The Conners finale: Sara Gilbert on David's return, [spoiler]'s exit and that big 'emotional punch'

The following story contains spoilers about The Conners‘ Season 1 finale — proceed at your own peril

Turns out Tuesday’s Season 1 finale of The Conners featured two big returns. In addition to Johnny Galecki’s buzzed-about comeback as David, “We Continue to Truck” resurrected another pivotal character (albeit an inanimate one): the Lunch Box! The ill-fated eatery — now under new management — served as the backdrop for Jackie’s emotional breakdown (triggered by her split from Matthew Broderick’s two-timing alter ego Peter).

Jackie wasn’t the only Conner to end the season in crisis mode. Becky’s baby daddy Emilio was deported, while Darlene found herself caught between current rock (Chicago-bound squeeze Ben) and longtime hard place (aforementioned and newly-single soul mate David).

Below, star/exec producer Sara Gilbert dissects the episode’s myriad developments and previews the fallout in a potential Season 2.

TVLINE | I know a second season has not officially been ordered yet, but the finale certainly sets up a Ben/Darlene/David triangle. She’s still dating Ben but she’s clearly staying put in Lanford to be close to David. Might this foreshadow a larger role for Johnny moving forward, particularly in light of The Big Bang Theory ending?
That’s something I’m very hopeful about. I know he loves doing the show. I love having him. We have a magical time together. I would anticipate that he would do some [episodes] but I don’t want to speak for him.

TVLINE | I have really taken a liking to Ben — so much so that I’m not sure I want Darlene to choose David.
I think a lot of people feel that way, which is good because it makes [the triangle more complicated].

TVLINE | Darlene tells Ben she loves him in this episode. Does she mean it?
I think Darlene does love Ben. But a love that’s new is obviously different than a love of 30 years, with someone that you have children with. In some ways it’s stronger and in other ways it can’t compete.

