There are just two new episodes of This Is Us left in 2018: the show’s third annual Thanksgiving outing, titled “Six Thanksgivings,” and a sure-to-be eventful additional outing in Vietnam (which will also serve as the fall finale), “The Beginning Is the End Is the Beginning.”
The Hollywood Reporter spoke to two of the series’ non-Pearson family stars — Jon Huertas, who plays Jack’s BFF-turned-Rebecca’s husband, Miguel; and Melanie Liburd, who plays Beth’s cousin-turned-Kevin’s girlfriend, Zoe — about the last two installments of the year. Here’s what to know about the upcoming hours.
A Pearson Thanksgiving
In “Six Thanksgivings,” “the Pearsons have an unconventional Thanksgiving dinner. In the past, Jack, Rebecca and the big three spend Thanksgiving with Miguel.” In the past timeline, it’s the final thanksgiving with the Big Three living at home, which also happened to be the last Thanksgiving before Jack’s death.
In the preview for the episode, Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) counsels Miguel about parenting his own kids after his divorce. “You need to show your kids that you are still their father,” Jack tells him.
Meet Miguel’s Family
Huertas hinted to THR that Miguel’s kids might make an appearance in the episode. “We’re going to meet a couple of new characters who we haven’t met before, but that maybe have been talked about,” he teased, confirming later, “We are going to meet [Miguel’s kids] at some point in the season.”
Said Huertas, “We’re finding out how Miguel is affected by the death of Jack and how he also deals with being married to Rebecca [Mandy Moore] and dealing with Miguel’s own family. We’ve seen how he deals with the Pearson family. But we haven’t seen how he deals with his own family and how they feel about Rebecca and Miguel being married.”
Though Huertas believes Miguel is a good father, there are obstacles in his way.
“He wants to be a good dad, but you can’t always be. It’s got to be reciprocated,” he said. “You’ve seen parents whose kids don’t give them the same love and attention because of whatever happens between the divorcing parents. Sometimes divorce can get in the way of a great relationship.”
In “The Beginning Is the End Is the Beginning,” “Kevin arrives at the Ville his father served in. Kate pursues a new opportunity. Randall debates Councilman Solomon Brown. In the past, Jack struggles to get through to his brother.”
That means Randall’s (Sterling K. Brown) campaign for Philadelphia city council is heating up, and Michael Angarano will return as Jack’s younger brother, Nicky. And in Vietnam, Kevin (Justin Hartley) and Zoe will grow closer — especially following the revelation that Zoe’s father sexually abused her.
“That was very scary for her. She’s left herself in a very vulnerable position, but she knows he’s kind and she’s falling in love with him, and I think she knows if she didn’t share that secret, they wouldn’t be able to progress forward,” Liburd said of Zoe’s admission to Kevin. “I think it’s always going to be with her. It’s always going to be something that she fights with. Kevin’s a great complement because he’s not afraid of pushing her to open up.
“He’s really encouraging me to open up and I’m encouraging him, in a way, to ask questions about his father and not be afraid to explore that, because as a child he was just conscious of he shouldn’t be asking those questions. And so now he’s on a mission.”
The episode will end on an important note for the couple, said Liburd: “It’s Zoe and Kevin progressing and opening up, and it’s beautiful. I don’t want to give anything away about it! It’s lovely.”
Filming in Vietnam
Ventimiglia, Hartley and Liburd all traveled to Vietnam to film the scenes in the seventh and ninth episodes of the season — along with a very small crew.
“Our first AD, our director of photography, our director Ken Olin, who’s amazing, three castmembers, and then we got a local group as well,” Liburd said of the experience. “I love traveling. It was wonderful. We went to these vibrant markets where everyone’s making a living and cooking.”
Though Liburd didn’t know about her character’s traumatic past when she got the part, she did know she would be traveling. Showrunner Dan Fogelman told her when she got the job, “Get ready, because you’re going to Vietnam.”
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.