This Is Us creator teases 3 challenges for Kevin, plus 'good piece of the Randall mother puzzle'
Don't worry, it's not another seven-month hiatus. After the fourth episode of the fifth season, which airs Tuesday, NBC's hit family drama will take a two-month break and then return to the schedule in January. (As you know, the series was only able to resume production in late September, due to the pandemic shutdown.) But before the Pearsons take a pause for the cause (of stockpiling new episodes), there's drama to delve into. Kevins of all ages will be challenged. "It's a very Kevin-heavy episode, focusing on a kid who through his entire life has struggled pushing through adversity," creator Dan Fogelman tells EW. "And it's something that's playing a part in three different timelines for Kevin."
In the past, Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca (Mandy Moore) will have their hands (and heads) full taking care of the baby Big Three, with Kevin having trouble with bedtime. That story line "involves something I've just been in the middle of, which is sleep training babies," says Fogelman, who recently had a son with wife Caitlin Thompson (a.k.a. Madison). Early teen Kevin (Parker Bates) battles adversity in the realm of football, and present-day Kevin (Justin Hartley) has difficulty diving into his new role in the legal thriller Glass Eye. "Kevin starts working with a new director who's a bit of a force of nature and a complicated force," Fogelman hints.
Meanwhile, Randall's story line will turn "very, very funny," and yet somehow yield "another good piece of Randall mother puzzle," says the creator. Last week's episode provided another clue, seemingly revealing a romantic link between a Vietnamese grandfather (Vien Hong) — who will "play a large role in our story," says Fogelman — and Randall's birth mother, Laurel (Jennifer C. Holmes), who, as it turns out, did not die of a drug overdose soon after giving birth to Randall. "In short order, a full, beautiful story is going to be told," he says. "I think it will be a satisfying and elegant answer to a lot of stuff, as opposed to something that necessarily begs more questions."
Fogelman also nods toward "a pretty big moment with Kate [Chrissy Metz] and Toby [Chris Sullivan]," who are on the cusp of adopting a second child. But don't tune in to this last episode of the year expecting collapsing Tobys; think more along the lines of last week's quieter episode. After a high-octane premiere, "it was important to us to land back inside of our show and settle for a moment with these simple family stories that start setting up some bigger stuff that's to come," he explains. "When we come back on the other side, we have some pretty giant and quite specialized episodes. So this was an opportunity for us to [put] our families in simple stories that progress our plot but are filled with heart and warmth, and with sweet endings."
This Is Us airs Tuesday at 9 p.m. on NBC.
This Is Us
NBC’s beloved era-hopping drama tells the story of the Pearson family through the years.