As the audience filed into Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre for the This Is Us panel at PaleyFest, boxes of tissues were handed to anticipate all the tears that would be shed after watching an episode of the Emmy-winning NBC family drama. Actually, boxes of tissues weren’t handed out, but PaleyFest screened the most recent episode of the show which definitely stirred many emotions and gutted us — which is why This Is Us has become a source of must-see TV in a time when all of us just want to be hugged. Milo Ventimiglia, Mandy Moore, Sterling K. Brown, Justin Hartley, Susan Kelechi Watson, Melanie Liburd, and Jon Huertas were joined on the stage by producers Dan Fogelman, Isaac Aptaker, and Elizabeth Berger — and a surprise appearance by Phylicia Rashad — to unpack the episode and more importantly, spill details on the of the season finale and what’s in store for the Pearson family.
After moderator Kristin Dos Santos from E! made Brown and Watson do some role-playing to mend their characters’ fractured relationship (which was at the center of the last episode), she asked Fogelman what we can expect in the season finale.
“Obviously there’s a lot of attention on Randall and Beth,” he said of the finale. He also added that it’s going to be “gigantic” and the last five minutes of the episode are not to be missed. “You’re going to get a lot of answers.” And then he joked, “Everyone dies!”
Fogelman said that “we are in the middle of a movie in the big picture of the show.” From the Vietnam episodes, Kate & Toby’s baby, and R & B (Randall & Beth), it has added up to a big season to TV and he is proud of the cast.
When the cast was asked their reaction when they read the script for the finale, Metz admitted that one scene made her cry while Hartley simply said “They did it to me again!” which doesn’t really tell us much, but we know that it’s gonna be filled with all sorts of feelings.
One thing Fogelman revealed was that he is genuinely excited about the forthcoming season. He recently wrote the first episode of the season and parts of subsequent episodes, saying that the premiere is ambitious. He admits that he is amped for this season as much as he was for the pilot.
“It’s going to be good,” said Fogelman. “The world is gonna expand in an interesting way…we have a plan.” He did more dancing around season four saying that he is more excited for the back half of the season than the front half.
The panel took an interesting turn when Dos Santos played a game of “Truth or Dare” with the panel which involved chocolate and ranch dressing (which makes sense if you have caught up with this season). This was another — and a tad bit gross attempt — to get more information about what’s in store for the new season.
After declining to eat ranch-dipped chocolate, Fogelman did some pondering about what he wanted to share about season four. He spilled a drop more information saying that Rebecca’s father is going to be a prominent part of the storyline while Berger was very vague and simply said “we’re going to get some answers in the future” leaving the audience hungry for more.
But the highlight of the panel — besides Fogelman showing the audience a preview of the finale — had to be when Rashad ate a piece of chocolate with ranch dressing in the most regal way possible while Brown filmed.