Spoilers below for anyone who hasn’t yet watched The Conners’ latest episode.
Whenever Roseanne‘s revival hit ABC earlier this year, quite a few of the sitcom’s most familiar elements got changed up to reflect modern times. Perhaps the most effectively heartbreaking revision involved Sara Gilbert’s Darlene being separated from Johnny Galecki’s David. Sadly, The Conners got just two episodes into its spinoff run before it brought Johnny Galecki back to seemingly bring a legitimate end to their decades-long relationship. At least they can try and enjoy their other relationships now, right?
Fans were likely pumped to see that Johnny Galecki was returning to ABC for The Conners, and everyone probably hoped for the writers to have found more ways for Darlene and David to rekindle their feelings for one another. Unfortunately, the episode’s final minutes saw the pair making the hard decision to officially go through with finalizing their divorce. They’ll sill be co-parents to Harris and Mark, of course, but no longer with a dragged-out separation to keep them tethered together.
Darlene and David may very well both want to end their marriage for good, since their togetherness has always caused complications to arise. However, the act of verbally acknowledging and mentally accepting the concept of divorce proved to be a bit tougher than they might have imagined. But happen, it must.
In Darlene’s eyes, there have been chances for David to come around to help turn their marriage into something good again. After all, he did made the decision to sleep with her again whenever he returned to Lanford in Roseanne. However, any residual feelings that David still has for Darlene have been compromised and upended by his arguably healthy ongoing relationship with girlfriend Blue. The girlfriend that still doesn’t know about that David and Darlene’s tryst.
The Conners presumably received a healthy dose of side-eye whenever Juliette Lewis’ Blue was introduced, putting a face and free-love personality to the love interest David had previously spoken of. Blue is way more of a people-pleaser than Darlene ever could be, for better or worse, whether it means dropping someone a quick compliment or letting a teenager girl have sex against her mother’s wishes. Naturally, it took half a nanosecond for Blue to earn Darlene’s ire, which only expanded from there.
Blue’s presence in Lanford did have somewhat positive ramifications. Though she’ll likely always have feelings for David, Darlene was in the proper headspace to accept a date with another man in “Tangled Up in Blue.” That man was Neil, the bar patron played by guest star Justin Long, who joined her for post-drinks sex, which probably just clouded up Darlene’s head even more, even if it was a fine enough release.
Darlene facetiously called Neil her “soulmate” when telling David about him, which was mainly a response to David’s use of the word when talking about how happy Blue makes him. Still, the two did get along long enough to have that one-night stand, so it’s possible we’ll be seeing Neil show up in Darlene’s life with more regularity in the future, if that’s what she wants. (Or if it’s what David doesn’t want, since that’s how divorced couples do things sometimes.)
One thing is for sure, though. Neil had better put his best foot forward if he ever visits Darlene within the Conner family household. At least if he wants to start off on Dan’s good side. Before the episode ended, David and Dan had another one of their classic conversations that looked about as comfortable as overalls made out of piranhas.
Could The Conners pull a 180 by later having David and Darlene decide to not finalize their divorce? Of course. Knowing how sitcoms and general TV marriages work, the two are almost guaranteed to make at least ONE more attempt to return their courtship to its former glory. But since relationships in this comedy franchise always seem to end in ostensibly dark ways, I’m confident that Darlene and David aren’t destined for eternal bliss together.