You have just entered the long, dry offseason of This Is Us, which only means that the floodgates of chatter and theories about those final few minutes of the NBC family drama’s season 3 finale are wide open. Audiences were finally returned to the flash forward about 15 years into the future, where one mystery was quickly resolved: Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) are still happily married! Alas, the reason for the family gathering was not so cheery. The Pearsons were assembling to visit Rebecca (Mandy Moore), who appeared to be on her deathbed and didn’t seem to respond when Randall entered the room and reminded her of his name. What specifically was ailing Rebecca? Unclear. Why was brother-in-law Nicky (Griffin Dunne) at her side? Something has clearly changed. Where was Miguel (Jon Huertas)? Anyone’s guess. And who was the mother of the child that Kevin (Justin Hartley) apparently has now? That’s a good one, too. And those weren’t the only questions bouncing around fans’ heads.
There had been considerable speculation that trouble befalls Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Toby (Chris Sullivan) in the future, as he was previously seen in the future lying depressed in his bed, without a wedding ring, when Randall called and urged him to come to said mysterious event because “she wants you to be there.” When a long-bearded Toby showed up at Kevin’s house, Randall told him that he was glad that he decided to visit. “I just talked to Jack, and they’re on their way,” said Toby. Given that this moment in the finale alone generated several pulsating question marks, it might be instructive to pose a few questions of our own to Metz right now.
Is Metz willing to offer fans any hope that Kate and Toby are still together?”Yes, there’s always hope in This Is Us,” she tells EW. “It’s funny because I asked Dan [Fogelman, the show’s creator], ‘What do I say?,’ and, of course, he said, ‘Well, we’ll find out answers in season 4.’”
Viewers are focusing on the “their” that Toby used. Who is “Their”? (Yep, another pronoun mystery.) Was Toby just vague for no particular reason? Or is the person — or persons (!) — that Jack is referring to an unknown individual to us? “It could be a new wife,” says Metz coyly. “You never know.” (The fact that he’s not wearing a wedding ring may not fully rule out that theory, but it certainly doesn’t support it.) Metz’s co-star, Sterling K. Brown, recently revealed to EW that the scene was “shot with a few different alternatives in terms of what the lines would be,” and added, “I won’t go too much into detail, but I will say that they do go through some things.” Meanwhile, Fogelman told EW, “Kate’s not there, Toby seems out of place at this family reunion, clearly a bit estranged in some way, and we don’t know why. So yeah, I would say on multiple fronts there’s reason for concern. There’s certainly a tremendous amount of the middle for us to now fill in, in the next season or two.”
Of course, the most grim theory circulating right now is that Kate is not alive in the future. Asked about that prospect, Metz flashes a grin and says, “Yeah, I’ve heard that.” And…? “I’ve heard that,” she repeats. During a recent appearance on The Tonight Show, Metz did note, “Dan has assured me everything is okay. And here’s the thing: should she have passed away, Jack has passed away…. It’s not linear. So we really don’t need answers, folks.”
Of course, fans want them. But the actress says that when she’s been presented with all sorts of creative theories, she’s doing her best to steer clear. “I don’t want to open up the can of worms,” she says, “because I’m never closing the lid,” However, she will enthusiastically share her reaction to seeing Randall walk into the bedroom, where he greeted a frail, seemingly disoriented Rebecca. “Oh! Oh! Oh! Even Mandy going through all the prosthetics was very emotional for me,” says Metz, who currently stars on the big screen in the faith-based drama Breakthrough. “It’s so hard to know that we don’t live forever, and we don’t know what’s going and how long it’s been going on. It’s really, really hard.”
She says she was relieved that the flash-forward revealed that Beth and Randall remained married, and she particularly enjoyed the “really sweet” revelation that Kevin has a son in the future, which is something that audiences learn right after seeing his present-day break-up with Zoe (Melanie Liburd). “They always beautifully tie it up,” sums up Metz, “but also keep you guessing and on the edge.”
Are there any Easter eggs or clues hidden in the future sequence that fans might have missed and should revisit? “It’s interesting, because there was something omitted that I thought was going to happen but didn’t, which would have been great,” responds Metz. “But it will come to be early in season 4.”
This is Us returns to NBC in the fall.
Additional reporting by Gerrad Hall