Million little things season finale

A Million Little Things creator on ‘intense’ midseason finale, PJ’s fate

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  • ABC

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Warning: This article contains spoilers about A Million Little Things‘ midseason finale.

“I’m here for you, and I will not lose you.”

A Million Little Things‘ midseason finale mirrored the ABC drama’s very first episode, with the gang on the verge of losing someone to suicide — but, this time, they were able to save one of their own. Since showing up late in season 1, PJ has been important to multiple story lines, but those converged in “Time Stands Still” as his search for the true identity of his father (it’s definitively not Jon) led him and Rome onto a roof for an emotional sequence. As Delilah, Regina, Mitch, and Barbara waited nearby with bated breath, PJ got up on the ledge, only for Rome, who was on the verge of taking his own life when we met him, to talk down his young pal.

But there were plenty of other emotions going around: Maggie finding an engagement ring actually leads to her and Gary breaking up; Regina is ready to adopt a baby; and Delilah tells her children that Eddie is Charlie’s father, which leads Sophie to lash out at her late father’s supposed friend.

To recap it all, EW chatted with creator DJ Nash about revisiting the issue of suicide, the personal PSA at the episode’s end, and the mysteries to come in the back half of season 2. (Read the full episode recap here)

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The entire series began with Jon jumping to his death, and here you mirror that moment with PJ breaking down and standing on a ledge. But this time Rome gets a chance to save his friend. Why was it important for you to revisit the issue of suicide, and what did you want to accomplish with this scene?
DJ NASH: Candidly, it comes from a very personal place. As I’ve talked about before, I had a lunch on the books with a friend and it never happened because he took his life. I don’t think the lunch could have saved him, but I wonder. There is a part of all of us who have lost someone to suicide that goes, “What if the day had played out differently?” So for our gang, who is living with the regret, and, specifically, Rome, who has dealt with such similar issues, for him to have an opportunity to change the ending, that was really meaningful to us. It’s so important for Rome’s story, coming off of episode 8 where his mom died and he differentiated between depression and being sad because you’re supposed to be sad, this next step of him being able to step in and help PJ just seemed like the best way to tell that story. Obviously, the introduction of PJ as a character was done to be a cautionary tale as Mitch and Barbara were struggling to decide with what to do with PJ about his paternity while we’re following Delilah and Eddie, who are debating whether or not they should say the truth about Charlie. It’s not a coincidence that Delilah was in that stairwell hearing the effect and seeing Mitch and Barbara’s face, which serves as the catalyst that makes her decide to come clean. PJ’s in search of a dad; it never felt like Mitch was the right fit and he hoped that it was Jon, only to discover that the person who has been the most like a father to him this season was Rome. So it seemed like the perfect way to intersect these stories and send us into the second half of the year.

The episode ends with a PSA about suicide that includes Chester Bennington‘s widow Talinda and his friend-bandmate Mike Shinoda. What is the backstory of how that came together?
Mike is a dear friend of mine; in fact, I saw him yesterday. The day after I sold the pilot to ABC, I had four tickets to the Hollywood Bowl for John Williams, and my friend Mike had lost his best friend and bandmate to suicide; I had given him some time and I knew he wasn’t being social and I said, “Hey, I have four tickets to John Williams, let’s go and just make it a night about music.” He was like, “That would be awesome.” So we went and were hanging out and he said, “What are you working on?” And I thought, “Oh, no.” He said, “What?” And I said, “It’s a thing,” and he said, “Well, tell me.” I told him the story and right from the beginning, Mike and his wife have been so supportive, really helping me and introducing me to Talinda and Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen, who is our consultant on the show. So when the pilot was getting ready to air, I realized that some other shows haven’t dealt with suicide in the most appropriate way and I wanted us to do it right, so I talked to Dr. Barbara about having a warning at the top of the pilot and I also talked to her about doing a PSA and thought maybe I could get Mike and Talinda to do something. We shot this PSA and it was just incredible, because, as much as the show is fiction, it is so real to so many of our fans. So when it came time to do this episode, I learned so much about suicide and the portrayal of suicide on TV that I knew that we didn’t want to have PJ in distress over a commercial break. From the moment he steps onto that roof upset to the resolution, we never break to a commercial or another scene, we stay in that story. I knew we wanted to have a warning at the beginning and as I was editing it I realized that if we could find the time, I wanted to re-air the PSA. I know a lot of people watch because they identify with the story, so I’ve tweeted out a bunch of times in this last week or so, “I’d love for you all to see this episode, see it when you’re ready.”

What is PJ’s future on the show? With him heading off for treatment, it seemed like a possible send-off.
Shooting the scene on the roof, it became pretty intense. It became so intense that it seemed unrealistic that PJ could go from what happened on the roof to showing up at the Dixon’s house the next day. So we purposefully have a reference to him getting evaluated and getting help, and at the right time we will bring him back. But, for right now, I wanted to send the message that PJ deserves help and is getting help.

You mentioned Delilah seeing what happened with PJ, Barbara, and Mitch, and that being the impetus for her to come clean. We don’t actually hear her confession to the kids, considering you went with music instead. So why did that seem like the best route?
Last season, we did a really moving episode where we learned about Regina being a survivor of child sexual assault, and there was a scene between Regina and her mother that was scripted and we shot it, but when I got to editing, I realized seeing it and not hearing it gave them a privacy and reminded the audience, “Oh wait, this is private,” and almost had a more impactful effect than the words that were scripted and what we shot. So, as we went into this story line, in a similar way, we had words and they were really saying things, but we knew with the music we felt it was much more powerful than hearing the words.

We see the immediate impact of this news when Sophie destroys Eddie’s studio. What will the continued fallout be?
The first half of the season, Delilah and Catherine were pitted against each other in regards to admitting Charlie’s paternity, but now that the truth is out, we will see these two women and this whole gang have to come together to clean up this mess. Catherine, Delilah, and Eddie were aware that the truth would have an adverse effect on the kids but I don’t think they were aware of the extent. At the beginning of the episode, Sophie is this innocent young girl, but once the truth is out she becomes a woman who is aware of the realities of life and takes it out on a guitar. The next episode picks up three months later: Rome and Regina are on the way to adoption; Maggie can’t decide if she’s going to pursue Eric or what’s going to happen there; Gary decides he’s going to pursue countless women in Boston; and Catherine, Eddie, and Delilah are trying to make sure their children are damaged as little as possible from the truth that they know now.

