A Million Little Things: Season 2 – Episode 3 ‘Mixed Signals’ REVIEW

To bring out the important messages, you have to go against the grain of society.

a million little things mixed signals JERRY FERRARA, ROMANY MALCO

Okay, so “Mixed Signals” had a Hell of a lot more going on than we were led to believe from last week’s “Grand Canyon”. Old wounds prior to the show’s pilot are reopened, Season 1 struggles are revisited, and practically every character is dealing with something serious this week. I don’t know about everybody else, but I’m certainly drained, albeit in a good way. They addressed the issues and there is certainly a road to recovery in the works.

Cultured Vultures spoilers

Delilah finally lets us know how she feels about her progressing relationship with Andrew. When he asks her out for a date, she eagerly accepts but begins to second-guess herself. Is she ready for dating again, so soon after Jon’s death and the end of her affair with Eddie? As it turns out, she’s not.

I’m grateful she spoke up finally, as it was unclear which direction she was headed. Frankly, it’s just too soon for her to have another love interest, not when she has a new baby and some healing to do from her last relationship.

Gary and Regina seemed to be especially pushing Delilah into Andrew’s arms. Why would they want their friend, who’s been through so much recently, to engage in the complications of a relationship so soon? Perhaps they’re trying to be supportive, but it came across as going overboard. Andrew seems nice, but I’m still not sure what to make of him based on his treatment of Regina and then his little speech at dinner with Delilah.

It sounded like he’s still struggling with his wife’s death, as he tells Delilah it’s too soon for him to date as well. He reassures her as she tells him she wasn’t sure what to think of their “meeting” herself, but could his heart-to-heart be a ploy to push her into a potential relationship down the line? Is he just telling her what he thinks she wants to hear? It just seems a little dicey to me.

Delilah and her son Danny shared a sweet mother-son moment in “Mixed Signals”. As Danny tells her he won the lead in a school play, she expresses her pride for him and it turns into a conversation addressing relationship woes. More so Danny’s than Delilah’s, but on some level the two connect as Delilah comforts him. This is a moment that has been lacking with all the recent drama; we need more moments that involve Delilah’s two older children. They wouldn’t just fade into the background.

Sophie and Danny are still dealing with Jon’s death. They’re both going to run into peer pressure and other pressures deriving from often misguided societal norms, like partying, morals and in Danny’s case, his standing at school because of his sexual orientation. They would need their remaining parent more than ever as they face the onslaught of these obstacles.

Danny’s struggle with his sexual orientation was understandable. He is afraid to be himself. His family may know who he really is, but he’s still closeted socially. He doesn’t want to become a pariah at his school based on who he likes. His experience with Elliot has negatively affected him: Elliot wasn’t ready to come out and let everyone know, so it seems by fallout Danny now feels the same. Add in the fact that Elliot broke Danny’s heart when he stopped communicating with him, and Danny was understandably nervous about running into him while he was auditioning for the play – something he was afraid to do to begin with because he thought being in theatre would automatically label him as being gay.

Uncle Gary swoops in to Danny’s rescue in another sweet moment of this episode. He helps Danny prepare for his audition and is there to support Danny when he initially falters upon seeing Elliot. It was especially touching when Gary told Danny that only Danny could place himself in a categorized box, and that he should just be himself. Life is too short not to be you.

“Mixed Signals” catches up with Gary in the midst of dealing with his own drama, but taking the time to help Danny helps him learn his own lesson about heartbreak. Gary’s spat with Maggie over her mother turned into Maggie pressuring him to deal with his own heartbreaking issues with his mom, which was significantly unfair. I thought Maggie was being severely passive-aggressive and blaming Gary for her troubles simply because he was right there to take out her anger on. He was apologizing to her when really she should have been doing the apologizing.

Maggie’s mad at Gary because she took his advice. The anger is misdirected. She jumps to conclusions throughout the episode about Gary and about her mom. She seems to be deflecting everyone and making the problems be about them, not her. For a therapist, this is hypocritical. She turns the tables on Gary and catches him off-guard. Though Gary does an admirable job of making her digs at his issues with his mother and women in general look humorous, I could tell it affected him deeply.

Maggie struck a nerve here and it was uncalled for. It even got Gary to call his mother at the end of the episode, but he didn’t actually talk to her. This could be devastating for Gary in the future – could he be on the road to reparation or will he only face further disappointment? Sometimes old wounds are scabbed over for a reason. They exist but because things are the way they are, you live with them.

