The Pearsons were back in action last week for the first time in six months, as the season 3 premiere of This Is Us finally hit the air. While viewers were afforded a peek into what happened on the first date between Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca (Mandy Moore), another beloved dead dad was not in the picture.
We haven’t seen much of William (the Emmy-winning Ron Cephas Jones) in recent episodes, but that changes this week. “A Philadelphia Story” will shine a light on Randall’s biological father, as we catch up with William in an era that the series hasn’t really explored yet — a good chunk of years before Randall (Sterling K. Brown), who was adopted by the white Pearsons, showed up at his doorstep — and contrast his story with Randall’s attempt to renovate William’s building, a dream that he set into motion last season with wife Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson). William’s story will involve a connection to a baby, something that creator Dan Fogelman hinted at in a tweet this summer. “There’s a healthy heap of Ron Cephas Jones, which always makes me happy,” says Brown of the episode. “And there’s a connection with the building, and you see his relationship to the building being a tenant in it, and then Randall’s relationship to the building being the landlord, and the echoes between how each of them fits into the building.”
Asked to describe the emotional tones of this story, Brown says, “Searching. It’s something that brings up for Randall the idea of identity — and blackness specifically — being in Philly and being in this building and feeling whether or not he is black enough.”
While Kevin (Justin Hartley) gears up for the premiere, Randall’s sister, Kate (Chrissy Metz), and her husband, Toby (Chris Sullivan) are also searching — searching for a solution to their infertility woes, which came after a tragic miscarriage last season. As you saw last week, Toby stealthily decided to go off his anti-depressants, in hopes that will help them conceive as they work with a fertility doctor. Given his struggles in the past — and the struggle he will have in the future, as seen in the season 2 finale — signs point to trouble. “That’s a terrible idea,” Sullivan told EW last week of his pill-stopping. “Inadvisable. And in the next few episodes, we’re going to find out it’s part of the reason [behind] that flash-forward we saw at the end of season 2.” Confirms TIU executive producer Elizabeth Berger: “[W]e’re going to be watching him come undone throughout the beginning of the season.”
Metz hints that not only will we how Toby is affected by his decision, “we’re also going to see, does Kate want to share the IVF with the family? What is her mom going to think? Does she want to tell her mom? That dynamic is still fragile, so she’s being very careful.”
Speaking of Kate’s mom, to see what Mandy Moore had to say about that other-man twist at the end of the season premiere, head over here.
—Additional reporting by Maureen Lee Lenker