There are two kinds of people who watch A Million Little Things. The first are the ones who went into this show understanding that it's a story about friendship, finding your tribe, and striving for happiness despite life’s craziest obstacles. Then there are those who watch every sweet, moving scene and think: “BUT WHY WAS CONSTANCE ZIMMER IN THE PILOT? IS SHE BARBARA MORGAN? WHAT ISN’T THE SHOW TELLING US???”
Fortunately, the midseason premiere of A Million Little Things, appropriately titled “Secrets and Lies,” gives both mystery lovers and soap fans more than enough to get them through the week. It also teases the identity of the mysterious Barbara Morgan and the more significant role that Constance Zimmer, who showed up in the pilot episode at the funeral but then disappeared, could have moving forward.
In the opening moments of "Secrets and Lies," we see Jon (Ron Livingston) sitting in front of a video camera, seemingly apologizing for letting someone down. At first, we think maybe it’s addressed to his wife Delilah (Stéphanie Szostak). However, at the end of the tape, he uses the name “Barbara.”
As we learned in the midseason finale, “Christmas Wishlist,” Jon was hiding major financial difficulties from his family as well as an affair of some sort with Ashley (Christina Ochoa), his assistant. After Jon’s death, Ashley hid the name “Barbara Morgan” — one of the four people listed as beneficiaries to his life insurance policy — from Delilah, as well as a series of mysterious documents. She seemed to want to protect Delilah from Jon’s financial missteps, though given that Delilah is now $18 million in debt thanks to Jon’s mess, she didn’t do a great job.
At the end of the episode, Ashley leaves the apartment where Jon filmed that apology video to Barbara and goes to find someone on what appears to be a college campus. It’s unREAL’s Zimmer, proving that her character is more than just some random mourner.
“We need to talk,” Ashley tells the woman, played by Zimmer, urgently.
“No, Ashley, we don’t,” she says as she walks quickly away.
The most obvious answer here is that Zimmer plays Barbara, but it’s worth mentioning that given how obvious it seems, Ashley could have confirmed it and put us all out of our misery. So is Zimmer really Barbara, or is this just what the show wants us to believe is true, so it can pull off yet another crazy twist?
Maybe it’s better to wonder who Barbara is, in relation to Jon, than if Zimmer is specifically portraying her.
Given that Jon apologized for “abandoning” Barbara in the video, while in an apartment he kept hidden from his wife, it's plausible that Barbara is a former partner of Jon’s — maybe one whom he left in order to be with Delilah.
Jon tells Ashley in “Christmas Wishlist” that he’s “not the man everyone thinks” he is. Maybe he means that literally. Jon might not be “Jon Dixon” at all, but living under an assumed name. He could even really be “Jon Morgan.”
It could explain a lot more than just Barbara's identity. It could reveal why Jon strived so hard to be perfect at everything, yet made such an enormous financial mess — he was living a total lie, but was on his "best behavior" in order to protect anyone from finding out. He died so he wouldn't have to confess any of it.
At the risk of sounding too cynical about the whole thing, it might explain why his best friends are random guys he met in an elevator. Jon lives in Boston, and went to Harvard — you'd think he would have a ton of college buddies to kick it with. Yet his best friends, and the only friends of Jon's we ever meet not connected to the rest of the group, only know what Jon told them about him. Maybe Jon didn't go to Harvard at all.
Whoever Zimmer is — Barbara or someone else entirely — it's possible that she's a key piece to Jon's "other life."
As A Million Little Things loves to point out, just when you think you know someone... you don't. Maybe we don't know Jon at all. And until we know Jon... we can't really know who Barbara is.
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