The Big Three celebrate their 41st birthday, but is something dampening the festivities?

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The beginning of the end is finally beginning. The feelings factory that is This Is Us will commence its final season on Jan. 4 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on NBC before signing off for good later in the year. As is tradition, the hit family drama's season 6 premiere takes place on the Big Three's birthday — this is 41 — and EW can give you an exclusive peek at the action. As you can see in this first photo, Randall (Sterling K. Brown), Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson), and the rest of the Philly Pearsons are marking his big day with a three-layer cake and a Zoom session. Birthdays in the Pearson household aren't exactly a non-stop party, and this one doesn't seem to be overly festive, judging by the looks on everyone's faces.

This Is Us
Lyric Ross, Susan Kelechi Watson, Sterling K. Brown, Faithe Herman, and Eris Baker on 'This Is Us'
| Credit: Ron Batzdorff/NBC
This Is Us
Susan Kelechi Watson and Sterling K. Brown on 'This Is Us'
| Credit: Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Back in Los Angeles, viewers just might start to see something harmonious brewing between up-until-now-rather grumpy Phillip (Chris Geere) and just-happy-to-be-here Kate (Chrissy Metz) at the music school for the blind, where they both work. Kate will wind up splitting from husband Toby (Chris Sullivan) in the coming years and marry her co-worker, as revealed in the season 5 finale flashforward. "We're trying to capture something we haven't done on the show, which is a lovely married couple maybe not making it all the way," creator Dan Fogelman told EW earlier this year. "And it's something that happens very commonly — more commonly than not in the human experience. It was something we always knew we were going to attack it in our final season." Metz dropped this hint a few months ago: "I do know that we can see how she's continuing to show up for herself in a very different way than she ever did in all the previous seasons," the actress told EW. "She's really making herself a priority."

This Is Us
Chris Geere and Chrissy Metz on 'This Is Us'
| Credit: Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Meanwhile, coming off his split from fiancée Madison, Kevin (Justin Hartley) will be looking for fresh purpose, and in this photo, he could be on this studio lot working on or toward a new acting gig. "There will be a lot of reconnections," Hartley teased about the final season.

This Is Us
Justin Hartley on 'This Is Us'
| Credit: Ron Batzdorff/NBC

And back in the '80s, Rebecca (Mandy Moore) and Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) appear to be consoling young Kate (Isabelle Rose Landau), as the show delves deeper into this younger era of the Big Three.

This Is Us
Isabelle Rose Landau, Kaz Womack, Ca'Ron Jaden Coleman, Mandy Moore, and Milo Ventimiglia on 'This Is Us'
| Credit: Ron Batzdorff/NBC
This Is Us
Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia on 'This Is Us'
| Credit: Ron Batzdorff/NBC

His show is linked with countless Kleenex moments, Fogelman isn't one to go misty that often. That said, he made mention of an upcoming story that hit him right in the eyes. "There's one story line that's one of our stakes in the ground for season 6 that when I speak about it, my eyes start welling up with tears," the creator said coyly. "And I'm not a crier." Consider yourself warned.

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Episode Recaps

This Is Us - Season 3
This Is Us

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

type
  • TV Show
seasons
  • 5
rating
airs
  • Tuesdays at 09:00 PM
creator
  • Dan Fogelman
network
  • NBC
stream service

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