'This Is Us' Goes Back to the Beginning for Emotional Stand-Alone Episode

The stars of the hit NBC drama preview the stand-alone flashback episode featuring Dr. K, Jack and Rebecca.
Paul Drinkwater/NBC
'This Is Us'

It’s no secret that Dr. K (Gerald McRaney) became an early fan favorite when Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca (Mandy Moore) delivered their babies back in the pilot episode of NBC's This Is Us. So it should come as no surprise that the character is getting his own showcase in an upcoming stand-alone episode that flashes back to the day The Big Three were born.

“The Big Day” marks the second episode back following the drama's December midseason finale, in which Toby (Chris Sullivan) suffered a heart attack in a cliffhanger ending. The episode serves as a reset of sorts following Tuesday's emotional return, “The Right Thing to Do,” which will reveal Toby's fate.

NBC screened "The Big Day" for reporters Friday during the Television Critics Association's winter press tour on the Universal lot, followed by a small reception with the cast and crew. It marked the first time both Moore and Ventimiglia saw some of the finished scenes they shot back while doing the pilot, bringing the death of the third baby and their heartbroken reactions full circle.

Specifically, "The scene in the pilot from the hospital with Rebecca was muted and viewers don’t hear what we say, so we had never seen that,” Ventimiglia told The Hollywood Reporter. “So seeing it, it was one of those things where you forgot about it. It was like finding this favorite pair of socks in a drawer and putting them on and wiggling them around. That was the silliest analogy … but it was very fun to see it.”

Moore said it was interesting to revisit the events of the pilot episode. “It was weird because we obviously didn’t re-shoot any of that,” she said. “They just sliced in the moments from the pilot. … Everything that happens over the course of that episode fit in in sync with what had already been shot. They used a little bit of it in a montage in the pilot, but I don’t even remember shooting that or what I said. It’s nice to see it make it somewhere."

The episode also brings back Brian Oblak as the firefighter who brought baby Randall to the hospital after he was left at the firehouse doorstep, diving into his personal life as well as Dr. K’s family life following the loss of his wife.

“Mandy and I have built a shorthand this year in working together, but it doesn’t surprise me when I see her work anymore,” said Ventimiglia. “I love it — I am and continue to be a fan of Mandy. But then when I get to see Gerald come back and have this beautiful storyline about loss and living anew again. Or Brian — who would have thought he’d come back and have such a pivotal episode in a show that skyrocketed? He had a handful of lines that we shared in the pilot and then he gets this whole episode of his own several episodes later. I’m always satisfied by watching the people around me that I don’t get to work with all the time.”

This is just McRaney's third appearance on the series, but he admits the episode was emotional for him as well. “I was crying reading the episode. These guys do that to you,” the actor said. “I’ve heard that from other people who had to read the script. At their core, these characters are good, decent people, and I think that a lot of people in the country want to be reminded of the goodness that’s in us. We’ve seen a lot of stuff about the evil that people do to each other and all that. These are decent people trying to make the best they can out of whatever life deals them.”

This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.

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Twitter: @amber_dowling