After Gary’s brief cancer scare, Maggie doesn’t want to waste another minute. She told Gary in the final moments of the April 13 episode of A Million Little Things that she thinks they should have a baby. Plus, Regina had an emotional conversation with her parents and Sophie forgave Gary.
Creator and executive producer DJ Nash, who directed the April 13 episode, spoke EXCLUSIVELY with HollywoodLife about the game-changing moments in the season 4 episode and what’s next. He teased Maggie and Gary’s journey to parenthood, Katherine and Greta’s “conflict,” and how it’s all building to the show’s “biggest cliffhanger” ever. Read our Q&A below:
This is your A Million Little Things directorial debut, right?
DJ Nash: It’s exciting! I was supposed to do the finale, and then we have a director fall out for other reasons. It was a first-time director and I remember as Michelle Leibel and I were writing the script, we were like, “This is like our funniest episode.” A lot of times with drama directors, you don’t know how they are with comedy, so as soon as the director fell out, I said, “Wait. Maybe this is the one I should direct.” So we switched things around, and the writers’ room was incredibly accommodating. And I went up and did it. One of the things that has been amazing about working on the show is it’s given so many people the first opportunity. Joanna Kerns, it’s her first time producing and directing. Rob, our director of photography, was our A camera operator for the last two seasons. It’s his first time DPing. Alyssa Carroll who edits… all of them worked on my episode. So as I got my chance to direct for the first time, it was all the people the show had given an opportunity to. It was really poetic and aligned with our series theme that everything happens for a reason.
In the final moments of the episode, Maggie tells Gary that they should have a baby. Where do they go from here? Are Maggie and Gary going to try to have a baby? Could we see that by the end of the season?
DJ Nash: I think one of the themes we look at in our show, especially this season, is how does your history inform your future? If you look at these two, between breast cancer, which they share, helping Sophie through the assault, losing Jon, and Gary supporting Maggie through her abortion, there are so many things that are part of this delicate ecosystem that has existed between the two of them. Even when Gary said in the episode where they got back together — “I was finally okay with us just being friends” — I think that what they have is something that is now built on this friendship. As they go and consider parenthood, I think there are some of the ghosts of how Gary has handled the Peter situation that will haunt him, and there’s stuff with Maggie and her mom. A lot of the things we do in life are in response to the things we’ve done. In that fashion, Maggie and Gary considering parenthood and going on the road to parenthood, sometimes you get pregnant right away, and sometimes you don’t. All of that is just going to be part of where we’re taking them through the rest of the season. We’re really excited. You know, we just filmed some of those scenes, and they are so moving. It is building up to be our biggest cliffhanger of the series.
On another Gary front, we got that amazing scene between James [Roday Rodriguez] and Lizzy [Greene] where Gary finally does get Sophie’s forgiveness. They seem to be turning over a new leaf. What was that like for you getting to direct that conversation that has been a long time in the making?
DJ Nash: One of the benefits of creating a show is you get to pick which episodes you want to write. As soon as I signed on to write this one, I knew I wanted to do one where they see each other. It was just amazing to see how much our actors embody these characters. I think the direction that I was witnessing James Griffiths, who directed our pilot, was about finding the characters. Whereas for me, directing was about fine-tuning the characters that all come into the scene. They all come to set with such a strong, authentic take on what these characters will do. So in that scene with Sophie and Gary, it was just about just allowing it to happen, and then we found one extra joke at the end. The way they say, “you missed me, I miss you,” that was a line I threw in. They first did the scene and you pretty much saw that we could probably use the first take, but then with the line about “if it’s terminal, say the word and I’ll kill Peter” was James just taking it and building on that. That’s sort of the way James and I have worked really well together because he tends to deliver comedy the way I hear it. Just the way he delivers jokes is so true to how I would say it. So it’s really easy for us within a few takes to just add 4 jokes to a scene.
