By Dan Snierson
July 31, 2018 at 11:15 AM EDT
  • TV Show
  • NBC

The how-did-Jack-die? mystery may be resolved, but that question mark now has been replaced with a new one. The season 2 finale of the NBC family drama introduced a key piece of a new puzzle, specifically a flash-forward scene in which old Randall (Sterling K. Brown) cryptically said to adult Tess (Iantha Richardson), “It’s time to go see her.” After Tess replied, “I’m not ready,” Randall answered back, “I’m not either.”

Headscratching and chin-stroking ensued by fans, who are trying to surmise the identity of “her,” exactly what might have befallen her, and why neither Randall nor Tess wants to see her. One of the more ominous theories floating around was that the pair were talking about visiting the grave of Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson), but Watson has since squelched fears — including those of her mother — that the grim reaper will claim her character next. “She’s going to survive,” she told EW. “It feels good to know.”

If you’re a fan of value-added mystery on This Is Us but aren’t interested in another one that slowly will reveal itself over multiple seasons, creator Dan Fogelman has good news to share. “It’s a mystery that won’t play out over seasons,” he tells EW. “There will be answers given in the course of the season. Part of the fun of any family is looking at somebody in certain time frame or a family in a present-day time frame and hypothetically jumping forward 15 years and [seeing] who’s still in the picture, who’s not in the picture anymore, who has become ill or other. We’ll be slowly getting pieces by process of elimination or more questions…until we get to the answer — and not string it out too long.”

Assuring that it’s “not just a mystery for mystery sake,” Fogelman explains that this future-set puzzle has a distinct purpose that’s interwoven into the season 3 arc. “The mystery is actually informing a lot of stuff that has happening in the present day as well,” he explains. “The interesting part is in the course of the season as we mention this mystery, we’re going to be putting a lot of those things in the stories that it’s not. So it’s not just one — estrangement, death, love, marriage — all those things are part of jumping a family [deep] into the future. The question isn’t just who’s estranged, or who’s in prison, or any of the other theories that I’ve heard from people, it’s about where are all the other characters at that point in their lives. And that’s going to be also spoken to by what their stories are in the present day. So that’s really exciting for us as well.

Brown has tantalizingly hinted to EW that this distant-future storyline “will ultimately help to illuminate what the end of our story will be.” Asked to further illuminate Brown’s comments, Fogelman responds, “I don’t imagine us going past this time period in the future so in terms of a timeline, this is our ending timeline. But we may have other past timelines we’re going to introduce in the course of the series, and also other future story lines that we might introduce as well.”

The TIU creator promises that season 3 is “big” and hints of a lighter start to the season… to a degree. “There’s humor and love and levity after a very heavy season which I always like when we do. And then… some wallops. It’s our most ambitious season. It’s going to pack a great deal of emotion, and the story lines are going to surprise people.”

Airing Sept. 25, the season 3 premiere whisks you back to the ’70s to see Rebecca (Mandy Moore) and Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) go on their first date, after their magical “Moonshadow” meeting. “We’re diving deep into Rebecca and Jack’s initial meeting,” he says. Also, it sounds like there will be some fun fallout to witness as Beth discovers that her brother-in-law, Kevin (Justin Hartley), and her cousin, Zoe (Melanie Liburd) began a romance at the wedding of Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Toby (Chris Sullivan). “There will be an interesting color on Beth when she starts suspecting something’s up with her relative and Kevin,” he says.

To read more hints from Sterling K. Brown about that flash-forward cliffhanger, click here.

Susan Kelechi Watson reveals why Beth won’t be dying in season 3 right here.

Episode Recaps

This Is Us

NBC’s beloved era-hopping drama tells the story of the Pearson family through the years.

  • TV Show
  • 4
  • Tuesdays at 09:00 PM
  • Dan Fogelman
  • NBC
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