RELATED: See Sara Gilbert through the years

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Sara Gilbert through the years
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Sara Gilbert through the years
Melissa Gilbert, Sara Gilbert, and Mother Barbara Crane (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 16: ROSEANNE - 'Gallery' 1988 Alicia Goranson, Sal Barone, Sara Gilbert (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 29: ROSEANNE - 'Radio Days' - Season One - 11/29/88, A songwriting contest unleashes creativity in Dan and Roseanne. Pictured: Michael Fishman (D.J.), Lecy Goranson (Becky), Sara Gilbert (Darlene), (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MARCH 01: Sara Gilbert, John Goodman and Alicia Goranson (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Sara Gilbert (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Actress Sara Gilbert. (Photo by Kevin Winter/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Sara Gilbert (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Sara Gilbert (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
UNITED STATES - MARCH 04: ROSEANNE- 'Gallery' 1991 Sara Gilbert, Johnny Galecki (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)
Sara Gilbert (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 114 -- Pictured: (l-r) Actress Sara Gilbert during an interview with host Jay Leno on November 23, 1992 -- (Photo by: Margaret Norton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
ROSEANNE - 'Terms of Estrangement' which aired on September 15, 1992. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) SARA GILBERT
Sara Gilbert (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Leonardo DiCaprio and Sara Gilbert (Photo by Steve Eichner/WireImage)
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 17: ROSEANNE - gallery - 9/17/96, Sara Gilbert (Darlene) on the ABC Television Network comedy 'Roseanne'. 'Roseanne' is the story of a working class family struggling with life's essential problems: Marriage, Children, Money and Parent's in Law., (Photo by Bob D'Amico/ABC via Getty Images)
Sara Gilbert (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
11/04/99. Hollywood CA. Sara Gilbert attending the film premiere of her new movie, 'Light It Up'. Photo by Brenda Chase Online USA Inc.
Sara Gilbert during Pediatric AIDS at Private Home in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
Sara Gilbert (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage)
Sara Gilbert during Terminator 3 - Rise of the Machines World Premiere at Mann Bruin in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
ER -- 'Time of Death' Episode 6 -- Air Date 11/11/2004 -- Pictured: Sara Gilbert as Jane Figler (Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Sara Gilbert during 8th Annual Lili Claire Foundation Benefit - Red Carpet at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by M. Caulfield/WireImage for Fusion PR _LA)
Sara Gilbert in West Los Angeles, California (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
Sara Gilbert during 'A Time for Heroes' Carnival Hosted By Disney - Arrivals at Wadsworth Theater in Westwood, California, United States. (Photo by Jason Merritt/FilmMagic)
SANTA MONICA, CA - NOVEMBER 04: Actress Sara Gilbert arrives at the P.S. ARTS Annual 'Express Yourself' charity benefit held on November 4, 2007 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Mark Sullivan/WireImage)
SANTA MONICA, CA - NOVEMBER 16: Actress Sara Gilbert and Son Levi arrive at the 11th Anniversary Of P.S. Arts 'Express Yourself 2008' at the Barker Hanger at the Santa Monica Airport on November 16, 2008 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
SANTA MONICA, CA - NOVEMBER 15: Sara Gilbert attends P.S. ARTS 'Express Yourself 2009' at Barker Hangar on November 15, 2009 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by MARK WOODWORTH/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
Sara Gilbert attends 8th annual 'Best In Drag' show AIDS fundraiser at Orpheum Theatre on October 24, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Brian To/FilmMagic)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: Actress Sara Gilbert arrives at the CBS 2012 fall premiere party at Greystone Manor Supperclub on September 18, 2012 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 05: Actress Sara Gilbert arrives at the season premiere of HBO's 'The Comeback' at the El Capitan Theatre on November 5, 2014 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
BURBANK, CA - OCTOBER 18: Sara Gilbert attends the 2014 Environmental Media Awards at Warner Bros. Studios on October 18, 2014 in Burbank, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - OCTOBER 26: Sara Gilbert attends CBS Daytime Presents 'The Talk' panel at The Paley Center for Media on October 26, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Tara Ziemba/WireImage)
ROSEANNE - ABC's 'Roseanne' stars Sara Gilbert as Darlene Conner. (Robert Trachtenberg via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 15: Sara Gilbert attends the Gersh Upfronts Party 2018 at The Bowery Hotel on May 15, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Jared Siskin/Getty Images for Gersh)
LOS ANGELES - SEPTEMBER 10: Season 9 of the Emmy Award-winning show THE TALK Premieres Monday, September 10, 2018 2 PM ET, 1 PM CT/PT on CBS. Sara Gilbert, shown. (Photo by Andrew Eccles/CBS via Getty Images)
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TVLINE | David broke up with Blue — does that mean we’ve seen the last of Juliette Lewis?
I would love to see her again. We haven’t gotten into creative [discussions about Season 2] because we aren’t officially picked up yet. But that is something we’ll explore. I’m a huge fan of Juliette Lewis and I like how Darlene judges her and then softens to her. I like the complicated dynamic between David and Darlene and she obviously adds [more] complications.

TVLINE | Why do you think it took Jackie so long to cut the loathsome Peter lose?
She hasn’t dated anyone seriously for a long time. And people are in toxic relationships for years. Compared to, like, my friends, Jackie moved on pretty fast. [Laughs] Peter represented her life jacket. She was facing so much loss over her sister; in a way [Roseanne’s death] hit Jackie the hardest. And so she scrambled into this new relationship and it made her feel like, “OK. My life is on track.” So when that fell apart she had to face that her whole life was falling apart.

TVLINE | Why did this episode feel like the right time to bring the Lunch Box set back into play?
We knew that we wanted Jackie to melt down in the [finale]. That’s something we talked about since the beginning of the season. It was just a matter of where [the breakdown occurred]. And then it sort of became, “Oh, yes. This is the symbolic place where they worked together and where they were happy.” It had an emotional punch for everybody [because it served as a reminder] of what’s been lost.

TVLINE | Emilio was deported, but I’m assuming that’s not the end of his story?
Again, we haven’t started any of the creative discussions [for Season 2], but I love [his portrayer Rene Rosado] as a person and he’s so great in the role. I wouldn’t rule it out.

TVLINE | When do you think Dan will be ready to start dating, if he ever is?
That’s something I’m not sure of yet, honestly. If he ever did, it wouldn’t be something he was looking for.

