‘This Is Us’ Stars & Creator Dan Fogelman Tease Season 6: Miguel’s “Showcase Episode,” A “Painful” Time For Toby, William’s Return, Resolution In Kevin’s Love Life & More

The This Is Us team gathered on the Paramount Lot on Tuesday night to tease the NBC drama’s sixth and final season, which is set to premiere on January 4.

Among those on hand was creator and exec producer Dan Fogelman, who explained that while he has the plot for the series finale in mind, with eight of 18 episodes fully shot, he has not yet committed it to paper. “As we speak, we’re up to about the writing and crafting of Episode 15 of 18, so we’ve got three or four more to do,” he shared. “We know what they are, we have the plan, but we haven’t actually written the scripts yet.”

Fogelman teased that he hopes to bring back some familiar faces from the past in the final season, “especially at the end”—with Sterling K. Brown confirming that we’ll “definitely” see Ron Cephas Jones’ William again.

The series’ creator later spoke to the fact that in terms of logistics alone, the back half of Season 6 is “incredibly” complex. “It involves a lot of movement, a lot of travel, a lot of time jumping and we haven’t quite gotten to the filming of that yet,” he said. “We’re bracing for impact a little bit right now.”

As far as storylines coming up, Fogelman and his cast stuck mostly to what is already known by fans, with one to focus on struggles in Kate (Chrissie Metz) and Toby’s (Chris Sullivan) marriage, and its ultimate dissolution. “There’s a lot about Kevin and his continuing existential crisis, and what will be the end of his romantic story. There’s a lot with Rebecca and her ailment and how that will be not just affecting her, but her family,” Fogelman said. “Rebecca and Miguel coming together is a story we’ve always been excited to tell in the final season, and having done a bunch of that already, it’s really fun and exciting and lovely. So, those are some main areas we’re exploring.”

Sullivan said Season 6 will be a “painful” time for Toby, who will find himself in the midst of a kind of “mid-life crisis”—with Chris Geere, who plays Kate’s future beau Phillip, explaining that viewers won’t have all their questions answered “immediately,” in terms of that relationship and how it came about. “We’re all going to have to be patient, but they will get answered,” he said. “It will be a slow burn, and it will be well worth it.”

Mandy Moore shared for her part that her Pearson matriarch Rebecca will be “as present as possible” and “really savoring the time she has with her family” going forward, given her health struggles. “I think there’s a lot of reflection back on the past and making sure she imparts everything she needs to with her kids,” she said, “whether they’re her wishes for her health and how [it’s] handled when she’s maybe not as present of mind, to making sure they remember the things she wants them to remember about their childhood.”

Moore also echoed Fogelman in speaking to storylines coming up, which will further examine Rebecca’s relationship with Miguel (Jon Huertas) at various points in time, both in terms of the “catalyst” for their decision to part ways, following Jack’s (Milo Ventimiglia) death, and how they came back into each other’s lives 10 years down the road.

Huertas likewise touched on Miguel’s arc, sharing that this season, the character will be getting “his own little showcase” episode, speaking to the relationship between him and Rebecca. “It’s really going to set up who Miguel is, what made him the person he is, how he’s played into the Pearson family dynamic and why,” the actor said, “The scenes that we have shot that are starting to touch on the relationship have been, some of them very touching, a couple very sad, a couple very exciting.”

Huertas also talked about returning to direct an episode (or two) this season, after helming his first one in Season 5. “Directing is my new job I think,” he said. “If “I’m never in front of the camera again, I’ll be very happy behind the camera as a director.”

Other cast members speaking with Deadline tonight included Brown (who plays Randall Pearson), Eris Baker (who plays Randall’s daughter Tess), Lyric Ross (who plays Randall’s adopted daughter, Deja), Asante Blackk (who plays Deja’s love interest, Malik), Justin Hartley (who plays Kevin Pearson), Griffin Dunne (who plays the Pearson siblings’ uncle Nicky) and Milo Ventimiglia (who plays their late father, Jack).

Brown said Season 6 will “unpack” Randall’s ‘Rising Star’ article from Season 5, also touching on an upcoming arc between him and Deja, “as they figure out what it’s like for a young girl to become a young lady and how to treat her as such,” and between Randall and his mother, who is living across the country from him as her health declines.

Hartley said that Kevin will have “a lot to figure out” in the coming season, given that he now has twins and is co-parenting them with Madison (Caitlin Thompson), who he didn’t end up marrying. “He’s dealing with his mom, he’s got career stuff going on,” he said, “but it’s mostly the family and the kids, and his love life.”

Might Kevin get back with Madison in the end? “Anything’s possible,” says the actor. And will he be revisiting any of his old flames? “Maybe. I mean, he’s got a couple of old connections that are pretty deep-rooted. There could be somebody totally new, but who knows?” he said. “I mean, I know, but I can’t say.”

Baker said that in Season 6, the series will continue to examine Tess’ relationship with her mother, her bond with her sisters, and the extent to which she’s coming into her own. Also growing up is Blackk’s Malik, who will be turning 18 and navigating college as a young parent. “There’s going to be a lot of things he has to just figure out,” he said, “even when it comes to the relationship with Deja.”

Deja’s arc will focus a bit on “the hardships of [being] a teenager,” with Nicky’s focusing on who he ends up marrying and his growing bond with the rest of the Pearsons. While Ventimiglia didn’t comment on specifics as to Jack’s arc this season, he noted that his character has already “moved over” into a supporting role and will continue to appear in that capacity, which to him seems appropriate. “It’s the idea that as a parent, you’re a supporting character in your child’s story,” he said.

Even with all that’s already established about what’s to be explored in Season 6, there’s one thing all cast members speaking with Deadline tonight agreed on—that as they look ahead, viewers should prepare to be surprised. “There’s so many things right from the jump,” said Ross, “that you didn’t think would happen.”

Added Blackk of the family drama’s new season: “It’s going to take you for a rollercoaster ride.”

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