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Sterling K Brown Tells Us Why Randall ‘Had to Seek Out Tess’ to Visit ‘Her’

While offering an emotional look into Toby’s past, the fifth episode of “This Is Us” Season 3, called “Toby,” didn’t yield any new clues into who the mysterious “her” is that Future Toby, Future Randall and Future Tess prepare to visit in the premiere episode — at least in the form of another flash-forward scene.

Star Chris Sullivan says that although we haven’t gotten any overt clues in recent episodes, viewers will learn more… eventually.

“Yeah, no, I think you will. I’m not sure exactly when Ashley Boucher and Jennifer Maas Dan [Fogelman] has that information rolling out, but I know that it is forthcoming,” Sullivan told TheWrap on Tuesday.

But just because there haven’t been many flash-forward scenes doesn’t mean that we aren’t busy theorizing after every episode.

TheWrap caught up with star Sterling K. Brown and co-showrunners Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger at the Season 3 premiere red carpet in Los Angeles in September to learn as much as we could. See below for everything we know so far about who the mystery woman might be.

She’s close to Tess, Randall and Toby

In the third season premiere, the final scene gives a few more clues as to who the unnamed woman might be. Tess and Randall arrive at some sort of facility, and while Tess goes to the bathroom, Randall gives Toby (Chris Sullivan) a call, and asks if he’s “coming down.” Toby says he doesn’t know, but Randall tells him the “she” would want him here, and Toby agrees that he probably should. We see Toby talking to Randall on the phone from a bed — alone — making us wonder if perhaps the mystery woman could be his wife Kate (Chrissy Metz), or someone close to Kate, and Kate might be died. Yikes!

“You thought we made it sound like he was talking about Kate — I would say that’s open to interpretation,” Aptaker told TheWrap.

Alright, if it isn’t Kate, this is a person that is close to Randall, Tess and Toby — which Brown told TheWrap is natural, given that Toby is now married to Randall’s sister. But we’re used to the famous “This Is Us” twists by now, so don’t think you’ve figured it out yet.

“Toby is part of our family now,” Brown said. “So anybody who Randall cares about, Tobias would obviously care about as well. That’s my brother.”

Tess hasn’t seen “her” in awhile

Back in the Season 2 finale, we got our first glimpse of an older Randall and an older Tess. “It’s time to go see her, Tess,” Randall says. Tess responds that she’s “not ready,” and Randall says he’s not either.

The scene is cut in a way that makes us think Beth might be dying (but that was ruled out by Susan Kelechi Watson herself) or maybe something is going on with Deja, who in the Season 3 premiere agreed to let the Pearsons adopt her after her mother relinquished her paternal rights.

Brown also told TheWrap that there’s a specific reason he needs to coax Tess to see “her” — which of course we’ll find out in due time.

“There’s a reason why he had to seek out Tess in particular,” Brown said. “Yes, there’s a reason why he had to seek out Tess in particular, because Tess hadn’t seen the ‘her’ for some time. And so there’s a reason why it’s time to go and she’s like, ‘I can’t.’ There’s a reason. Other people may have been more easily galvanized, but Tess needed a little more coaxing.”

This is as far in the future as we’ll go 

“This future timeline is sort of the farthest that we’ll go in these characters lives and where our series will wrap up,” Aptaker told TheWrap on Tuesday night, backing up something creator Dan Fogelman has previously talked about.

“I don’t imagine us going past this time period in the future so in terms of a timeline, this is our ending timeline,” Fogelman said in an interview with EW after the Season 2 finale last spring. “But we may have other past timelines we’re going to introduce in the course of the series, and also other future story lines that we might introduce as well.”

“Well we’re going to give answers in that timeline, but it doesn’t mean it’s a timeline we can’t revisit and sort of push the story forward in that timeline,” Berger told TheWrap. “We’re going to give a lot of satisfying answers regarding that timeline this season — so they’re quickly in store.”

Answers are coming soon

“I think the plan is that, in the course of the season, you will get a lot of answers,” Fogelman said during a panel after the LA premiere Tuesday night. “The story is not about where it ends up, it’s about how you kind of get there… we’re not going to string it out over seven seasons or anything.”

Mandy Moore, who plays Rebecca said Fogelman has “talked a lot about figuring out who [Randall] is talking about.”

“I think that every episode is offering a more fully realized picture of who that is,” Moore said in an interview with EW earlier this month. “It’s not being dragged for the sake of being cheeky. I think it’s just really brilliant storytelling and, Dan’s old favorite way of describing the show is the mixed up videotapes of home videos. This is exactly that, but we’re leaning a little bit into the future aspect of it.”

Brown previously told EW that we do in fact know this character already.

“It is someone that we have met over the first two seasons, so it won’t be something that comes out of nowhere,” Brown said. “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.”

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