‘This Is Us’: Here’s Where We Pick Up With the Big 3 in Season 5
“It’s a big, pivotal season for us,” says This Is Us executive producer Dan Fogelman, which makes sense given that the tear-jerking family drama — which masterfully hopscotches between past, present and future — ended Season 4 with many characters left at a crossroads.
The biggest upheaval: the huge argument between Pearson brothers Kevin (Justin Hartley) and Randall (Sterling K. Brown). Lifelong tensions erupted in a verbal smackdown “where 40 years of stuff came out,” says Fogelman, after Kevin learned Randall had pressured their Alzheimer’s-stricken mother, Rebecca (Mandy Moore), to move to St. Louis for a nine-month clinical trial, despite her earlier decision not to participate. (Kevin’s brutal declaration to his adopted brother — “I used to think the worst thing that happened to me was the day that Dad died.… The worst thing that ever happened to me was the day they brought you home” — still gives us chills.)
Season 5’s present-day timeline picks up a few months later, and Randall and Kevin are still not speaking. “This isn’t the type of fight that you clap your hands and say, ‘Well, that was a weird one’ and come back from it immediately,” Fogelman says. “It will take a lot to recover.” (Thanks to a flash-forward scene from last season, we know the brothers reconcile — it’s the how and when that remains a mystery.) The rest of the Pearsons won’t take sides but are “trying to be there for everybody and navigate this complicated dynamic.”
Speaking of complicated dynamics, Kevin starts to become better acquainted with his sister Kate’s friend Madison (Caitlin Thompson), who is pregnant with twins after their one-night stand. The drama, known for its sweeping love stories, goes a different route with this couple. Kevin and Madison are “linked by this random pregnancy as opposed to most of our relationships, which are born out of infatuation and passion into a steady, deep relationship,” Fogelman says. Early in the premiere, we’ll see Kate’s (Chrissy Metz) reaction to her brother and BFF having babies together, as well as learn what happened with Rebecca and that clinical trial.
As for Kate and husband Toby (Chris Sullivan), who made the decision to adopt a baby so their blind toddler Jack would have a sibling, “there’s a lot coming for them that [occurs with] bringing a second child into their family,” says Fogelman, who also promises a big Toby-centric story. And Randall, with wife Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) in his corner, spends more time in therapy (Better Things‘ Pamela Adlon returns as Dr. Leigh) as he tries to better control the anxiety he’s been experiencing since childhood. “He’s started exploring issues with his mother and his family, a place where he’s never really allowed himself to go before,” says Fogelman.
The two-hour premiere also flashes back to where the series began — the day Rebecca and Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) welcomed the Big Three. Fogelman and his writers have wanted to dig into the hours leading up to the babies’ arrival for a while. Promises the producer: “It will give a lot of context to their day before [the kids’] birth.”
This is Us, Season 5 Premiere, Tuesday, October 27, 9/8c NBC