DAN SNIERSON
November 28, 2017 03:15 PM

 

Two Pearson siblings have walked. Now it’s time for the third to step up.

After watching Kevin (Justin Hartley) fall deep into the jaws of addiction and witnessing Kate (Chrissy Metz) cope with the tragedy of miscarriage, the final installment of This Is Us’ Big Three episode trilogy — and the final episode of 2017 — will focus on family man/resident perfectionist Randall (Sterling K. Brown). “Number Three” will reveal what happened to the new foster father on the day he opened his front door to find a down-and-out Kevin, to whom he then delivered the tragic news about their sister.

From the looks of the preview at the end of last week’s episode, Deja’s mother, Shauna (Joy Brunson), is out of jail and ready to reclaim her daughter. “The last time that Randall saw Shauna in prison, it looked like she was potentially going away for a long time, and that Deja (Lyric Ross) was going to be in need of a much longer term home,” This Is Us executive producer Isaac Aptaker tells EW. “But Shauna has been released from jail and… she’s eager to get her daughter back, so that is putting Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) and Randall in a very tricky position of trying to figure out what to do — and what’s best for Deja.”

And from the sounds of the quote you’re about to read, Randall and Beth should brace for something surprisingly eventful, whether it’s related or not. “Randall and Beth’s world is rocked by a shocking and unexpected turn of events,” says Aptaker.

Sterling K. Brown (left) and Susan Kelechi Watson
Ron Batzdorff/NBC

While you absorb that, let’s turn our attention to the past, which finds the Big Three considering life beyond high school. Jack and Randall (Niles Fitch) embark on a college tour to Washington, D.C., which, as you saw, wound up cut short by news of Kevin’s football injury. “Randall reveals to Jack that he’s interested in going to Howard University, which is a historically black college,” says Aptaker. “[It] takes Jack by surprise because in Jack’s mind, his kid was always going to be an Ivy Leaguer. The two of them go on a tour to Howard.”

Fellow executive producer Elizabeth Berger teases that we will see heretofore unexplored territory between father and son. “It’s a chance for these two men to learn about each other on a deeper level than we’ve ever seen them learn about each other before,” she notes. “Milo and Niles have some beautiful scenes together that we’re very excited for people to see.”

Seconds Metz: “It’s really fun to see teenage Randall coming into his own as a young man. We find out a lot about him, in many ways, and how that has impacted him as an adult. It’s really special. Sterling is just captivating… And then, of course, we find out some more backstory of relationships and how our parents impact us, biological or adoptive.”

The fall finale will end on something resembling a cliffhanger. “We also wanted to feel a completion to this trilogy of episodes that we just told,” says Berger, “so hopefully by the time that the third one ends, all three will feel very of a piece, and also feel like we’re propelling toward the second half of the season.” Adds Aptaker: “It’s that rare blend of everything feeling resolved — and yet completely up in the air.”

“Number Three” airs Nov. 28 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on NBC, and the next episode airs Jan. 2. To read what Chrissy Metz had to say about “Number Two,” click here. For a Q&A with Justin Hartley about “Number One,” click here.

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