‘This Is Us’ Creator Says Season 2 Finale Flash-Forward Is as Far Into the Future as We’re Going

We still don’t know who “her” is, but Dan Fogelman says that far-off cliffhanger “is our ending timeline”

This Is Us

“This Is Us” wrapped up its “How did Jack die?” question nicely (err — not nicely) during season two, just in time to give you a new puzzler to chew on all summer. You know the, “Who is her?” thing fans of the NBC drama have been theorizing about since the sophomore installment wrapped with a cliffhanger in March.

In the closing moments of the episode, an older version of Randall (Sterling K. Brown) is seen cryptically said to an adult Tess (Iantha Richardson), “It’s time to go see her.” When Tess responds, “I’m not ready,” Randall says, “I’m not either.”

Obviously the first assumption was they are talking about Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) who is dead, or dying, or something horrible, of course. But Watson confirmed not long after that her character isn’t dead, so we calmed down a bit about that. But then Brown told Entertainment Weekly that flash-forward “will ultimately help to illuminate what the end of our story will be” — so we had more questions than answers again.

And while creator Dan Fogelman isn’t giving out a ton ahead of the Season 3 premiere, he did tell Entertainment Weekly that far-off future is as far as they are going with the series.

“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. “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.”

“It’s a mystery that won’t play out over seasons,” Fogelman said of the “her” part of the equation. “There will be answers given in the course of the season. Part of the fun of any family is looking at somebody in certain time frame or a family in a present-day time frame and hypothetically jumping forward 15 years and [seeing] who’s still in the picture, who’s not in the picture anymore, who has become ill or other. We’ll be slowly getting pieces by process of elimination or more questions…until we get to the answer — and not string it out too long.”

The creator also said the puzzle isn’t “just a mystery for mystery sake,” and will be an important part of Season 3.

“The mystery is actually informing a lot of stuff that has happening in the present day as well,” Fogelman said “The interesting part is in the course of the season as we mention this mystery, we’re going to be putting a lot of those things in the stories that it’s not. So it’s not just one — estrangement, death, love, marriage — all those things are part of jumping a family [deep] into the future. The question isn’t just who’s estranged, or who’s in prison, or any of the other theories that I’ve heard from people, it’s about where are all the other characters at that point in their lives. And that’s going to be also spoken to by what their stories are in the present day. So that’s really exciting for us as well.

Fogelman promised EW that Season 3 is going to be a little lighter — but, you know, it’s still “This Is Us,” so.

“There’s humor and love and levity after a very heavy season which I always like when we do,”  he said. “And then… some wallops. It’s our most ambitious season. It’s going to pack a great deal of emotion, and the story lines are going to surprise people.”

“This Is Us” Season 3 premieres Tuesday, Sept. 25 at 9/8c on NBC.