Parenthood is a thankless, neverending job.
As we saw on A Million Little Things Season 2 Episode 11, it's messy, complicated, and a guessing game. It doesn't come with a manual, and there aren't any right or wrong answers.
The Howards would be great parents, and from the hookups to the arrests, to being rude and pushing his loved ones away, Gary is in dire need of some parenting.
Delilah had the funnier moments of the hour as she attempted to get baby Charlie on a sleep schedule that didn't have her waking up during the night. It went about as well as you'd imagine at first, when she also had to practice the whole thing where you don't go into the room and soothe the baby the second they start crying.
Babies are fun.
The training portion was amusing, and thanks to Charlie's Music Mix, I'm going to have "Who Let The Dog's Out," stuck in my head for days.
Between a song about unattractive women at a bar and a posthumously haunting "Why" by Annie Lennox as a song to soothe the Dixon children, the family has an unusual taste.
Delilah singing to Charlie to keep her awake was funny, though. And she was worried to pieces about Sophie, but Gina helped her realize the time apart was doing them some good.
She couldn't come racing to the Howards' apartment the second Sophie acted out. Otherwise, what they were doing would be counterproductive.
Good, you're awake. There's your pants. There's your phone. There's the door.Woman
She had to find ways to be supportive of Sophie while also keeping her distance, and it was hard for Delilah, but she learned how to do that and let Regina and Rome take the lead.
Delilah could have been in her feelings about everything, but the restraint she showed was impressive, and she and Sophie might get back on better terms sooner than expected.
Despite some hiccups, the break is doing Sophie some good. She has the space to be focused on for a change, which is something she probably hasn't been used to in at least a decade.
It's the cost of being the eldest, and given all the changes she and the others have experienced, some individual time is probably something she needed.
She and the Howards both benefited from it. They are getting their feet wet with parenting Sophie, and despite some bumps, they're naturals.
Sophie seems to listen to them more than she's willing to do with her mother at the moment, and it's something. Sophie's not a bad kid, and deep down, she's probably sick of rebelling too.
Since the beginning of the series, we've always had those lovely Danny and Uncle Gary scenes most of us can't stop raving about, but while she had a bond with fellow musician, Eddie, she didn't have someone of whom she was close.
Regina has been this person for Sophie. Regina has a natural, nurturing quality to her, and she seems to understand teenagers well.
She and Rome forcing a hungover Sophie to get up early for her baseball game and play, was entertaining as heck.
It's doubtful Sophie will be drinking anytime soon after that, and part of what made those scenes so amusing on a personal note was recalling all the creative and fun ways my mother came up with for punishing us kids.
Katherine: Have I told you, you're the best?
Carter: You have, but raises speak louder than words.
In hindsight, they were hysterical. At the time, not so much.
Sophie ate the dish Regina made her even after she knew Regina got the recipe from her mother, so it's some forward movement for the Dixon women.
Maggie didn't have to run interference with them, but she did step in to help the Savilles figure out what was happening with Theo.
The shift in the Saville dynamic is the best. It's something most of us can appreciate. Theo's principal called Katherine first, and she was able to leave work, "because Theo comes first," and head to the school.
They always think I'm not listening, but I hear lots of things.Theo
Eddie joined her. They're such a united front now. It's everything you would want them to be as a married couple.
But hearing that Theo pushed someone, particularly his best friend, was a shock. He's not that type of kid, so you can't fault Katherine for assuming he was responding to a bully.
It also wasn't like Theo not to share what was bothering him with his parents. He's usually open and speaks his mind. He's a child who is very in tune with his feelings.
But once Maggie spoke to him, you understood what was bothering the kid. He's not a fan of change, and there have been many changes over the past year or so.
Everything keeps changing.Theo
He's seemingly rolled with them just fine, but it all caught up to him.
Theo is a kid used to a routine, and the past few months have thrown everything out of whack for him. Kudos to the series for touching on how this is affecting all the kids, not just Sophie.
Each of the children is behaving in different ways, too.
Theo is one of those kids, who listens and overhears everything happening at the house, but he doesn't always share it. Again, on a personal note, Theo was a bit of a kindred spirit in that regard.
He heard Eddie was thinking about taking a new job, and it worried him. He didn't want his father to have less time for him, and he's already relieved Katherine isn't working as much as she did in the past.
Eddie is disappointed he can't jump into the studio and kick out some more songs that may or may not hit the charts. He's taking full offense to the idea that he has aged out of the music scene.
However, Katherine pointing out how his song he sold is a chart-topping hit is something he needs to consider.
Dakota: So you're a musician too?
Eddie: You ever hear of The Red Ferns?
Eddie: OK, so that makes you --
Eddie: I was going to say young.
It's funny, yeah, many artists live for the performance and the rush of it, but most people know the money, power, and more is in what happens behind the scenes.
Producing and songwriting are where it's at, and Eddie taking a young artist like Dakota under his wing and making something of her doesn't have to be a bad thing.
