It’s been a long, and at times seemingly aimless, season of This Is Us. But now it’s over and the future timeline that we were introduced to during last season’s finale is finally making sense.
The season 3 finale, “Her,” tied most of the season’s big questions into a neat lil’ focus group-approved bow: Randall and Beth are staying together; Kevin and Zoe are not; Baby Jack is OK. Our face is dry — all is well. But before you victoriously thrust your fist in the air Breakfast Club style, wait for those final five minutes — you know, the infamously explosive ones that not even the cast was privy to until the last possible moment.
Now, as for that final future-set scene … Previously described as “gigantic” by creator Dan Fogelman, after viewing it seems a more appropriate designation would be “confusing.” Let’s unpack, shall we?
Isn’t This “Twist” Kind of Something We Already Knew?
In the last flash-forward, we learned that Rebecca is the mysterious future “her” that Randall, Beth, Tess, and Toby are all going to see. No one’s happy about the visit, and Toby wonders if he should even be going at all (more on this later). Beth solemnly dusts off her Pin the Tail on the Donkey for the occasion — it appears we’re dealing with children, or a somehow stunted adult … Half a season later and we see a stoic, graying Randall venture into a room in Kevin’s “huge” house — Jack’s brother Nicky is also there, for whatever reason, and the main focal point, “her,” is lying in bed, a look of unfamiliarity playing across her face as her son greets her.
For once, Us didn’t bury the lead — an ailing Rebecca was clearly spelled out for us, and hardly a “gigantic” development. People get old, often sick, and then they die — that’s not a plot twist, it’s life.
What Year Is It?
Also lessening the grandiosity of it all is the time frame. Rebecca looks very old and the previously foreshadowed 10-year jump seems way off. When Toby arrives he says Jack (as in baby Jack) called and “they’re on the way.” “They” could of course refer to Jack and Kate — it’s possible that they’re divorced and communicating via their son, but it could also mean that Jack is an adult and commuting with his S.O. or possible sibling. Adding to the latter theory is the appearance of Kevin’s son, who looks to be middle school age. So we’re at least 13 years into the future, but judging by everyone’s hair and jowl situation, I’d guess more like 20-25.
As with the previous glimpse of the future, Toby isn’t wearing his wedding ring, and his interactions with Randall betray that it’s been a while since he last frequented a Pearson clan get-together. Whatever Kate’s status, it’s clear that she and Toby are no longer married. Toby’s reluctance to visit “her” in the first place (he tells Randall “I don’t know if I should” when he invites him), leads me to believe that Kate is dead (sorry, don’t @ me), and perhaps whatever happened to her was somehow seen as his fault.
Sorry to bear more bad news, but probably dead. I mean, why else would Rebecca be living/possibly dying at Kevin’s house? I’m going to sip my own somewhat incestuous Kool-Aid and suggest that Future Rebecca begins dating her late husband’s brother, Nicky, hence his mysterious presence at her bedside … Yes, it’s also possible (and even likely) that Uncle Nicky reconnects with the whole fam in the future and he and Rebecca grow close in a fully unromantic way, but this is way juicier.
Where’s Literally Everyone Else???
Annie? Deja? That’s all, really, but you’d think they’d be on the scene before Uncle Nick.
What's with the Sidewalk Chalk?
Toby arrives carrying a tub of sidewalk chalk; Beth brings Pin the Tail on the Donkey ... Perhaps the Pearsons are attempting to recover Rebecca's memories of the Big 3's childhood? Or throwing a really somber children's birthday party?
Here’s to a fourth season full of answers.