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A Million Little Things’ Finale Shocker Will Have You Rethinking Season 4, And Creator DJ Nash Explains Why It Went Down Like That

James Roday Rodriguez as Gary Mendez on A Million Little Things.
(Image credit: ABC)

Spoiler alert! This story contains major spoilers for A Million Little Things’ Season 4 finale, “Just in Case.”

 A Million Little Things just wrapped its fourth season with what creator DJ Nash had teased would be the “biggest cliffhanger of the series.” What made this season’s shocking reveal different from Eddie’s accident or Gary’s attack on Peter was that the seeds for this surprise were planted weeks ago. After viewers saw Gary receive good news regarding his cancer scare earlier in Season 4, it was revealed in the finale that Gary actually does have cancer, only of the lung variety, and he’d been secretly receiving treatment with Maggie by his side. And for everyone wondering, Nash opened up about the twist, including why that information was kept from the character's friends (and the audience). 

In “Fingers Crossed” back in April, we saw Gary’s doctor inform him that his breast cancer was not back. However, “Just in Case” showed that the scene's central conversation didn’t end there, and the doctor actually went on to say they’d found a mass in Gary’s lung. DJ Nash told TV Guide the decision to keep it a secret went back to the way the friend group treated him on game night, when they knew about the lump in his breast:

As we saw in the scene in the hallway, Gary, because of his friends' reaction to the scare, really doesn't want people to know. He wants to go through this journey privately and Maggie will be put through some of the same challenges and tests that Gary was put in trying to love and support someone you love through cancer... and she has to do it while carrying their baby. It's really not only about Gary's future but about her future and whether Gary is going to be in it with her.

DJ Nash fully hoodwinked all of us Millionaires, and it’s fascinating to rethink the last part of the season with the new knowledge that Gary had been battling cancer. Would that have changed how we experienced his story in these last episodes, thus proving that Gary was right to think his friends, as well, would inevitably treat him differently? [Insert GIF of someone's head partially imploding.]

It certainly makes me rethink some things. For one, the diagnosis gives context to his and Maggie’s urgency to have a baby and makes his insistence on documenting it all on video utterly heartbreaking. We also now know the “food poisoning” that kept him from accompanying Maggie to the fertility doctor was, in fact, the side effects of his chemotherapy. 

It’s also interesting to have learned about the cancer from Rome and Regina’s perspective. After Gary returned Rome’s video camera, Rome happened upon a video of Gary revealing his diagnosis to his future child “just in case” he doesn’t get to meet them. Rome went through his own health struggles this season, with the return of his depression, and the timing of both characters relapsing close to each other is not a coincidence, DJ Nash told Deadline:

We knew we always wanted Gary’s cancer to return. And we knew we wanted it to be right after Rome’s depression returned. Both of these friends have diseases that are recurring and challenge their futures.

One big question is if and how Rome and Regina will be able to respect Gary’s wishes to go on this journey privately, or if they’ll insist on trying to help. (With this group, the latter definitely seems more likely.)

Unfortunately we’ll have to wait quite a while to find out. A Million Little Things was renewed for a fifth season; however, ABC delegated the drama to midseason, rather than the fall schedule it’s seen in the past, so it will be 2023 before we get any answers. In the meantime, past episodes are available to stream for those with Hulu subscription, and fans can check out what premieres are coming up soon on our 2022 TV Schedule.

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.