It's a tremendous opportunity for Eddie if he opens his mind. Eddie could be great at it, too. He'll still get to create music, write songs, and be in the industry, but in other areas.
He hit it off nicely with Dakota in the waiting room. They had a friendly vibe that reminded you of how siblings take the piss out of each other. Eddie also does well in teaching and mentoring.
It's what he's been doing in the decade since he's been out of the band, so it's taking what he's already been doing and is good at and pushing it further within the industry.
He's not going to reclaim whatever he had going on with the Red Fern in his glory days, but that's OK. He needs to understand that. The music scene is always moving, and he couldn't expect it to pause while he was living a different life for a decade.
Eddie's rapport with Dakota is promising, and this new career path might be too.
Gina: We're going to be excellent parents.
Rome: We got this in the bag.
AMLT has a lot of kids/teens to deal with, and some of the biggest storylines have pertained to them. It's frustrating that the Howards went from not wanting children to this adoption process.
However, the show is doing a solid job fleshing their journey out, and Rome and Regina's relationship is one of the most consistently stable, so they deserved a strong storyline that places them more at the forefront.
They're so adorable, and they would be the type to overthink their adoption video. Rome wanted it to be perfect, and he went to such great lengths to make sure it was.
You could see how much it mattered to him, and all of his efforts were precious until the event at the ball game. Life comes at you freaking fast, and one soccer dad who couldn't mind his business ruined a perfectly fun day.
Rome: What the hell are you doing?
Angry father: I can ask you the same thing. You think we wouldn't notice you coming out here and taking pictures of our girls?
Rome: Look, it is not what you think.
Angry Father: What I think is that you're hanging out in a place that you don't belong.
You know, it's something underrated within the series, but the show, especially this season, deserves kudos for how they realistic they are when addressing Rome's racial identity.
Everyone gets up in their feelings about identity politics, but there are parts of your identity you don't get around. They're part of you, and not addressing them can feel inauthentic for precisely the reason Rome said when he described his experiences with Gary.
Rome said, "I do it without even thinking about it," and that's it. Some experiences are deeply embedded, and it isn't that a person is willingly choosing to harp on what separates them from others.
It's that it consciously and subconsciously dictates how you react to things, think about things, behave in some situations, say certain things, all of it.
Gary: Dude, all I did was have your back.
Rome: If that's having my back, I don't need it. You wanna know why I'm wearing a button-up shirt to a kid's ball game?
Gary: Because you're going on camera, and you're super vain?
Rome: Because I knew I might be the only black man here today. And I knew that wearing a hoodie, like you, might put me and my wife in danger.
It's like code-switching, which is something everyone does to some degree. For most people, your voice shifts to the "professional voice," when you get a professional call, and you carry on with the conversation. Then it instantly turns off once you hang up the phone and go back to speaking with someone else.
It's a version of codeswitching everyone can attest to, whereas for some groups of people, it's that and other variations.
It's not even something to complain or whine about; it's just conditioning and how someone lives their life. Rome spent a few seconds more than Gary choosing what to wear to a kid's game.
He didn't stand in front of the closet and lament the way of the world and how sucky it is that profiling exists. He grabbed a button-down over a hoodie. Such a split second thought is part of his routine like brushing his teeth. It's muscle memory.
Rome: I love you, bro, but we live in two different Bostons.
Gary: Oh come on, dude, I'm half Mexican!
Rome: Passing for white! You ever notice I go in the grocery store, I telegraph everything I take off the shelves. I never put my hands in my pockets, and I practically staple my receipt to my forehead when I walk out, so everyone knows I didn't do anything. Half the time I don't even know I'm doing it. But that's my reality. That's how my dad raised me. He taught me how to stay out of situations like this. And that's how I have to raise my child, and in one move, you wrecked everything. It's one thing to mess up your life, but now you are messing with mine.
A Million Little Things capturing those little moments and how real they are without turning it into something big, preachy is how it excels in their depiction of culture, with Rome and Regina especially.
From Rome's self-aware jokes to exasperated but heartfelt explanations when his friends don't "get it," Rome is often the embodiment of the experience as the most visibly racially diverse friend out of a group.
Even the situation was up to interpretation.
Some would think the irate father singled Rome out, thinking he was a creepy guy taking pictures of kids he didn't know.
Gary's been arrested.Katherine
Others could understand how the "somewhere you don't belong," about a man with a professional camera taking pictures of athletes while loudly cheering on Sophie like, you know, he knew her, had racial undertones to it.
It's probably the type of thing Rome has face multiple times in his life, but Gary, who has already been a loose cannon, figured out what was happening and turned to violence.
He meant well, and hell, you respect the guy for standing up for his friend. But Rome was right to point out how it does more damage than good.
It landed them both in a police car. Rome's father taught him to avoid negative interactions with the police at all costs. Up until that moment, Rome had succeeded.
