Gary Says Goodbye in Series’ Penultimate Ep (But Wait, There’s a Twist) 2023
A Million Little Things fans: Javier “Gary” Mendez Jr. may not survive.
This season’s viewers should expect the character’s death: James Roday Rodriguez’s character has Stage IV cancer in the premiere. The severe stage of the sickness meant there was no prospect of remission, therefore his oncologist prescribed drugs to delay the disease’s progression.
That strategy lasted a year. “Tough Stuff,” this week’s episode, ends Gary’s luck. Gary and Maggie struggle in the emergency room after learning that his tumor is no longer responding to treatment from the blood he coughed up at Katherine and Greta’s wedding in Episode 11. “Gary, this will be a fight,” his oncologist says, offering various ways to fight.
The next montage shows Gary returning to chemotherapy, shaving his head again, and teasing Maggie to do the same.
“I’ll shave my pits,” she offers. Gary is critically ill after Javi’s first birthday.
The next day, Gary and Maggie receive devastating news from their oncologist: Gary can only be made comfortable. Maggie objects, citing a promising Mexico City trial. Later, Gary tells Dr. Jessica he’s not afraid of dying but is exhausted. Maggie begs Gary to attempt after hearing from Mexico City that they have a spot. Maggie reminds him that she wants to quit breast cancer therapy.
He insists that’s different, but she won’t listen. She challenges Mendez to visit Mexico. “Fight this.” He agrees. but later tells Rome and Eddie that he’s going so Maggie won’t regret not trying something new after his death.
Eight-week Mexico program. Sophie offers to accompany Gary and Maggie to help care for Javi. Everyone else—except Danny, which we’ll come to—gathers outside the airport to say farewell, thinking it may be their final time seeing Gary alive.
After many tears and hugs, Maggie wheels Gary’s chair into the airport to catch their journey. Everyone leaves… Gary, Maggie, Sophie, and Javi return outside a moment later. “I realize he needs to be here, for whatever time…” she trails off. “He needs to be with us.” (True! And sob!)
When the hospice coordinator considers bringing a hospital bed to their flat so Gary can relax, Maggie is confronted by the reality of that decision. After crying in front of Delilah, Maggie receives an idea that seems to motivate her. We discover out later when she gives Gary a ring box.
She found Eddie’s recovery ring. She tells him she wants to celebrate every time they have left together, “and I want to do that as your wife.” He accepts her marriage proposal. They dress up, invite friends (even Colin!), and get married in their living room to The Kinks’ “Strangers.”
The episode also:
Greta lets Katherine knew she froze some of her eggs years ago, but her ex-wife, Julia, fretted about their children inheriting Greta’s mental condition. Katherine advises her new wife to try to have children if she wants them.
- Eddie and Delilah intend to buy a house near Springfield, Massachusetts, that is big enough for their growing family but more than an hour from Boston. They buy a condo down the hall from Gary and Maddie.
- Danny explains that a postponed Harvard interview prevented him from travelling to the airport with Gary, but Sophie discovers that her brother was afraid to say goodbye to his surrogate dad. He spends time with Gary at his flat, and everything is OK.
- Regina’s poor fundraising totals and her skipping an important public engagement to be at the airport with Gary seem to have ended her city council campaign.