Tuesday’s episode of This Is Us is a big one — and not just because the Steelers are in the Super Bowl. Airing at 9 p.m. ET/PT on NBC, “The Game Plan” tackles the #WhereIsJack question hanging over the series, travels back to a key moment for Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebeca (Mandy Moore), and features a less-than-expected pairing of two characters. Below, series creator Dan Fogelman lays out the game plan for, well, “The Game Plan.”
Prepare to see life Pre-Big 3.
Jack and Rebecca’s story takes the couple back to a moment in time before they were juggling three babies. “It explores what their lives were like and what their attitudes were like before they were even pregnant, and what their viewpoints were on even having children,” says Fogelman. “It’s as if you get to go into a time capsule and you get to look at your parents have a discussion on having you before you were even born.”
Kevin is in over his head, again.
Not just with the play, but with his nieces as he tries his hand at babysitting duty. “It’s a continuation of what we did in episode 4 — it’s the story of a young guy feeling out of his depth and doubting his ability to operate as an uncle to these young kids who he’s now living with, of handling Olivia [Janet Montgomery], of handling this very high intensity play,” says Fogelman. The good news is that he’ll get some help from William. “William [Ron Cephas Jones] and Kevin [Justin Hartley] are left to babysit Kevin’s nieces because Randall [Sterling K. Brown] and Beth [Susan Kelechi Watson] have a night on the town, and it’s William who helps break Kevin open a little bit,” he notes. “I always like when you start establishing your show and you’re into your rhythm, pairing up two characters who really haven’t had a hell of a lot to say to each other yet and letting them find common ground. That’s a fun story with the two of them, and it actually becomes a really important one for Kevin. The end of the episode, to me, is the highlight of what we’ve done in the series so far. I’m really excited about it.”
Beth and Randall have a night to remember. But maybe not for the reasons they were thinking.
The couple will finally get a moment to themselves, “Beth and Randall are feeling the burden of basically running a youth hostel out of their McMansion in New Jersey,” says Fogelman. “They’ve got his biological father living here, the Manny is now living with him, their life has been been upturned, they’re exhausted and all they want is one romantic night out in the city. So they leave Kevin with their kids and they take Kevin’s fancy unused New York City hotel suite. And the night does not go as planned.”
Is Toby ready for some football with Kate?
Football is important to Kate (Chrissy Metz). More important than Toby (Chris Sullivan) realizes. “Kate watches football and has a real ritual of watching the Steelers by herself — it’s something from her family and from her childhood that she likes to do,” says Fogelman. “Suddenly being in a real relationship means you can’t just hold Sundays to yourself anymore, and trying to let Toby into that relationship as she makes the next step forward. The big thing of the episode is there are some big questions looming over the family and the show thus far, and at least one of the big questions is partially answered.”
We know, we say this every week, but seriously: Bring Kleenex.
“The end of [the episode] — I’ve been pulling people into my office because I’m very proud of it, and people without context are crying so hard, it’s making me uncomfortable,” quips Fogelman. “It might be towards the highest level we’ve been at. I continue to be mystified by all the crying, but I’ve been showing people this episode and people are wailing.”
To read a few hints about “The Game Plan” from Milo Ventimiglia and Chrissy Metz, click here.
To see a first-look clip from the episode, which shows Jack and Rebecca living it up before they had kids, click here.
Don’t miss the cast of This Is Us live and battling each other in a game of trivia at EW PopFest this weekend. Click the banner below for details and tickets.