The ‘A Million Little Things’ fall finale left everyone’s lives pretty much in shambles. HL spoke with creator DJ Nash about what’s next for PJ, Gary and Maggie’s breakup, and the ‘larger mystery’ building.
The fall finale of A Million Little Things was an emotional roller coaster. When PJ discovered that Jon is actually not his father but Dave is, after all, he ended up standing on the edge of a roof deck and thought about jumping. Rome eventually talked PJ down in a powerful scene performed by Romany Malco and Chandler Riggs. By the end of the fall finale, Gary and Maggie had broken up, Delilah told Sophie and Danny about Charlie being Eddie’s daughter, and Regina and Rome decided to adopt a baby together.
HollywoodLife talked EXCLUSIVELY with creator DJ Nash about what’s to come when the show returns in 2020. He revealed that PJ will be taking a “little break” from the show. DJ also discussed the backstory of PJ’s journey into the A Million Little Things world and admitted that the writers’ room was “divided” on whether PJ should be Jon’s kid. DJ said that the show will be jumping forward 3 months when it returns in 2020 for the rest of season 2 and Eddie, Delilah, and Katherine are all going to have “clean up the mess” of coming clean about Charlie’s paternity.
PJ found out that Jon is actually not his father at all. Did you ever entertain that idea or had you known all along that Jon was not the father?
DJ Nash: It’s funny. When we were finishing season 1, I had never worked on a serialized show before. I knew the mystery of Jon and September 11th and as we’re realizing we were going to make it a second season I was thinking about what things to tee up for a second season. When we cast Chandler [Riggs] as PJ in the second to last episode, as we were casting him I thought, wait a minute, maybe we can play him as Barbara’s son. I had to figure out if there was a map that explained why he was at the hospital and this is really for the fans. But the way the math works is Gary came to the door looking for Barbara Morgan in that episode where Barbara says, “I don’t know who she is.” As she closes the door, she says, “It’s okay Mitch. He’s gone.” Then in 201 this year we flashed back to that scene and saw that PJ was in the other room hearing the parents argue and then the next day mom leaves to go somewhere. PJ goes and follows mom, who goes outside the Dixon house where she runs into Sophie jogging and pretends like she knows them from the walk. She goes inside the house and PJ’s watching as Gary comes in with Delilah looking for the lasagna. If you remember, Gary then left to go to the hospital and the backstory would be that PJ then said, “I recognize that guy from when he came to our house. I’m going to follow him.” He goes to the hospital and you can see in episode 204 where we see a shot of PJ sitting next to Gary in the hospital. So we knew we were going that way. In answer to your question about would he be Jon’s son or not, the room was very divided. There were many, many people in the room who wanted PJ to be Jon’s son. I felt like it was too neat and it was too television neat. I’m always trying to keep the show authentic and sort of messy. So I thought we could play like he is and then make it be that he’s not. Oh just to point out, by the way, Chandler did not know.
DJ Nash: I said to Chandler, “I’m not telling you the answer to this. I want you to struggle for the answer the way PJ would.” So when he got the episode with the DNA test that confirmed that PJ is Jon’s son, he thought he was Jon’s son, so I made all of them go on the ride. The actors only know what the characters would know, and so that was a very, very well-kept secret.
Going forward from this fall finale, how is PJ going continue to cope with everything? Will he and Rome continued to be incredibly close like they have been?
DJ Nash: I’m having the character of PJ take a little break from the show in the short run because we left him in a very vulnerable place and in need of supervision and professional help. I wanted to have him step away because we’ve already told that story with Rome last season, so he is going to go off and do that and go to RISD and then come back eventually. But in the short term, he won’t be with us just because, again, I wanted to be true to that story and now Rome is taking his paternal instincts and putting it towards trying to adopt a child.
Will we see them go through those motions in the second half of the season 2 of trying to adopt?
DJ Nash: Yes. So the second half of the season picks up three months later. You’re three months after Maggie and Gary broke up, you’re three months after Regina and Rome decide that they want to adopt a baby, three months after the kids finding out the truth. We will flashback within those three months. But we’re really just concentrating on just how damaged the friendship group is from everything that happened in our midseason finale. For Rome and Regina, they’re well on their way to trying to adopt a child.
When Sophie was out there smashing the instruments, I feel like this was a shift with Sophie. What can you say about her journey in the second half with Eddie and Delilah? Will she react differently to different people?
DJ Nash: Sophie, before finding out the truth was an innocent little girl, and after finding out the truth, she’s now a woman who has to become aware of life’s realities. Delilah was trying to prevent her from being robbed of her innocence. Obviously, she lost some of her innocence when her father took his life but not the full extent of how troubled some things are between her marriage with Jon and her affair with Eddie and this baby, which is not Jon’s. I think Delilah tried to keep that from Sophie and now all of that is out and we will see that nobody in our show is innocent. Nobody in our show is guilty. Even Katherine who appears to have done so many beautifully saintly things in the first half of the season, she’s a real catalyst to this truth coming out and we will see her, Delilah, and Eddie have to clean up the mess together.
Eddie and Katherine have been on quite the arc this season and they seem to be in a good place. Are they going to continue to stay that way or should we expect more challenges for these two?
DJ Nash: Well, if you’ve learned anything from the A Million Little Things formula, just when it seems like a couple is in their best place, we change that. So that’s all I’ll say about that. I think life is very challenging and I think their son now has witnessed something that brings this affair back up in a very real way and as eager as Katherine was to have her son know the truth, the reality of what that truth means is something that she couldn’t have anticipated.
Maggie and Gary’s breakup was a really heartbreaking scene. When Maggie was packing up her things, Eric was there and there was that phone call. What can you say about his journey? He’s definitely hiding something.
DJ Nash: I’m going to answer two questions because I saw you’ve sort of circled around and I appreciate the effort so I’m going to do it. The Gary and Maggie scene, I spent more time writing that scene than I’ve spent on any scene in our show. In fact, I think I spent more time writing that scene than I have spent writing some episodes of our show. It was really difficult. Not because it was hard to find the words, but I wanted the balance to be right. The writers, all 16 of us, wanted to make sure that no one was innocent. No one was guilty. That her side made sense, that his side made sense, that the sort of sliding doors of life, which is sad because had she not applied to Oxford, she wouldn’t have looked for her passport and she wouldn’t have found the ring. The ring wouldn’t have prompted a reaction from her that Gary picks up on and realizes they’re at two different places. That breakup almost didn’t have to happen and yet it did. So it should be heartbreaking. With that, talking about Eric, he is hiding something. It seems like he’s talking to someone named Buddy or with a nickname Buddy. What’s going on with that and what hasn’t he told Maggie? That’s the mystery that we’re following in the second half of the season and it hands off to a larger mystery, unrelated, that we’ll track through the end of season 2 and into season 3.