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You’ve alluded to Maggie and Gary’s breakup. Why did this seem like the right time for this big shakeup?
The whole show is built around the idea that everything happens for a reason and how fragile life is and how in a moment everything can change. Gary and Maggie met at a cancer support group, and after the most horrific thing that they’d each been through came the most beautiful thing they’ve ever been a part of, this relationship. The first season was all about cancer, and even though cancer was their enemy, their enemy brought them together and their common goal was to keep Maggie alive. The second season is about Maggie and Gary struggling to find who they are as a couple without cancer, and as they’re struggling to figure that out, their roles change. Last year, Gary’s role was “Keep her alive,” and now it’s, “What am I?” As they struggled to figure that out, we wanted to put in external forces, like Maggie still struggling with the loss of her brother, Maggie meeting the man who has her brother’s heart, that threatening Maggie and Gary’s standing, and survivor’s guilt. So, as she is trying to figure out who she is without cancer, Gary says, “Maybe while you’re doing that I need to figure out who I am without you.” I think the fragile part of life is, had she not applied to Oxford, she wouldn’t have been looking for her passport, she wouldn’t have found the ring, and they wouldn’t have had this conversation. Truly like objects in motion tend to stay in motion, they would have stayed together had it not been for that ring. We really loved the idea that this wedding ring, this symbol of forever, caused them to lose forever.

Eric was brought in as an obstacle and now there’s added intrigue with the secretive phone call he gets about something he needs to tell Maggie. What can you say about that?
There’s a couple mysteries we’re following in the second half of the season, and one of them definitely is brought up by this phone call. You’re led to wonder, “Who that is? What is going on? What is this thing that he needs to tell Maggie? Is it feelings for her? Is it something else?” So we will follow that right from our next episode. We don’t hold back on giving you stuff quickly. Then, there’s another mystery that develops that has already been in the water but that we pursue and will carry us through the end of season 2 and hopefully into season 3.

A Million Little Things returns for new episodes in 2020.

Related content:

  • A Million Little Things recap: Four fathers and a funeral
  • A Million Little Things creator teases ‘tough situations’ and new mystery ahead in season 2

Episode Recaps

type
  • TV Show
seasons
  • 1
Genre
  • Drama
Premiere
  • 09/26/18
creator
  • DJ Nash
Performers
  • David Giuntoli,
  • Ron Livingston,
  • Romany Malco,
  • Allison Miller
Network
  • ABC
Complete Coverage
  • A Million Little Things

‘A Million Little Things’ Boss Breaks Down the Heartbreaking, Honest Fall Finale

The truth hurts, but it can hurt more to keep it a secret.

That’s the lesson Delilah learns in the powerful fall finale of A Million Little Things. The fallout of PJ learning the truth about his father — who is not Jon, but Dave — nearly ends tragically, and after listening to Rome talk him off the ledge, she signs the form stating Eddie is Charlie’s father.

Meanwhile, Maggie finds an engagement ring, and the conversation that follows results in her and Gary breaking up.

‘A Million Little Things’ Cast Breaks Down What Friendship Means to Them (VIDEO)

They agree it’s all about accepting each other for who we are.

Here, executive producer DJ Nash breaks down all the heartbreaking moments and previews what’s to come.

That episode was full of honesty — telling the kids about Charlie, the truth about PJ, Maggie and Gary, even Colin/Wesley. Can you talk about building to that and why you wanted all of it to come out now?

DJ Nash: I am obsessed with Hamilton, and “Non-Stop,” that song right before their act break, they have all these storylines come together. As we were designing this season, I thought, wouldn’t it be cool if all our storylines came together to inform each other at our midseason finale?

From the beginning, PJ’s paternity serves as a cautionary tale for Delilah and Eddie. Mitch and Barbara debated and chose to keep this secret from their son, and in Act 4 of the midseason finale, we see how devastating and life-threatening that news can be. We wanted to put Delilah in the stairwell to see Mitch and Barbara’s faces and hear PJ’s voice over the phone. It’s the catalyst that makes her say, “Oh, no, I have to tell them.”

(ABC)

For Gary and Maggie, last season their story was about cancer, how this horrific thing that happened to the both of them led to the most wonderful love of their lives. Whenever it was about cancer, it was really about love .

This season, we wanted to have them struggle to figure out what their relationship is without cancer. And Maggie is struggling to figure out what her life is without cancer. They both have survivor’s guilt — Maggie’s from beating cancer even though her brother Chad died, Gary from not being able to save Jon even though Jon saved him. As Gary says, “Maybe … I have to figure out who I am without you.” We wanted it to be a demonstration of how fragile life is.

There was that line during their argument about everyone Maggie knows being through him. Plus, those friends have leaned on her.

You’re absolutely right. Maggie has built her life around Gary and this group of friends, and Gary had built his life post-Jon around Maggie. It’s exactly why they’re in this bad situation, where Maggie’s feeling a little claustrophobic, smothered by Gary, who is trying to save her the way he couldn’t save Jon.

Why ‘A Million Little Things’ Star James Roday Is a Scene Stealer

He plays, Gary Mendez, a breast cancer survivor on the ABC drama series.

Going forward, we’ll see the group have to deal with this breakup. The next episode picks up three months later, when the gang all knows, when Maggie is free to date Eric if she wants or free to pursue someone else and Gary’s free to date countless women in Boston, or maybe they find each other. Where the friend group is is hopefully where our fan base is, which is understanding why they’re not together but hoping they get back together.

Eddie and Katherine may be the most solid we’ve ever seen them, especially as a united front about Charlie. What did you want to do with their relationship in the first part of this season and will that continue?

I wanted us to show a couple that is determined to make it work — for Theo because there is something that existed between them. At the end of last season, the fact that they’re throwing it all away allows them to be honest with each other in a way that they’ve never been honest before. Honesty is the basis of their relationship.

