10:03am PT by Jean Bentley
'This Is Us' Season 3 Finale Is the "Midpoint" of the Series, Creator Dan Fogelman Says
While the first half of This Is Us' third season focused on drama in the past storylines — namely, Jack Pearson's (Milo Ventimiglia) time in Vietnam — the final episodes the season have seen major drama unfold in the present day. Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Toby (Chris Sullivan) welcomed their baby months early, Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) are enduring the worst fight of their relationship and Kevin (Justin Hartley) relapsed and started drinking again.
The NBC family drama's April 2 finale won't necessarily resolve all those problems, but it will provide answers as to some of the characters' fates.
"The main stories we focused on this season, whether it be the varying relationships, the state of the baby, Kevin and Zoe, Randall and Beth, what's happening in the future — there will be answers to all those things contained in the finale of this season," creator Dan Fogelman told The Hollywood Reporter. "Every time we jump into the future and show more, it begs new questions about how you get there. But a lot of the questions that people have invested in will be answered very clearly."
He continued, "Our characters are all finding themselves as we near what I like to consider kind of our midpoint of the TV series. They're at some real crossroads. And I think when you're at a crossroads, your emotions tend to be most raw and your situations tend to be extreme. You've got a character like Kevin, suddenly kind of looking at this woman he's fallen in love with and contemplating what his future is not just in a relationship, and not just as a man, but as a potential father. These are big questions that have taken two seasons to unearth as he's also battling sobriety and whatnot. You're at the midpoint of his journey," Fogelman said. "You're at the midpoint of Kate and Toby's journey as a couple. We've watched them fall in love, we've watched them get married, we've watched them having this very tenuous and difficult pregnancy and birth. And they're at their midpoint right now. And so what's exciting about the midpoint is yes, it gets dramatic in a different kind of way. Because you’re stripped most raw."
The episode will spend a substantial amount of time in the future timeline it introduced at the end of season two, with several of the characters going to see someone they referred to as "her" — who was later revealed to be Pearson family matriarch Rebecca (Mandy Moore).
As Moore told THR, "I think people will be satisfied because they'll potentially get an answer that was asked at the very, very beginning of the season, that I think people have constantly been wondering about — maybe pertaining to 'her.'"
For his part, Ventimiglia is a little relieved the Pearsons are doing well in the past — and that it can provide some stability to the story when compared to the present.
"In the Jack storyline, there's a sense of oneness — a complete family, I think, which is really nice. Especially for what what Jack went through this season with war and his brother and everything else," Ventimiglia told THR. "So it's nice for me to know that the Pearsons in Jack's era are a little more whole."
While the Pearson family's story has unfolded over several different time periods, Fogelman has already begun to work on tying them all together. He confirmed to THR that he can see This Is Us running for a few more seasons, but that the story has reached its midpoint. (NBC has yet to renew the series, with the fact that the drama is now owned by Disney's 20th TV likely delaying the formal pickup.)
"I think we're roughly in the middle of where the television series is going to go," he said. "We never set out to make a television series that was going to last 18 seasons, and so we have a very direct plan. I have script pages I have written and I'm writing that really are deep, deep, deep into the future. Like, we have a plan for what we're going to do and I know what the plan is. I'm not allowed to talk about it too much because they freak out. But yeah, I think where you find the characters right now, you're in the middle of their story. If you were in the movie theater, you'd be at the moment where you're about an hour into the movie wondering what's going to happen."
As for Tuesday night's finale, Watson thinks fans will be both pleased and frustrated with the answers they are going to get.
"I feel like something new is birthed in the finale," Watson said. "I feel like it's a culmination of everything. We get a glimpse into the future, we see the past, and certain things are resolved maybe in ways that we like, maybe in ways that we don't like. I feel like the big questions that have been asked this season, like Randall and Beth, and 'her,' Kevin and Zoe, the baby — a lot of big questions are going to be answered in the finale, which I think is always a great thing. One, because the audience gets what they've been looking for, two, because I can stop keeping so many damn secrets."
This Is Us wraps its third season on Tuesday, April 2 at 9 p.m. on NBC. Stay tuned to THR for full coverage.