‘This Is Us’ Co-Showrunner Breaks Down 3 of the Major Flash-Forward Surprises

*Warning: Spoilers ahead*

If you saw the fall finale of This Is Us, then you know it was far from full of holiday cheer. Rebecca’s (Mandy Moore) memory loss came to the forefront, Uncle Nicky (Griffin Dunne) struggled to get past the difficult Thanksgivings of his childhood and Kate (Chrissy Metz) was basically slapped in the face with the issues in her marriage to Toby (Chris Sullivan). Not only that, Deja (Lyric Ross) struggled with a multitude of emotions after seeing her mother, Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) feared that Deja’s mom could replace her and Tess (Eris Baker) came out on Instagram thanks to some help from Zendaya. And, as if these ups and downs weren’t enough, we also saw a flash-forward scene that revealed Rebecca’s condition worsening and Randall and Kevin’s (Justin Hartley) relationship deteriorating. Thankfully, This Is Us co-showrunner Isaac Aptaker chatted with Entertainment Weekly to shed some light on what’s to come when This Is Us returns.

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Ron Batzdorff/NBC


The Pearson matriarch is suffering from memory loss, but Aptaker says they’re not giving her an official diagnosis yet (which happens IRL, too). “The reality is, it actually takes a bit of time and testing to come to a diagnosis. There’s not an instant blood test where they can tell you what’s wrong, but it’s something that we’re going to be exploring in the back half of the season with as much medical accuracy as possible,” he explained.

As for why the This Is Us writers decided to break our hearts with this diagnosis, Aptaker reasoned that it’s a common fact of life that isn’t really explored on network TV.

“So much of this show is about memory and about looking back. So the idea that one of our characters would be faced with this incredibly scary illness where you begin to lose that and that begins to fade away felt very in keeping with the themes of the show,” he said.

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Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Kevin’s Pregnant Fiancée

Although we’ve known about Rebecca’s illness since the season three finale, the news that Kevin will be engaged and expecting his first child shortly definitely threw us for a loop. Turns out Aptaker felt the same. “It’s definitely fast. Aug. 31 is [the Big Three’s] birthday, so we’re nine months in the future and he already is engaged and soon to be with child. People can draw their own conclusions there, whether they want to believe that things are hunky-dory or if this was a bit of a panic and something that Kevin might wind up regretting.” Ooh, we hadn’t even considered that Kevin would pull the trigger with just anyone. Interesting.

Still, we’re keeping our bets on his baby mama being Cassidy (Jennifer Morrison), Sophie (Alexandra Breckenridge) or Madison (Caitlin Thompson). Aptaker explained, “There’s definitely a fun guessing game of women in Kevin’s life, women in the show.” The one person he confirmed Kevin will not be shacking up with? Beth. (Duh)

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Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Randall & Kevin’s Fight

Speaking of Kevin, in the flash-forward, he mentions that he and Randall are no longer speaking. While we have our own theories about why that may be, Aptaker offered another potential explanation: “So many of the people that we brought in to speak to what it’s like to have a parent with dementia or Alzheimer’s talked about the tensions that flare up between siblings, between spouses, when it comes to that person’s care.”

He went on to say that Randall keeping Rebecca’s illness a secret could also be the cause of this tension, but he clarified, “There’s going to be a lot of complicated decision-making down the line regarding Rebecca’s treatment and care, and that all makes existing sibling rivalries rear their heads, for sure.”

This Is Us returns from fall hiatus on Tuesday, January 14, at 9 p.m. PT/ET on NBC. We’re so curious to see what happens. 


Cat mom, yogi, brunch enthusiast

Lex is an LA native who's deeply obsessed with picnics, Slim Aarons, rosé, Hollywood history and Joan Didion. She joined PureWow in early 2017.