(ABC/David Bukach)

Right from the scene on the bumper when he comes clean about Charlie, this whole season, while what Eddie did in the past with the affair and Charlie, all of that is potentially relationship-ending. Since he’s been back, he’s checked every box. He’s done every single thing right. That said, it doesn’t mean there aren’t days and moments where Katherine remembers and goes to drop off and here’s the moms, or is with the friend group and there’s a comment. That’s why she wanted to go to Austin, to have a re-do.

We purposefully wanted to set them up to seem invincible for where we take them in the second half.

Now that the truth about Charlie is out to the kids, how does that affect all the relationships? We see it when Sophie breaks Eddie’s guitars.

There’s an innocence that Delilah was trying to retain for her children. Some of the fans have said that Delilah’s selfish in not sharing the truth, but really for us, whether it was the right choice or not, she was keeping the truth from the kids because she was trying to protect them from losing their mother. They’d already lost their father. Now that the truth is out, Sophie’s a woman who knows the harsh realities of life.

‘A Million Little Things’ Casts Sutton Foster — What’s Her Connection to Eric?

The ‘Younger’ actress will guest star in at least one episode.

In the second half, we will watch Sophie, Danny, and Theo, who had a front row seat at that, struggle with now know, and Katherine and Delilah, who had butted up against each other, are now forced to team with Eddie and try to clean up the mess that is their family.

Moving on to PJ, he and Rome are at the heart of storylines you have to handle with care: depression, suicide, and attempted suicide. Can you talk about your approach to that and where finding out the truth leaves PJ? He thought he was getting to know his father’s friends.

From a storyteller’s responsibility and perspective about talking about suicide and dealing with suicide on TV, it has been an incredible two seasons of working with mental health professionals to make sure we are putting a voice to topics that have been silent too long while not acting as a trigger for people who are dealing with those topics.

(ABC)

With this episode, we made decisions creatively to support what our goals were morally. From the moment PJ steps on the roof and is in jeopardy until that is resolved, we do not break to commercial a different scene. We stay in it so that our fans who are identifying with this plight have resolution.

From a creative standpoint, it was really important on the heels of Rome losing his mother and realizing there’s a difference between depression and sadness, that sadness can pass, he takes another important step in being able to save someone the way he couldn’t save Jon. As PJ’s struggling to find Mitch or Dave or Jon, who’s his father, the person who’s acting most like a male role model to him this season is Rome.

As he gets the opportunity to be a father to PJ, it allows Regina to witness what an amazing man Rome is and how he really is ready for fatherhood. On the heels of seeing his relationship with his mother end, on the heels of dealing with some stuff with her mother, she makes this decision that she wants to start this next chapter of her life.

‘A Million Little Things’: Jason Ritter Says Eric’s Not Going Anywhere

‘Eric’s trying to do his best,’ the actor says.

Like all the characters on this show, Eric has a secret. What can you tease about getting the full picture of that phone call?

Who he’s talking to and what he’s talking about come out in early episodes when we’re back. The big thing, whether it’s his feelings for Maggie or something else, reveals itself in our next episode.

We’re going to meet his dead fiancée. How might that change fans’ perspective of him?

I love in the show is just when you think you know someone, you don’t. It was so important to me that in the pilot, fans did not like Katherine, but there are so many Team Katherine people now. … The purpose of Chloe in our show is to do that for Eric. You’ll learn stuff about him and his story that will make you feel a bunch of different things about Eric.

(ABC)

Should we worry about anyone else dying?

You should always worry about people dying. … To think this gang has seen its last death is just naive. They will have to encounter death again.

Are there any new dynamics coming up, characters who haven’t interacted before sharing significant scenes?

There are three new characters coming to our world in the second half who will carry us into the third season. They’re some really moving stories. In a similar way to how PJ, Mitch, and Barbara had both their own story and informed our series regulars’ stories, we’ll see those in the second half of the season.

Ask Matt: Those ‘Evil’ Children, Abandoning ‘Boat,’ Pausing ‘Days,’ ‘Dancing’ & More

Plus, what about those dogs in ‘A Million Little Things’?

Some of are now single, Some are now trying to adopt a baby. Some of them are allowing themselves to enjoy life in ways they didn’t before. As they go out into the world and meet these people, there are three characters in particular who are going to be fantastic additions to our family.

A Million Little Things, Thursdays, 10/9c, ABC

A Million Little Things unpacks an emotional midseason finale, and creator DJ Nash tells us all about it!

A Million Little Things aired one hell of a midseason finale this week, and to say it was emotional is an understatement. There was simply so much to process, wasn’t there? At the core of the episode, however, was the question of P.J.’s paternity. The midseason finale revealed the question of who his father is was quite the mess.

At first, and for most of the season, we’ve assumed he is Jon’s son. Then Rome and Regina sent in the DNA test which came back 99.99999% positive, so again, we assumed he was most definitely Jon’s son. However, the test results were inaccurate because it wasn’t Jon’s DNA that was tested, it was Dave’s, Jon’s late best friend.

The hair that P.J. took from the sweater he believed to be Jon’s wasn’t actually Jon’s, it belongs to Dave. Jon just took it after Dave passed away as a memory of him. For anyone, this would be quite a difficult thing to go through. P.J. had basically convinced himself and accepted that Jon was his father and that he was now a part of the Dixon family.

A Million Little Things creator DJ Nash spoke to Deadline about what all this will mean for the group and what we can expect in the back half of the season. The paternity aspect of it is an intriguing one for both P.J. as well as Delilah and Eddie’s daughter, Charlie. While P.J. did a DNA test, Eddie never did so it leaves us with some open-ended questions.

It depends on who you ask. If you ask the A Million Little Things fan group, no, everyone thinks that a vasectomy doesn’t stick, there’s a hundred different A Million Little theories, but for me, as the person who’s past right now with telling the story with the writers, yes. PJ is Dave’s son and Charlie is Eddie’s daughter. Jon did have a vasectomy. I’m happy to put those to rest.

Okay, Nash, we see you. Looks like we’ll just have to accept that is the truth…for now.

I think we have more or less accepted the P.J. aspect of the paternity fallouts, but there is still a lot to unpack with the Delilah/Eddie/Catherine storyline. As we saw, Delilah’s kids did not take the news of her affair and Charlie’s real father lightly. It led Sophie right to Eddie’s house as she proceeded to break all his guitars.

