Fans of the new NBC hit show “This Is Us” got answers Tuesday to a mystery that had stretched across several episodes on the program. The show has attracted attention early on in its run not only for positive reviews and for stories about everyday people dealing with relatable problems but also for its twists that subverted viewers’ expectations.
“Us” stars Milo Ventimiglia and Mandy Moore as parents living in the 1980s and raising three children. The series also jumps forward in time, showing the three children (Chrissy Metz, Sterling K. Brown, and Justin Hartley) in the present day as adults.
One of the plot twists that startled viewers occurred at the end of the second episode of the series, which debuted this past September. At the end of that installment, it was revealed that Ms. Moore’s character, Rebecca, was married to someone else instead of Mr. Ventimiglia’s character, Jack.
Viewers found out more in the newest episode of “Us,” which aired on Oct. 25.
In this episode, daughter Kate (Ms. Metz) revealed to the man she is dating, Toby (Chris Sullivan), that her father is dead.
The reveal is part of a pattern of plot twists emerging on the NBC program.
The premiere kept under wraps that the various people involved in the show were related until the last few minutes of the episode revealed that Jack and Rebecca were living decades before the other characters and so their plotlines were flashbacks.
The second episode then showed that “Grandma and Grandpa” were not Jack and Rebecca but were instead Rebecca and Jack’s friend, Miguel.
Plot twists on TV are of course a longstanding tradition of the medium. Some critics have praised the surprises involved in “Us,” with Hollywood Reporter writer Amber Dowling writing that the initial series premiere twist “pack[ed] the pilot’s biggest emotional punch[.] A clever time jump.”
But others wondered at the time if those behind the show would feel like they needed to keep one-upping themselves. “The premiere twist, and now this one, are what made headlines, but they aren't actually the strength of the show,” TV Guide writer Megan Vick wrote after the second episode. “In fact, they can distract from those strengths and they're not sustainable … The second episode demonstrated even more than the pilot that the show's wiser investment is in its characters and pushing them in new directions rather than twists that can come off as gimmicky if employed too much.”
The latest episode represents one of these twists being resolved, though viewers still don’t know the full story behind Jack’s death. However, a new one may be introduced, as the most recent episode showed Randall (Mr. Brown) gathering his biological father William (Ron Cephas Jones)’s belongings, prompting some to think the show jumped forward in time and that William has now died, too.