After a six-month wait, viewers finally got their hands on the season 3 premiere of This Is Us on Tuesday, and all their lingering questions from those season 2 finale flash-forwards and mysteries were quickly and fully ans— oh, who are we kidding? This is This Is Us. Let the mysteries build!
Toward the end of the season premiere — which brought us the Big Three’s 38th birthdays in the present and the first date between Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca (Mandy Moore) in 1972 — we went back to the distant future to rejoin Old Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and Adult Tess (Iantha Richardson). As you recall, father and daughter were last seen in the season 2 finale in an ominous moment, with Randall telling Tess that “it was time to see her,” and they both shared with each other that neither was looking forward to that prospect.
The next clue was dropped here in “Nine Bucks.” Randall dialed… Old Toby, who was… in bed, looking depressed. “You coming down?” Randall asked Toby (Chris Sullivan). “I don’t know if I should,” he responded. “She wants you to be there,” said Randall. That was enough to motivate his brother-in-law to leave his bed (with no Kate on the other side), seemingly also on his way to see “her.” And so the possibilities of the identity of “her” expanded into the Toby-verse: Is “her”… Kate (Chrissy Metz)? Is he still married to Kate? Why wouldn’t Tess want to see Kate? What’s the connection between Tess and Toby, besides tangential familial?
The road did not straighten out from there, though; more curves ahead. The episode ended by dipping back into the past and showing Jack — fresh off an awkward first date with Rebecca that ended promisingly with an against-all-odds kiss — driving over to her house with flowers. She opened the door with a smile… but unfortunately, it was another suitor who was standing on her doorstep. She did not seem thrilled to see him — or maybe she was just surprised? — but the two kissed and our mystery man went into the house with her, leaving Jack watching sadly from his car. If this were the Terry Bradshaw-to-Franco Harris’ Immaculate Reception play in the 1972 NFL playoffs that bookended the episode, the ball just ricocheted off the wrong guy. We know, of course, that Jack ultimately will wind up with the ball, but for the time being, Jack looks like he’s been returned to the sidelines.
Meanwhile, in other plot developments: Kate and Toby, recommitted to having a baby, have enlisted a fertility doctor (and Toby is secretly ditching his antidepressants in hopes of giving them an edge); Deja (Lyric Ross) visited her absentee father at the sporting goods store where he worked to buy a birthday gift for Randall, and agreed to be officially adopted by the Pearsons; and Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) figured out that Kevin (Justin Hartley) and her cousin Zoe (Melanie Liburd) were dating, and she voiced her opposition of this union to Kevin, noting that Zoe had something of a man-eating past, which he will seemingly ignore, because Kevin’s going to Kevin. Of course, we know that the two will last long enough to fly to Vietnam (see: the season 2 finale flash-forward), so buckle up, because there’s sure to be plenty of turbulence in the Pearson household in season 3.
To read what Mandy Moore said about Rebecca’s mystery man, head over here.
To find out what Sterling K. Brown, Chrissy Metz, and Chris Sullivan revealed about the latest clue in the ‘Who is ‘Her’?’ mystery, click here.
To read what else that TIU creator Dan Fogelman had to say about season 3, click here.