TVLINE | I really enjoyed Katey Sagal on the show. She was great with John Goodman.
Yes. She was amazing. I’d love to have her back as well, if we [are renewed].

TVLINE | How much of what transpired on The Conners was originally conceived as a storyline for the ill-fated second season of the Roseanne revival? Like, for instance, was it always the plan for Becky to get pregnant?
Yes. We talked about that [during the first revival season]. Some of the stories may’ve gone in a different direction [on The Conners].

TVLINE | General reflections on Season 1 now that it’s behind you?
I’m just grateful that we got to do it and that people watched. I didn’t know if that was going to happen going in. I was hopeful. Obviously there were a lot of emotions going in, so I’m grateful things have settled down a little bit and everything seems OK right now.

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'Roseanne' spinoff 'The Conners'
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'Roseanne' spinoff 'The Conners'
THE CONNERS - 'We Continue to Truck' - As Darlene grapples with a life-changing offer from Ben, an unexpected conversation with David turns her world even more upside down. Relationship problems lead Jackie to the bottom of the bottle at the last place she remembers being truly happy. Becky's hopes of a happily ever after with Emilio are jeopardized when Dan delivers alarming news, on the season finale of 'The Conners,' TUESDAY, JAN. 22 (8:00-8:31 p.m. EST), on The ABC Television Network. (Eric McCandless via Getty Images) LAURIE METCALF
THE CONNERS - 'We Continue to Truck' - As Darlene grapples with a life-changing offer from Ben, an unexpected conversation with David turns her world even more upside down. Relationship problems lead Jackie to the bottom of the bottle at the last place she remembers being truly happy. Becky's hopes of a happily ever after with Emilio are jeopardized when Dan delivers alarming news, on the season finale of 'The Conners,' TUESDAY, JAN. 22 (8:00-8:31 p.m. EST), on The ABC Television Network. (Eric McCandless via Getty Images) LECY GORANSON
THE CONNERS - 'We Continue to Truck' - As Darlene grapples with a life-changing offer from Ben, an unexpected conversation with David turns her world even more upside down. Relationship problems lead Jackie to the bottom of the bottle at the last place she remembers being truly happy. Becky's hopes of a happily ever after with Emilio are jeopardized when Dan delivers alarming news, on the season finale of 'The Conners,' TUESDAY, JAN. 22 (8:00-8:31 p.m. EST), on The ABC Television Network. (Eric McCandless via Getty Images) EMMA KENNEY
THE CONNERS - 'We Continue to Truck' - As Darlene grapples with a life-changing offer from Ben, an unexpected conversation with David turns her world even more upside down. Relationship problems lead Jackie to the bottom of the bottle at the last place she remembers being truly happy. Becky's hopes of a happily ever after with Emilio are jeopardized when Dan delivers alarming news, on the season finale of 'The Conners,' TUESDAY, JAN. 22 (8:00-8:31 p.m. EST), on The ABC Television Network. (Eric McCandless via Getty Images) RENE ROSADO, LECY GORANSON
THE CONNERS - 'We Continue to Truck' - As Darlene grapples with a life-changing offer from Ben, an unexpected conversation with David turns her world even more upside down. Relationship problems lead Jackie to the bottom of the bottle at the last place she remembers being truly happy. Becky's hopes of a happily ever after with Emilio are jeopardized when Dan delivers alarming news, on the season finale of 'The Conners,' TUESDAY, JAN. 22 (8:00-8:31 p.m. EST), on The ABC Television Network. (Eric McCandless via Getty Images) AMES MCNAMARA, EMMA KENNEY, MICHAEL FISHMAN, JAYDEN REY, SARA GILBERT
THE CONNERS - ABC's 'The Conners' stars Maya Lynne Robinson as Geena Williams-Conner, Jayden Rey as Mary, Michael Fishman as D.J. Conner, John Goodman as Dan Conner, Laurie Metcalf as Jackie Harris, Sara Gilbert as Darlene Conner, Emma Kenney as Harris Conner, Ames McNamara as Mark, and Lecy Goranson as Becky Conner. (Robert Trachtenberg/ABC via Getty Images)
