Soon after season four of This Is Us ended—read our recap with Justin Hartley for more—creator Dan Fogelman was already hard at work on the next season. “I’ve written the season premiere for season five,” he said on a call with reporters, “and there’s something big that happens. We have our entire plan mapped out for seasons five and six.”
That’s welcome news for fans who can’t wait to reunite with their favorite characters, especially during these uncertain times. “I feel like a small thing we can do is keep our [TV] world moving and provide an hour-long reprieve for people,” Fogelman says.
So what can you look forward to when the series returns? Here’s what we know. Caution: Some spoilers ahead.
The premiere date is set. It’s official: This Is Us season five will return sooner than you thought. As production picked up, Variety reported that NBC moved the two-hour premiere from Tuesday, November 10, to Tuesday, October 27, at 9 p.m. ET.
And the first teaser trailer is here. Watch, below. Kevin’s in a mask!
On October 16, NBC released the first full-length trailer, which revisits the massive fight between Kevin and Randall (and maybe gives some hope for reconciliation), shows Kate learning Kevin is engaged, and addresses the racial turmoil in America through Randall and Beth's eyes.
The new season will be about rebirth. The theme for season four was expansion (as in new characters) and ambitious storylines (the deep future). Fogelman says season five, however, will be about uplifting moments and new beginnings. “I’m very excited about that, especially with where the world is right now,” he says. “I would call it almost a rebirth that will come next season. [There will be] a lot of new beginnings and particularly the words birth and rebirth are going to be a big thematic part of next season.”
The season may address current events. During a panel with Entertainment Weekly’s Dan Snierson for the 92Y, Fogelman said he and the writers are figuring out how current events, like the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter uprising, will factor into the new season, even though the series typically stays away from real-life news. “This moment in time that we find ourselves in is something different [than what we’ve experienced before], and if we attack it, we want to attack it the right way,” he says. “We do feel uniquely suited in our show to mark this moment, but it’s complicated territory.” Still, he says he has a plan, which will be dictated by when the show is able to begin filming. “We’re mindful and we’re hopeful that we can get something right here.”
Fogelman gave an additional update on Twitter in August, confirming the show will tackle the coronavirus pandemic—but that it won’t change how he’s planned to end the series all along. At the time he said he had no new info on a start date for production or when episodes will begin airing.
“It was as huge from a writer’s perspective as it was from mine. I think Randall offers such a unique perspective. Being a Black man raised in a white family, there’s a very specific prism through which he sees the world, and I think the writers have captured it brilliantly,” he says. “Our first two episodes are outstanding. As long as we, as actors, are able to execute what the writing has provided us an opportunity to do, I think our fans will be very, very, very happy.”
However, he does reveal in the interview that the current events will be talked about “briefly” and in an “essence.”
“They won’t be washed over completely, but we still want to maintain the integrity of our story focused on the Pearsons, especially where we left off the relationship between Kevin and Randall last year,” he says. “I know [the fight between Randall and Kevin] lingers very strongly in the minds of fans, and they’re going to be wanting to see how these two brothers can, or if, mend the fences that they have torn down,” Brown says.
The main cast will return. Mandy Moore, Milo Ventimiglia, Sterling K. Brown, Justin Hartley, Chrissy Metz, Susan Kelechi Watson, and Chris Sullivan will all be back, along with recurring characters like Madison (Caitlin Thompson) and Jack Damon (Blake Stadnik). While it may not seem that there’s much to uncover in past storylines, Fogelman says that’s not true. “Jack and Rebecca will always be in the show in those past timelines, plus younger versions of the kids,” he says. As for future storylines, Fogelman says the show will continue to move forward into later years and not just the deep future, where Jack Jr. lives. “It’s so interesting to think we started with Rebecca and Jack, with him sitting with a towel, and then decades later there will be all these human beings that will be offshoots of these people.”
The futures of Deja, Tess, and Annie will be explored. With a 44-minute running time each week and only 18 episodes each season, it’s hard to do a deep dive into every character’s story. But for those who want to see more of Randall and Beth’s kids, Fogelman says he has you covered. “We have a plan for all of that,” he says. “By the time the Pearson story wraps up on our series, you’ll have gotten a lot of check-ins to figure out and understand where everyone’s characters are in the big span of their lives. That includes the children.” The same goes for newly revealed siblings Jack Jr. and Hailey. “We love the actress we found to play Hailey [Adelaide Kane]. Our hope is to continue to keep people invested in these future stories so you feel that great investment.”
