Warning: Spoilers ahead for Tuesday's all-new episode of The Conners!
Since we were re-introduced to the Conner family last year, there have been plenty of revelations about who Becky and Darlene are as adults, but tonight's fall finale has given us the best insight into their current relationship yet.
From the get-go, when lucky Becky (Lecy Goranson) gets to be the first person in the family to meet Darlene's (Sara Gilbert) new love interest, Ben (Jay R. Ferguson), the trio trade digs like old pros. Becky even smiles wide and nods when Ben says, "You seem like a lunatic," which is less a plot point and more a delightfully perfect acting moment I simply think we all should make note of.
Things get a lot less delightful for the siblings when later that night, Darlene's daughter, Harris (Emma Kenney), gets taken home by a cop after she was caught drinking in the woods with a group of friends, apparently because she was the only one wearing heels and thus couldn't get away fast enough. Harris fully expected a lecture from her aunt, but instead what she got was advice on how to not get caught. "Even though I'm not happy that you were drinking, I don't want you getting caught because your friends are stupid," Becky tells her niece.
Becky truly loves her niece, which apparently Harris had no idea about, saying they'd barely spoken in the year she's been in Lanford, and partially because of that guilt trip but also due to her personality, Becky agrees to be the "cool aunt" and not tell Darlene as long as Harris stops drinking in the woods. This, of course, doesn't work out at all, because the next day, the policeman returns with the scarf Harris left in his squad car. Darlene grounds Harris for three weeks and, afraid that her underage daughter is going down the wrong path, yells, "It doesn't matter how smart you are. A few wrong moves and you're screwed for life. Do you want to end up like your aunt Becky?" Becky had just walked into the kitchen with her laundry, and upon hearing that, is naturally upset, throwing down her clothes basket and storming out the back door.
"I think that's a really interesting thing that Becky goes through -- she knows she has [life] experience and here she is in the episode imparting it to Harris, but yet, when Darlene says, 'Oh, you want to be like your aunt Becky,' it just breaks her," Goranson tells ET of her character's heartbreaking revelation.
When Becky's upset, she heads to the pool hall, which is where Darlene finds her. Darlene is angry at her sister but also knows she's done something wrong, herself. "I told her not to drink," Becky says. "But no matter what I did, it doesn't change what you really think of me." The part Becky is most frustrated with is that when she discovered she was pregnant, Darlene was there for her and told her she could work through her drinking problem and successfully raise the baby, so she sees that all as a lie. She also can't believe that Darlene doesn't realize that the heavy drinking started after her husband, Mark, died. In the most surprising but heartfelt moment in the episode, Becky finally admits that she really needed her sister during her darkest days, a revelation that's not easy for anyone in the Conner family to admit, but especially for these two sisters, who've always butted heads and had an extremely snippy rapport.
"You never need me. I hate being the needy one. When we were kids, I was the one who had it all together, and you were just the depressed little freak," Becky admits, to which Darlene replies, "Well you should be in pig heaven now because I'm a depressed adult freak with just as many problems as you. And, you know, you think I don't need you? Why do you think I came back here in the first place. Not just for mom and dad."
Darlene asks where they go from here, and Becky suggests a pact that they'll always be there for one another. It's a very sweet moment and one that gives us a bit more insight into not only what happened in the 20 years the Conners weren't on TV, but also hopefully where their relationship will go from here.
Goranson also saw the fall finale as an interesting way of going more in-depth with where Becky was going this season and, as well as, "all those missing years that are unspoken that are a part of the Conners." "What was most poignant about it was that Becky really admitted that she really needs Darlene and she needs her family. I think part of all the Conners is they have a resilience and also an independence about them, so the idea that they really need one another -- in all the characters -- is a challenge," the 44-year-old actress tells ET. "For both Becky and Darlene to be in a scene and have to confront that about themselves when they're so used to being snarky at one another is really tough."
"I think with all siblings, it's, 'You're being selfish,' or, 'You're the one that gets more attention,' that kind of back and forth, but the underlying stuff is a lot deeper stuff," she adds. "It's about pain, it's about needs. That's been a throughline this season, too, Becky and Darlene really grappling to admit that they may even like each other, let alone, need each other."
The episode also brings us the always wonderful Katey Sagal guest-starring as Louise, a former high school classmate of Dan's (John Goodman), and the late Roseanne, who's come back to Lanford and now works as a bartender at the same Mexican restaurant Becky works at. Louise invites Dan to a reunion concert for "what's left" of some groups from the '60s and '70s, including Gladys Knight and the Pip, the Two Tops and the Righteous Brother. Becky -- who's watching the whole interaction go down from behind the bar -- immediately picks up on the fact that her dad has just been asked out on his first date since Roseanne died, but Dan has absolutely no idea what's really going on.
The night of the concert, with words of Becky and Jackie (Laurie Metcalf) floating through his head, Dan sits down with Louise to clear the air, because he thinks it's crazy that Louise could like him. "I can't believe you didn't pick up on it," Louise tells Dan, flabbergasted. "Every time you walk in here I'm staring at you like you're a deep-dish pizza. Let me help figure it out: we're both free, we like each other, I've had a crush on you since I was 15, but Roseanne already had her brand on you." It hasn't been that long since he lost Roseanne, however, and he tells Louise he's not ready to date. "I still have a thing for my wife," he admits.
It's a sweet way to navigate through the big question of what Dan will do now that he's a widow, and, hopefully, we'll see Sagal return to the show later in the series. The cast probably wouldn't mind either, with Goranson telling ET, "I loved having her on the show. She's great."
We also finally see Jackie confront her boyfriend, Peter -- while they're wearing medieval Norwegian garb, naturally -- about how badly he's been, financially and emotionally, taking advantage of her, which is a small miracle because, we may love Matthew Broderick, but his character is just as annoying as the writers want us to think he is.
The fall finale brought us plenty of insight into all of the grown-up Conners, gearing us up for even deeper relationship revelations and drama as the first season of The Conners progresses.