* Warning: Contains spoilers
It took us nearly two full seasons of network TV to finally learn how Jack Pearson met his maker in "This Is Us." So how would us viewers be kept busy now that we're no longer trying to crack that case?
Judging by Tuesday night's Season 3 premiere: speculate wildly about a series of brand-new questions.
But first, the episode begins with us meeting the family of some guy who is an athlete of some kind. An hour (and, for some of us, a Google search) later, we know it's Pittsburgh Steelers player Franco Harris, whose performance in the 1972 Oakland-Pittsburgh game included the "Immaculate Reception," apparently the most legendary football play of all time. Some of us are learning new things!
Otherwise, we pick up where we left off on the evening of Kate and Toby's wedding, and quickly fast-forward through the ups and downs the Pearson family has experienced since until the Big Three's 38th birthday. Deja (Lyric Ross) has been an having an understandably rough time after her mother relinquished her parental rights. Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Toby (Chris Sullivan) are trying, and not succeeding, in getting pregnant again. Kevin (Justin Hartley) is dating Beth's cousin, Zoe (Melanie Liburd), and is now living part-time on the East Coast.
We also get the requisite flashback storyline, with the first date between Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca (Mandy Moore), on the night that he caught her singing. They sit for a drink, and she talks and talks and he just listens and smiles and listens, which is a very good date, until she suggests they get out of there.
Uh-oh, Jack only has $9 to his name, so what does he do? He takes her to the worst place when you have very limited funds and yet you are trying to impress someone: a carnival. The man paid $2 for hot chocolate and a candy apple - in this economy?! But don't worry, the date ended well, with Jack being totally honest about his cash flow and opening up and basically telling Rebecca that she feels like home.
Back in the present, Deja struggles but finally tells Randall and Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) that she would like to be adopted by them. Beth finds out Kevin and Zoe are a thing. And Kate's fertility doctor changes her mind about IVF and wants to help Kate become pregnant, despite the 10 percent chance. Meanwhile, Toby secretly goes off his antidepressants in hopes of boosting his sperm count.
Which all leads us to the big mystery the show's writers are teasing, the one set in the future and, who knows, could be the new "How did Jack die" mystery to dominate this season. We saw parts of it during Season 2, when old-man Randall tells adult/social worker Tess that it's time to go see "her." Tess is anxious and doesn't want to.
But now we have more details. Randall calls up old-man Toby to tell him to join them. Toby is alone and says he doesn't think "she" wants him there. Who is this woman? Why is she there? Why is Tess anxious? What is Toby's involvement? How has cellphone technology not advanced more?
And those aren't the only questions we're left thinking through. Here are some others:
- Beth's anger over Kevin dating Zoe has to do with her concern for Kevin, because, according to Beth, her cousin chews men up and spits them out. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? We better get some flashbacks to these partially digested men.
- Who is that guy who shows up on young Rebecca's doorstep with flowers and kisses her? It doesn't look like a stranger.
- It seems that Jack was with his brother when he died in Vietnam. We still don't know the full story there. Show creator Dan Fogelman has said we'll learn way more about the brothers this season.