Glamour: What an extraordinary episode. What were some of the challenges involved in bringing it to life, and what excited you about telling these two monumental moments in Nicky’s and Deja’s lives?
Kevin Falls: We knew that we wanted this season to go find Sally, but we didn’t want to put a bow on it. Sometimes in a show like this, you expect there to be a happy ending; this happy ending takes a different form. The chance of you going back, cold-calling the person you loved in high school 50 years later…it could be a long shot. So we wanted to lean into the fact that we knew right away Sally wasn’t going to be available. At least I did. That was something I expressed to Jessica Radloff Dan [Fogelman]. Dan was thinking along the same lines, and so was the writing staff.
But what was really cool about it—and a nod to Dan for this: The person who goes through the rigors of that dinner is Rebecca. Her saying out loud that she has Alzheimer’s—and the fear that you start to fade away in other people’s eyes—especially for women, I think that’s hard because there’s so much more put on them with looking a certain way and having to deal with that. I thought that was the interesting part of the journey. And then not to mention what’s going on with Malik and Deja and that road trip too. Nicky’s probably the one who said, “All right, nothing there, but at least I had closure.” But the people that are really having the jumping-off point to me are Deja and Rebecca.
Kay Oyegun: One of the things we love so much is, when we first met Nicky, he was this broken shell of a person. And when we first met Deja, she literally was a homeless child who could not be touched by someone. So in this episode, you’re seeing two people who have really blossomed. You’re literally watching an older man regain a sense of himself. And you’re watching a young Black girl find herself an agency in a way that she never had before. It was a blast telling a story with two leads that are very different from one another, but very similar.
Griffin Dunne’s delivery as Nicky was perfection. The lines you wrote for him, whether it was the way he said, “Jack’s dead,” or when Sally says she can’t bring herself to watch the Woodstock documentary where she’s naked, and Nicky says, “I could,” was just brilliant.
Kevin: Kay did a masterful job with these actors and holding the attention. And then you have the host—Sally—who says, “For a minute I thought I had early onset Alzheimer’s.” That’s suddenly like this brick that drops right on the table. You think, Oh, they’re just going to go over it. But Rebecca admits to it, which suddenly opens up a portal into the marriage of Sally with her husband. And these people have come out of nowhere. Sally and Eric started their day with her thinking she was going to make dinner, and he was going to watch TV in another room. And these people (Nicky, Rebecca, Miguel) go out of their way to throw this Molotov cocktail into their marriage and make them face their issues. That’s the kind of fun about that dinner is all these other things happened.
And then the actual kernel of young love, which we’re seeing from Malik and Deja’s story, still burns within people like me. As you get older, there’s still that pilot light that you may have had for an old flame that you don’t maybe necessarily think of, or turn the flame up unless you see them or are reminded of them in some way. It’s still within us, that young love in old love. A lot of writers had a lot of hand in shaping this particular episode. Hats off to them. And Kay directing it, beautiful job.