Never a show to shy away from storylines that touch viewers in ways few shows have accomplished, This Is Us in season three is taking viewers to newer, darker, deeper depths with Rebecca, Jack, Kate, Kevin, Randall and their respective significant others as well as children.
While Kate and husband Toby struggle to conceive their first child, Beth and Randall are facing daunting new career paths with Randall running for local government and Beth trying to find herself after getting laid off. Meanwhile, Kevin is exploring a new relationship with Beth’s cousin, documentarian Zoe. In the past, we’re getting bigger glimpses into Jack’s time serving in the Vietnam War, how Rebecca kept her family together shortly after Jack’s death and even how these beloved soulmates began their relationship.
There are so many threads to follow, so many big emotional turns that the show has made in just a handful of episodes, and yet we already have some theories based on what we’ve seen so far about where this show will go. Here’s what we came up with.
1. Rebecca and Jack’s trip to California is going to be life-changing
Early in season three, we saw Rebecca and Jack’s rocky beginnings, with it becoming very clear that despite these two being near-polar opposites, their attraction to one another was undeniable. At the end of episode three, “Katie’s Girls,” we see Rebecca turn up at the home of Jack’s mother’s friend, where his mother found safety from her abusive husband for a while. There, Rebecca helps Jack clean up and get things set up for his mom. During this time, she suggests they go to California.
We’ve never heard about this trip before, and yet it feels like This Is Us is opening the door for California to be a place where Rebecca and Jack will bond and grow as a couple. California in the ’70s was a wild place, in the midst of the third wave of feminism and the aftermath of a pop culture boom of the ’60s. Our favorite lovebirds may find themselves challenged and forced to grow in new ways and shake off their old ways of thinking (especially when it comes to parenting).
2. Randall’s journey to find his place in the world will take an interesting turn
Randall has always been in search of what his place in the world is. Despite being raised by Jack and Rebecca, who have always made sure to let Randall know just how much they love him, he still struggles with the fact that he’s not only adopted but Black. Growing up, Randall did have a small support system of Black people, and we’ve seen him regard his Black friends and their families in high school and college with curiosity and longing. Now that he’s running for local government in Philadelphia and connecting more deeply with Chi Chi (Yetide Badaki) on neighborhood issues, it’s easy to believe that Randall’s singular-minded goal of becoming a representative and fixing Chi Chi’s neighborhood will potentially allow him to ignore Beth or his family duties. This journey could upend everything in Randall’s life if he doesn’t figure out how to balance it.
3. The “her” answer is right under our noses
The identity of “her,” who we’ve seen mentioned by older Randall and Tess in the time jump to the future, is perhaps the most hotly debated season three thread now that the mystery around how Jack died is settled. In the time jumps, not only have we seen Randall and Tess prepare to go see “her” (and we also don’t know where they’re going or why, yet), but it seems that Toby is in on this, too, albeit reluctantly.
With these three in the mix, the strongest “her” candidates are Kate and Beth. Sure, Deja, Annie or Rebecca could be options, too, but given Randall’s age, Rebecca may already be dead by this point (don’t remind us!), and Deja and Annie don’t feel connected to Toby in a way that it would cause him to want to bail on visiting “her.” That leads us back to Kate or Beth, who may very well be in a hospital or some kind of care facility with visiting hours. And if that’s the case, then we need to watch every little thing Kate and Beth do for the rest of season three to make sure they’re safe.
4. Who is the woman wearing Jack’s necklace?
Maybe the most tantalizing cliffhanger in a while came at the end of episode five, “Toby.” It was there that we saw Kevin receive a letter from Jack’s Vietnam buddy, Robinson, that included a photo of Jack standing with a still-unnamed woman who happens to be wearing the necklace Jack wore for protection before passing it along to Kevin.
While it would be wild to wonder whether Jack followed in the footsteps of other American soldiers in Vietnam who fathered children with Vietnamese women (it would certainly take This Is Us into territory wouldn’t see coming), it feels likelier that the woman in the photo helped Jack in some crucial way and possibly gave him her necklace for protection (we already know Jack is in the habit of passing along helpful habits, like Robinson’s face-cupping trick to calm someone down). This seems to be backed up by the title of the episode, “Kamsahamnida,” a Korean word for “thank you” that, given the context, feels tied to Jack in Vietnam.
5. Through Kevin, we’ll find out exactly how Nick died
In episode four, titled “Vietnam,” we learn that Jack enlisted to serve in Vietnam so he could be close to his younger brother, Nick (Michael Angarano), who was drafted. As has been shown throughout the show, Jack is very protective and empathetic when it comes to his family, and that includes Nick. But we also know that after Vietnam, Jack carried the weight of his brother’s death on his shoulders, with his father commenting that Nick’s death is Jack’s fault.
With Kevin on a journey to learn more about Jack’s time in Vietnam, it feels inevitable that Kevin will be the one to discover exactly how Nick died and just how much Jack was involved. But just going off the fact that we already know Nick is a bit tougher than Jack and willingly went to Vietnam because it was his turn to be Superman, it feels like Nick’s death will be shown to be a result of him trying to save Jack during combat.