‘This Is Us’ Teases Ominous Season 3 Mysteries in Unsettling Flash-Forwards


Warning: Spoiler alert! Do not proceed if you have not watched Tuesday’s finale of This Is Us. For answers on why old Jack was seen in the finale, read our recap.

Another season of This Is Us is in the books, which means new questions heading into season three.

On Tuesday’s sophomore finale, Kate and Toby said their “I do’s” at the Pearson family cabin and we saw what life would have been like had Jack still been alive in the present day. But while one chapter closed, another one opened. Hints of major family changes in the not-so-distant and far-off futures — some more dire than others — will set the Pearsons on an unexpected path as we continue to fill in the blank spaces of this family’s history. 

As Randall said during his toast to Kate and Toby at the wedding reception, there’s “zero point in trying to control the future because nobody knows where we’ll be, not even in a year from now.” So as much as we like to theorize about where we think — and sometimes, wish — the characters will end up, oftentimes we’re just blindly shooting darts at the dartboard. And because the This Is Us writers are pros at setting up the long game, the finale revealed several major teases for obstacles facing several major characters in the final moments of the episode. They’re no Jack mystery, but we’ll take it.

So curl up with a glass of wine and snuggle up under the covers as we dissect just what those season-ending cliffhangers mean for our favorite TV family.

1. Kevin digs into Jack’s Vietnam past (and is dating Beth’s cousin, Zoe).

Kevin has gone through his fair share of ups and downs in his career and personal life over the past two seasons, and in brief glimpses of the near future, the former Man-ny star seems to have it all together. He’s on a flight headed to Vietnam with an old photograph of Jack and his brother, Nicky, in Army fatigues during the Vietnam War (the same photo we saw in the episode, “Brothers”). But he’s not alone. Seated next to him isn’t his childhood flame, Sophie, or Olivia, or Sloane, but Beth’s younger cousin, Zoe, whom he connected with at Kate and Toby’s reception — over his wedding toast of all things. 

Ever since we first got hints about Jack’s wartime experience and learned that his brother, Nicky, died during the war, it makes sense that season three would further dig into Jack’s time overseas and uncover what exactly went down with Nicky. So what prompts Kevin to make the big life decision to travel to Vietnam? Did Zoe factor into it at all? What was their courtship like? What new intel is he on the search for when it comes to Jack’s history?


2. Toby is depressed again.

Toby has previously talked about battling depression and in the flash-forward, it appears he’s fallen into a dark hole again. (Or maybe, he’s been diagnosed with a severe disease.) In the revealing scene, Kate walks into the darkened bedroom to check up on Toby, who’s lying on his side and looking unhealthy and unhappy, and share that they should see the doctor the next day to discuss “adjusting your meds.” Notably, the day before Kate and Toby’s wedding day, Toby’s parents sit him down and voice their concerns over his decision to marry Kate, who his mom calls “unstable.” What happened from the time Kate and Toby said their “I do’s” to when Toby found himself in life low? Could Toby’s recurring depression be related to his parents?


3. Deja turns violent.

In the more immediate future, Deja’s story seems to be taking a turn for the worse. After it appears that she’s accepted that Randall, Beth, Tess and Annie will be her new family after her biological mother, Shauna, gives up her parental rights, a switch flips inside her when she’s praised by a guest at Toby and Kate’s wedding for looking “exactly like her dad” — meant to be a compliment but which Deja takes offense to.

While Randall, Beth, Tess and Annie enjoy the brief respite from the uncertainty that’s about to come to their family and after wondering where Deja has run off to, we see Deja taking a baseball bat and smashing Randall’s car. The only family member who seems to be affected the most by Deja’s absence at the function is Tess, whose worried expression is quite telling. Is Randall’s introspective statement that “if you choose right, your people will stay the same” a deep foreshadowing of what awaits Deja’s story? Did the finale set her up for a future prison stint?


4. Randall and Tess dread seeing “her” again.

Though there’s no indication who the “her” is that a salt-and-peppered Randall and adult Tess are referring to in their cryptic father-daughter conversation, it could be assumed that it’s Deja that they’re alluding to. “It’s time to go see her, Tess,” Randall says. “I’m not ready,” Tess replies, shaking her head. “Me neither,” Randall concedes, before Tess gets up from her chair. It’s quite clear from their exchange that it’s someone they were once close with, but had a falling out in the past that caused them to sever ties. It would make sense for it to be Deja that they were referencing, as her aforementioned violent turn could certainly serve as Exhibit A. 

In the finale, Beth and Randall play a game of “worst case scenario” and there’s one conversation they share that may be a serious case of foreshadowing…

Randall: Deja never turns this around and ends up in jail.
Beth: She might kill us both in our sleep.
Randall: She might kill us both not in our sleep.
Beth: She’ll make Tess resent us and end up on the pole.
Randall: Wait, Tess will resent us and Deja will end up on the pole? Or Tess will resent us and also be the one who ends up on the pole?
Beth: Both on the pole.

… Leaving us to think that something terrible has happened that forces Randall and Tess to come to grips with the fact that they have to see “her” for the first time in a while. One horrific, but very realistic, possibility: At some point in the distant past, Deja got into a terrible fight with Beth and the family, resulting in something traumatic (possibly fatal) happening that broke the family unit apart.

But if it isn’t Deja whom Randall and Tess are referring to, could it be Beth or Annie? Those two seem like small stretches, but we haven’t exactly gotten confirmation that Beth and Annie are around in the future. There is a very realistic possibility that Beth, in her older age, is terminally ill from an incurable disease — suffering from dementia and not the same Beth that Randall and Tess have grown to love. Or when Randall says “it’s time to go see her,” he could be referring to Beth (or Annie)’s final resting place. 


One thing we do know for sure, it’s going to be a long hiatus.

This Is Us returns this fall on NBC.


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