Soon after season four of This Is Us ended—read our recap with Justin Hartley for more—creator Dan Fogelman was already hard at work on the next season. “I’ve written the season premiere for season five,” he said on a call with reporters, “and there’s something big that happens. We have our entire plan mapped out for seasons five and six.”
That’s welcome news for fans who can’t wait to reunite with their favorite characters, especially during these uncertain times. “I feel like a small thing we can do is keep our [TV] world moving and provide an hour-long reprieve for people,” Fogelman says.
So what can you look forward to when the series returns with a two-hour premiere on Tuesday, October 27? Here’s what we know. Caution: Some spoilers ahead.
NBC released a two-minute clip of Kevin telling Kate and Toby his big news ahead of the fifth-season premiere: On Friday, October 23, Justin Hartley posted a scene from October 27’s two-hour premiere in which Kevin (wearing a mask and practicing social distancing) goes to Kate and Toby’s house and breaks the news that he and Madison are expecting twins. Toby freaks out, Kate takes time to process it, and the whole thing is so good we can’t wait for the full episode. Well played, NBC. Take a look, below:
The Kevin/Randall fallout will be front and center this season. During a Zoom webinar with journalists on October 23, Fogelman said the aftermath and lingering hurt between the brothers will “be front and center in our premiere, and front and center for quite a bit. It’s going to take quite a bit of rebuilding, if they can get there.”
Hartley added that oftentimes when two very close people have fights like that, “It takes an event to bring people back together, because I don’t know how motivated both men are to reconcile so quickly.” Could that event be Rebecca on what looks like her deathbed 15 or so years from now? We’ll have to wait and see.
There’s a reason the premiere was moved up from early November to late October. NBC originally announced the two-hour season-five premiere would air on Tuesday, November 10 (a week after the election), but it was later moved up to Tuesday, October 27. Why? According to Fogelman, in these contentious, dark times, it was really important for him to air what amounts to a very “hopeful” season premiere. That doesn’t mean the premiere won’'t tackle difficult issues like the pandemic or Black Lives Matter (it will), but it’s done in a cathartic, realistic manner.
“When we first got these episodes, it’s like they eavesdropped into people’s lives,” Susan Kelechi Watson says, “and things that I had lived or know people lived. Beth and Randall’s kids get to see their parents grapple with it. We have an honest conversation.” Says Sterling K. Brown, “Randall has [what you can almost describe as] a come-to-Jesus moment in these first two episodes that I think is fascinating.”
Adds Fogelman, “We don’t speak of Democrat or Republican or you know who [President Trump], as This Is Us has always been about American life, but considering where our show lives, it felt almost irresponsible to not take on the moment. You’ll see us take on the human experience, and what these characters would be dealing with in the real world, just like we have with addiction, body image, race, Alzheimers, etc. I think we’ve taken it on in an elegant way.”
Filming in Pittsburgh will have to wait. The scenes set in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s take place in Pittsburgh, so it’s long been a wish of Fogelman’s to eventually film there and perhaps have the characters take in a Steelers game. However, if there were any such plans in season five, those have been put on hold due to the pandemic. “We’ve long wanted to get to a Steelers game, so probably not this season, but maybe next,” Fogelman said. However, what you will see more of is the Pearson family cabin. “We’re in it a lot this year.”
The first teaser trailer is here. Watch, below. Kevin’s in a mask!
On October 16, NBC released the first full-length trailer, which revisits the massive fight between Kevin and Randall (and maybe gives some hope for reconciliation), shows Kate learning Kevin is engaged, and addresses the racial turmoil in America through the eyes of Randall and Beth.
The new season will be about rebirth. The theme for season four was expansion (as in new characters) and ambitious storylines (the deep future). Fogelman says season five, however, will be about uplifting moments and new beginnings. “I’m very excited about that, especially with where the world is right now,” he says. “I would call it almost a rebirth that will come next season. [There will be] a lot of new beginnings and particularly the words birth and rebirth are going to be a big thematic part of next season.”
“It was as huge from a writer’s perspective as it was from mine. I think Randall offers such a unique perspective. Being a Black man raised in a white family, there’s a very specific prism through which he sees the world, and I think the writers have captured it brilliantly,” he says. “Our first two episodes are outstanding. As long as we, as actors, are able to execute what the writing has provided us an opportunity to do, I think our fans will be very, very, very happy.”
However, he does reveal in the interview that the current events will be talked about “briefly” and in an “essence.”
“They won’t be washed over completely, but we still want to maintain the integrity of our story focused on the Pearsons, especially where we left off the relationship between Kevin and Randall last year,” he says. “I know [the fight between Randall and Kevin] lingers very strongly in the minds of fans, and they’re going to be wanting to see how these two brothers can, or if, mend the fences that they have torn down,” Brown says.
