‘This Is Us’ Creator Explains Why Fans Should Be ‘Concerned’ About the Back Half of Season 4

Any true This Is Us fan knows to always expect the unexpected. Season 4 of the hit NBC drama proves this sentiment. The show is on a fall hiatus, but series creator, Dan Fogelman, recently addressed what’s to come in the next installment of This Is Us. Fair warning: we’re already crying.

The fall finale ended on a ‘concerning’ note

Dan Fogelman
Visionary Award winner for ‘This Is Us’ Dan Fogelman speaks onstage during the Los Angeles Confidential Impact Awards | Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Los Angeles Confidential

The Pearson family ended their Thanksgiving festivities for a spiderweb of plot twists for fans to decipher. The episode, “So Long Marianne,” highlighted how patriarch Jack Pearson’s (Milo Ventimiglia) traditions inspired future generations.

Between the five pounds of shrimp Uncle Nicky (Griffin Dunne) brought to honor Jack, and Deja’s biological mom, Shauna (Joy Brunson), doing much better than before, all seemed to be OK.

Threaded through the celebration came a haunting foreshadow of Rebecca’s (Mandy Moore) fate, a falling out among Kevin (Justin Hartley) and Randall (Sterling K. Brown), and Kate (Chrissy Metz) discovering Toby’s text chain, which included texts from an unknown female.

With all of this unraveling in the final moments, it’d be difficult for fans not to clutch a pillow and sob. Luckily, Fogelman has answers (well, sort of).

Here’s why fans should be concerned about the second half of season 4

The showrunner recently spoke to People about what’s to come and why viewers should proceed with caution in January.

“I think you would be made of stone if you weren’t a little concerned after watching the episode. There’s a lot going on here, obviously, it’s concerning,” he said.

He commented on Rebecca’s “early, early stages” of “something going on,” saying whatever it is has always been part of the series plan. He added there’s a concern not just for her, but the entire family dynamic.

“We’ve been born with this family, in terms of how they started as children with what place Rebecca holds for them. They’ve lost a parent, Randall’s lost two [fathers] so you can imagine the ramifications for Rebecca as an individual, there are also obviously ramifications for the entire family.”

What about Randall and Kevin?

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Fogelman elaborated on Randall and Kevin’s complicated brotherhood and how Rebecca’s troubles may come between them.

“When suddenly something is going on with the lone remaining parent with whom they both have issues — and one of them has kept a secret and there are other things coming into play — it would probably be not inconceivable that it could a cause of they’re not speaking a year from now.”

As for Kevin’s love story wish (that manifested in the 9-month flash-forward), Fogleman said it’s “a big part of our back half of this season and one of the big things we will solve by the end of the season.”

What becomes of Toby and Kate?

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With marital troubles looming for a while, it feels almost inevitable that “Katoby” will break at some point.

“They have a very challenging back half of the season but I don’t think it’s going to go quite where people think it’s going to go.”

He explained that it’s not as much about Toby’s (Chris Sullivan) weight loss as it is about the secrets kept.

“It was never just about the weight loss for her and for them,” he shared.

If you’re obsessing over who that mysterious text was from, Fogelman said it’ll be a “surprising answer for people.”

“It would be very hard for people to guess where they’re headed,” he added.

He said the second half of the season offers individualized episodes to focus on some of those lingering backstories, such as Kate’s teen boyfriend, Marc.

“Marc plays a very big part in the culmination of it all. A lot of answers will be caught in there as to what formed Kate in this stage of her life.”

One character gets a little more screen time, according to Fogelman

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With so much This Is Us story to tell, where will writers hone in? Fogelman said one of “Big 3” packs the biggest punch.

“Randall is a giant back half of this season coming up with a couple of specialized episodes that really get inside of him in terms of what’s going on in his wiring and what’s going on in his mind.”

A lot of the reason has largely to do with Randall’s identity issues. Fogelman touched on Randall’s adoption by the Pearsons, losing his birth father, William (Ron Cephas Jones) and losing Jack.

“He’s a guy who tries to keep control and for a guy who tries to please and be everything to everybody. He’s so decent and good, but constantly having questions about his identity. You can imagine the pressure and toll it can take.”

There’s a lot to take in, This Is Us friends. Fogelman reveled on telling “sad stuff that happens to a family” while weaving in “magnificent moments of joy and hope.”

“That’s kind of what life is: It’s moments of great joy, great hope and great happiness punctuated by moments of occasional deep loss and deep sadness. We feel very confident we can do that.”

Are you crying yet? January and the second half of the season can’t come soon enough.

This Is Us returns January 14, 2020, on NBC.