Dan Fogelman knows the ending of “This Is Us,” and he’s not shy about sharing it.
“We know where it ends, and we have the path for each season of the show,” Fogelman said during a panel discussion with his cast Tuesday night. “We didn’t want to get stuck. We have the kids and the timelines. I don’t think this show — despite any success it may or may not have — will overstay its welcome.
“I’ve actually already shot pieces of the final scene of the series,” he added.
“And you guys all know [how it ends]?” moderator and Variety TV Editor Debra Birnbaum said.
“Yeah,” Milo Ventimiglia said.
“No,” Chris Sullivan countered. “Will someone please tell me after?”
Fogelman probably will. The creator started the conversation about the series’ ending by remembering a recent night out in the Valley with his wife, when he got a little too excited about what the writers had decided for the finale.
“There are two women who know the end of the entire show,” Fogelman said, mentioning how his wife warned him the couple in the booth next to them might be listening to his description of the series finale. “‘They’re not listening to us,’ I said […] and then I looked over there and I swear one of them was writing.”
As spoiler-obsessed fans start the hunt for those two lucky (or deeply unlucky) ladies, the cast shared new details on what’s coming in Season 3. Sitting on a stage decked out like a living room, Mandy Moore, Chrissy Metz, Justin Hartley, Sullivan, Ventimiglia, and Fogelman spent more than an hour wooing Emmy voters. Though he wasn’t able to make the event in person, Sterling K. Brown called in to preview how the flash forward to “Old Randall” in the Season 2 finale will play out this season.
“There’s a big thing about going to see ‘her,'” Brown said, referencing the unnamed woman Randall and his older daughter say they’re “not ready” to see in the future. “It sort of leads toward the end game of our show as a whole; not the season per se, but the show as a whole. […] Who you think the ‘her’ is is probably not who the ‘her’ is but it’s who you’ll see at the end of the show.”
Fogelman revealed “that big question” will be answered in Season 3, but it will also play into the series’ ending. He also said that more of the core cast will be seen in the future, a la “Old Randall.” “I think people will be surprised by how we use that timeline,” he said.
In addition, some of the supporting cast will be seeing big boosts in screentime.
“Susan this season, we’re doing a deep dive to learn about her backstory,” Fogelman said. “She’s going to get a showcase. It’s going to be fucking [incredible]. I think you’re going to be surprised who Toby and Beth are before they entered this family because no one is at 28 who they are [when the show starts].”
Sullivan’s Toby will also be getting “a real showcase,” while Hartley’s Kevin goes to Vietnam (with a new lady friend) to discover more than he might want to know about his father, Jack (Ventimiglia).
“He’s going to be finding out information he didn’t know because it was shut off to him,” Hartley said. “We’re going to watch him hopefully grow up and become the man his father wanted him to be and who I think he can be.”
“He’s going to find a way to make his father proud,” Fogelman said. “You’re going to see a lot of that this season.”
As previously announced, much of Kevin’s arc will be focused on his father’s time in the army during the Vietnam War.
“We’re going to dive into Jack’s experience in Vietnam this season, but we actually considered a little flash to him waking up in Vietnam [during the fire scene in Season 2] but we took it out.”
With Kevin far away, the sister he typically depends on is free to explore her own future. As teased in the season finale, that means exploring her husband Toby’s depression as well as getting back into family-planning mode.
“Kate and Toby have a journey this season, and it’s a journey about them trying to start a family,” Fogelman said, stopping at that for fear of spoilers.
Perhaps he should be equally cautious when he’s out on the town.
— Ben Travers (@BenTTravers) May 30, 2018
Voters are shown clips from other episodes while they’re waiting for main screening + panel. (Smart move.) Featured episode: “Super Bowl Sunday” #CrockpotKiller #NeverForget #ThisIsUs pic.twitter.com/sBqRH9x6vP
— Ben Travers (@BenTTravers) May 30, 2018