Sunday, October 21, 2018

A Million Little Things 1x04 Review: "friday night dinner" (It All Started in an Airport) [Contributor: Jenn]

(Image credit: ABC)

“friday night dinner”
Original Airdate: October 17, 2018

When you look at an event — a fixed point in time — you can find yourself asking: “How did I get here?” All of the little decisions and moments seem just that in the moment: little. Insignificant. It’s just one drink. Just one time. Just one little white lie. But then those moments string together to form bigger moments and bigger decisions and soon, we end up sitting on the floor wondering how exactly our life turned out the way it did.

A Million Little Things is fixated on the little moments that lead to the bigger ones. And I, for one, am glad they are. It’s easy to focus on the big event of the series (Jon’s death), but it’s more important to understand how the characters became who they were when he died. This week’s episode focuses on little things about each character that led them to who they are in the present-day and who they might become in the future.


When A Million Little Things began, I was worried that Katherine would just become this demonized workaholic wife. I was also worried that we wouldn’t get much out of Eddie’s character other than “former musician who had an affair with Delilah.” This week, we got the chance to explore more of their characters — and I loved it. Eddie was having some existential moments, returning to a bar he used to frequent when he was an alcoholic and thinking about the feeling of being on stage performing. But we learn more about how bad Eddie’s drinking became; on the day his son was born, Eddie was drunk in the middle of the day at a bar. He hit bottom and he hit it hard.

In spite of his transgressions, Eddie admits that to Katherine. She had to be someone he never wanted her to be. It was his fault that he put her into that position, and he can’t blame her for it. While Katherine appreciates the sentiment, it’s clear that their road is still rocky. But she, too, admits that they were broken as a couple long before Eddie and Delilah began their affair. Katherine’s softness had to take a back seat in their lives — she was the one trying to hold their family together when Eddie was spiraling. When Sophie fights with Delilah, she comes to Eddie and Katherine’s for a guitar jam session. Katherine has the chance to speak wisdom and gentleness to Sophie, which is really beautiful.

Part of Katherine’s struggle is feeling like an outsider, and I think that “friday night dinner” demonstrated the fact that Jon never wanted people to feel unwelcome. No matter what, there would always be pizza on a Friday night if he could help it. And while Delilah’s memories and our flashbacks show us glimpses into other aspects of Jon’s personality (the darker side of hospitality is that you pour yourself out and there’s nothing left to give to those you love; your whole identity is helping people), it was nice to see that Katherine still felt welcome by the end of the episode.

Things aren’t perfect, of course, because how could they be? But it’s a start.


I love James Roday. The work he’s already doing with Gary’s nuances and complexities? It’s beautiful. This week, Gary and Maggie’s relationship is rocky. Maggie meets a former hookup of Gary’s at a meeting and accuses him of being a player (not entirely wrong), and Gary meets Maggie’s former boyfriend outside of her apartment where he learns that Maggie’s cancer is back. Speaking of, Maggie is such an interesting character. She has all of this head knowledge of why people react the way they do — she gives solid advice to Rome in the episode over lunch about people existing but not really living. That’s what Rome is doing, and that’s what Maggie has to decide between. From her perspective, another round of treatments would just be an existence: a cycle of chemo and radiation. But Maggie’s future doesn’t look promising without treatment. In fact, doctors seem surprised she’d even consider the option to refuse treatment.

Maggie wants to live, but she wants to do it on her own terms. And so she and Gary fight about his past and his gross desire to hook up with cancer survivors. She accuses him of not being serious, but he fires back that SHE claimed things weren’t serious either. Maggie won’t open up to Gary — not fully — and so Gary decides to be the one to take the first step. From her ex-boyfriend, he knows Maggie’s cancer is back but she won’t be the one to tell him. So when he shows up at her apartment to clear the air about his past, she surmises that he’ll tell her she’s different from all the other women. Instead, Gary claims that he’s different.

He takes off his shirt, and finally shows Maggie his scar. She’s stunned into silence, and it’s such an incredibly wonderful, wordless scene. Gary’s such a soft character who masks his vulnerabilities with sarcasm and one-night stands. It’s easier to detach that way, and I’m interested to know if this kind of defense mechanism really set in after his cancer diagnosis. I hope we’ll see that soon. But Gary clearly cares about Maggie and instead of waiting for her to let down a wall, he put his down. Maggie’s still in hiding, but Gary’s example of vulnerability and sacrifice is incredible; he had no expectations for how she’d respond, but he did it anyway.

That’s what being brave truly looks like.

More things:
  • Rome is working through his struggles and making changes! He quits his job at the end of the episode because he wants to focus on making his movie. His whole family and crew are supportive of his decision.
  • “There’ll be high fives and fist bumps all around. Unless they’re like you and then it’ll be a weird combination of both.”
  • “I gave a Russian chick a backstage pass.” “That’s not a euphemism.”
  • The Alzheimer’s/dementia story with Delilah’s father is so sad, especially at the end when her father doesn’t know Jon is dead. 
  • “We don’t always get to choose who and how we love. Sometimes it chooses us.”
  • Ooof, the fact that Eddie was drunk on the day his son was born though.
  • Regina and Rome’s relationship is lovely; I just hope he tells Regina soon about his depression.
  • “That’s what we’re doing now? Being big people?” “Yeah. Maybe you should try it.”
  • I’m glad Eddie and Gary’s relationship isn’t entirely fixed yet.


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