They brought all the emotions for the finale.
The series pulled out all the stops where A Million Little Things Season 4 Episode 20 started off as a regular installment, and they sprinkled in some happy endings and the unsurprising revelation of who killed Peter.
But then they walloped us with that breathtaking and devastating ending.
It’s a good thing that this bubble show got that last-minute renewal. It would’ve been upsetting if the last time we spent with this friend-group-turned family was finding out that Gary’s ongoing greatest fear is true and that they could lose him — Maggie and their child could lose him.
But before we delve into all of that, we should unpack some of the lighter arcs.
If you are hearing this, it’s because the one embryo that we had worked, and you are our kid. Your dad and I had to go to countless doctors appointments at $135 a session, and I had to have hormone injections and egg retrieval and it was all really uncomfortable and scary, but all worth it because last night I had a dream that I was holding you, and at the risk of sounding you know what stitious, I have a feeling that we’ll be meeting you in nine months.
Tyrell’s impact on the Howards has been a highlight of their story for the past couple of seasons. They were so proud of him and what he had achieved, so it was easy to assume the worst of Vali and her influence when he decided he didn’t want to go to Yale.
Kudos to the series for not settling on the obvious trope of Tyrell wanting to throw his future away for a girl he just met. While Vali has had some offputting moments, and the way she speaks to Gina is irksome, Tyrell’s reservations were entirely about his family.
He’s witnessed Rome in a bad place, and he cares so much about himself and Gina. It was perfectly normal and to be expected that he was afraid to leave them behind in case they needed him. It speaks to the depth of his love for these people that he was willing to sacrifice his desires to be there for them.
It was probably some fear of the unknown and moving on from stability for him, too. All of that is perfectly normal teenage stuff and the type of things one experiences when they set out for that next chapter in their life and must leave the safety and comfort of their home to do it.
It was a relief that they centered Tyrell’s decision on their family, and fortunately, Gina managed to speak to him and do what mothers do best, encourage him to live his life and follow his dreams.
They will still be there for him for better and worse, and with Yale only a couple of hours away, he can come whenever he wants and needs it.
While Gina had Tyrell to deal with, Rome was determined to do whatever was in Maddox’s best interest.
Regina: It’s really important that Tyrell makes the most out of the opportunity in front of him and goes to Yale.
Vali: I couldn’t agree with you more. My mom compromised her dreams for me, I would never want to do that to Tyrell.
Regina: Then why haven’t you told him not to stay here for you?
Vali: What? He’s not staying here for me. He’s staying here for you.
Fortunately, the principal didn’t accept his letter of resignation. Unfortunately, he learned that Clark and his wife had taken Maddox out of the school, and away went with their donations, too.
Rome probably should’ve consulted Maggie a few times about approaching all of this. Still, he figured things out in the end, and he not only advocated for Maddox but brought the father and child together again in a way that they probably hadn’t been close in years.
It was easy for Clark to blame Rome for everything, but deep down, he had to have known the truth. And it prompted the two men to have it out a bit when Rome showed up at Maddox’s home to learn that he had run away.
Rome could speak to Clark about the lingering impact that bullying and hurtful, bigoted events could have on a person.
Clark, I know that you love your kid. Right now, you’re the one who is hurting him the most. Maddox is the same child that you raised. He is smart, he’s ambitious, and he advocates for himself. You said one look Maddox can convince you to give him anything. In this moment, all your kid wants is for you to show him that you’ll love him for whoever he is
Clark, as an adult, could easily apologize for how he treated Rome back then and dismiss it as a harmless prank, but that’s because he couldn’t process how even what one could deem as casual racism could shape Rome for the rest of his life.
It’s highly unlikely that the one incident was what affected how Rome carried himself and left him with that constant feeling of being othered in job interviews or more. After all, he lives in Boston, but it’s the culmination of incidents like that, small and big, that take a toll on a person.
As someone who is currently still processing through a violent, racist attack in their area and the subsequent smaller but hurtful and demoralizing things that have cropped up since it’s hard to put into words how all of it simply catches up to and wears you down.
I love that even amid everything with Maddox, Rome got the chance to really express himself to Clark in that regard because it was important for him
Rome could tell how much Clark loved his child, but he also didn’t want Maddox to be on the receiving end of Clark’s bullying or ignorance, whether it was intentionally malicious or not. Sussex was a safe space for Maddox when home didn’t feel that way, and they took that away, too.
Love is really hard.
Katherine. It really is.
One could appreciate that Clark was probably sincere in his apology to Rome, and he seemed like a good father who genuinely loved his child and just needed to catch up to where Maddox is now.
It was heartwarming to hear him talk about his special relationship with Madison and how much he misses his daughter. They had grown distant, Maddox’s gender identity battle was probably why, but Clark didn’t know how to deal with that.
Rome helped him through it, and he managed to respect Maddox’s pronouns the whole time.
It was interesting to read resident TV Fanatic Jack Ori’s comments on this arc on our A Million Little Things Round Table, and it made me pay attention to how insistent Rome was for the sake of allyship. He didn’t quite figure out how to meet Clark halfway with the names and pronouns as he made his points and got through to him.
Clark: I don’t know how to talk to him.
Rome: It sounds like you do.
Fortunately, that didn’t stall things, though, and it seemed to help. By the time they got to the woods where Maddox was, Clark was using the right pronouns, which was a huge step for him.
The parting shot of Maddox and Clark stretched out on that log, head next to head, staring up at the sky and talking, was such an incredibly beautiful shot and moving.
The family meal scene with Eddie, Katherine, her mother, Theo, and Greta was also another incredible shot. Joanna Kerns directed this hour and did a fabulous job.
