Okay, so I get it’s been months since the This Is Us season 4 finale, but my breathing still hasn’t returned to normal after that insane Madison and Kevin reveal. Or that close-up of Nicky’s wedding ring! Am I planning to rewatch the finale...again...tonight? Um, as Toby artfully put it during the episode: “Do skunks stink?”
If you’re as addicted to NBC’s flagship drama as we are, you know one finale is never enough. Thankfully, the network knows how to deliver, and they’ve ordered up a season 5. It might take a while to arrive, but we promise there are plenty of juicy fan theories to chew on in the meantime. Here’s what you need to know while you’re waiting.
Season 5 will air this fall.
The pandemic has delayed filming throughout the U.S., leading many fans to fear the show might not return on schedule. Thankfully, it's coming back tomorrow with a two-hour premiere.
The original premiere date was the Tuesday after the election, November 10, but the show decided to shift things because they wanted to debut the new material before the election.
Series creator Dan Fogelman explained why: “It was really important to me—and to us—to get these episodes on before the election, not because they are political but because I think they are difficult and they are hopeful, and we felt it was important to us to put them on TV now with no agenda other than that,” he said. “But it also created intense rush.”
All your favorite characters will return.
That includes Jack, Rebecca, the Big Three and their families, of course. But we’ll also see the return of pivotal characters such as Madison, Nicky, and Jack Damon, Toby and Kate’s grown son.
The next season will feature the coronavirus (and possibly the Black Lives Matter movement).
In early August, creator Dan Fogelman announced via Twitter that the show’s writers were reworking scripts to include the pandemic in the season 5 narrative. We still don’t know exactly what that means nor what impact it could have on the show long-term, but Fogelman added that the show’s planned ending will not change due to the coronavirus’s inclusion. “Same planned ending,” he wrote. “Same route to get there.”
What remains less clear is whether the summer’s Black Lives Matters protests will make an appearance on the show. Star Sterling K. Brown told TV Line, “I can say this. I’ve had conversations with Dan and the writers from our show, and I know that the world is necessarily going to impact the world of the Pearsons, right? They’re still—not knowing when we’ll be going back—wanting to reserve this space to say, ‘What else is there that’s going to be transpiring in our world that we also may want to incorporate into our show?’”
In July, Justin Hartley shed some light to ET on why it's important to include things like BLM.
“Our show is at our best when we’re talking about real-life things that real-life people are going through that are hard and that are not going away anytime soon: mental health, sexuality, alcohol abuse, drug addiction, marriage, death. As long as we continue to tackle those topics that are truthful, honest and relevant, that’s when we’re at our best. And from what I’m gathering, it’s going to be a hell of a season.”
Season 5 won’t be the last season of This Is Us.
During season 3, the showrunners told Deadline they’re planning a total of six seasons. And on a call with multiple reporters from outlets including the Hollywood Reporter, creator Dan Fogelman said, “We’re obviously picked up through season 6. [It was] a gift to be picked up for two consecutive three-season pickups, which we asked for, which was really kind of to plan out and map out our storytelling in a big-picture way. Yeah, that’s when the Pearson story will basically come to a close.”
We’ll learn more about Rebecca and Miguel’s marriage.
We’ve seen several deep dives into the relationships that make up the complex Pearson family, but Rebecca’s marriage to Miguel, Jack’s best friend before his death, still remains a mystery. We know Miguel slid into her Facebook DMs, sure, but that was 10 years after Jack died. How did a friendship built from mutual loss become something more?
Now that we know the couple will travel to St. Louis together for Rebecca’s clinical trial, Fogelman says we’ll have an opportunity to “see how their relationship bloomed and stalled and then bloomed again.”
You saw that wedding ring on Kevin’s hand, right?? But his love story might not be as straightforward as it seems.
Fans are already deducing who Kevin might have married, given the bling he was wearing during the finale’s flash-forward scene. He mentions in an earlier flash-forward that his pregnant fiancée is having morning sickness, and after the finale, we know he has twins with Madison. So could he have married Madison?
Fans aren’t sure. What about Sophie, Kevin’s high-school sweetheart and ex-wife? Or Cassidy, the veteran he befriends (and sleeps with) while helping Nicky into recovery?
In the finale, Madison also mentions having a health condition that made her believe getting pregnant was impossible (specifically, bulimia). Perhaps this condition comes into play later during her pregnancy, and that might explain her sickness.
“There’s an immediate answer coming to all of that, but I think that there’s basically many more chapters in Kevin’s romantic story,” Fogelman told reporters.
And we might learn more about Nicky’s wedding ring too.
When we see Nicky at Rebecca’s bedside, he’s also wearing a wedding ring—which, way to go, Nicky! He’s come a long way from his hermit days. But who’s the lucky girl?
Some fans on Reddit have posited that Nicky might have married Cassidy, the veteran he and Kevin befriended from AA meetings, but that would be…quite the age difference.
Kevin and Randall don’t seem ready to reconcile…yet.
Talk about a sibling rivalry. After exchanging such pleasantries as “Dad died ashamed of you” and “The worst day of my life was when they brought you home,” Randall and Kevin don’t seem keen on hugging it out.
But we know there’s eventually some healing. In the season 4 finale, the flash-forward scenes depict Kevin placing a gentle hand on Randall’s shoulder at Rebecca’s bedside. And considering Randall has clearly met Kevin’s children before—Kevin’s son says, “Oh, hi, Uncle Randall!” during this same scene—we know the finale is not the last time the brothers speak before Rebecca’s illness worsens.
We’ll see more of Hailey, Jack (Jr.)’s adopted sister.
We had no idea who she was when she first graced our screens, but after watching the birth of Jack Jr.’s daughter, we know Kate and Toby adopted a second child: Hailey (Adelaide Kane). We’re sure she has an interesting story of her own, considering her goofy friend, Zach, who’s clearly crushing on her.
Fogelman told reporters, “We love the actress we found to play Hailey. Our hope is to continue to keep people invested in these future stories so you feel that great investment.”
Madison’s ob-gyn plays an important role.
Remember that guy with the horse? And his fiery redheaded daughter? They aren’t going anywhere. According to Fogelman, “The doctor becomes an important character next season to Kevin.”
We might (or might not) learn Kate’s fate.
Many fans have pointed out the startling omission of Kate from any of the flash-forward scenes. In a particularly worrisome image, we see Toby in bed alone, and he also arrives at Rebecca’s bedside alone.
Upon his arrival at Kevin’s house, Toby tells the rest of the family, “I talked to Jack, and they’re on their way.” Of course, we have no idea who “they” are, and fans on Reddit aren’t so sure “they” includes Kate. Toby could be talking about Hailey, for instance. Fogelman didn’t reveal any details, but apparently, we should get some answers next season.
“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,” star Chrissy Metz teased during an interview with People. She later added, “Oh, it’s trauma for sure.”
In the meantime, we’ll have to settle for scouring the finale for clues...again.
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