Since most of this past week was taken over by Olympic fever, a fever that will seemingly carry on through the next two weeks while we all become obsessed with athletes who we’ll have forgotten about by summer (unless, of course, they do “Dancing with the Stars,” and then we’ll forget about them by fall) I decided to go back this week to another big moment from Super Bowl Sunday.
While much of the talk surrounding the big post-Super Bowl episode of “This Is Us” focused on the details of Jack’s demise (death by crockpot fire-induced smoke inhalation, of course), there was a smaller moment that could possibly be important in how the show plans to move forward.
(And yes, I know in my last post about “This Is Us” I trashed many elements of it. Those elements are still trash, but the Randall stuff keeps getting better and better. Hopefully they’ll realize that sooner or later and change the show to “This Is Randall.” A girl can dream.)
Earlier in the season we were shown a young boy talking to a social worker who was trying to find him a new foster family, the implication being that he would soon be joining Randall’s brood. It made sense, given Randall and Beth’s plans to continue fostering following their experience with Deja and the fact that Randall had joked about wanting to foster a boy next.
The Super Bowl episode brought the boy and his social worker back, only to reveal that the little boy was not really the key player in that scene. It was, in fact, the social worker, who is actually Randall’s eldest daughter Tess in the future. It also seemed to squash those recent pesky fan theories that Randall might follow in his adoptive father’s footsteps and die young. (By the way, if the writers of “This Is Us” think they would ever have a show without Randall, they’re kidding themselves.) Seeing him there with his daughter as an adult surely gave many fans a feeling of relief.
A big part of “This Is Us’s” storytelling so far is the way that the show jumps around in time. Our trips to the past with the Pearson clan have given us a better understanding of why the characters are the way they are now (The answer: annoying parents) and how the tragedies in their lives shape their family dynamics. This was the first time the show really jumped to the future, showing how the next Pearson generation will be impacted by current times. In a show filled with shocking revelations both cheerful and devastating (a.k.a infuriating), this moment felt especially revelatory.
Going to the past to explain the present has been a valuable tool on “This Is Us” so far, but it could eventually grow stale. (I mean, really. How many times do we need to see Jack do something unrealistically perfect? We get it, he was great and it was so sad that he died so young blah blah blah NEXT.) While there’s still much to mine from the past, like what happens to Randall’s red-headed high school sweetheart or how Rebecca and Miguel go from mourning Jack to marriage, there is the ever-present risk of running out of intriguing stories down the line.
Utilizing more flash-forwards could energize “This Is Us” and offer more mysteries for writers and viewers alike to unravel. We’ve now seen what happens to Tess, but what about Annie, Randall’s younger daughter? (She’ll probably become a brilliant zoologist or something to avenge Mr. McGiggles’ death.) Will Kate and Toby, or even Kevin, ever have kids of their own? What would those kids be like as adults? (Total self-involved messes, probably.) In a show so focused on family, it would only make sense to delve into the lives of future generations as well.
Only time will tell if “This Is Us” starts to incorporate more flash-forwards into the show’s storytelling, but it certainly wouldn’t be a bad idea. With Jack’s death now explained (FINALLY), the show could use another key moment to tie everything together and build to. There’s nothing that says that moment can’t be in the future.
What do you think? Would you like to see “This Is Us” do more flash-forwards? Are you also feverishly trying to determine the relationship statuses of every hunky dude in the Olympics? Let me know what you find in the comments. But remember…