Maggie’s grappling with her parents’ break-up. We get that it’s not an easy time for her, but she’s still taking it out on the wrong people. Her mother’s new beau Eric, Gary, her mom. She doesn’t know the whole story but she’s completely comfortable making accusations anyway. She even pulled out some dramatic flair to tell her mom that she’d lost her, which was cruel as she didn’t even give Patricia a chance to explain herself. She told Gary that she’d talked to her when she really didn’t. She just read into what she thought was happening and left.

Patricia isn’t making things any easier, either. She fails to tell Eric that Maggie and Gary are unaware of him joining them for breakfast and vice versa, leaving Maggie majorly furious at Eric’s presence while Eric awkwardly stands in the doorway. If Patricia wanted them to meet, it should’ve been at a later time when the tension had died down some and when she’d informed both parties. That was pretty underhanded, so in this instance we can see where Maggie’s paranoia and rush to conclusions would stem from.

“Mixed Signals” also has PJ, the son of Barbara Morgan, beset with paranoia. He is convinced, according to certain clues, that Jon is his father – and when he lays out his evidence, you can almost believe it. He sends his and Jon’s DNA to be tested with Rome’s help.

All kinds of things could happen because of this. Will the man that’s raised PJ thus far leave him and his mother because he’s been hurt? Will Barbara have to tell the truth? What is the truth, and what will it mean if PJ is truly Jon’s son? What will the consequences be when people find out that Rome helped PJ do this? Endless storyline opportunities from just this one act exist and it will surely be intriguing to watch them play out.

In Eddie and Katherine’s home, things may not be playing out as smoothly as they should. I still think it’s an unwise decision for them to go back to living together. It seems that as long as they stick to their bubble, they pretend everything and everyone doesn’t exist and they can pretend to be fine again. It’s definitely sending mixed signals to their son, who is making breakfast for them and is concerned about them having a good time. Theo going away to a sleepover may have been an act on his part to give his parents alone time, something no nine-year-old should be worrying about.

While Theo’s efforts to keep his parents together are sweet, it’s also too much stress to put on a kid, especially when the parents themselves have no idea what they’re doing. Katherine and Eddie play pool and even share a brief kiss, in which Katherine breaks it off and admits she’ll be sending Eddie mixed signals for a bit. He seems fine with that, but he really shouldn’t be. Neither of them should. It’s unhealthy and dysfunctional. They’re trying to hold onto something that no longer exists, but they’re also trying to move too fast into new territory. They’re stuck. As long as they keep going like this, they’ll remain stuck.

Rome and Regina had the most powerful message of “Mixed Signals”, something that will surely reverberate throughout the season. They no longer want to be anonymous, and they prove this in different ways.

Regina feels trapped by Andrew’s financial stake and influence in her business. Last week we clearly saw a power struggle, and Andrew worsened things by using a scare tactic to get her to listen to him. Yet, all this goes deeper than what was initially imaginable.

Regina’s invite to a benefit for the women’s shelter she donated her late uncle’s money to turns out to have a meaningful connection to Andrew’s treatment of her. Last season, Regina confronted a painful part of her past in which her uncle sexually assaulted her. When he passed, she donated his money to help those like her – not victims, but survivors.

Her breakdown with Rome was both a sad and powerful moment that demonstrated Regina’s strength but also her vulnerability. She wants to run her restaurant the way she wants to, and that means breaking ties with Andrew. She doesn’t want to be indebted and have someone hold that kind of power over her – because it’s exactly how she felt with her uncle.

She realizes she doesn’t want to be anonymous. Instead of no one knowing who donated the money to the shelter, she decides to come out and stand alongside her fellow survivors, a brave and bold move that will surely be inspirational. To help her cut ties with Andrew, Rome volunteers to return to directing commercials. Marriages take compromise, and sometimes to help your partner, you have to do the things you don’t want to, but it’s for the right reasons and the right person.

Rome makes his own brave and bold move in his unchanging script. A producer friend asks him to make a few alterations to make it more commercial, but Rome refuses. He won’t let his story, or himself, turn into something it is not. He’s ready to release his feelings about mental health, including the dark aspects of it like depression and suicide. This is no easy feat, but to get out the important messages, you have to go against the grain of society – a struggle which Rome is ready to take on.

Verdict
Between the bittersweet moments and the bombardment of all these new possibilities, the episode was easy to get invested in. If “Mixed Signals” is anything to go by, things are starting to pick up and we can expect more twists and turns throughout the season.
9

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