What will this story be like in season 2b? Nash explains.

Since the pilot, we have been wondering, would Delilah tell the kids. …it is having a very adverse effect on those kids. Now the three of them are going to have to do a major cleanup to what’s going on in their family.

Honestly, my heart went out to young Theo the most. He should not have found out that way, that is if he understood what was going on.

So, how will this impact the kids moving forward? I’m afraid it’s a rough road ahead for everyone involved.

Certainly, it affects the kids the most because the other people in the group already knew, but for Sophie and Delilah, I think the moment she smashes that guitar is the moment she went from being an innocent little girl to being a young woman who is now faced with the realities of life.

I’m curious to see how the kids’ relationships will change with the rest of the group. It’s painful enough to hear the truth from your family. But how would one feel if they found out others knew and never said anything to them? I have a feeling it’s going to get very, very dramatic in the second half of the season, so we ought to brace ourselves.

We’ll have to wait until January to find out what is going to happen, but for now, Eddie is officially on Charlie’s birth certificate. Here’s to hoping they can find a way to become one big happy family.

What did you think about the paternity fallouts from A Million Things‘ midseason finale?

  • On Thursday, A Million Little Things announced that the November 21 episode would be the show’s season 2 fall finale.
  • Fans could hardly believe the news, saying they were “mad” the mid-season break was already here.
  • After the winter hiatus, AMLT will likely return in January.

A Million Little Things season 2 has taken fans on a rollercoaster ride of emotions these past two months, leaving viewers with many questions about their favorite characters’ fates. Will Gary and Maggie break up? Will Katherine and Eddie be able to salvage their marriage while trying to stay involved in baby Charlie’s life? And what will happen if (or rather, when) Delilah finds out PJ is actually Jon’s son?

This rollercoaster ride only continued on Thursday night, when AMLT announced in a promo clip that next week’s episode will be the season 2 fall finale. Fans were devastated upon hearing this news, and they quickly began tweeting to share their feelings.

“What a damn emotional episode of A Million Little Things! Damn mad next week is the fall finale,” one fan wrote. “Wait. Hold on. Stop. Fall finale?! That means no new episode until some time in 2020?!” another added.

But really, why will this be the last episode of A Million Little Things until next year?

It won’t be any fun having to sit and wait with all the questions we’ll surely have after the show’s fall finale, but taking a “mid-season break” is actually a very common thing for major network TV shows like A Million Little Things. With just 19 episodes in this season of AMLT (which likely needs to stretch from September to May, a.k.a. the usual season cycle), the show will need to take occasional breaks to make up that time. Normally, these breaks are scheduled during major cultural events (i.e. the World Series) or periods of historically low viewership (think: around the holidays, much like this hiatus will be). Sometimes, though, they’re just scattered randomly throughout the season.

In the meantime, A Million Little Things fans have a lot to look forward to: After toying with fans’ emotions ahead of season 2 episode 8 on Thursday (and even making some believe that Theo might be the character whose funeral the others were attending in the episode promo), showrunner DJ Nash revealed that his cryptic clues about the show’s storyline were actually hinting at plot developments in future episodes — and that the upcoming fall finale is set to be the show’s most dramatic yet.

All kidding and teasing aside, next week’s ep is going to be intense. Even the happy stuff. So please make sure you take care of yourself and watch only when you’re ready. These are fictional characters. Who we love. Going through very tough times. Together. #AMillionLittleThings

— DJ Nash (@heydjnash) November 15, 2019

Needless to say, next week’s episode is certain to leave us feeling all the feels. And once it’s over? We’ll just have to await the show’s return from its winter hiatus, which will most likely happen in January.

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More for ‘A Million Little Things’ Fans Heather Finn Content Strategy Editor Heather Finn is the content strategy editor at Good Housekeeping, where she heads up the brand’s social media strategy and covers entertainment news on everything from ABC’s ‘The Good Doctor’ to Netflix’s latest true crime documentaries.

‘This Is Us’ Fans Might Like ‘A Million Little Things,’ But There Are Major Problems With Its Premise That Are Hard To Overlook

Spoilers ahead for Season 1, Episode 1 of A Million Little Things. From the moment the first trailers began to roll for ABC’s new drama, A Million Little Things, this summer during The Bachelorette, the show drew comparisons to an already popular network drama. NBC’s This Is Us has reigned in millions of viewers over the past few years, hooking them on its poignant drama and its riveting mystery about how the Pearson family lost its patriarch. The newer show doesn’t aim to be a carbon copy, but still employs a lot of the same elements, which is why fans of This Is Us might like A Million Little Things. But at the same time, there are some troubling elements of its premise that make it far more difficult to enjoy.

In the first few minutes of A Million Little Things’ premiere, Jon (Ron Livingston), a charming, successful, seemingly happy man, dies by suicide, to the shock and horror of his tight-knit group of friends. The scenes that follow are filled with loved ones supporting each other through mourning and confusion, and they’re not unlike the tear-jerking moments of This Is Us.

Even the acoustic, trendy soundtrack, the flashbacks, and sheer number of characters at play hearken back to Dan Fogelman’s Emmy winner. It seems clear that A Million Little Things is meant to be a direct competitor with NBC’s smash hit, and in some ways, it is. But unfortunately, its heavy subject matter is handled in a way that might turn some viewers away.

ABC on YouTube

The first red flags can be found in the small details — Jon’s assistant is seen hiding the note he left behind, and secretly deleting a slew of files from his computer. Almost immediately, it feels like the show is trying to suggest some dark secret in Jon’s life potentially pushed him over the edge. This act of dropping clues is a page straight from the This Is Us repertoire — fans agonized for months over every single hint about Jack’s death before it was revealed. But the clues presented in the two shows carry much different weights.

Jack’s death was the result of a house fire. It was a freak accident — as random and coincidental as a car crash. Jon’s death was not caused by a stray spark from a faulty appliance — it was suicide. It feels inherently wrong to speculate on the details that led to it, because truly, no one will ever really know. To act as though the reasoning behind Jon’s decision might be neatly pieced together from secrets inside his computer or phone calls he made before he died feels cheap and trivializing compared to the reality of suicide and depression. But, unfortunately, that’s what the show suggests, at least in the pilot episode.

