This Is Us season 3: Sterling K. Brown says flash-forward mystery hints at 'end of our story'
Of the many questions that This Is Us fans were asking themselves upon completion of the season 2 finale, perhaps the most intriguing and ominous was: Who is “her?”
In one of the episode’s several time-jumps to the future — this one set up to two decades from now — we reunited with adult Tess. Whereas the first visit was a touchy-feely nod to Tess pursuing a career in foster care as she met up with Randall (Sterling K. Brown) for lunch, this flash-forward was much more loaded. When Randall (Sterling K. Brown) cryptically told Tess, “It’s time to go see her,” Tess replied, “I’m not ready,” and Randall seconded: “I’m not either.”
Who is this mystery woman? (Beth? Annie? Deja? Someone we haven’t met yet?) “I know who the person is that future Randall is referring to, but [series creator Dan] Fogelman would cut off my big toe if I actually told you who it was,” Brown tells EW. “But I can tell you it’s probably not what you suspect. In classic Fogelman style, it will be like, ‘Oh, wow — didn’t see that coming.'”
Also of importance: What exactly has happened to said mystery person? (Death? Estrangement? Other?) Not surprisingly, Brown isn’t spilling, but he does note that Fogelman “has a very keen understanding of what the beginning, middle, and end of our show is, and that’s important because he often likens our show to Lost in terms of its structure. You’re dealing with present-day circumstances, and then you have these flashbacks which further illuminate the present circumstances of the characters. … When you see that flash-forward to the future, it will ultimately help to illuminate what the end of our story will be. That’s pretty big. Without telling you anything, I actually told you quite a bit.” (Of course, there’s no sign that the ratings powerhouse will end anytime soon.)
Chrissy Metz, whose Kate appeared in a different finale flash-forward cliffhanger, indicated that the situation was a bit ominous. “It’s not good,” she recently told EW. “It’s actually very heartbreaking.”
Another This Is Us star, Mandy Moore, believes that season 3 will be the show’s “most ambitious yet,” a notion Brown seconds. “It becomes more expansive,” he notes. “The tapestry expands and we just make sure that the Pearsons are central to that expansion as it goes forward so that people have someone to connect to.”
Brown — who recently hit the big screen in Black Panther and will star in Hotel Artemis — also popped up on Brooklyn Nine-Nine earlier this month as a murder suspect interrogated all night by Holt (Andre Braugher) and Jake (Andy Samberg). He had been hoping for some time to work with Braugher, a fellow Stanford alum whom he honored in his Emmy speech last fall when he won the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series trophy. (He was the first African-American actor to win in that category since Braugher claimed the statue in 1998 for his role on Homicide: Life on the Street.) “It was a treat to do — both he and Samberg are gentleman and scholars,” says Brown. “It’s so much fun to go from one format to the next to play on different people’s playgrounds, from SNL [which he hosted last month] to Brooklyn Nine-Nine to the show to the movies. I’m just blessed to be able to go into each one of those different arenas and have fun. Right now, it’s a good time to be me, and I hope it continues to be that way for some time to come.”
To read more from Chrissy Metz about this ominous flash-forward, click here.
For even more intel about season 3 and those time-jumping cliffhangers, head over here.
Season 3 kicks off this fall on NBC.
This Is Us
NBC’s beloved era-hopping drama tells the story of the Pearson family through the years.