This is Us' season premiere introduced three new sets of characters and offered a surprise twist!
Our TV Fanatics Lauren Busser, Christine Orlando, Mariha Morales, and Jack Ori debate whether This Is Us Season 4 Episode 1 made the right move by introducing so many new people, how blown away we were by the surprise twist, and what we want to see happen during the season.
We were introduced to three sets of new characters: Malik and his family; Cassidy and her husband and son; and Lucy and grown-up Jack Damon. Which of these three new sets of characters did you find most engaging?
Lauren: I think Cassidy was the most engaging. The series has dealt with the effects of war in the past and she felt like an extension of that, and the fact that she later meets cousin Nicky feels like the ideal impetus for her to enter Kevin's life.
Given that Kevin went to Vietnam and was the person who sought Nicky out it feels like she WOULD be the ideal person to come into his life. They won't share the same background but he can understand her.
Christine: As much as I loved Jennifer Morrison as Cassidy, it was Malik that I found most engaging. It was such a surprise to realize that he was a teenage father and raising his daughter with his family; that's a fairly unique circumstance.
And I love that he's going to be connected to Deja! There's a lot of story that can be told between Malik and Randall's families and I can't wait to watch it.
Mariha: Cassidy and her family caught most of my attention because, in my opinion, they have the most mystery surrounding them. Doesn't hurt that she is also played by Jennifer Morrison, whom I loved in OUAT and miss on TV.
We still don't understand her connection to Nicky or whether she will be Kevin's future partner. So much to unpack.
Jack: I’m torn between Cassidy and Malik as most engaging.
As a mental health advocate, I love when PTSD is depicted properly on TV and I was rooting for Cassidy to get back with her husband...even though I suspect she’s going to end up with Kevin. But I’m also excited about Malik interacting with Deja and her family.
I can’t wait to see how both of these stories unfold!
Rebecca's father disapproved of Jack. How similar to this will Randall's reaction be when he finds out Deja is interested in a boy who has a child of his own?
Lauren: With This Is Us, we have to always consider that we have different time periods at work.
Why Rebecca's father disapproved of Jack is going to be different than why Randall might disapprove of Malik. While Randall might not like the idea of Malik and Deja together, the viewers know that Malik is trying and that he has a supportive dad behind him.
Jack didn't have that. I also think that on some level, Randall might grow to like Malik and appreciate that he's taken responsibility for his daughter.
Christine: I'm almost more interested in the relationship that will develop between Malik and Randall than I am the one between Malik and Deja. Although I expect Randall and Beth to be taken aback by Malik being a father, I'm also intrigued to see how these two families get to know, and hopefully like on another.
Mariha: This is something I look forward to diving into this season. I know Randall will want more for Deja, and not react well. I would love to see Deja will turn to Rebecca for help with Randall. I don't think they have had any scenes alone. I would love to see have bonds outside the home.
Jack: I agree with Christine! Randall’s interactions with Malik will add an interesting dimension to this story.
I’m almost 100% sure that Randall is going to freak out when he learns that Deja’s new love interest is a teenage father, but I’m not sure yet what Beth’s reaction will be. I’m hoping she’ll help calm him down and not add fuel to the fire!
Rate the twist of the blind singer turning out to be an adult Jack Damon from 1 (Ugh, this was so predictable and obvious) to 10 (I never would have guessed this).
Lauren: It's about a 6 for me. At the moment I thought "oh my god this is awesome!' and then I remembered the pilot and I thought, "yea, probably should have seen this coming."
Baby Jack was such a perfect vehicle for that twist and it was brilliant to hide him amongst a slew of new characters.
Christine: I wish I could but I saw a spoiler about "blind Jack" right before I watched the premiere. Admittedly, it took me a minute because I thought, "Jack died and he never went blind" and then I realized it must mean baby Jack.
But I appreciated the twist. It wasn't something I would have expected. I do think it's going to put a lot of pressure on Kate and Toby and I wonder how they'll handle it.
Mariha: A solid 8. I thought it was someone connected to a family member but I never put it together as Jack until the very last few scenes. I was happily surprised and rocking out to his song.
I love that Rebecca's singing talents made someone in the family a star. I thought it was brave and will be such a good story plot.