We’ll find out how Rebecca and Miguel got together. Now that Rebecca is going to St. Louis for the Alzheimer’s clinical trial at Washington University, Fogelman says it will allow for more scenes with Rebecca and Miguel on their own, separate from the rest of the family. “When we land in St. Louis, we’ll explore her relationship with Miguel,” he says. “They'll be in a location together that they didn’t necessarily plan on trying.” Most likely through flashbacks viewers will finally see what happened after Miguel messaged Rebecca on Facebook 10 years after Jack died. “We’ll get to see how their relationship bloomed and stalled and then bloomed again.” As for the clinical trial and living in a new city, it will be a “challenging chapter for Rebecca moving forward. We have a big storyline planned for Mandy next season in the present day as an older woman—and in her past timelines.”
We may not have seen the last of Sophie (Alexandra Breckenridge) and Cassidy (Jennifer Morrison). While it appears Madison is the mother of Kevin’s future children (more on that in a minute), Fogelman says Sophie and Cassidy aren’t out of the picture. There’s a reason you saw those characters at the end of the finale, he says: “Whether [future appearances] are related to Kevin or not, we have plans. But Kevin had intense relationships with them.”
Is Madison the fiancée that Kevin references on his 40th birthday? If you’ll remember, Kevin mentions that his fiancée is having morning sickness at all hours of the day. But if that’s Madison, that puts her at about the eighth-month mark if she conceived in January. While morning sickness in the third trimester isn’t unheard-of, it’s also not the most common. That’s not to say Madison isn’t pregnant with Kevin’s children, but perhaps he’s engaged to someone else who also is pregnant. “I think there’s an immediate answer coming to all of that,” Fogelman says. “Obviously there are many more chapters to Kevin’s romantic story.” As for Justin Hartley, who plays Kevin, he says anything possible. “I mean, it could go either way,” he tells Glamour. “You’re onto something, maybe. Maybe not.”
We will see more of Madison’s ob-gyn in season five. Josh Hamilton plays Eli Mason, Madison’s doctor. According to Fogelman, viewers will be seeing more of him. “The doctor becomes an important character next season to Kevin. It’s no coincidence he was introduced in the same episode that Dr. K returned.” Interesting…so perhaps Eli is related to Dr. K? Or his son-in-law?
Kate is still missing at Rebecca’s bedside in the future. Now that we know Kate and Toby adopt a daughter, is it possible that’s who Toby is referring to in the future when he says, “They’re on their way”? Instead of Kate and Jack Jr., could he mean Hailey and Jack Jr.? If so, when will we get answers to Kate’s whereabouts? “I can’t reveal that, as it will be a spoiler when we do reveal it,” Fogelman says. “But all will be answered. There’s a plan in the next two seasons.”
We’ll also learn about a trauma that will help us understand adult Kate. “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,” Metz told People in May.
“I remember Dan giving me a call and he’s like, ‘How do you feel about this? Are you going to be able to tackle this? How are you going to feel about it?’ I’m like, ‘No, let’s do it, I think it’s super important.’ While I won’t give away what it is exactly, it’s something that we haven’t seen and we had no idea that Kate went through,” she continued. “It’s trauma for sure.”
Can Randall and Kevin’s relationship be repaired? After that very heavy, uncomfortable exchange of words in the season-four finale, it seems as though the two brothers will never be able to get back to the way they were. Still, Fogelman wants to remind viewers that they weren’t always close. It was only in the last few years that they’ve worked on their relationship. “These aren’t brothers who have been speaking on the phone every day for the past 10 years,“ he says. “If you remember from the pilot, they had been estranged a little bit. I think part of making a drama is not being afraid to let people be really flawed and really ugly. Hopefully, we can offer a sense of hope that is well-earned and well-executed when a reunion comes.”
Randall’s 40th-birthday celebration won’t be all doom and gloom just because he’s not celebrating with Kate and Kevin. Fogelman said he’s already written those scenes, and Randall will be celebrating this new decade with Beth and the kids. “His 40th birthday is not him sitting on the couch crying the entire time,” he says. “He’ll have his immediate family around him to make it work.”
The series is still scheduled to run for another two seasons. Last year NBC renewed its top-rated drama for seasons four, five, and six. That means we have another 36 episodes to go now that season four is done. Fogelman says this will allow the writers to “really map out our stories in a big way, and that’s when the Pearson story will basically come to a close.” That said, that doesn’t mean the end of season six is the definite ending. (Even NBC entertainment chairman Paul Telegdy told reporters last year, “We are keeping it open for right now.”)
Originally Appeared on Glamour