They used the moment to also touch on how different it is for Rome, a visibly black man, and Gary, a biracial man who is white-passing.
Gary's experiences as a biracial man aren't discredited, by any means, but he does have certain advantages.
It's nothing he has any control over, part of the issue in the first place is no one can have control over how society chooses to see and treat them when it comes to racial constructs, but it doesn't change how things are.
Rome didn't have the luxury of getting physical with anyone, or mouthy with the cops either. The stark difference between how Gary behaved and Rome with the police put things into perspective without needing dialogue.
But Rome got to say his piece anyway. Rome was released, and you let out a sigh of relief. All the man wants is to adopt a kid, and he had a hard enough time deciding to share his mental illness, the last thing he needed was an arrest on his record, even though he did nothing wrong.
But Gary is headed toward a dark place and pushing everyone away in the process.
He called Katherine, and if anyone is willing to give Gary tough love, it's her.
I saved your life. You picked me up from jail, so we're even.Gary
Gary was acting like a dick with Maggie, and Katherine wasn't going to let it slide in front of her, so kudos to her.
She came across a bit harsh, and after everything that Gary has done over the past few months, I do wish someone would move past their anger at him for being an ass and jump into wanting to help him instead.
It's like they've yielded to viewing Gary as the Screwup, and it's met with exasperation more than anything else.
Gary is hurting, and you can understand some of his frustration when everyone sides with Maggie over him. They were his friends first, and he did have valid reasons for why he has responded to Maggie the way he did.
Katherine: How dare you!
Katherine: She came here because she cares about you. I mean, we all do.
Gary: Katherine, the last thing I need right now is another lecture, okay?
Katherine: Well that's too bad because you're getting one. When Eddie and I made you Theo's guardian, it was not a decision we took lightly. Out of everyone in the world, we thought you were the best one equipped to raise our son if something happened to us. We were wrong. How can you possibly take care of him when you can't even take care of yourself? Find your own ride home.
Yeah, his comment about her being there when he got of jail not comparing to him saving her life was a low-blow, but he poured everything into his relationship with Maggie, and she made him feel like she needed something else.
It sucks that everyone is so frustrated with Gary, they won't pay attention to him when it comes to Eric.
He's right not to trust Eric. The man has lied about who he is, and while we don't know the reasoning behind it, red flags go up regardless.
Gary's walk of shame of hell is what kickstarted an entire day of awful behavior.
Eric: Hey man, I never got a chance to tell you how sorry I am about how everything went down with you and Maggie. I hope I wasn't a factor in all that.
Gary: Ah, don't be silly. You split up Maggie and her mom, not Maggie and me.
Eric paying for Gary's item at the coffee shop was one thing, but when he thought Eric was getting coffee for Maggie, and Eric apologized if his presence was what broke Maggie and Gary up, Gary was on a tailspin.
The social media stalking elicited a chuckle or two, especially when the bartender helped out, but then it led to another big Eric reveal.
Chloe's parents filed a wrongful death suit against Eric. Now, we need to find out the circumstances surrounding Chloe's death.
What made the family sue their daughter's fiance?
Gary: I know what you're hiding.
Gary: There is a wrongful death suit against you, man. From the family of Chloe Meyers. Now would that be the same Chloe you were engaged to?
Gary: Yeah, it is.
Gary: Does Maggie know what you did? Is that not what you two talk about on your little dates? You're right. You're right. Describing how you murdered your fiancee is probably not the best foreplay.
Eric: You don't know anything.
So far, it seems likely that Chloe was maybe the recipient of Chad's heart, not Eric, and however she died, Eric has a questionable part in it.
Where are Chloe's parents, and how did Eric manage to take over her music store. Isn't that part of his original story? Did he lie about that too?
Eric chose to ignore Maggie's call, but it's possible he only did it because of Gary. He didn't know what Gary told Maggie, and if she figured anything out.
Eric better 'fess up soon. If it's eating away at him that he's lying to Maggie, then why not pull off the bandaid? It's getting super messy.
He's nice. Too nice. Like a smiley emoji took human form.Gary
It seems every time they show Eric now, he's sweaty from a run. The guy is probably trying to run away from his demons, but they have a pesky way of catching up to you.
We need to know why Chloe's family thinks Eric is responsible for her death. It was a car accident or something, wasn't it?
It's too bad Gary pissed off Katherine. She's probably the one person he could've shared this information with, and she would've had some resources to get more information.
Maybe if he makes right with her, she still can.
But then again, will he bother to push it further? He already thought he read too many things wrong with the coffee incident, and then he made a big show of getting rid of everything that reminded him of Maggie.
Gary was wearing the baseball cap he wore during chemo, and it speaks volumes about the state of mind he is in.
Over to you, AMLT Fanatics. What are your theories on the latest Eric revelation?
Will Rome and Regina make the best parents? Do you think the others are being too hard on Gary? Is he behaving like a jerk?
Hit the comments below with all of your thoughts.
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Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.