Katherine’s sadness was palpable, and Theo went into action in Parent Trap fashion and got unlikely help from his grandmother. They were due to address where Joo Hee was in all of this. She hasn’t had any screentime that has acknowledged Katherine’s sexuality since she saw Katherine and Greta kiss.
I don’t know what this is, but I know it makes you happy.
And the truth of the matter is that Joo Hee doesn’t understand it, but something about her grandson happily and matter of factly accepting it with no issue and seeing how sad her daughter was — it pushed her into action.
Her love for Katherine surpassed all else, and she was willing to attend a tattoo parlor and talk to Greta rather than see her daughter unhappy for another second.
Greta and Katherine’s getting past everything with such ease, and no deeper conversation felt rushed. It still feels like there may be some unresolved issues there, but they’ve sailed past them, and now Greta is moving in permanently with Eddie’s blessing.
But it’s so good to see Katherine happy that it’s something that you can roll with, especially when their household beautifully displayed a blended, modern family. Joo Hee also showed her love through that delicious-looking meal was sweet.
It’s too bad that Eddie can’t ever seem to find happiness and his footing in this series. His relationship with Anna did not pan out well from the start.
It must’ve been trippy watching his girlfriend get carted away in cuffs for killing Peter.
Eddie was in denial when Sophie told him about Anna. It sucks that he opted to lie to Sophie to put her at ease and protect Anna rather than face reality staring him in the face.
In the end, he didn’t spare Sophie anything since she’ll hear about Anna’s arrest anyway.
It’s good that Anna attended AA meetings after all and that she’s taking her sobriety seriously. She knew her only shot at staying sober and battling her drinking problem was not to perpetuate and maintain so many lies.
Anna’s pushing Peter down the stairs, leaving him there while lying to everyone about what happened night would have her drinking for the rest of her life.
Peter’s death was an accident. Nothing good can come from heated conversations near stairs, but she didn’t set out to cause him harm; she only wanted him to refrain from touching her.
Peter pulled out all the stops to manipulate her into getting back with him and convince him that he could somehow make things right. The whole exchange was emotionally fraught.
Eddie: Peter hurt so many people, and what he did was messed up, so what you did or didn’t do put an end to that.
Anna: It doesn’t make it right. I need to turn myself in.
Eddie: Listen to me, the police ruled it an accident. We can put this behind us and move on.
Anna: I can’t if it’s a lie. It’s like they say in AA, lies lead to drinking, and if I’m ever going to move forward from this, I need to take responsibility for my actions.
Eddie: Please, don’t do this.
Anna: I already have. I called the detective on my way home, and I already confessed. He’s on his way over.
But it was disturbing that she left him there, alive, after he fell, and she didn’t call for help. No wonder she’s been drinking so much, she left him to die, and he did. Regardless of how she feels about him, that’s a lot of trauma to process.
Anna owning up to her actions is admirable, even if Eddie would’ve preferred she didn’t. He was comfortable straddling the fence on morality right up until she got handcuffed. But he’s a man who doesn’t want to be alone and thought he found happiness again.
Meanwhile, Maggie and Gary found their happiness, but it came at a cost.
Initially, their escapades at a wholesale store trying to return something felt silly and far too lowkey to consume half of their time in the finale.
Although, Gary’s lingering commentary in his debate over the lack of cancellation of Mel Gibson despite his anti-semitism and his leaning heavily into a Latin actor playing him in his movie was worth a few chuckles.
Maggie getting upset when she thought she had her period and the two resigning themselves that it was all over felt a bit presumptuous for those who know that people can still get their cycle early in and spotting is normal.
The two learning the news they are expecting, and that on embryo worked was such a lovely and emotional scene for the pairing.
Maggie sharing her dream and the desire to meet their child was beautiful too, and Gary is lucky he caught that on film.
Your mom wanted me to make these videos to remind you how amazing you are just in case I don’t get better.
Of course, film is what led to that revelation that Gary does has cancer, and it was one that knocked the wind out of a person. Rome was shell-shocked, and Gina was in tears seeing one of the videos that Gary left for their future child just in case.
From the sounds of that video, it’s as if he doesn’t know if he could live long enough to make it through Maggie’s pregnancy. Nothing about that sounds hopeful or promising, and lung cancer is a beast, and the survival odds are concerning.
For so long, Gary has lived in fear that his breast cancer could return. It’s a sick twist of fate that the mast in his breast was benign, but they found one on his lung instead.
It didn’t even seem likely that they would retread a cancer storyline after they had Maggie go through it and chemo. Perhaps the line of thinking is that we’ll get to see Maggie there for him in the same way he was for her during her journey.
But, I am going to get better because I really, really want to meet you.
And the rest of the gang will rally around who is arguably the heart of the series. But I’m at a loss trying to process this devastating blow or the idea that there’s a chance that Gary has gotten everything he wanted from the woman he loves, his found family, and a future child, and he may not live long enough to see them born or grow up.
It’s like they’ve spent years making Gary the new Jon, the person who keeps the group together, and now they’ve put him in this life-or-death situation where, not by choice, he could leave them and utterly destroy the group.
If this was the series finale of the show, one can only imagine how outraged and upset fans would be, but we have at least one more season of this series, and it feels like it’s going to be an emotional rollercoaster like never before.
It’s nothing more to espouse about this development. Gary battling cancer again hurts.
Life gives, and it takes, and Gary and Maggie are experiencing that in full force. They have their miracle baby, but we can barely rejoice about that development because of this.
Both are handling this latest obstacle better than you can imagine, and it’s surprising that they managed to keep this secret from their friends for so long.
But wow, what a shocking revelation in those final moments.
Over to you, AMLT Fanatics.
How do you feel about Gary’s prognosis? Are you happy that he and Maggie are having a baby? Were you shocked by Anna?
If you want to relive this season, you can watch A Million Little Things online here via TV Fanatic.
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.