The main cast will return. Mandy Moore, Milo Ventimiglia, Sterling K. Brown, Justin Hartley, Chrissy Metz, Susan Kelechi Watson, and Chris Sullivan will all be back, along with recurring characters like Madison (Caitlin Thompson) and Jack Damon (Blake Stadnik). While it may not seem that there’s much to uncover in past storylines, Fogelman says that’s not true. “Jack and Rebecca will always be in the show in those past timelines, plus younger versions of the kids,” he says. As for future storylines, Fogelman says the show will continue to move forward into later years and not just the deep future, where Jack Jr. lives. “It’s so interesting to think we started with Rebecca and Jack, with him sitting with a towel, and then decades later there will be all these human beings that will be offshoots of these people.”
The futures of Deja, Tess, and Annie will be explored. With a 44-minute running time each week and only 18 episodes each season, it’s hard to do a deep dive into every character’s story. But for those who want to see more of Randall and Beth’s kids, Fogelman says he has you covered. “We have a plan for all of that,” he says. “By the time the Pearson story wraps up on our series, you’ll have gotten a lot of check-ins to figure out and understand where everyone’s characters are in the big span of their lives. That includes the children.” The same goes for newly revealed siblings, Jack Jr. and Hailey. “We love the actress we found to play Hailey [Adelaide Kane]. Our hope is to continue to keep people invested in these future stories so you feel that great investment.”
We’ll find out how Rebecca and Miguel got together. Now that Rebecca is going to St. Louis for the Alzheimer’s clinical trial at Washington University, Fogelman says it will allow for more scenes with Rebecca and Miguel on their own, separate from the rest of the family. “When we land in St. Louis, we’ll explore her relationship with Miguel,” he says. “They'll be in a location together that they didn’t necessarily plan on trying.” Most likely through flashbacks viewers will finally see what happened after Miguel messaged Rebecca on Facebook 10 years after Jack died. “We’ll get to see how their relationship bloomed and stalled and then bloomed again.” As for the clinical trial and living in a new city, it will be a “challenging chapter for Rebecca moving forward. We have a big storyline planned for Mandy next season in the present day as an older woman—and in her past timelines.”
We may not have seen the last of Sophie (Alexandra Breckenridge) and Cassidy (Jennifer Morrison). While it appears Madison is the mother of Kevin’s future children (more on that in a minute), Fogelman says Sophie and Cassidy aren’t out of the picture. There’s a reason you saw those characters at the end of the finale, he says: “Whether [future appearances] are related to Kevin or not, we have plans. But Kevin had intense relationships with them.”
Is Madison the fiancée that Kevin references on his 40th birthday? If you’ll remember, Kevin mentions that his fiancée is having morning sickness at all hours of the day. But if that’s Madison, that puts her at about the eighth-month mark if she conceived in January. While morning sickness in the third trimester isn’t unheard-of, it’s also not the most common. That’s not to say Madison isn’t pregnant with Kevin’s children, but perhaps he’s engaged to someone else who also is pregnant. “I think there’s an immediate answer coming to all of that,” Fogelman says. “Obviously there are many more chapters to Kevin’s romantic story.” As for Justin Hartley, who plays Kevin, he says anything possible. “I mean, it could go either way,” he tells Glamour. “You’re onto something, maybe. Maybe not.”
We will see more of Madison’s ob-gyn in season five. Josh Hamilton plays Eli Mason, Madison’s doctor. According to Fogelman, viewers will be seeing more of him. “The doctor becomes an important character next season to Kevin. It’s no coincidence he was introduced in the same episode that Dr. K returned.” Interesting…so perhaps Eli is related to Dr. K? Or his son-in-law?
Kate is still missing at Rebecca’s bedside in the future. Now that we know Kate and Toby adopt a daughter, is it possible that’s who Toby is referring to in the future when he says, “They’re on their way”? Instead of Kate and Jack Jr., could he mean Hailey and Jack Jr.? If so, when will we get answers to Kate’s whereabouts? “I can’t reveal that, as it will be a spoiler when we do reveal it,” Fogelman says. “But all will be answered. There’s a plan in the next two seasons.”
We’ll also learn about a trauma that will help us understand adult Kate. “There is a story, a through-line, coming down the pike about some experiences that shaped Kate as a woman, as an adult, that we haven’t seen yet,” Metz told People in May.
“I remember Dan giving me a call and he’s like, ‘How do you feel about this? Are you going to be able to tackle this? How are you going to feel about it?’ I’m like, ‘No, let’s do it, I think it’s super important.’ While I won’t give away what it is exactly, it’s something that we haven’t seen and we had no idea that Kate went through,” she continued. “It’s trauma for sure.”
The series is still scheduled to run for another two seasons. Last year NBC renewed its top-rated drama for seasons four, five, and six. That means we have another 36 episodes to go now that season four is done. Fogelman says this will allow the writers to “really map out our stories in a big way, and that’s when the Pearson story will basically come to a close.” That said, that doesn’t mean the end of season six is the definite ending. (Even NBC entertainment chairman Paul Telegdy told reporters last year, “We are keeping it open for right now.” However, as of the summer 2020, Telegdy is no longer at the network. ) When Fogelman was asked again on October 23 if the plan is to wrap things up with season six, he told reporters, “my plan has not changed.”
This Is Us season five premieres on Tuesday, October 27 at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.
Jessica Radloff is the Glamour West Coast editor. You can follow her on Instagram at @jessicaradloff14.
Originally Appeared on Glamour