Fans of NBC’s hit drama This Is Us got more than they bargained for on this week’s shocking fall finale. ‘Cause here’s the thing about this series — you can never pat yourself on the back for making it through the episode when there is still enough time for an end-of-episode montage. Those montages can pack a punch, and Tuesday’s mid-season finale was the montage to end all montages, especially when it comes to This Is Us.
Spoiler alert: We’ll be talking about the midseason finale of This Is Us and what to expect when the show returns based on what we saw.
Here’s what you can expect the drama to delve into when it returns in January.
We’ll see more of Nicky Pearson
Let’s start with the obvious mind-blowing revelation, shall we? Jack Pearson’s brother and fellow Vietnam vet, Nicky, presumed to have died in the war, is actually alive and living practically around the corner from the Pearsons in Pennsylvania.
To be honest, we still haven’t wrapped our brains entirely around this information. On the plus side, veteran actor Griffin Dunne will be taking over the role moving forward. On the downside, we’ll have to keep stooping down to pick up our jaws every time we learn something new and shocking about Jack and Nicky’s relationship, which we suspect will be often.
We're still in shock.
— This Is Us (@NBCThisisUs) November 28, 2018
We won’t wait too long to find out what happened to Nicky
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter following the finale, co-showrunner Isaac Aptaker indicated This Is Us won’t waste any time jumping right back into the Nicky subplot.
“We’re going to pick right up in the new year with Kevin continuing on this quest to get answers,” Aptaker said. “He’s armed with this tiny shred of information that he’s gotten from this hotel clerk, that his uncle didn’t, in fact, die in Vietnam. It’s about what he does with that nugget of information to start peeling back the layers of this mystery and trying to get some answers. That’s the immediate drive of our first couple episodes back.”
Kevin & Zoe are closer, but it’s still complicated
Exercise caution when ‘shipping Kevin and Zoe, warns co-showrunner Elizabeth Berger. Although the Vietnam trip certainly helped move their relationship forward, things may not be entirely smooth sailing when we see them in January.
— This Is Us (@NBCThisisUs) November 28, 2018
“So, yeah, I think it’s safe to say that they’re coming home closer than ever. But obviously, Zoe has a really complicated past and closeness in itself may continue to be an issue as they move forward together,” Berger told THR.
Future Beth is alive, but all may not be OK
Let’s all go ahead and breathe a collective sigh of relief, because the final few moments of the episode confirm future Beth is indeed still alive. However, the fall finale seemed to suggest that perhaps she is no longer married to Randall given that she was shown at work (she’s apparently found a new calling running a dance company in the future timeline) and keeps very cool about having to go see Rebecca in the hospital, referring to her as “Randall’s mother.” While the showrunners are staying tight-lipped on this for now, Aptaker admits fans will learn the answers — eventually.
“We see in present day they’re in the scariest place we’ve ever shown them, marriage-wise, relationship-wise,” Aptaker said to THR. “And then in that future flash, it’s pretty hard to tell what their current romantic status is. Those are questions that are going to be a little bit of a slower burn for us. They will, of course, be answered eventually. But not just yet.”
The “her” Randall & Tess are going to see is Rebecca
At least one mystery was solved before This Is Us broke for the holidays. The flash-forwards that have all been about “her,” which began in season two, actually pointed toward Randall and his daughter (with Toby and Beth eventually being called on to visit) going to see Rebecca.
Show creator Dan Fogelman confirmed as much to Deadline, saying, “I think what we’re pretty clearly saying is that the person they’re all going to see is Rebecca. So in terms of that question that everybody’s been bandying about, yes, that’s what we’re saying. What that all entails will continue to be seen.”
It might be a while until we find out what happened to Rebecca
If that flash confirming Rebecca makes you think you’ll find out what’s going on with future her relatively fast, well, think again.
“In terms of where they’re going [to see her in the future], and what’s going on there, I think other stories move forward and center, and some of those answers will spread out towards the end of this season and into the next ones,” Fogelman told Deadline. “This is all part of a very long, complex, complicated plan that we’ve really had since go.”
Randall’s road ahead may be rough
All these future developments seem to hinge on what happens with Randall in the here and now. Will this election literally cost him his marriage?
“They’re definitely going to be tested,” Berger told Variety. “Their girls — at least two of them — are at an age where things are only going to get more complicated, Randall is only going to get busier whether it’s politics or something else, Beth has to figure out what she wants to do. There’s a lot going on in that household, so it’s going to be a pressure cooker.”
— Brooke Sassman (@BrookeSassman) November 28, 2018
Toby & Kate could have more heartbreak in store
Although Fogelman played coy with Deadline when asked about the reveal that Toby and Kate are having a boy, he did hint that the audience should never let their guard down when it comes to this fan-favorite couple.
“I think life is full of a lot of different colors, and many of them are incredibly joyous and happy, and a lot of them are sad and upsetting. So I think everything about this pregnancy has been difficult, and I think it’s always uncomfortable to allow yourself to relax too much as an audience member. Just like it is for Toby and Kate,” Fogelman said.
However, he does add that he and the writers are “not masochists,” so there’s that.