'This Is Us': Everything we know about the final season, future plots, potential spinoff
Grab the tissues: "This Is Us" is back for one final season.
The final season premiere of NBC's time-hopping family drama aired Tuesday, setting up fans of the show for one final emotional run with the Pearson family.
"We always knew that Season 6 would be ambitious in terms of the way it jumps time, even more ambitious than other seasons," series creator Dan Fogelman previously told USA TODAY. "Because our audience has been so devoted and because, hopefully, we smartly set up the contained areas where these future timelines live, I think you're going to have a real sense of resolution and completion for this family. It's where the mixed-up VHS tapes of this family's existence will coalesce and speak to one another in completion."
What happened in the Season 6 premiere?
In wake of the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger crash, Rebecca (Mandy Moore) and Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) grapple with how to teach their young kids about grief.
Meanwhile, in present day, Rebecca's memory issues are getting worse, Randall (Sterling K. Brown) confronts the man who burglarized his home a year ago and Kevin (Justin Hartley) considers an offer to join a reboot of "The Manny," the cheesy sitcom that made him famous for the wrong reasons.
The episode also set the stage for a further divide between Kate (Chrissy Metz) and husband Toby (Chris Sullivan), who we learned in last season's flash-forward won't be together forever.
What happened last season?
Season 5 focused on how the Pearsons dealt with the last seven months of 2020, notably the COVID-19 pandemic, police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement. (Season 4 concluded in March 2020 in an episode filmed before the pandemic hit).
The Pearsons also faced a reckoning with Alzheimer's, an adoption match, a miscarriage scare, and plenty of last-minute twists.
The season finale featured a big shocker: Madison (Caitlin Thompson) breaks things off with Kevin at the eleventh hour before their wedding, and a time-jump four years into the future offered even more surprising turns. A New Yorker magazine profile of Randall dubs him a "rising star," a lovelorn Uncle Nicky (Griffin Dunne) appears to be married, and Kate is shown preparing for her second wedding to Phillip (Chris Geere), the work colleague who once wanted nothing to do with Kate.
Future plots to watch out for
Previous seasons have offered glimpses into a future for many of the Pearsons that looks very different from their present: Kate and Toby's marriage seems to be taking a turn for the worse, an unknown couple is set to get married, Kevin gets assigned to build the house Jack once promised Rebecca, and eventually the family will join the matriarch around what appears to be her deathbed.
"Despite multiple reveals of marriages not quite working out, when you cut to that period in the future, everyone feels good," Fogelman said. "On first view, you're registering the shock of what you're seeing, but on second view, you can see the feeling and smiles that exist in that moment."
The show's essence is "mixing the tragedies and the heartbreak of life, but also the joy and the beauty," he added. "They have to be able to coexist in order to capture what we're trying to capture on this show. Marriages don't always survive. People don't live forever."
Will there be a spinoff?
When all the Pearson family actors say goodbye after filming wraps, will it be for good?
“It's more like a ta-ta for now. It's not gone forever because these people are such a part of my life. Whether or not the story gets to continue, you grieve that," Brown told Hoda Kotb Monday on SiriusXM's "The Hoda Show."
When asked if he was hinting at a potential spinoff, Brown said there's "always the potential for things."
He added: "We'll see. You know what I'm saying? Like if, in a few years, they wanna do the 'Sex and The City' where they don't kill Big in the first episode, we'll see. We'll see.”
Contributing: Kelly Lawler, Bill Keveney