Greta and Katherine had a really interesting but valid conversation about Eddie. Greta has a good point in that Katherine acts like she’s still married to him and that she needs to let go a little bit. Is Katherine going to struggle to let go after being connected to him and in such an intense way for so long?
DJ Nash: She’s going to be affected by that, and how could you not? She really has been the glue of that family. She has to worry because if she didn’t it would all come apart. I mean, not only for them financially, but also for protecting Theo. I mean, her responsibilities to Theo don’t end just because she’s dropped him off with Eddie. So it totally makes sense. It is really, really difficult. There’s someone who works on our show who had a spouse who had chemical dependency issues and was very forthcoming in sharing stories about how that would affect raising a child and certainly now divorced raising a child. I think it is a difficult thing to navigate. Funny enough, Greta previously was married to another woman, so she didn’t have a man who had to be part of her decision-making, much less two men with Eddie and Theo. I think it’s an interesting thing to navigate, which doesn’t mean it can’t survive, but it does bring authentic conflict into our show. We’re really excited. Those stories will come up a bunch throughout the rest of the season.
On the flip side, there’s Eddie and Anna, who got a little too tipsy at the game night. Given that Eddie is still sober, will he be tempted? I think that’s an interesting dynamic being with someone who does still drink while you’re also trying to be sober. Will that provide conflict between them?
DJ Nash: First of all, just huge props to Erin [Karpluk] because she was so funny in the episode. We have an incredible cast of series regulars, and when you bring in someone to be recurring and be part of that you hope that they can go toe-to-toe with your series regulars. In fact, if you look at that episode, she probably has the hardest stuff to carry in front of them. She was incredible. She was so funny. Over the course of between the table read and what we shot, I gave her more and more jokes to do because she was so good. She’s so good. As Anna goes forward with Eddie, I think it is challenging to navigate. Particularly because she’s coming to the group having really lost her old friends.
Regina and this whole storyline with her parents has been stunning. We finally see them coming together and really trying to heal together. From here on out, what does it look like for Regina, her mom, and her father as they chart through being on the same page about the abuse for the first time?
DJ Nash: Stunning is really such a perfect word to describe Christina Moses because it really is so exactly right. When we were doing the first season and I was able to come up a lot, I was notorious for changing something that I told one actor but didn’t tell all the actors. We’d catch them off guard when you filmed it, like in the pilot James Roday Rodriguez didn’t know that Maggie was going to hug him. You see the surprise on his face. He thought this was a booty call. The look of why has this suddenly gotten more serious is very authentic because it really happened. So similarly, when we shot that scene with Mario [Van Peebles], I was determined to get Mario to cry and break and to have it be real. So when we were on Mario’s coverage, I changed Christina’s words. They were so powerful that even though she’s not on camera, I kept them in the cut because she said something like, “He was the first man to touch me.” You can see it just punch her dad in the gut. I just think that those performances were so real and what you’re seeing is just the continued fallout and casualties of a predator. After Regina’s uncle did what he did, obviously, it hurts Regina and her mom, but there are so many other people who are hurt by it. It parallels with the Peter story because you’re seeing that what Peter did didn’t just hurt Sophie, it threatened to hurt Sophie and Gary, and it threatens to hurt Anna and Eddie, and that’s what we’re going to watch throughout the rest of the season is how these families move past the assault.
My final question for you is: now that Danny’s back and we’ve got Sophie, might we see Delilah again before the season’s end?
DJ Nash: I will say to you I don’t even want to tease it because I really wanted that to happen, and Stephanie [Szostak] has been so amazing. We adjusted our story to end on a huge cliffhanger. We talked to the network about telling our story, and they said, “Please end on a cliffhanger. We believe in the show. We want you to have this cliffhanger.” So I would love and have tried to do everything I can to lock in so we see Delilah next season. I’d like to see her not just in passing. I’d like to see her in a really prominent way and tell the story of what we’ve missed since she did leave, but I think that would be for season 5. I cannot wait to tell that story.