THE CONNERS - 'Keep on Truckin'' - A sudden turn of events forces the Conners to face the daily struggles of life in Lanford in a way they never have before, on the series premiere of 'The Conners,' airing TUESDAY, OCT. 16 (8:00-8:31 p.m. EDT), on The ABC Television Network. (Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images) JOHN GOODMAN, SARA GILBERT
THE CONNERS - 'Keep on Truckin' - In the premiere episode, 'Keep on Truckin,' a sudden turn of events forces the Conners to face the daily struggles of life in Lanford in a way they never have before. 'The Conners' premieres TUESDAY, OCT. 16 (8:00-8:31 p.m. EDT), on ABC. (Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images) SARA GILBERT, LAURIE METCALF
THE CONNERS - 'Keep on Truckin' - In the premiere episode, 'Keep on Truckin,' a sudden turn of events forces the Conners to face the daily struggles of life in Lanford in a way they never have before. 'The Conners' premieres TUESDAY, OCT. 16 (8:00-8:31 p.m. EDT), on ABC. (Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images) LAURIE METCALF, SARA GILBERT, LECY GORANSON, JOHN GOODMAN
THE CONNERS - 'Keep on Truckin'' - A sudden turn of events forces the Conners to face the daily struggles of life in Lanford in a way they never have before, on the series premiere of 'The Conners,' airing TUESDAY, OCT. 16 (8:00-8:31 p.m. EDT), on The ABC Television Network. (Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images) JOHN GOODMAN
THE CONNERS - 'Keep on Truckin'' - A sudden turn of events forces the Conners to face the daily struggles of life in Lanford in a way they never have before, on the series premiere of 'The Conners,' airing TUESDAY, OCT. 16 (8:00-8:31 p.m. EDT), on The ABC Television Network. (Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images) JOHN GOODMAN
THE CONNERS - 'Keep on Truckin' - In the premiere episode, 'Keep on Truckin,' a sudden turn of events forces the Conners to face the daily struggles of life in Lanford in a way they never have before. 'The Conners' premieres TUESDAY, OCT. 16 (8:00-8:31 p.m. EDT), on ABC. (Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images) LECY GORANSON, SARA GILBERT
THE CONNERS - 'Keep on Truckin' - Actress Maya Lynne Robinson joins the cast of 'The Conners' as a series regular. (Eric McCandless via Getty Images) MICHAEL FISHMAN, MAYA LYNNE ROBINSON
THE CONNERS - 'Keep on Truckin'' - A sudden turn of events forces the Conners to face the daily struggles of life in Lanford in a way they never have before, on the series premiere of 'The Conners,' airing TUESDAY, OCT. 16 (8:00-8:31 p.m. EDT), on The ABC Television Network. (Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images) ESTELLE PARSONS, SARA GILBERT, LAURE METCALF
THE CONNERS - 'Keep on Truckin' - In the premiere episode, 'Keep on Truckin,' a sudden turn of events forces the Conners to face the daily struggles of life in Lanford in a way they never have before. 'The Conners' premieres TUESDAY, OCT. 16 (8:00-8:31 p.m. EDT), on ABC. (Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images) JOHN GOODMAN, AMES MCNAMARA
THE CONNERS - 'Keep on Truckin'' - A sudden turn of events forces the Conners to face the daily struggles of life in Lanford in a way they never have before, on the series premiere of 'The Conners,' airing TUESDAY, OCT. 16 (8:00-8:31 p.m. EDT), on The ABC Television Network. (Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images) MARQUES RAY, JAMES PICKENS JR., JOHN GOODMAN
THE CONNERS - 'Keep on Truckin'' - A sudden turn of events forces the Conners to face the daily struggles of life in Lanford in a way they never have before, on the series premiere of 'The Conners,' airing TUESDAY, OCT. 16 (8:00-8:31 p.m. EDT), on The ABC Television Network. (Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images) AMES MCNAMARA
