Warning: Spoiler alert! Do not proceed if you have not watched Tuesday’s episode of “The Conners”.
Dan Conner is struggling to grieve Roseanne’s death.
On Tuesday’s episode of The Conners, titled “The Separation of Church and Dan,” Dan (John Goodman) is having a hard time in the aftermath of his wife’s sudden death — and his worried family members are beginning to take notice, especially after he parked himself outside the front door while watching television in an effort to be alone.
Set on trying to help Dan process his grief through losing his wife, they invite several of his closest friends — including Chuck (James Pickens Jr.) — for an innocent game of poker. But when Dan becomes aware of their veiled plan to get him to open up about his feelings, he storms out and argues with Darlene (Sara Gilbert) over their handling of the situation.
“I thought I made it clear. I wanted to be left alone,” Dan yells angrily.
“But Dad, these are your friends. We thought you could play some cards, maybe talk about some things…,” Darlene says, with a hint of hope in her voice.
“I told you. I don’t have anything to talk about and I don’t need my friends sitting around feeling sorry for me,” Dan replies, shutting his daughter down.
When his best pal, Chuck, defends Darlene’s good intentions (“We know what you’re going through,” Chuck says), Dan barks back with a zinger that will surely sting for a while. “I’m sorry, Chuck, I didn’t realize Anne-Marie was dead?!” Dan snarls, taking aim at Chuck’s wife.
Later, Dan begrudgingly goes to a grief support group at his family’s insistence. At first, he isn’t keen on opening up about losing his wife, but after hearing from a fellow grief group member that he’s been going to the meetings for 20 years, Dan realizes he doesn’t want to keep going back.
“My wife died…,” he says when the group leader nudges Dan to share why he’s there. “I’m sorry, were you looking for something bigger?” When the group leader accurately presumes that Dan is “in pain” and “needed someone to talk to,” he begins to let his walls down. Just a little.
“You know when you’re a little kid and they tell you in Sunday school: Live right, be a good person and say your prayers and God will reward you…,” Dan tells the group. “I tried. I mean, I’m not just saying this; I busted my a** to play by the rules and here’s my reward. I’m 66 years old and I get to live the rest of my life without the woman I love. God and I made a deal; he did not come through on his end.”
With Dan having a crisis of faith, he confides in Becky (Lecy Goranson), who lost her husband, Mark, several years back, for advice on how she got through the dark days. “When you lost Mark, did you find a cure for waking up every morning and looking for him?” Dan asks.
“I never really sat still long enough to make sense of it all, so I went home and parked myself in a chair for a week and by blocking out all the noise in my life, I got some clarity and figured out how to move forward,” Becky replies, adding that her time alone helped her get through the immediate aftermath.
When Dan asks Becky why she suggested he go to a grief group when she figured things out on her own, she lovingly says, “Because it kinda helped and everyone was concerned about you, and I didn’t want it to seem like I didn’t care.”
By the end of the episode, it appears Dan is on better terms with his new Roseanne-less reality (but still in a bad place with God) as he declares to Darlene that he’s going to start riding his motorcycle again — the same bike Roseanne always detested.
“You’re 65 years old. You haven’t ridden in forever. Why are you doing this?” Darlene asks, a tad worried about her dad’s newfound adventurous streak.
“Because I need to. I’m going to get out on the road and ride till I feel better — or feel something,” Dan says. “Who knows? Maybe God and I will meet at a bar and he’ll pick up the tab. He really owes me.”
“The Conners”‘ first episode picked up three weeks after Roseanne’s funeral and the family in various stages of grief (and enjoying the latest casserole dish given to them by concerned loved ones). According to various family members, they believe Roseanne died from a heart attack while sleeping in her bed. But the truth, they soon realized, was that she died from an opioid overdose.
Goodman spoke to The Sunday Times in August, where he said that Roseanne Barr’s character would be killed off in the spinoff and that Dan “will be mopey and sad because his wife’s dead.” Barr revealed how, appearing on the YouTube show, “Walk Away”, in September to say that her character dies from “an opioid overdose.” “It wasn’t enough to [fire me], they had to so cruelly insult the people who loved that family and that show,” she said at the time. “There’s nothing I can do about it. It’s done. It’s over. There’s no fight left.”
“Roseanne” was cancelled in May after Barr was fired due to a racist tweet against Valerie Jarrett, a former senior adviser to President Barack Obama. “It’s an unknown,” Goodman said of whether or not the spinoff will be successful.
Goodman also said he hasn’t been in touch with Barr, but thanked her for clearing the way for “The Conners” to move forward with ABC. “She had to sign a paper saying that she relinquished all her rights to the show so that we could go on,” he shared. “I sent her an email and thanked her for that. I did not hear anything back, but she was going through hell at the time. And she’s still going through hell.”
“The Conners” airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.
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