By Ruth Kinane
February 06, 2020 at 11:00 PM EST
Credit: Jack Rowand/ABC

The cameos! The fake movies! The bold assumption that anything could be the next Hamilton! Welcome to what was a truly bizarre episode of A Million Little Things.

Let me just start with a, what are you doing here, Sutton Foster?! Yes, the Broadway icon pops up in the first few minutes of this episode as Eric’s now-deceased fiancée Chloe and yes, I’m aware that the news of her casting broke a couple of months back, but it was still a little jarring. While I’m as happy as any Younger fan to see Foster paired up with the lovely Jason Ritter, I’m also confused as to why a star of her caliber agreed to this cameo? Anyway, I digress. We kick things off in a flashback of the pair on the day she died. They’re besotted and excited about their upcoming nuptials and then they climb on his motorcycle and…well, we all know where this is headed.

Back in the present day, Eric is still ignoring Maggie’s calls so she heads over to talk to him in person, only to find him packing up his apartment. He tells her he needs a fresh start and living where he lived with Chloe is stopping him from moving on. He also admits there’s something between them, that it’s not just her. Just then, Maggie notices a shirtless photo of him in a handy “2017” frame and spots his complete lack of scar. Eric splutters to explain, but Maggie flees before he can get his words out.

Later, Eric shows up at Maggie’s place, begging her to let him explain. He tells her the whole sad tale. As most of us probably suspected by this point, it was Chloe who received Maggie’s dead brother’s heart. She lived with it for 6 years before she died in the motorcycle crash. Eric saw Maggie’s mom at the hospital the day Chad died — the same day he and Chloe got the news a heart was available for her transplant. The best day of his life was the worst day of hers. When he received a letter from Maggie’s mom, he identified with her grief and — unable to tell her the truth of what became of her son’s heart — wrote back pretending he’d received the heart, never thinking their correspondence would go any further. He tells Maggie that he’s wanted to tell her the truth for a while, but the more time he spent with her, the more time he wanted to spend with her and then she kissed him. Eric tells her he loves her, that he couldn’t see anything but his grief until he met her, and that their connection was real. He says goodbye and leaves.

Okay, let’s get into the whacky stuff. Gary is watching a movie. It’s a movie he’s seen all too many times before. It’s a terrible movie; a courtroom drama that Gary is picking apart scene by scene for all the flaws embedded in it. His friends see this is as a major problem. Uh-oh, he’s watching the movie, they say to one another with knowing looks and head over to stage an intervention. In this episode’s second cameo, the movie Gary’s hate-watching stars Marcia Gay Harden (The Morning Show), though not as herself. And, we’re off to New York. Wait, what? You see, Gary’s estranged mom is an actress living in Brooklyn and apparently once starred in this terrible film that he can’t help but watch. I’m assuming Gary’s heartbreak over Maggie led him to revisit the pain his mom’s departure inflicted when he was just a kid, so it’s time to head to N.Y.C. to confront her. Delilah’s driving!

Rome comes too because his agent friend Todd (hello, cameo number three: Jerry Ferrara!) stole his script and is pitching to some big-star actor without him. He has made one change though: Instead of the lead dealing with depression and a suicide attempt, à la Rome’s own experience, the character is confronting a sports injury. Much sexier? Anyway, Rome shows up at his former friend’s office to demand to know what’s going on, but Todd tells him he can’t copyright an idea and heads off to dinner with the actor he’s hoping to cast. Cue Rome crashing said dinner, introducing himself to the actor, popping a shrimp in his mouth and delivering an impassioned speech about the story being unstealable because it’s real and it’s his. Later, the actor-man calls Rome. He’s smart and all along had thought there was something missing from the sports-injury script. He asks Rome to send him his original script. Rome warns him he doesn’t have a studio attached but no worries! Actor-man wants to produce anyway! Guys like Todd have been stealing stories for years and he’s not about to let him steal another one. All in a day’s work!

Back in Boston, Gina is anxious to tell her mom she and Rome plan to adopt, but when they meet for lunch, her mother is delighted by the news and insists they go shopping for baby things! At the store, Gina makes a comment about it being important to her that the child is part of her and Rome’s community. Her mother is offended by this, like she did something wrong by bringing Gina up in a mostly white community. Gina tries to explain she found it hard always being part of a white community. She tells her mom that she, Gina, doesn’t have the privilege of not seeing color. After some time to reflect, her mom comes over and tells her daughter she notices the way Gina always has to make people around them aware that this white woman is her mother so she gets why she wouldn’t want that confusion for her child. She tells Gina she knows she let her down and always thought the reason Gina didn’t want children was her. They hug and end things on a happy note.

Alrighty, back to the Gary fiasco! He shows up at the theater where his mom is acting in a play and asks her for an autograph. Seriously, this happens. He tells her his full name so she can make it out to him and that’s when she realizes who he is. They go backstage and she explains that she was 18 when she discovered she was pregnant and she tried to be a good mother but was drowning inside. She knows it was selfish to leave him, but she did come back a year later to make sure he was okay. When she saw him playing at the end of the street with his friends, she knew he was happy without her and coming back into is life would have wrecked that. Quite rightly, Gary’s all, um, what? How could you possibly know what I was going through from glancing at me from your car for a few minutes? In reality, he was missing his mother and asking his dad every day when she was coming back. Then one day, he was watching a movie — the classic he revisited earlier in the episode — and his dad froze because he saw her on-screen. It was then Gary realized she was never coming back. She apologizes and asks if they can try again, so they make plans to go to dinner that night after her show. Gary has a lot of questions for her and what she put him through, including making him feel like no one would ever love him. D thinks maybe that’s why he pushed Maggie away; he sensed her withdrawal and wanted to end it before she could hurt him.

With all these emotions swirling, Gary goes back to the theater to pick up his mom for dinner. They’re about to head out when someone who works with her runs in to tell her that one Mark Dunningham picked up the tickets they left aside for him!! Turns out he’s some big producer type and G’s mom is now convinced her show could move to Broadway and be the next Hamilton! Pause for eye roll. Anyway, she and coworker-person think they should take fancy Mr. Dunningham out for drinks to pitch him their vision for expanding the show. Gary tells her she should go since she’s barely even feigning any disappointment in missing out on dinner with the son she hasn’t seen in nearly 30 years. She goes.

A sad Gary rejoins D for the drive home. He now realizes he spent so much time blaming himself for his mom leaving, but it was always about her; she’s selfish. He tells Rome and D they’re his family and he’s sorry he didn’t always treat them that way. Once they get back to Boston, Delilah gets a call from Maggie who’s clearly very upset. Instead of D rushing over there, it’s Gary that turns up on her doorstep. He’s nice to her and tells her he thinks part of the whole Eric lie/situation is his fault because he didn’t give her what she needed, so she had to go look for it from Eric. Maggie asks him to get dinner, but Gary declines and simply tells her that he could’ve handled the whole thing better. At the top of the stairs, he pauses, but then leaves anyway.

And that’s it! Let’s hope for even more fake movies and inexplicable cameos next week!

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