Jon’s friends also frequently lament that “he seemed so happy,” and “had everything,” so how could he have done this? That notion in itself feels too surface-level to mean much. Daniel D’Addario wrote for Variety that “after a summer in which high-profile figures like Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade — who, as far as the public understood, lived lives of success and advantage — died by suicide, the audience has likely come to understand just how complicated private lives can be.”

Jeff Weddell/ABC

Another way the two series differ is in terms of their respective deaths’ effects on the survivors. Jack dies while his children are teenagers — so much of who they become as adults is shaped by how they cope in the wake of his loss, and the memories they made with him while he was still alive.

Jon’s friends on A Million Little Things also feel they’ll be changed by his death, but in a way that feels endlessly more complicated. Rome (Romany Malco), a third of the trio Jon leaves behind, suggests that Jon’s death may have had a purpose. Maybe — just maybe — there’s a silver lining here, he says. Perhaps now, they’ll all be inspired to live each day to its fullest, and appreciate each other’s company even more. Jon was the ringleader of their group, after all, who always wanted the best for them; the show almost seems to suggest that this is just one more way in which he continues to kick their butts into gear.

Jeff Weddel/ABC

If you think that sounds a little… off, you’re not alone. Changing your outlook on life after mourning a death isn’t a bad thing, nor is recalibrating your priorities and realizing what’s truly important after losing someone unexpectedly. But A Million Little Things comes dangerously close, at best, to suggesting Jon’s death was a necessary evil that had to happen in order for those mourning him to become better people. Claire Fallon for the Huffington Post wrote that the idea of Jon’s death being part of a greater good “seeks to imbue needless suffering with nobility and casts the dead and hurting as sacrifices offered up for the benefit of, well, the rest of us.”

It doesn’t help, either, that the audience knows very little about Jon, other than that he was a kind, fatherly figure, that he might have a few secrets, and that now, he’s dead. Daniel Fienberg for The Hollywood Reporter wrote in his review that “This Is Us treated Jack as a real person before treating him like a dead person,” and A Million Little Things doesn’t do the same favors for Jon. To present the ideas that suicide has a “silver lining” or a tidy explanation is unwise — to conflate nearly Jon’s entire existence with his cause of death feels worse.

Jack Rowand/ABC

Despite its many problems, there actually are ways that A Million Little Things nails the vibe it aims for, and in doing so, will likely bring in a lot of the same viewers as This Is Us. You’ll probably cry during the funeral scene, when Jon’s daughter plays a heartbreaking Joni Mitchell song, and when the guys reminisce over their good times together. The performances are nearly flawless — you believe the characters’ heartbreak, and quickly learn how their personalities fit together. There’s even potential there to fall in love with a few of them the same way you did the Pearsons, though there’s still a long way to go.

Those high points within A Million Little Things are what make the low points so incredibly frustrating. A show that follows a group of friends as they reel from the shock of death is one thing. Reducing suicide to some puzzle to be solved, or a catalyst for other people’s personal growth, is entirely different. Ultimately, because of that simplistic point of view, A Million Little Things differs from This Is Us in one major way. Throughout the entire pilot, you can’t help but squirm a little bit, wondering if we should be participating in this kind of drama at all.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741. You can also reach out to the Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860 or the Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386, or to your local suicide crisis center.

‘This Is Us’: Why Fans May Never Get On Board With ‘A Million Little Things’

NBC’s This Is Us is a revolutionary show in its own right. Among the newer shows compared to This Is Us, is ABC’s A Million Little Things. The two have similar tones. That aside, here’s why true This Is Us fans may not welcome A Million Little Things with open arms.

The premise of ‘AMLT’ struggles to balance heavy and light

Milo Ventimiglia and the cast of “This Is Us” at the Screen Actors Guild Awards | Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The premise of This Is Us revolves around family dynamics. This Is Us dissects the lives of whom Jack Pearson affected. While there are many layers, timelines, and story arcs, the show is family-centric, navigating life’s challenges.

This Is Us seems to have mastered the balance of grief and hope. For instance, after the Pearson home burned down, Jack revealed he’d saved a few important items from the house. The show regularly inserts levity without it feeling forced.

A Million Little Things revolves around friendship dynamics with a look at how the group finds new hope and meaning after one of their own dies by suicide. The incredibly heavy topic isn’t always on par with the ill-timed humor.

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Don’t forget to look up tonight. Happy #FourthofJuly from #ThisIsUs.

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‘AMLT’ dissects friendship while ‘TIU’ is about family

Again, A Million Little Things follows a group of friends after one of their own dies by suicide. Those left behind try to piece together “a million little things” to understand why it happened. There are some similar themes of mourning, loss, and grief, with some version of hope as well.

One issue some have Tweeted about, is how A Million Little Things handles its underlying messages. The balance of heavy and light feels off, according to some. The same day the friends grieve at Jon’s funeral, they’re laughing and drinking around a bonfire.

This isn’t to say A Million Little Things can’t, or shouldn’t, juxtapose hope with grief — it’s that some think it fails to do so. It’s a delicate line to straddle without alienating viewers. This Is Us fans will tell you there was no celebrating the day the Pearsons buried Jack.

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Early reviews of the show critiqued the straddling of heavy and light. The show’s premise suggests this group of friends only realized what was important after Jon’s death. Some said it’s as if his death was necessary for the group to prioritize.

A review in the Huffington Post said, Jon’s death as something for the greater good “seeks to imbue needless suffering with nobility and casts the dead and hurting as sacrifices offered up for the benefit of, well, the rest of us.”

Another review in The Hollywood Reporter wrote, “This Is Us treated Jack as a real person before treating him like a dead person.” This suggests how little viewers get to know Jon before his time is up. WithThis Is Us, you get a sense of who Jack Pearson is long before his tragic death.

There is no character in ‘AMLT’ comparative to Jack Pearson from ‘TIU’

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This season is full of surprises, and we already have another one just for you. See even more of Jack and Rebecca in an exclusive deleted scene from this week’s episode of #ThisIsUs.

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Save for who Jon Dixon in A Million Little Things there are no central characters relative to Jack Pearson. Each character on A Million Little Things has his or her own strengths and flaws, as does the cast of This Is Us. But, where Jon Dixon’s character may be forgettable, Jack Pearson just isn’t.

