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This Is Us: Creator talks Thanksgiving episode

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Ron Batzdorff/NBC

When This Is Us serves up its Thanksgiving episode tonight, you just might be in for one helluva meal.  

Titled “Pilgrim Rick” (9 p.m. ET, NBC), the episode will bring the family together for the first time in the present day (minus urn-based Jack, of course). Last week’s installment of the NBC dramedy, “The Best Washing Machine in the World,” ended with Randall’s wife, Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson), discovering a dangerous secret: That his biological father, William (Ron Cephas Jones) and adoptive mother, Rebecca (Mandy Moore), knew each other all these years. William pleaded with Beth not to spill the beans to Randall, as it would destroy his relationship with his mother — she had told Randall (Sterling K. Brown) that she did not know his biological father — and we last saw Beth leaving an urgent voicemail for Rebecca, and leaving viewers with some big question marks: How long will it be before the truth comes out? And who will be the one to tell Randall?  

“The Thanksgiving episode is explosive,” series creator Dan Fogelman tells EW. “Those questions get answered really quickly….It’s where a lot of the storylines we’ve been following for the course of the season — Toby [Chris Sullivan] and Kate [Chrissy Metz] and their issues with food, all the way through Randall and Rebecca and the secret of this family — all come to a head in a certain degree. It’s also very funny in places and has a great tone. I’m incredibly proud of it.”

As for Toby and Kate, the differences in their diet that caused conflict last week will factor significantly into their story in this episode, says Fogelman. In fact, he refers to one scene featuring the couple as “one of my favorite things I’ve ever worked on. It’s really, really powerful.”

The past-set story in “Pilgrim Rick” features the Pearsons hitting the road to visit Rebecca’s parents and celebrating the holiday in an unconventional fashion. “What’s really cool is you’re watching in the present day a very unusual Thanksgiving tradition that the Pearson family has, and in the past story, you’re watching the origination of that tradition, which comes about accidentally but then has informed all their other Thanksgivings since,” says Fogelman. “It plays with time in a really, really interesting way. It sets us up for our final two episodes leading to Christmas before we take a break and come back in January.”

And, as we mentioned, it brings all family members except Jack to the table, literally. “It was the first time we had the entire cast [minus Ventimiglia] in one location at one time since our stories are so segmented,” says Fogelman. “A lot of our actors who aren’t often in the same scene together get to be in the scenes together.” Will their characters finish the episode still wanting to be in the same room? We’re about to find out.

To read Fogelman’s thoughts on last week’s episode, click here.

To see a preview of tonight’s episode, click here.

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