The second season of “This Is Us” is coming to a close Tuesday with a big family event — Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Toby’s (Chris Sullivan) wedding — and a glimpse of “what could have been.”
Executive producer Isaac Aptaker tells Variety the season finale will offer a look at present day Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) but that they’re not doing any “b.s. where Jack has secretly survived.”
“We’re not playing any games, but I will say that seeing him was one of the most visceral punches that I think we ever had. It’s so powerful and poignant and haunting and tragic all at once,” Aptaker says.
The goal of the episode, for the “This Is Us” writers’ room, was to create an episode that has a sense of “hope and joy and optimism” after a season that was “so marked by grief and tragedy and mourning,” Aptaker explains. But he admits that in true “This Is Us” fashion, “there is going to be some drama [too].”
Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) are distracted by bringing Deja (Lyric Ross) back into their home after her mother admits she cannot provide for her, while Rebecca (Mandy Moore) will struggle with her own anxiety, given how the mother-daughter relationship has been so strained.
“Their dynamic took a huge leap forward when Rebecca flew across the country to help Kate deal with her miscarriage, but [she] knows that her very existence is so fraught for her daughter,” says Aptaker. “She’s always stepping in it with her, and she doesn’t want — in any way — to disrupt this perfect day for her daughter.”
In order to alleviate some of the stress associated with the wedding, Kevin (Justin Hartley) takes on the task of wedding planning. “Kevin is basically running around, bending over backwards to make sure this loaded day without their father goes off without a hitch for his sister,” Aptaker says.
Overall, Aptaker says the key to crafting the season finale was “about looking forward” for each of the characters and the audience.
“It’s about how a family can experience an incredibly, incredibly tragic loss and still fight through it and move forward and find happiness and joy,” Aptaker says of the episode. “They can remember the man they lost and still live the lives he would have wanted them to live — lives that just aren’t about grieving him.”
“This Is Us” airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.