The most intriguing Season 3 storylines of This Is Us basically have nothing to do with the present day. On one end of time, fans have the beginning of Jack and Rebecca's love story to look forward to, while a future timeline has teased a grisly twist to Randall's family life. The flash-forward scene in the Season 2 finale hinted that there is a "her" Randall and a grown Tess are nervous about seeing, and fans won't have to wait much longer for answers about this. According to Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us Season 3 Episode 9 will reveal who "her" is.
Although it would be very gratifying for Season 3's Sept. 25 premiere to reveal the woman that future Tess and Randall are so worried about, this definitely isn't the case. Following the narrative pattern set in its first two years, the episode "Ave Maria" focuses on the Big Three's birthday in 2018 while also sharing the story of Jack and Rebecca's first date back in the 1970s. Unless creator Dan Fogelman plans for a major shift in storytelling by the end of the episode, visiting future Randall in the premiere would seem a little random. In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Sterling K. Brown seemingly confirmed that the premiere and its upsetting twist that several cast members have teased aren't tied to older Randall's problems. Brown told the magazine:
[The her] is someone that we have met over the first two seasons, so it won’t be something that comes out of nowhere. Dan has already spoken to the fact that we’ve already shot parts of how he wants the series to end that’s dealing with that particular “her” as well. I think by about midseason, maybe episode 9 or so, the audience will know who that individual is.
Welp, there it is in writing. This Is Us definitely isn't rushing to answer viewers' questions about whether the "her" is an imprisoned Deja, a dying Beth, or an ailing Rebecca. The Season 2 finale clearly emphasized that whoever the father-daughter duo are visiting has inspired angst in their lives. This reveal is going to be an emotional mess, as approximately 98.999 percent of This Is Us usually is, but Brown also hinted that older Randall is content with his life, saying:
I think Randall has experienced a great deal of success, so by and large he is at a place in life where he’s fulfilled. But there’s something on his mind — obviously with this individual — that weighs heavy on his soul. But I think life is good. We will also find out something about Tess this season, which is pretty cool. When you see Randall going to visit her, it’s nice.… Randall is in a good place.
And the plot thickens. If Randall is happy with the way things are in the future, then what is the likelihood that fan theories about something traumatic involving Beth or Deja are true? Seeing as Fogelman has confirmed that the future timeline will serve as the ending of This Is Us, an elderly Rebecca being "her" would actually make a lot more sense. If Brown is to be believed, Beth may still be around and, at this rate, perhaps she and Randall formally adopted Deja or at least treated her like a daughter throughout her life.
However, the flash forward still lends itself to the theory that a family member isn't well. Randall's somber emotion reads like an adult who knows he has to say goodbye to his dying mother, while Tess's reaction could fit someone who has never mourned a beloved relative as a grown-up before. Should we expect a tease of a dying Rebecca midway through Season 3? The very thought is difficult, but the series culminating with her death is definitely plausible. In case this is true, time to start mentally preparing ourselves for the "her" reveal in a few weeks.
Season 3 of This Is Us continues on Tuesday, Oct. 2, at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.