The showrunner did an interview with Deadline this week to discuss to the series' return next month. He said that fans have a lot to look forward to in upcoming episodes. However, when the interviewer asked in Randall might visit his biological mother's grave, he seemed to imply that they were thinking too narrowly.
Fogelman said that those particular events "aren't happening this season. But the construct of the show is that if we want to explore her back history, we don't have have to send Randall to do it. We can just go into the story about his mother by going back in time and see how she met William."
This opens up a range of possibilities for Laurel's introduction. If the showrunner decides to bring her in through flashbacks, they can contrive a whole storyline in the past to showcase Laurel without affecting the main plot of the show.
Fogelman also addressed the hope among fans that Laurel is still alive in the present. "It would mean that William lied," he said, since Randall's biological father told him that his mother had died during childbirth.
The interview had plenty of other teases for the Jan. 2 return of This Is Us. Fogelman promised that there's "some really serious acting going on" between the Pearson kids and their mother, with a full 12 minute drama scene on the way. The showrunner also said "we have big episodes in short order," foretelling a big second half to the sophomore season of this new hit.