Season 2 of A Million Little Things may explore Jon’s personality more. That might help undecided viewers to tune in. Without understanding his character, it could be difficult for This Is Us fans to feel for him, or those his death affected.

The exploration of family dynamics in ‘TIU’ may be more compelling than friendship in ‘AMLT’

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It’s not to say friendship isn’t important. It is. Fans of A Million Little Things will lean into the friendships as they navigate life after loss. But, not everyone can relate to those dynamics.

Most can relate to the complex web of family dynamics, as seen in This Is Us. You don’t have to have the exact experiences of either show to feel connected to the characters; this is just a difference between the two.

The ‘clues’ that explained Jon’s death in ‘AMLT’ didn’t lead to the same payoff as Jack’s death on ‘TIU’

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Jack Pearson, always coming with the right words at the right time. #ThisIsUs

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A Million Little Things successfully created a lot of buzz before its series debut. All clues Jon left behind appeared to be as cryptic as those surrounding Jack Pearson’s death on This Is Us.

The only difference is, This Is Us had a bigger payoff. After a full season teasing Jack’s death, the reveal satisfied.

Jon’s clues may not have been enough. By the end of A Million Little Things Season 1, revelations as to why Jon ended his life didn’t have as much of an impact.

The reasons aren’t any less tragic. The setup, clues, and climax of those answers weren’t nearly as riveting as promos led fans to believe.

All in all, fans of This Is Us might enjoy A Million Little Things if taken as it is. If the two are compared, the playing fields are totally different.

A Million Little Things doesn’t premiere for a few more months, but comparisons have already been drawn to NBC’s hit family drama This Is Us, thanks to trailers that have been released.

The hour-long drama from creator DJ Nash revolves around a group of friends from Boston who bond under unusual circumstances. After one of them dies unexpectedly, it’s the wake-up call the others need to finally start living.

“It’s a compliment, firstly,” executive producer James Griffiths told reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour on Tuesday when asked about the comparisons. “This Is Us is an incredibly successful show, and thank you to This Is Us for proving that there is an audience for stories about everyday lives and humans going through things.”

“In that way, yeah, we’re very thankful to This Is Us. But the comparisons stop there,” Griffiths said. “Our show is a very unique, different show.”

Producers revealed during the session that the first season will sprinkle various clues and hints as to what led to the death, slightly similar to the way This Is Us began charting how Jack Pearson died, a question that was answered late in its second season. By the end of the freshman finale for A Million Little Things, producers hope to provide the full picture of what happened on that fateful day.

“I had the idea for the show before This Is Us was on the air. Certainly, what Dan and everyone over there has done has paved the way for this. It’s probably a big reason why a half-hour guy gets to do an hour-long show,” Nash said, referencing his prior TV comedy credits like Bent and Up All Night.

Though A Million Little Things aims to provide hope, the first episode is quite grim and bleak. So how are they calibrating that as the season goes on past the pilot?

“Friendship might be one thing to save you from yourself. That’s what we’re going to talk about,” Nash said. “If our show gives people the opportunity to start conversation that it seems like as a country we need to have, then I think we’re really excited about that.”

David Giuntoli, Ron Livingston, Romany Malco, James Roday, Allison Miller, Christina Moses, Christina Ochoa, Stephanie Szostak and Lizzy Greene star in the hour-long series.

A Million Little Things premieres Wednesday, Sept. 26 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

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‘A Million Little Things’ Gives Us Major ‘This Is Us’ Vibes in New Trailer — Watch! (Exclusive)

The finale in so many ways summed up season two of The Fall: moments of promise buried in a massive heap of storylines either too contrived to be believable, or introduced only to be discarded later. And while season two has largely failed to repeat the successes of The Fall’s first, much-acclaimed run, it very much replicated the disappointment of the first series’s finale – refusing to come to satisfactory conclusions in its desperation to leave the door open for a return to screen. It’s so infuriating for the viewer: if you’ve invested six-plus hours in watching a drama, the very least it can do is not leave you hanging for a year. (Or indeed, a great deal longer – despite Anderson saying she hopes there will be a third season, there’s been no announcement about a recommission.)

And so we’re left with three characters clinging on to life: Rose Stagg, Paul Spector and Tom Anderson, while Katie’s fate is undecided. That seems pretty cynical storylining to me, but also undermines the idea that writer/director Alan Cubitt has taken great care to ensure the female victims in his story are not reduced to unnamed, disposable bodies. Rose’s torture and horror were used here purely as a plot device to allow that final cliffhanger – to give Spector his last powerplay and allow Jimmy to find him in the woods – which seems just as gratuitous to me. There was nothing in this finale that was about Rose: she existed only to allow us to find out more about Gibson and Spector (her guilt, his desire to reassure his daughter); even Rose’s discovery (and possible recovery) were immediately upstaged by Spector’s shooting.

In fact the whole finale largely sidelined women. Yes, of course, there’s Gibson at the fore, and Ferrington taking Jimmy out in the final moments. But elsewhere Sally-Ann’s horror at finding out Paul was a killer, and miscarrying as she was interviewed, was left largely unexplored; her character basically summed up by Stella as “stupid and incurious, but innocent”, which doubtless says something about Cubitt’s view of her too. Gail McGill got to paint her nails and wear her hair down – “It’s pathetic Stella, you can do better than that” was about right – and Liz remained a character who seemed to exist entirely for two men to fight over.

Burns and Anderson. Photograph: Helen Sloan

With Katie, meanwhile, Cubitt had painted himself into such a mad corner, that the only way out was for her to stay loyal to Spector, reveal nothing of herself, and act in a manner totally unlikely for a teenager. “She’s just 16, a child surely. What could you possibly gain from corrupting her?” asked Gibson. And while I listened very hard for an answer, there wasn’t one. Truly this storyline has been the thing that has most irritated me about this second series of The Fall: it’s walked a very fine line in terms of consent and sex, and has then explained it all away through Katie’s teenage infatuation both with Paul and the idea of him being a murderer. It has never rung true; it always seemed closer to a grubby male fantasy than any kind of reality. The finale didn’t change that.

