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This Is Us Returns Tuesday — Here’s Everything We Know About Season 4

“If you think you know what’s coming next,” the posters read, “you don’t know us.” The message is clear: This Is Us is never a show that’s going to get comfortable, or let us stay in a happy moment. When it comes to This Is Us Season 4, we know to expect new characters, new heartbreak, and new glimpses of the past — but we can never truly prepare for the emotional journey that the show will take us on, and what previously sacred memories we’ll find shattered by new revelations. Of course, that doesn’t mean we’ll stop trying, so we’ve done an extensive round-up of what we do know about Season 4.

If we were to sum up what to expect from the upcoming season, we’d do so in the immortal words of Chris Sullivan (aka Toby Damon): “Wherever you think we are going, we are going in a completely different direction,” he told People about Season 4 back in August. “The places where this season goes, I think they’ve said it all … it is completely unexpected.” Honestly, given that one of our expectations is that Toby and Kate break up, we’re glad to hear it (even though it’s unlikely that’s what he means).

Here’s a round-up of everything the This Is Us cast and crew have teased about Season 4 — the good, the bad, and the things that will make you ugly-cry.

New Characters

To start, the Season 4 trailer reveals a whole host of new characters, played by Asante Blackk, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Omar Epps, Bahara Golestani, Jennifer Morrison, Timothy Omundson, M. Night Shyamalan, Julian Silva, Auden Thornton and Nick Wechsler. We don’t know what characters these new faces will be taking on, but Mandy Moore teased back in August that the This Is Us world “fundamentally expands” in Season 4. So, it makes sense that that would involve a lot of new faces.

Chrissy Metz also commented on the addition of new faces on Watch What Happens Live this August: “We’re going to meet some new characters, which is exciting,” the actress shared. “And we’re going to see how they’re all sort of intertwined and how they all affect the Pearsons. That’s a pretty good clue, that’s a pretty good hint for you.” Clue?!! And here we thought this was just straightforward information.

Rebecca’s Final Days

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Ron Batzdorff/NBC. Ron Batzdorff/NBC.

Speaking of Moore, her character has been in a troubling state the last few times we’ve seen her. In the drama’s flash-forward sequences, we see Rebecca Pearson nearing the end of her days, being visited in a hospital bed by her children. Moore confirmed in September that we’re seeing the end of Rebecca’s life: “We’re in the final throes of her life, the last couple of weeks, I would say,” the actress explained. She also adds, however, that most of the season won’t focus on that time period.

On the subject of Rebecca’s plotline, Milo Ventimiglia added this: “We’re really shifting to the matriarch side of everything and understanding Rebecca’s journey and what her impact on the family has been.” Our main objection to the show has always been that it’s too Jack-focused, so we’re thrilled to hear it. Moore had this comment for what we’ll see as we go back through Rebecca’s journey: “I think in other aspects of her life especially immediately post-Jack, the kids have just graduated from high school and potentially going off to college,” the actress told People. “It’s a big lonely road that she is sort of staring down the barrel of, but she always comes out on top.”

Kate & Toby’s Relationship (& How Baby Jack Factors In)

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Ron Batzdorff/NBC. Ron Batzdorff/NBC.

Season 3 saw Kate and Toby hitting a couple substantial rough patches: as Kate struggled to get and stay pregnant, and Toby struggled with his depression, the couple was rockier than we’ve ever seen them. Even though baby Jack was safe and sound when we left him, we’re not sure the same can be said for their relationship (Toby is notably missing a wedding ring in the Season 3 finale flash-forward) — and the drama with Jack’s health may not be over either.

Talking to E! News in July, Metz said this: “We’re going to see Kate and Toby co-parenting and how/if that will change the dynamic in their relationship.” Cryptic, just how we like it. She added this about Jack: “He is still a preemie, so we’re going to see what that all means.” Truly, God forbid she give us actual information! We’ll just sit here biting our nails until Tuesday at 8 pm, don’t worry about us.

(If you really want to freak out, dig this: showrunner Elizabeth Berger, when asked to comment on why Kate isn’t present in the flash-forward, said this: “I think it’s wide open at this point what has become of Kate.” Wide open, eh? Become of, eh?! What are they going to do to Kate?

Kevin as a Dad

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Ron Batzdorff/NBC. Ron Batzdorff/NBC.

Another one of the (many) shocks of the Season 3 finale was meeting Kevin’s son. Kevin breaks up with Beth’s sister Zoe after the two disagree on whether they want children in their future, so we knew that Kevin wanted to be a dad one day — and now we know that that dream comes true for him. So, the question is how much of that storyline Season 4 will tackle directly: Will Kevin meet the woman who will one day become the mother of his child? Will we go far enough into the future that we actually see that child being born? Or will be jump directly to that point way in the future, with Rebecca in the hospital bed, and then get more answers about Kevin’s son the following season?

All of these things are possible, given the way creator Dan Fogelman talks about his long-term plan for the show, and the fact that This Is Us was renewed through Season 6. “We never set out to make a television series that was going to last 18 seasons, and so we have a very direct plan,” he told The Hollywood Reporter back in April. “I have script pages I have written and I’m writing that really are deep, deep, deep into the future. Like, we have a plan for what we’re going to do and I know what the plan is.” That’s nice, Dan. Thank you for all of that information.

Randall & Beth

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Ron Batzdorff/NBC. Ron Batzdorff/NBC.

Thankfully, the Season 3 finale confirmed that Randall and Beth heal their wounds eventually, though Season 3 was riddled with conflict after Beth lost her job and Randall pursued a political career. They decided to move to Philadelphia together, where they can both pursue their dreams, and the flash-forward confirms they’re still together.

So, what’s next for this part of the Pearson family? Undoubtedly, we’ll get more drama with their daughters as they grow into fully-fledged teens, and it’s likely that the move itself will provide some stress (incidentally, Rebecca and Miguel are moving too, to California — a theme this season!). But, hopefully, Randall and Beth will have a more restful Season 4 than they did Season 3. After a year of wondering whether TV’s most rock-solid couple was going to crumble, we need a break.

Luckily, Susan Kelechi Watson’s comments seem to confirm that: “Last year was the hurricane, and now, once the dust has settled, what’s going on?” Watson tells Glamour. “I feel like they’ve gotten [past that] and now it’s about supporting one another. Now other things come up. How will the kids acclimate in Philly? What happens with Beth’s dance studio? Is she making that work? What about the hours that Randall has to put in as a councilman? So what I get from this season is [it’s about] family.”

Anything Else?

Three things. One: Showrunner Elizabeth Berger said that Season 4 begins in the ’70s. “We’re excited to get back to the ’70s with Jack and Rebecca when we return … it’s a really romantic period, and we’re going to be seeing what happens when they come back from that amazing road trip and reality sets in and what happens next.” Cool, cool, cool. Two: Miguel is out of the picture in the flash-forward (which Berger says takes place 12-15 years ahead), but showrunner Isaac Aptaker says we won’t know why until Seasons 5 or 6. (What?!) Three: They cast even younger Pearson siblings (Pearson babies!!), and here they are.

Feast your eyes. Buy new tissues. And, obviously, tune in Tuesday at 8 pm on NBC.

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