Warning: This article contains some spoilers about NBC/20th Century Fox TV’s This Is Us season 2.
Updated with video from last night’s event. Thirty minutes prior to tonight’s Deadline Hollywood This Is Us Emmy panel on the Paramount lot, creator Dan Fogelman literally had just left the editing bay, having finished a cut of season 2’s first episode, which airs Sept. 26 on NBC. We thought we heard a lot about season 2 at TCA, but Fogelman and the cast brought even more teases tonight. Prior to the event, Fogelman told us during our Facebook Live session that if there’s a few words he could use to describe season 2 it’s “a little darker.”
How much more will we cry compared to season 1?
Fogelman expects about the same. “There won’t be a paradigm shift,” the creator told Deadline co-Editor-in-Chief Nellie Andreeva who moderated tonight’s session. During the series’ TCA panel a few weeks ago, Fogelman mentioned that while we were transfixed by how Milo Ventimiglia’s Jack Pearson died, other pressing events in season 2 will consume us even more.
“The hope is that everyone on this stage will come back early and often,” said Fogelman to the cast onstage which included actors Ventimiglia, Mandy Moore (Rebecca Pearson), Sterling K. Brown (Randall Pearson), Chrissy Metz (Kate Pearson), Chris Sullivan (Toby), Justin Hartley (Kevin Pearson), Susan Kelechi Watson (Beth Pearson), Denis O’Hare (Jessie), Gerald McRaney (Dr. Nathan) and Brian Tyree Henry (Ricky).
While season 2 begins with a 37th birthday, Fogelman said that every season won’t begin with a celebration to kick events off. We also knew previously that episode one of season 2 will begin with the day following (younger) Rebecca and Jack’s fight, which resulted in the latter walking out.
“You don’t come back instantly from that,” said Fogelman about the couple’s epic season one finale fight and how long they’ll be apart, “But that doesn’t end a longstanding relationship.”
Ventimiglia said that the takes completed for their fight scene were done in one long swoop, akin to a play, nicknamed “a oner” with plenty of raging takes left on the floor “which will never see the light of day.” EP Ken Olin, who directed the season finale, specifically advised Moore and Ventimiglia to listen to each other, so as to exude the scene’s truth. And listening has been Ventimiglia’s creed since shooting the pilot, especially the scene where he’s reduced to a puddle of tears when McRaney’s Dr. Nathan tell him that Rebecca lost one of the triplets.
Meanwhile Beth and Randall will be dealing with the adoption of their new child in the first episode of season 2 but “the way they choose to do it is a complicated route,” said Fogelman. She returns to work as an urban planner, while Randall will be happily at home with their daughters. One thing Fogelman promised for the duration of This Is Us: “Randall and Beth will never separate in this show. They’ll experience trials and tribulations, and this one (season) will have a big one in front of them.”
“You can talk about the polygamy storyline,” joked Brown.
Fogelman also hinted that we’re apt to see the backstory of how Ron Cephas Jones’ William Hill and O’Hare’s Jessie actually meet, and the early part of their relationship; what drew them together.
There’s also singing in the first episode, more specifically we get to see Metz’s Kate Pearson embarking on her career behind the mic. “There’s a growth of confidence,” said Fogelman about her arc, “A journey of fits and starts.”
How about a duet with Moore’s Rebecca, Kate’s mom?
“It’s possible,” said Fogelman.
As far as Kate and Toby’s wedding, Fogelman said that it’s still in the works in season 2, “but we don’t open with a wedding.” Nonetheless, the couple seems to be in good place, working out their stuff.
Toward the end of the panel, a clip from last season was shown where Kevin explains to Randall’s daughter, a Jackson Pollack-like painting he made about their family, and what it symbolically means from their origins until now.
In essence, that’s the gist of the series per Fogelman who brought the painting, made by the show’s art department, home to hang in his house: “Letting the painting out…that’s the journey.”