11:15am PT by Jean Bentley
'This Is Us': Where Things Left Off and What to Expect in Season 4
The fourth season of This Is Us marks the beginning of the end for the series.
Creator Dan Fogelman told The Hollywood Reporter in May that he felt his family drama had reached its midpoint with the season three finale, and NBC's rare three-season renewal would seemingly bring the Pearson family saga to a close after six seasons (although the final season has not been confirmed).
With that, each of the Pearson family members are beginning new journeys in the present-day of season four (returning Sept. 24). Each season has begun with the Big 3's birthday, and this year the siblings turn 39. One is moving to new cities, one is taking on a new roles as a parent and one is starting over after a breakup. In the past, the flashbacks will continue to explore Jack and Rebecca's courtship.
Read on to find out what else to expect from the series' fourth season, plus read a refresher on where season three ended.
Where Season 3 Ended
Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) resolved their marital issues and decided to sell their house in New Jersey and move to Philadelphia. Randall will begin his job as a councilman there, and Beth will start her own dance studio.
Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Toby (Chris Sullivan) were finally able to take premature baby Jack home from the hospital, and are eager to begin their lives as new parents to their son.
Kevin (Justin Hartley) broke up with his girlfriend, Beth's cousin Zoe (Melanie Liburd), when he realized he wanted kids someday and she did not.
Rebecca (Mandy Moore), who had been suffering from enough memory issues that she began taking notes on her life in a little notebook she carries with her, decided to move to Los Angeles with husband Miguel (Jon Huertas) to help raise baby Jack.
The big future reveal that season three's flash-forward scenes had been building toward finally came to fruition in the final moments of the finale: In the last flash-forward of the season, Randall and grown-up Tess meet Beth at a gorgeous house, which turned out to belong to Kevin — and his son — who was at the store. They were soon joined by Toby, who wasn't wearing a wedding ring. Toby said he'd talked to Jack and "they" were on their way.
Everyone had gathered to see a silent and bedridden Rebecca, who was resting with an older Nicky Pearson (Griffin Dunne) by her side. When Randall entered the room, he introduced himself as "your son." The scene seemed to point toward a future where Rebecca is losing her memory due to dementia or Alzheimer's or something else.
What to Expect in Season 4
Things are better on the home front for Randall, Beth and the girls, although growing pains in their new Philadelphia home will be a point of conflict. For Randall, "to be able to have direct, regular access to the black community, to have a job where his job is to service that community, I think it's a real interesting step in his progression of feeling whole and feeling like he is enough — if it goes well," Sterling told THR at an Emmy event over the summer.
Both Toby and Kate will need to learn how to take care of themselves and their relationship as well as a small child, Sullivan and Metz said.
"Each time a child comes into a family, the family becomes a different unit. Things change and relationships change and dynamics shift," Sullivan said. "I think they were just figuring out how to be married, and now they have to figure out how to maintain a relationship as well as be good parents. And so it'll be interesting to see how they do that."
Said Metz, "I think the biggest thing for [Kate] is putting herself first because if you don't have the oxygen mask on yourself you can't help anybody."
The recovering addict will focus on his sobriety and "rebuilding his foundation" in the beginning of the fourth season. Said Hartley, "If you think of it like a building, a skyscraper, you've got to start with the foundation and make sure that's solid and firm before you can build on top of that. So hopefully that means relationships, things like that. You have to get that solid ground before you can start adding other pieces to it."
Rebecca and Jack
Ventimiglia had only been filming for a few weeks when THR spoke to him this summer, and he'd "already tapped into all the versions of Jack so far in these first episodes."
Moore's favorite version was the one from the early days of Jack and Rebecca's courtship, right after they got back from their road trip to Los Angeles.
"My first [wardrobe] fitting, it was like a '70s explosion: colored eyeshadows and chokers and hoops. It's the best," said Moore. "I'm like, 'Can we just live here all the time?' It's the most fun to be young and excited about life and there's levity. Nothing bad has happened to her yet. It's just fun to be in love with Jack."
New Faces in Season 4
The only trailer released for the season so far featured a younger Rebecca telling Jack how strange it is that "just like that, a complete stranger can become such a big part of your story" — and glimpses of some of the season's new characters.
Omar Epps' character can be seen working in an auto body shop, House veteran Jennifer Morrison suits up as a soldier, Revenge's Nick Wechsler can be seen hugging Morrison's character, and quick glimpses of Asante Blackk, master of suspense M. Night Shyamalan (yes, that one) and more. Other new faces include Marsha Stephanie Blake, Bahara Golestani, Timothy Omundson, Julian Silva and Auden Thornton.
Tim Matheson has signed on to play Rebecca's father.
Returning castmembers include Dunne, Tim Jo, Ron Cephas Jones, Elizabeth Perkins, Phylicia Rashad and Caitlin Thompson.
This Is Us season four premieres Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 9 p.m. on NBC with an extended episode.