(Warning: This post has major spoilers from tonight’s Season 4 finale of “This Is Us.”)
With the amount of bombshells “This Is Us” dropped in its fourth season finale Tuesday, it’s hard to say who got hit hardest. But if we had to pick just one person — and it wasn’t the viewer — then it would be Kevin Pearson (Justin Hartley), who had what is inarguably the biggest fight of his life with his brother Randall (Sterling K. Brown), who told him their father, Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) died ashamed of him, and found out from his sister Kate’s (Chrissy Metz) best friend/his one-night-stand Madison (Caitlin Thompson) that she is pregnant with his twins.
And those two explosive moments happened back-to-back, with Madison revealing her pregnancy to Kevin, then Kevin and Randall having their huge blowup over how to deal with their mother’s deteriorating mental state, leading to Kevin coming back to Madison to tell her he was “all in” on having this kid with her, saying his child would be the “love” of his life. That’s when he found out it’s actually two kids and fans found out — via a flash-forward — that Kevin is married in the future (where he has a son and a daughter), but we don’t know to who.
Hartley told TheWrap that even though we know Madison is having his babies and the closing moments of Tuesday’s episode, titled “Strangers: Part Two,” flashed to scenes of Kevin’s ex-wife Sophie (Alexandra Breckenridge) and ex-lover Cassidy (Jennifer Morrison), he doesn’t think you should be narrowing down your list of names for Kevin’s possible future wife to just those three women.
“I think it’s safe to assume that the flashes that you saw of the women, could or could not be — or it could be someone completely different,” Hartley said. “And is it safe to assume the woman he is married to is not the mother of his children? I think it’s safe to have that question, but not to assume it.”
The “This Is Us” star explained Kevin’s decision to go “all in” with Madison and what that will actually mean in terms of a romantic — or possibly not romantic — relationship come Season 5, when we know that Kevin *does* have a still-unnamed fiancee by his 40th birthday.
“I think if you know Kevin and the way that his mind works and the way that he goes about his business and the way he attacks situations, when he commits to something, he’s all in,” Hartley said. “He didn’t have a romantic relationship with Madison because he never considered it, right? It was just not on his radar. But now, things have changed. She’s pregnant with what she says are his twins and with the information that he has, ‘OK, she’s carrying my two children,’ so now everything has changed. Everything looks different, right? What Kevin saw before was this flighty sort of annoying friend of Kate’s. And then it turned into this one moment that they had together where they were sort of sharing in their own misery, right? One was lonely and one was sad and depressed and it was a perfect storm and that’s kind of all it was.”
Hartley continued: “And then the unintended consequence of all that is she’s pregnant. So when she says things to him like, ‘This is kind of a miracle’ for me, I think everything changes. He sees her in a different light, obviously, and I think he will start to sort of have a relationship with her based on these new facts and the new information that he’s gotten. It’s not just, well she’s a person that Kate is friends with that is kind of annoying. I think he’s gonna really invest in the entire thing and try to get to know her. And, knowing Kevin, I think he’ll probably try to do everything he can to fall in love with her and have a family with her.”
As for that giant fight with Randall that came before Kevin’s giant decision, well, he gave as good as he got, telling his brother the worst day of his entire life wasn’t when their father died, but when his parents brought Randall home.
“All of those words that were said, that was sort of a symptom of the way that Randall– look, you’d have to ask Sterling how he’s playing his character, but for me, it was just like, this thing that Kevin had been holding onto this whole time, which was like, ‘Look, Randall has this narrative and this is what he believes and I’m gonna let him have that,’” Hartley said. “It started way, way, way back before, when he was like, ‘This whole thing, this whole career that you always put in quotes and say it’s a weird sort of acting thing that you never took seriously, this is the thing that’s gonna make Mom better. And you’ve never taken me seriously a day in your life and now I’m the one that is going to make the difference.’ And then the manipulation that Randall used to make her do what he wanted and the ownership that he takes over our mother– and I also think, and again you’d have to ask Sterling, but I also think from Randall’s point of view, is like, ‘Here’s this guy that hasn’t been around for a long time and now all of a sudden the s–t hits the fan and he’s gonna come in and save the day. Where were you? Where were you the past 20 years when everything else went wrong?’ So there is a lot of resentment there, there’s a lot of years built up of just biting your tongue and saying, ‘OK, we’re gonna try to make this work.’ And it boiled over.”
Hartley says the breaking point the Pearson brothers reached “makes sense” because it started as a discussion about their mother, Rebecca (Mandy Moore), and the nine-month clinical trial that could slow the onset of Alzheimer’s — or could keep her from them for the little time she has left with her memories.
“This isn’t like, where are we gonna have the birthday party or what are we gonna have for dinner — this is life and death. This is what our mom’s death bed is gonna look like. Is she gonna be around us or is this one of those things where you’re gonna ship her off to St. Louis, we’re not gonna see her and she’s gonna deteriorate anyways? I mean, I’d rather have six weeks with her than no time at all. So it’s a tough thing. I think it has to do with the mom. Gosh, it’s a tough thing. I think immediately, when Kevin said that to him, I think he immediately regretted it. But I also think it kind of needed to be said.”
Hartley says series creator Dan Fogelman has briefed him on all of Season 5, which the star thinks will be the show’s “best season so far.”
“It’s pretty fantastic. Just watching the finale of Season 4 and everything that gets set up in that last three minutes, I think from the time that Randall said ‘He died ashamed of you’ — and everything that happens after that, I think it sets up Season 5 and everything you’ll see in Season 5,” he told us. “And the fact that Kevin comes back into the house after listening to all that and says ‘I’m all in,’ I sort of, when I was reading that, I struggled with that for a long time thinking, you know, there’s so many different ways to play that.”
“I wonder, even if Randall hadn’t come back and said those things, would Kevin have gone back into the house and said that to her? Or, is that kind of a blessing in disguise that Randall came back and said, ‘Your performances are tired, you don’t care about anybody but yourself, you never will, you pretend that you do, but you don’t and he died ashamed of you’ and on and on and on. And that maybe forced him to come back in and think ‘Is that true?’ and then he says ‘I’m all in. This will be what I do. My child will be my great love story.’ I don’t know the answer to that, but it’s amazing thing to watch and see how those last few minutes set up the entire fifth season.”
Want to know more? Read our look ahead to Season 5 and beyond with “This Is Us” creator Dan Fogelman.