But amid all the ludicrous plotting, there was the scene that The Fall had been working towards for the previous 10 hours. Finally Spector and Gibson met. The dynamic of the interview was quite interesting in fact: Stella asking questions in the manner of a counsellor, Paul answering them completely fully and without apology. Obviously, it seemed extremely unlikely that Spector, on being arrested for more murders, would offer a full confession and explanation, save for Rose, just as the time was beginning to get tight. But at least it wasn’t saved up for a possible season three.

That said, I’m not entirely sure the balance was quite right here. I understand the intent: that Spector would offer his explanation of why he killed – “the thoughts and feelings I experience are far beyond anything you can imagine … I live at a level of intensity you will never know” – and then Gibson would burst the bubble of his own self-importance. “It’s an addiction like any other.”

But I wonder if Cubitt was perhaps more interested in allowing Spector to explain himself – “It is utterly compelling and compulsive, nothing can bring you back from the edge” – than in allowing Gibson to challenge his beliefs. Yes, she got the confession from Spector and landed some punches, but for large portions of their conversation it felt as though he had the upper hand despite sitting on the wrong side of the table. I was hoping it would be more evenly matched, or that we might see some more reaction from Spector, facial movements aside, to those inconsistencies in his moral framework that viewers have also been questioning. Although you could of course argue that ​it is to Cubitt’s credit that he didn’t serve that all up on a plate to us.

DC Gail McNally. Photograph: Helen Sloan

Which leaves us just with Jimmy, and his bizarre ability to be exactly where Spector is, at exactly the right moment. Last week he was just having a butty in his van as Spector was carrying out a well-planned getaway, which was unlikely but not impossible. This week, he happened to bump into a journalist with an excellent source who could provide Spector’s location not once, but twice. Come on! It is, admittedly, less unsatisfactory than a character you’ve only met once suddenly arriving back in the middle of the storyline to provide the final twist, but Jimmy was still pretty peripheral to the whole storyline. I actually groaned as I saw him driving into the forest, and again when the many police teams were split up to deal with various issues.

Thoughts and observations

• Thanks to everyone who spotted that it was Spector’s car rather than Rose’s car that the police had found last week. Apologies.

• There were a couple of times Cubitt justified his drama in this finale. See: “Who were you talking to? Me, you the people who like to read and watch programmes about people like you?” and “I don’t hate women, I hate everyone and everything,” and “He might fascinate you – I despise him with every fibre of my being.”

• I’m not sure I bought the idea that small children and “projects” previously stopped Spector offending.

• Shall we talk about Tom Anderson? My presumption here is that he will be coming back in season three, if the show gets one and his shoulder injury heals, hence his arrival late in this run. I’m not sure I find it quite as amazing as I am presumably meant to that Gibson could hire him for his brains, but also sleep with him. It’s a bit: so what?

• I noticed a couple of episodes back that the policemen all referred to Katie as “the Bernadetto girl.” They were at it more than usual in this episode.

• And I was worried the corruption storyline was going to come back in the finale! Instead it appears to have just completely disappeared. Really odd. Ditto, everything with Eastwood. He and Jim Burns made a very odd pair of non-characters.

• I found myself wondering: do you think they celebrated the end of the series with a massive bag of throat drops? There was a LOT of husky-voiced seriousness going on. Spector, Gibson and Anderson were all prone to it.

• It’s been a strange old ride, this second series of The Fall – so I’d like to particularly thank you all for staying with the blog. It’s been fun watching with you!

So, here we are at the feature-length finale to the second season of The Fall. And following the heavily praised conclusion of that other tense drama, The Missing, earlier this week, writer/director Alan Cubitt certainly has a tough act to follow.

More importantly, if he lets serial killer Paul Spector go free at the end of this episode to leave things open for a third series, he’ll also have thousands of angry viewers sending the BBC switchboard into meltdown. So what’s he going to show us for 90 minutes, bearing in mind that his bad guy was arrested in last week’s episode?

Well, first the matter of who was in the burnt-out car is swiftly cleared up. It seems it is Spector’s car (not poor Rose Stagg’s), and the foot we saw in the cliffhanger last week isn’t actually human but belongs to that mannequin Paul was always partial to. Phew.

The discovery of the car leads Stella to find the abandoned house Paul hid Rose in, too – so she walks straight in without backup to check it out. As you do. There’s no Rose, but there are signs she has been there – including Spector’s video camera. So where is she now? And why didn’t the armed cop with Stella go in with her?

Meanwhile, back in jail, Spector is having a nice rest with a smug look on his face. He’s so completely calm you get the feeling this was all part of his plan and is leading up to something he wants to happen.

Things may go askew, however, as there is one thing Spector hasn’t planned on – the psycho Jimmy, whose wife Liz, Spector used to counsel, has cut off his ankle tracker, and is about to discover where his missus has been hiding. To make matters even worse, resourceful Jimmy has nicked a reporter’s car to get to her.

Back at the station, Stella is getting all hot under the collar watching the video babysitter Katie made of a naked Spector (and she gets even more flushed when young detective Tom watches with her). Hmmm. Stella’s getting very breathy around the young policeman. No wonder she sends him in to interview the besotted Katie about her relationship with Paul, and the poor detective gets the full X-rated fabrication that Katie seems happy to deliver.

Now, remember the pervy manager at the fleapit hotel where Spector stayed? I thought he would pop back up, and while we don’t see him again we do get to see his handiwork – yes, he had been covertly taping his guests, so the police now have footage of the night when Spector tied Katie to his bed and left her there.

Even with photos in front of her, she still defends him. The evidence is stacking up against Paul though and it’s obvious that it will only be a matter of time before we get what we have been waiting two whole seasons for – Spector and Stella facing off in a room together.

And 45 minutes in, we get our wish. Before that, there are a few plot developments: Sally Ann miscarries her baby, Katie continues to lie for Paul even when threatened with prison, and Jimmy turns up with a gun to the shelter where Liz lives and bashes a few women about before running off when police arrive, and a psychiatrist gently questions Spector’s daughter. They are all just stepping stones to the big scene with Jamie Dornan and Gillian Anderson, and when it comes, it doesn’t disappoint.

