NBC had a Television Critics Association panel of Drama Showrunners that included This Is Us executive producers Elizabeth Berger and Isaac Aptaker. After the panel, Berger and Aptaker spoke with reporters further about the upcoming third season.
Season two ended with Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Toby (Chris Sullivan)’s wedding. A flash forward showed Toby suffering from depression. A flash even further forward showed an older Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and grown-up Tess. A flashback showed Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) on his way to Vietnam.
Here are some hints about what’s coming up on This Is Us, returning on September 25, 2018 on NBC.
How are you going to deal with Deja bashing the car in the new season?
Isaac Aptaker: “That’s kind of an immediate question for Beth and Randall is what do you do with this foster child who you’ve fallen in love with deeply who does something pretty frightening like that. That’s one of the immediate things we’re picking up with in season three.”
Will we explore why she did it?
Isaac Aptaker: “Absolutely, yeah.”
How soon will we learn the circumstances of Toby’s depression?
Elizabeth Berger: “Sort of within the first half of our season. We’re going to be seeing Kate and Toby go through various challenges. Obviously we showed last season that sort of their journey to have a family, that’s a journey that we’re going to be continuing this season. There’s going to be the stresses of your first year of marriage, so it’s something that we’re going to sort of be building towards.”
Do they get a honeymoon phase at least before things get real?
Isaac Aptaker: “There’s definitely some lighter stories for them too.”
Elizabeth Berger: “Oh yeah, they’ll have some fun.”
Isaac Aptaker: “It’s not all angst.”
If you’re spending time with Jack in Vietnam will we see more past Rebecca?
Elizabeth Berger: “We’re all over. We’ll be spending some more time in that very romantic period where they first met each other which we’re really excited about. It’s sort of a lighter, more fun time period. We’re going to go back and be with our 10-12-year-old kids.”
Isaac Aptaker: “We just ran out of space in our hair and makeup trailer because we have now so many wigs for Rebecca that they had to create a new area to store them. That’s how many timelines we’ve invented and Mandy (Moore) is such a trooper about transforming herself and coming to set hours early every day to jump into a new decade.”
Will you delve into Miguel and Rebecca’s beginnings as well?
Isaac Aptaker: “Yeah, that’s going to be something we tackle a bit this year and also bigger picture on the series.”
Will Gerald McRaney be back?
Isaac Aptaker: “We hope so. It’s tricky because Dr. K was in their lives for such a finite period of time so it’s not like it’s the easiest to come up with a story where he is with our family. But we adore him so much and he’s a fan favorite, he’s one of our favorites so we’re always looking for ways.”
Elizabeth Berger: “Whenever he’s there, it’s always one of our best episodes. We’ll find a way to get him back.”
How much is Ron Cephas Jones on the show this season?
Isaac Aptaker: “He’s back a fair amount. We’re sharing him. He’s a regular on an Apple show but again, he’s like Gerald McRaney. We love him so much, so whenever we can.”
Will you continue the future storyline you touched on last year with Randall and Tess?
Isaac Aptaker: “Yeah, we’ll be revisiting the future this year. I can’t shed any light on it but we’re very aware that that’s something people want to know and we’re going to give answers.”
Elizabeth Berger: “We don’t like to withhold information for so long that it becomes frustrating so we’re very conscious of parsing it out and we will be giving some hopefully really satisfying answers this season.”
How are you going to break the rules this season?
Isaac Aptaker: “A typical episode of This Is Us kind of has three sibling storylines and then a past episode. Every now and then we’ll devote one solely to one character, but this season we’re really throwing everything out the window and saying all bets are off. So maybe we’ll do an episode where every act is a different time. Maybe we’ll have something that jumps five timelines in an episode. We’re just really pushing the limits of what people can comprehend.”
Are you delving into any characters’ backstories you haven’t before?
Elizabeth Berger: “We’re really excited. I think Sully, Chris Sullivan Instagrammed that we’re going to be going into his backstory which we’re really excited about. We’re going to be going into Susan [Kelechi Watson]’s backstory for the first time which we’re really excited about. The sort of pitfall of having such a brilliant cast is you’re always like, ‘Give them more, give them more.’ So we’re really excited to delve a little deeper into both of those characters this season.”
Did you have bigger plans for Sophie and can you still do them this season?
Isaac Aptaker: “We love Alex[andra Breckenridge]so much. That relationship was so much about Kevin revisiting something from his past and realizing that it ultimately wasn’t right for him given where he was at the moment. But I think he’ll always hold Sophie in his heart in a special way. There’s no saying whether or not she re-enters the picture.”
She was still a regular after they split up again, so I was wondering if you’d had more plans for her.
Isaac Aptaker: “No, that was the intended journey there. She’s just very in demand. You’ve got to lock her down.”