Where can This Is Us go, now that the mystery surrounding Jack Pearson's death is no more? According to showrunners Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger, anything is possible for season three without that mystery hanging over them.
"It’s really exciting for us. There’s something very freeing about being past the mystery of Jack’s death and moving into this new chapter and getting to tell a whole completely different kind of story," Berger told reporters at the Television Critics Association Press Tour, reports The Hollywood Reporter. "It’s different than anything we [or] any of our writers have done in our first two years. To all of a sudden be immersed in the Vietnam War, we think it’s going to be really special and really different."
This Is Us plans to take viewers to Vietnam to showcase Jack's (Milo Ventimiglia) life in the front lines before he married Rebecca (Mandy Moore). Writers can also take us to the future, where we could finally learn who Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and his daughter, Tess (Iantha Richardson), were visiting in the hospital.
While some may think we know everything about the Pearsons, Aptaker pointed out that we have only spent 36 hours with them over two seasons. Kevin (Justin Hartley), Kate (Chrissy Metz), Randall and Rebecca have new challenges to face in the present and future, while Jack's past is still a closed book begging to be opened.
"We’re challenging ourselves to jump to decades we’ve never been in before and go into the future, as we’ve seen a little bit, and really play with the storytelling format in a way that’s just much more complicated than we were able to in earlier seasons when we were showing people how the show worked," Aptaker explained at the TCAs.
Berger said the overarching theme for season three will be "true new beginnings" for the characters, and those beginnings start on the Big Three's 38th birthday. The new season will continue the show's tradition of starting on their birthday.
The new episodes will catch viewers up on many of the plot threads left dangling in the finale. We saw Kevin on a plane with Zoe (Melanie Liburd), Beth's cousin, on their way to Vietnam. And while we last saw Kate's husband Toby (Chris Sullivan) in the middle of a depressive episode, Berger said there will be some lighthearted stories for the newlyweds.
As for the flash-forward storyline, that is part of the "bigger picture plan" for This Is Us. There will be answers in season three, but the writers still need to build on the present-day storyline with Randall and his foster daughter, Deja (Lyric Ross).
Audiences will also see some of Miguel's (Jon Huertas) backstory and his relationship with Rebecca.
Aptaker also said they called in novelist and veteran Tim O'Brien to help out on writing Jack's Vietnam story with This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman.
This Is Us season three debuts on Tuesday, Sept. 25 on NBC in its familiar 9 p.m. ET timeslot.
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