THE CONNERS - 'Keep on Truckin'' - A sudden turn of events forces the Conners to face the daily struggles of life in Lanford in a way they never have before, on the series premiere of 'The Conners,' airing TUESDAY, OCT. 16 (8:00-8:31 p.m. EDT), on The ABC Television Network. (Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images) LAURIE METCALF, JOHN GOODMAN
THE CONNERS - 'Keep on Truckin'' - A sudden turn of events forces the Conners to face the daily struggles of life in Lanford in a way they never have before, on the series premiere of 'The Conners,' airing TUESDAY, OCT. 16 (8:00-8:31 p.m. EDT), on The ABC Television Network. (Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images) JOHN GOODMAN, NATALIE WEST, SARA GILBERT
THE CONNERS - 'Keep on Truckin'' - A sudden turn of events forces the Conners to face the daily struggles of life in Lanford in a way they never have before, on the series premiere of 'The Conners,' airing TUESDAY, OCT. 16 (8:00-8:31 p.m. EDT), on The ABC Television Network. (Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images) LECY GORANSON, ESTELLE PARSONS
THE CONNERS - 'Keep on Truckin'' - A sudden turn of events forces the Conners to face the daily struggles of life in Lanford in a way they never have before, on the series premiere of 'The Conners,' airing TUESDAY, OCT. 16 (8:00-8:31 p.m. EDT), on The ABC Television Network. (Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images) LECY GORANSON, SARA GILBERT, AMES MCNAMARA, ESTELLE PARSONS
THE CONNERS - 'Keep on Truckin'' - A sudden turn of events forces the Conners to face the daily struggles of life in Lanford in a way they never have before, on the series premiere of 'The Conners,' airing TUESDAY, OCT. 16 (8:00-8:31 p.m. EDT), on The ABC Television Network. (Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images) AMES MCNAMARA, MAURICIA LARA, ASHTON JAMES PULIS, JOHN GOODMAN
THE CONNERS - ABC's 'The Conners' stars John Goodman as Dan Conner. (Robert Trachtenberg/ABC via Getty Images)
THE CONNERS - ABC's 'The Conners' stars Sara Gilbert as Darlene Conner. (Robert Trachtenberg/ABC via Getty Images)
THE CONNERS - 'Keep on Truckin'' - A sudden turn of events forces the Conners to face the daily struggles of life in Lanford in a way they never have before, on the series premiere of 'The Conners,' airing TUESDAY, OCT. 16 (8:00-8:31 p.m. EDT), on The ABC Television Network. (Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images) NATALIE WEST, MAYA LYNNE ROBINSON
THE CONNERS - 'Keep on Truckin'' - A sudden turn of events forces the Conners to face the daily struggles of life in Lanford in a way they never have before, on the series premiere of 'The Conners,' airing TUESDAY, OCT. 16 (8:00-8:31 p.m. EDT), on The ABC Television Network. (Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images) JOHN GOODMAN, SARA GILBERT
THE CONNERS - ABC's 'The Conners' stars Jayden Rey as Mary. (Robert Trachtenberg/ABC via Getty Images)
THE CONNERS - ABC's 'The Conners' stars Laurie Metcalf as Jackie Harris. (Robert Trachtenberg/ABC via Getty Images)
THE CONNERS - ABC's 'The Conners' stars Ames McNamara as Mark. (Robert Trachtenberg/ABC via Getty Images)
THE CONNERS - ABC's 'The Conners' stars Maya Lynne Robinson as Geena Williams-Conner. (Robert Trachtenberg/ABC via Getty Images)
THE CONNERS - ABC's 'The Conners' stars Michael Fishman as D.J. Conner. (Robert Trachtenberg/ABC via Getty Images)
THE CONNERS - ABC's 'The Conners' stars Emma Kenney as Harris Conner. (Craig Sjodin/ABC via Getty Images)
THE CONNERS - 'Keep on Truckin'' - A sudden turn of events forces the Conners to face the daily struggles of life in Lanford in a way they never have before, on the series premiere of 'The Conners,' airing TUESDAY, OCT. 16 (8:00-8:31 p.m. EDT), on The ABC Television Network. (Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images) AMES MCNAMARA, JOHN GOODMAN
THE CONNERS - ABC's 'The Conners' stars Lecy Goranson as Becky Conner. (Robert Trachtenberg/ABC via Getty Images)
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