that story through Rome’s character and to see him confront the demons of his past, the way I had to…the writing, the way that the other writers in the room took this story and nurtured it; the way that Romany just lived in it. In the finale, that scene over at Ash’s parents house, he in the last take just broke down and was just so emotionally raw. It’s just beautiful. And obviously Ash Spencer who plays Maddox, his willingness to step into the role and just give it everything and just bring so much humanity to it was…if we didn’t have that actor, we couldn’t have told this story.



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