Changing into a clingy red sweater (does Stella have this lying around the police station, just in case of some sort of sexy emergency?) she goes in to question Spector at his request and the two leads get their chance to really shine. Stella’s boss Jim thinks it’s a bad idea, and she manages to make him feel about an inch tall by reminding him how he had crossed the line when he was in her hotel room a few nights before.

When she asks Jim whether his plan was to “f**k me? Nail me? Bang me? Screw me?” I wanted to stand up and give her a round of applause. You tell him, Stella!

While one could question the logic of sending a lone female cop into an interrogation room without a chaperone, especially as there have always been at least two cops in every other questioning session in the series, it makes for a dramatic setup. The direction of the scene between Dornan and Anderson is superb, with lots of tight close-ups, talking direct to camera, and to-ing and fro-ing that equals 15 minutes of edge-of-the-seat, teeth-gnashingly good TV.

Stella asks Spector about his past, his childhood, his feelings and his family – the only time his calm, smug, veneer slips – and ultimately gets him to confess to all the murders and the feeling of power he got from them. Both actors get some sharp dialogue, but best of all is the moment when Paul – after being asked why he didn’t kill earlier in life explains that he was too busy raising his young children.

“You’re a barren spinster so you wouldn’t know, but small children take up all of your time,” he snarls at her. Dornan is so intense at this point that you can really see why he was cast in the upcoming Fifty Shades of Grey – although one assumes he’ll tone down the intensity a bit or we’ll all be worrying that the movie will have a rather darker ending than EL James’s steamy bestseller.

But, enough of all this dancing about, Paul Spector. There’s only 25 minutes left of the episode. Where the bloody hell is poor Rose?

Charged with the crimes he has admitted to, Paul isn’t saying anything. Instead we see Katie and her pal chatting, and Katie finally admits she knows he committed the crimes, but smiles dreamily as she says it. Dear Alan Cubitt, please don’t make Katie a copycat killer in series three, I beg you.

Meanwhile, Stella’s in her slinky silk robe in her hotel room and… oh wait… who’s that in her bed? Yes, our Stella has done the nasty with pretty detective Tom. And in the morning, all he is worried about is whether she’s gone to bed with him because in some twisted way he reminds her of Spector. Ick. Not really the pillow talk she was hoping for, I suspect.

Their conversation is interrupted, however, when a call comes through – Spector wants to make a deal. In return for seeing his daughter, he will take the police to Rose’s forest location (whether she is dead or alive, he doesn’t reveal). A trip with a prisoner out into the wilderness in exchange for information – methinks Alan Cubitt is a fan of David Fincher’s movie Se7en – this is not going to end well.

With just nine minutes to go, Cubitt ratchets up the tension. While Stella, Tom (who she has requested to accompany Spector), various other cops and Spector head in cars to the woods, armed baddie Jimmy and the dim-witted reporter head off in pursuit. Gosh, I wonder what is going to happen?

And while it is all a bit inevitable, Cubitt’s taut writing keeps you watching even when you think you have it all figured out. Deep in the woods, following Spector’s directions, Stella searches for Rose and finds her car (erm, why doesn’t she have a handful of cops with her?) while Spector waits behind, cuffed to Tom.

Inside the trunk is an almost-dead Rose (“She’s alive!’ Stella announces over a walkie talkie. “Unexpected,” Spector deadpans with a smile when he hears the news). They’ve found her! But there’s still a couple of minutes to go, just enough time for Jimmy to appear from out of the trees, firing his gun. Tom’s hit, and Spector.

He looks like he’s dying and is about to say something to Stella … and then the end credits roll. And I’m not sure whether I want to slap Alan Cubitt for leaving us hanging, or hug him for not tying everything up in a tidy bow.

Either way, I do want to suggest to any BAFTA members reading this that there is a Best TV Actress award to give out next year, and it really should have Miss Gillian Anderson’s name on it.

If there’s one thing The Fall has really, really done right, it’s that I find myself almost breathlessly grateful that Rose Stagg is alive. We must be thankful for such small mercies in a narrative world that provides so few.

If I were to list all of the things and people in this episode that are heartbreaking, we’d be here all night. It’s impossible not to feel for Sally Ann, and even more so for little Olivia: she doesn’t know why, she just doesn’t want her father to get in trouble. The events of this season are going to haunt her for the rest of her life.

And then there’s Katie, still clinging to her love story, and I feel for her too. We’ve seen a decidedly calculating and manipulative nature in her to begin with, but on the other hand, we also see that innocence that comes with being a love-struck teenager playing out in her interrogation, the willingness to believe the stories she tells the police.

This isn’t easy television and it doesn’t get easier. Some of that earlier tension is diffused now that the chase is ended and we have that nice, long scene where Gibson chats to Spector. Gillian Anderson is so good as Gibson: facing off in a quietly civilised (if uncomfortable) conversation with Spector, Gibson is unflappable, but not unfeeling.

I suppose it’s slightly satisfying seeing Spector speak so candidly about the things he’s done and what he thinks about, and Jamie Dornan once again is just creepy enough that I might flinch if I ever met him before remembering that he was just pretending to be a serial murderer for the BBC.

Jimmy Tyler has raged in the periphery of the story, standing in seething, shouting contrast to Spector’s dark detachment. Where Spector is a quiet manipulator with calculated plans, Tyler is a shouting bulldozer, and this is painfully apparent in his terrifyingly violent encounter with Liz and the other women. It fits his character perfectly that he would insist upon muscling his way into the episode’s final conflict. But where this animosity between the two is concerned, how do you take sides in a battle between monsters?

I wasn’t surprised by the ending; indeed, my partner shouted from his desk, “that angry man’s going to shoot Spector.” Okay, so it wasn’t a surprise, but does that diminish the impact? I’m not sure.

It’s an unsatisfying note to end on – Spector bleeding out in Gibson’s arms, then cutting to credits before we will ever know if he lives or dies – but deliberately so. Why make the ending any less uncomfortable than the rest of the story leading up to it has been?

Aired at 9pm on Thursday 18 December 2014 on BBC Two.

> Buy Season 1 on DVD on Amazon.

> Order Season 2 on DVD on Amazon.

What did you think of the finale? Let us know below…

> Read more by Sami Kelsh on her website.