What now? That's what "This Is Us" fans may be asking after last night's emotional gut punch, "Memphis," and it also happens to be the name of the next episode. You know the answer is that you'll be crying again, so prepare accordingly.
There are only two episodes left to the first season of NBC's breakout hit. Episode 17, "What Now?" airs March 7, then the finale, reportedly titled "Moonshadow," airs March 14. (There is no new episode Feb. 28, thanks to Trump's speech to Congress.)
Series creator Dan Fogelman talked to Entertainment Weekly after the Feb. 21 episode, and in doing so he teased some of Randall's (Sterling K. Brown) storyline for Season 2. On the good news front, it sounds like we'll be seeing more of William (Ron Cephas Jones), even though we just lost him, in a similar way to how we keep seeing Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) even though we know he dies at some point when The Big Three are teens.
Here's part of Fogelman's Q&A with EW:
You've said that you plan on keeping Ron on the show, and we've seen a model for such a thing with Milo (Ventimiglia). But how will this work with Ron? Also, will he still be a regular, and will we see him in the final two episodes of this season?
You will see him in the next episode. You will not see him in the finale, but only because it's a very Jack and Rebecca-centric episode. He's going to remain a big part of the show. It's a little different than the Jack situation in that any time you're exploring the Pearson family in the past, Jack was in that story. William's character only entered Randall's family's story in the last year, so there's less of a backstory there. It means that if you're going into his past more, you're probably preceding his entrance into Randall and Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) and the kids' lives — which we will do as well, but he's going to remain a substantial part of the series. How many? And when? We're still figuring that all out.
What does Randall, who's still recovering from a breakdown, pull away from this experience, once the veil of grief is lifted?
I think you'll see a lot of that in our next episode, and then really bleeding heavily into next season. He's clearly a man who's lived a very structured existence, and he's a man who's all things to all people. And the lesson that's clearly imparted in this episode to Randall is, "Time is limited, you are good, you've already won, and it's okay to open your windows a little bit and let it down." And maybe that's the final gift that one father gave — that was a big part of a different father's journey, which was to try and teach Randall to find his balance, and maybe this is something that can really help break Randall open a little bit. In the immediacy of the episode, Randall is trying to figure out exactly what your question is, which is: How do I honor his legacy? What do I do with what just happened in this year I've just spent with this man so that I just don't go back to the same old existence? And he starts making a bunch of choices and decisions that will affect us going into season 2.
That sounds a bit ominous ... what is Randall going to choose to do? Will he break from the family, or specifically Rebecca (Mandy Moore)?
Also, here's part of executive producer Ken Olin's Q&A with EW after last week's episode, "Jack Pearson's Son," since it relates to the final two episodes ahead, including the Jack/Rebecca drama with Ben (Sam Trammell), and the fallout of Kevin's (Justin Hartley) play walk-out:
What kind of repercussions will Kevin experience in his career for walking out on the play? Is there a scene coming up in which he will run into Morris Chestnut and pitch him a double Manny situation?
Well, I'm not going to tell you what happens, but definitely we're going to deal with it. And it will certainly be dealt with in the last two episodes of the season. The ramifications of Kevin leaving the show will definitely be played out, and it's going to be played out in ways that are expected — and maybe some ways that aren't expected.
Even if Ben isn't nefariously plotting something, it just seems that there's more than a musical connection there.
You'll just have to wait and see. I mean, the only thing I can tell you is that as it plays out — and as it will play out over the final episode of the season — there will be enough information for people to draw their own conclusions about that. But it's like anything in terms of relationships; part of it has to do with who's perceiving it and why are they perceiving it a certain way. And we're going to get enough information by the end of the season that people will have to draw their own conclusions about whatever their chemistry is. What is Ben thinking? What is Rebecca thinking? Where is this a product of Jack's insecurities and where is he really perceiving something accurately?
What can you hint about the direction and intensity of this [Jack/Rebecca/Ben] storyline in the rest of the season?
It starts to ramp up. [...] And then in 17 and 18, it becomes certainly not only a more significant story, but it becomes really significant in terms of Jack and Rebecca's relationship. And then by the end of the season, it reaches a pretty critical mass. And it will take us to the end of the season, and the events that take place in the finale definitely are the things that are going to carry over in terms of next year, and where we'll pick them up and how they're doing.
Here's ABC's synopsis for the March 7 episode, "What Now?":
"The entire Pearson family gathers at Randall's for an unusual party. Kevin and Sophie's relationship deepens on the night of his play's premiere. Kate struggles to open up to Toby about her father's death. Tensions are high between Jack and Rebecca as she leaves on tour with her band."
After that, we only have the Season 1 finale, and Fogelman just said it's "a very Jack and Rebecca-centric episode," which makes us nervous. Better head to Costco and get a lifetime supply of Kleenex.
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