Jack: I’ll give it an 8. I didn’t see it coming but in retrospect I felt like I should have! This is Us is famous for flash forwards and baby Jack is the only baby in the family right now, so an unfamiliar male character HAD to be him. Yet I spent most of the hour trying to figure out who he was.
I was also thrown off by Lucy. I thought she was going to be somebody’s daughter from the future and was wracking my brains trying to remember if there had been any mentions of someone opening a restaurant or wanting to be a chef.
If you could have pushed aside the new characters for one more Pearson-related storyline, which current story would you have wanted to see more of?
Lauren: I don't know if there was anything that I wanted to see in the moment. I think seeing Kate and Toby settle into new parenthood and having Rebecca around to help raise the baby would have been great, but I also think that in keeping with This Is Us's style it's better to go bigger in the premiere and focus in later episodes.
Christine: I spent most of the episode curious as to how the move was going for Beth and Randall, so I'd like to have seen more of that. Also, I really want more of Rebecca and Miguel. They may not be the most popular couple for many fans but they truly intrigue me.
Mariha: I want more Miguel and Jack background. I don't know if it's old age but I thought they knew each other before he met Rebecca. Yet, the seem like Strangers in the department store. I was highly confused. They need a bit more focus on the Miguel timeline and how he married Rebecca.
Jack: I also was curious about how things were going for Randall and Beth, but after seeing the Pearson bumper sticker at Darnell’s garage I assumed Malik’s family was connected to them somehow so I calmed down about that LOL.
I would have liked to have seen the moment when Toby and Kate finally brought baby Jack home from the hospital. That would have been an emotional moment that might have added to the impact when they learned about his vision problems.
Was introducing so many new characters a risk that paid off or a colossal mistake?
Lauren: If they're going to introduce new characters, I think they picked a perfect time. The Season 3 finale gave us the Pearson future, and I think that when you look into the future you open the door for new characters.
It also helps that prior to the finale, all The Pearsons were all at some very transitory moments in their lives: there were new parents, new cities, endings, and beginnings all around.
Those moments can be times of extreme growth, so I think now that it's set up, it can really take some time to marinate and explore those new connections.
Christine: It was a risk. A lot of fans were really taken aback by the lack of the core Pearsons but as much as I missed them, I really did enjoy the new characters and trying to figure out how they will fit into this story.
Mariha: I understand the show has been on a while and needs a refresh of sorts. I will admit I spent the first 30 minutes annoyed about the lack of Pearson, but somehow once Jack started singing I was able to go along for the ride. Boy can that man sing! Got it from his grandma.
Jack: I agree with all of the above. I was confused at the beginning of the episode, but I found the new characters interesting and also enjoyed trying to figure out how they fit into the story.
Once the baby Jack reveal happened, everything made sense, and I felt the Jack/Rebecca scenes helped ground the episode and reassure viewers that they hadn’t tuned in to the wrong show.
What are your hopes for Season 4 of This is Us?
Lauren: My biggest hope is just that they can sustain this growing cast and the addition of new timelines. The introduction of Jack Damon, while cool, is also another timeline to keep track of.
It also feels like it takes a bit of the mystery out of what Kate and Toby's baby is going to become by flashing forward, so I hope that they can keep both the present and the future storyline interesting.
Christine: I want to see more about how Rebecca and Miguel got together after Jack died and how the Big Three reacted to that. Besides that, I'm just happy to see where each of these stories leads because the show has yet to disappoint me.
Mariha: I hope season 4 answers my questions. Why is Nicky at Rebecca's death bed? Where is Miguel? Are Toby and Kate having issues? Who is the mother of Kevin's child?
So many questions. Though I've excepted that even if they are answered, I will have 10 more by the end of the season. Just how it goes on This is Us, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Jack: I’m excited to see the way the new characters are integrated into the stories from this point forward.
I also am looking forward to getting more pieces of the puzzle as far as that flash forward to Rebecca’s death bed, and I hope we find out who Kevin’s future girlfriend is (whether it’s Cassidy or someone else).
The flashbacks to the Big Three’s childhoods are always my favorite part of the show, so I’m looking forward to whatever storylines they have!
Your turn, This is Us fanatics! Hit the comments with your thoughts on these questions and all other things This is Us!
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This is Us airs on NBC on Tuesdays at 9 PM EST/PST.
Jack Ori is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.