Warning: Spoiler alert! Do not proceed if you haven't watched Tuesday's episode of Roseanne. Major spoilers ahead...
Why did Darlene and David break up?
On Tuesday's episode of Roseanne, titled "Darlene v. David," the return of The Big Bang Theory's Johnny Galecki as Darlene's on-again, off-again beau meant we were finally going to get answers to why Darlene (Sara Gilbert) and David were no longer happily married -- and the real story behind what led Darlene to move back into her parents' home with their two children, Harris (Emma Kenney) and Mark (Ames McNamara). As it's revealed in the episode, it was David who left Darlene.
Though David's years-long absence caused a rift in the Conner household, he did have one key supporter in the family: Darlene's mother, Roseanne (Roseanne Barr), with whom he remained in contact with over the years. So when it came time to celebrate Harris' birthday, David surprises Darlene by telling her via text that he would be making a rare appearance at the party, causing Darlene to rustle up every pent-up thought -- some good, most of them bad -- and emotion over his abrupt abandonment of his family. Riled up by the notion of David coming back into her life, Darlene is a little less than amused by the whole situation, revealing a little nugget about what he's been doing all this time.
'Roseanne' Stars Tease Potential for Future Revival Seasons (Exclusive)
“He’s been running around the world building houses for poor people in third-world countries. Does that sound like a good person to you?" she asks, hoping to gain some sympathy from her mother but not getting it. "Alright, fine. But he’s a bad person too. David can’t just walk in here like everything’s fine now.” She has her dad, Dan (John Goodman), on her side, though, who calls David out for being a bad person for walking out on his family. "If he acted like it, he’d be welcome here," Dan reasons. "There is no reason to ever leave your family. You may think about it, you may dream about it... You may gas up your bike and make sandwiches, but you don’t ever do it."
Later in the evening, David surprises Darlene by knocking on her window -- reuniting with his estranged wife for the first time in years. Now a self-proclaimed vegan, David promises Darlene he has good news she'll want to hear: He signed a lease and is officially moving back to Lanford, Illinois. "I realized it's not too late to fix things," he says, but he's buried the lede. Turns out, he's met someone, a woman named Blue. (Yes, really.) "I realized I was in denial. I thought Harris and Mark were better off without me and then, I realized how unfair it is to you not to give you a divorce, so you can have some closure," David goes on.
Darlene responds with quite possibly the best joke of the episode: "While I have been picking up kids' clothes, dealing with meltdowns, cleaning up vomit, you're dating a crayon?!" When David attempts to apologize, Darlene isn't willing to hear it, asking him "how serious" his relationship with Blue is. Apparently Blue is the zen type, because David says she won't "merge their spiritual paths" until he and Darlene are officially divorced. But Darlene isn't sure she wants a divorce and admits she's unsure how she feels about him. Talk about complicated. But while Darlene may be unclear about their relationship status, she sure is clear about what she wants right then and there, planting a huge kiss on David. Like we said before, they're complicated.
It appears things are maybe getting on the right foot again between Darlene and David, but as we know from the original series, their romance has been riddled with breakups and makeups. Will this time be different? The next morning, after they seemingly rekindled their marriage, David tells Darlene the real reason why he left. It wasn't because he received a second calling in life. It had to do with the unexpected death of his brother, Mark (played by the late actor Glenn Quinn, who died in 2002). “When I left you and the kids, I rationalized that it was OK because I was helping people. The truth is? I left because my brother died and I was overwhelmed with all the responsibility and I just ran," David confesses, finally letting the truth come out, though they don't explain how Mark died. "When I was out there, I was ashamed.” But just like old times, the couple worm their way into another fight.
'Roseanne' Star Emma Kenney on Her Uncanny Resemblance to TV Mom Sara Gilbert (Exclusive)
Determined that this time they "work things out," Darlene breaks the news to her mom that she and David are trying again -- but Roseanne's unhappy about the news, saying David deserves a second chance as a father, not as a husband. Roseanne tells her daughter that she and David are "a disaster as a couple," revealing to Darlene that David admitted that he left because they were fighting all the time "and that's what he couldn't handle." Becky (Lecy Goranson), who was married to David's late brother Mark, also gave her two cents, telling her sister that they've "been going at this for 20 years." "If it was going to work, it would've worked by now," she accurately observes.
When David arrives at the Conner home, thinking he and Darlene will get to celebrate their daughter's birthday as a happy couple, Darlene cuts their brief honeymoon period short. "If it was just us, I swear I would keep doing this over and over again even if it never worked but it’s not just us," Darlene tells David, after he pleads with her to give them another shot and that he still loves her. That's not enough anymore. "What now?" David asks, deflated. "You’re going to do what you came here to do. You’re going to be a great father. You can do that, right?” Darlene says, laying down the groundwork for their new reality co-parenting their kids while not romantically involved. “Yeah, I can," David answers in the affirmative, before asking about their son, Mark, choking up as he does so.
“What’s Mark like?” David asks. “He’s really artistic. Very sweet like you. And he likes to wear dresses. Now you’re all caught up," Darlene answers, eliciting a laugh. Though David's return to the Conners wasn't what he originally envisioned -- he says as much to Roseanne moments later -- the Conner matriarch makes him promise that he'll do the right thing this time: be there for his kids. “I know you’re a quality person David. I want you to prove me right," she says. Will David
With Roseanne already renewed for another season, it remains to be seen how much of a presence David will have. (Galecki stars on CBS' Big Bang Theory, which could complicate availability.) Because the show has established that David will be back in Lanford in the very near future -- two weeks, to be exact -- it only makes sense for Roseanne to go back to the storyline of Darlene and David co-parenting in the new season. Plus, could we ever meet Blue? And how will they resolve the state of Darlene and David's marriage? Will Darlene move forward with divorce? Only time will tell!