This post contains spoilers for the January 23 episode of A Million Little Things.
Whether or not you think Gary (James Roday) was right for breaking up with Maggie (Allison Miller) on A Million Little Things, he was correct about at least one thing: Eric (Jason Ritter) is shady as hell, and he has a big secret he has yet to tell Maggie.
Eric arrived in Maggie’s life when it was revealed that he was the recipient of her deceased brother Chad’s heart. (Personally, my money was on him being her long-lost sibling, but guess that would have killed any romantic tension necessary to break up Gary and Mags.) Gary was suspicious of this attractive music store-owning man who waltzed into his girlfriend’s life, but Maggie just thought he was being, well, Gary about the whole thing. Besides, Eric suffered a major loss, too: His fiancee (Younger’s Sutton Foster, per a photograph) died in a motorcycle accident on a trip that he planned.
After Gary and Maggie broke up, though, Maggie turned to her new friend for comfort, which made a lot of sense considering he was the one friend she made in Boston not tied to her recent ex. However, in the midseason premiere, titled “The Kiss,” it seemed that Maggie was starting to look at Eric in a new light. After failing to find someone she wanted to date on an app, Maggie kissed Eric, who looked completely freaked out. Maggie bailed, humiliated.
Alas, it might not be the kiss that made Eric so uncomfortable. Just before the kiss, Maggie noticed that Eric seemed shy about taking off his shirt. She told him it was okay: She was also weird about people seeing her scars, as she assumed Eric was about the one he received following his heart transplant. However, when Maggie left, Eric took off his shirt to reveal that no such scar exists...implying that Eric isn’t her brother’s heart recipient.
This is strange, to say the least, and definitely shakes the belief that Eric is a “good guy.” Just like last season when fans speculated about the truth about Barbara Morgan, whatever is going on with Eric is up to the Millionaires to figure out — at least, until the show decides to spill all the tea.
It’s worth noting that in the midseason finale, Eric makes a phone call to someone he refers to as “buddy” and notes that no, he “hasn’t told her” yet — seemingly referring to Maggie. While one fan theory was that perhaps Eric’s heart was failing (thus meaning that he, as well as the last remaining piece of Chad, would die) the fact that Eric has no scars indicating a heart transplant throws a wrench into that idea. One thing that might make sense is if Eric didn’t receive the heart, but someone close to him — like, say, his son or another younger family member he may call “buddy” — was the recipient.
If that’s the case, it still doesn’t answer the question about why Eric would be so shady about his identity. One other theory is that his deceased fiancee — who, again, is portrayed by the very recognizable Foster — was the intended recipient of the heart, but the transplant wasn’t successful or Foster’s character died in some other way after the transplant. This might explain why Eric doesn’t want to say anything to Maggie: He’s afraid that it will hurt her if she learns that Chad’s heart didn’t actually help anyone.
“We cast Jason purposefully because we needed a ‘good guy.’ We needed someone who, given that you know he’s keeping a secret, you believe there must be more to the story,” creator DJ Nash told Refinery29 in a 2019 interview. “Now that we write the show, it’s not that the fans are ahead of it, but everyone is expecting a twist now. Now when we write, we write with that anticipation. I love the fact that you think he’s talking to a child, that’s really interesting.”
Eric may still be a good guy, but is there ever a good reason to lie about having your flirtationship’s brother’s heart pounding in your chest? Probably not. You really could have made a million little other choices here, Eric. Just saying!