Now that the Winter Olympics have given you a few weeks to recover from Jack Pearson’s death, This Is Us is ready to return for the final three episodes of the season. “It was important to us to come back with something a bit lighter,” executive producer and co-showrunner Isaac Aptaker tells us. “The last two episodes were perhaps the heaviest we’ve ever done, so now we’re going to show our group of characters enjoying each other and celebrating this really exciting thing coming up, which is Kate and Toby’s wedding.”
Of course, don’t expect This Is Us to become a total comedy but based on the newly released photos of Kate’s bachelorette and Toby’s bachelor parties, we’re in for a wild ride. “It’s very unconventional in many ways,” Chrissy Metz says. “It’s amazing what the cast and crew did to make it possible, but I think it’s very special.”
And speaking of working overtime, the show is going to start exploring the main characters’ futures more. “It’s so much fun to imagine what these characters are like 10 to 15 years from now,” Aptaker says. In other words, get ready for more scenes with 50- or 60-something Randall. As for who else lives to see their golden years, Aptaker knows the fates of all the characters but says, “I can’t tell you [that] yet.”
One person who should be safe for a long while is Beth, who was the subject of fans’ anxiety last week, after unconfirmed rumors surfaced that she was the next to die. “Beth’s OK,” Aptaker promises. “I don’t know where that came from, but there’s no conspiracy.”
With that settled, we can focus on other things ahead, like Deja showing up at Beth and Randall’s house, a potential wedding surprise, and what’s coming up in season three. Here, Aptaker fills us in.
Glamour: Before we get to Kate and Toby’s wedding, what’s the latest on Sophie and Kevin? Have we seen the last of her for a while or will that relationship come back at some point?
Isaac Aptaker: We’ve seen the last of Sophie for this season. Going forward, who’s to say? The rest of the season we’re really focusing on Kate and Toby and marching toward their wedding, and that does not involve Sophie.
Glamour: Speaking of which…Chrissy Metz said Kate’s bachelorette party will be very unconventional, but the just-released pictures show a rather typical Vegas bachelorette party. Explain.
IA: [Laughs.] If you look back over the show, Kate and Toby don’t have a ton of friends. They’re in this relationship where they kind of hunker down and stay in and watch Netflix, so they don’t have a wide social group to drawn from when it’s time to put together the bachelorette, bachelor parties. So Kate has something of an odd crew of people who don’t necessarily fit together. She has Madison and Beth and a couple of her friends from the weight group, and it’s not necessarily the cohesive group of friends you’d hope for when you’re organizing such an event.
Glamour: Ever since Dan Fogelman mentioned we might see Jack in the present day via a dream sequence, what are the chances we could see Kate imagining Jack walking her down the aisle?
IA: It could happen. We’re not doing exactly that, but I will say you’re dead on in sort of what is Kate’s real issue about this wedding and what that story is about for her. We speak with a lot of people who have gone through this, and one thing that came up when we talked to women, particularly younger women who had lost their father at an earlier age, was the wedding and how big of a deal that was for them because there are so many father-daughter traditions. Like, who’s going to walk me down the aisle? Who am I going to have my father-daughter dance with? How am I going to fill that void? So for Kate that’s the central issue of that day. We touched on it earlier in the season, when she wanted to do the city hall marriage with Toby, confronting what should be the happiest day of her life, but it’s going to be tinged by this sadness that Jack will never be there. That’s really the central issue for her of this impending wedding.
Glamour: I think it’s safe to say the wedding will definitely happen, but will there be surprises in store when it does?
IA: Oh yeah, we always have surprises. It’s our finale, so there’s definitely some big “whoa” moments. We also get to meet Toby’s parents finally after two years, which people always ask about, and we get to meet a little bit more of Beth’s family too, which I think is going to be really exciting. Those are things we’ve been trying to put in the show for a long time, so we’re going to meet the extended family of Toby and Beth, which is cool.
Glamour: Any name actors cast in those roles?
IA: Yes, but it hasn’t been announced yet. I have to leave you hanging there.
Glamour: We know from the previews that Deja returns in Tuesday’s episode. Is this permanent, or will her mother come back?
IA: She shows up at their door, and they have no sort of claims on her. She’s been put back with her mother by Linda and by the state. So what that means exactly is very up in the air, and that’s central to Randall and Beth’s story in our Vegas episode. They’ve just had this girl come to their house unannounced and on her own, and they now have to deal with what do with that, since they aren’t her foster parents and don’t have any real authority there. She came to them in no official capacity, so what is their responsibility? What is their role in this girl’s life? It’s a really heavy, confusing issue that they’re dealing with amid all the wackiness and shenanigans that happen at a Vegas bachelor party.
Glamour: I just want to see Randall in Vegas. You could literally do an entire episode of Randall in Vegas.
IA: [Laughs.] I would watch that!
Glamour: I guess we won’t see Rebecca at the bachelorette party though, will we?
IA: [Laughs.] No, Rebecca and Miguel are happily at home on the East Coast, not gambling their money anyway.
Glamour: Poor Miguel. Meanwhile, we also found out in the most recent episode that Jack’s brother, Nicky, did indeed pass away in the war. Have you cast the actor to play Nicky at the point that he died?
IA: No, we’ve only cast that adorable little boy with the glasses [to play Nicky]. [His older self] will come when we’re ready to visit Jack in his Vietnam days, which has not quite come in yet this year.
Glamour: By the way, any chance Gerald McRaney will return again this season as Dr. K?
IA: We’re always trying. It’s tricky because he’s a little peripheral to the family, so they didn’t have a ton of interactions with him. We never want things to feel forced, but man is he good. He’s so good in the last episode. And he got some extensive aging, because in real life he’s in such good shape and a very young-looking guy. We had to do the works with the age spots and the makeup and everything to make Dr. K look around 90!
Glamour: Finally, is there a storyline you’re most looking to tell in season three?
IA: I’m really excited to dig into this period that we haven’t touched, which is this seminal year for the big three after the death of their father. It happened in February of their senior year of high school, which is a seminal time no matter what. They also had this tragedy occur, which affects the rest of their lives, so we’re going to dive into that year where there’re so many stories to tell about the decisions they make and the way they react to their father’s death shaped the trajectory for the next 20 years of their lives.