Creator Dan Fogelman revealed during a virtual web panel on Friday afternoon with the cast of NBC's family drama that the brothers will continue to face huge consequences following their big blow-up in the season 4 finale for much of the upcoming season. In fact, their broken relationship will be the focal point at the start of season 5.
"When we took the fight to that place, it was never intended to be like they make up the next week or the next episode. That’s a fight that’s been building for 40 years between these two boys and now men who grew up in the same house," Fogelman told reporters. "It’s going to be front and center of our TV show. It’s in the front and center of our premiere, and it will be in the front and center for our show for quite a bit. It’s not one where you have a fight over who was carving the turkey on Thanksgiving and you make up the next day. I think that one’s going to take a little bit of rebuilding, if in fact they can get there."
"I agree. I was sort of thinking about that -- I guess you call it a fight -- but it was almost [worse], because it wasn’t screaming, it wasn’t out of control, it wasn’t manic, it was a calculated statement that Randall made to Kevin and then Kevin made to Randall. And they were talking to each other and saying things in that way that are so hurtful, and the way they’re said is just like, ‘This is coming out of my mouth and I intend for this to hurt you and I need to say this,'" Justin Hartley added. "I think sometimes when you have fights like that, sometimes it takes an event even to bring people back together because I don’t know how motivated -- we’ll find out throughout the season -- but I don’t know how motivated both men are to reconcile so quickly. I don’t know if they’re on the same page."
"I remember talking to Dan at the end of season 1 and I remember watching ‘Moonshadow,’ and I said, ‘Dan, are you sure you want to end the season like this? This is really rough, bro, like Mom and Dad are not getting along.’ He was like, ‘Yeah, we gotta get to some dark places so we can emphasize the light sometimes.’ ‘But you’re going to end this s**t like this?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah, yeah.’ I’m like, ‘OK, OK,'" Sterling K. Brown recalled. "And he was like, ‘Hey, Sterl, do you remember when you called me about the argument between your mom and dad?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah.’ He goes, ‘The s**t between you and your brother is way f**king worse!’ So I don’t know if we can just sum it up too quickly because it wouldn’t be authentic to what we introduced, but I’m hopeful."
As Fogelman reminded, Kevin and Randall's brotherly relationship didn't start off on the best of notes at the beginning of This Is Us.
"One of the things I think people forget when we talk about the two brothers is in the second episode of the show, when you meet Sterling and Justin, adult Kevin and Randall together, they feel pretty estranged from one another. They had not been super close. It’s only been in the course of the season -- this has been the best patch they’ve had in their adult brotherhood, probably in their adult lives -- and it’s easy to forget," he noted. "But there was a steep cliff they were very capable of going off, and their mother’s health and the fight over their mother’s health was exactly the thing that pushed both."
The Pearson family will also navigate life amid the coronavirus and tackle tough conversations surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement. Brown teased that Randall, who was raised by a white family, has a "come to Jesus moment" within the two-hour premiere, which takes place on the Big Three's 40th birthdays, regarding the latter. The series will also skirt around Mandy Moore's pregnancy, which Fogelman promised, is the "least" of their creative worries.
Production on season 5 kicked off in late September in Los Angeles and with an Oct. 27 premiere date to meet, the pressure was on to ensure that there were no setbacks or delays amid a pandemic. Fogelman gave insight into how they pulled it off without a contingency plan in place in case they were to miss the fast turnaround for whatever reason, including six-day work weeks and following the COVID safety regulations for sets.
"We've been working really hard. I mean, honestly, I don't even know if I'm supposed to say it, but NBC has been really, really incredible about [it]. It was really important to me and to us to get these episodes on before the election, not because they're -- not because they're political, but because I think they're difficult and then hopeful. And it felt important to us to just put it on TV now, with no agenda other than that," Fogelman said, addressing why its original Nov. 12 return date was pushed up two weeks. "But it also created, like, an intense rush. We have the best editors that have been working night and day. The guys have been shooting on weekends to get it done in time. I mean, I literally locked the episodes that are going to air late last night, and we're going to be airing them in a couple of days -- and we're still mixing and finalizing them."
"It's been a lot, but we have the crew to do it. We've been doing this for five years now; we know what we're doing. We know how to do it. The cast doesn't need a tremendous amount of takes or coverage, they all come ready to go. And so we were able to kind of squeak by and get it done and get it done the way we want it to do," he continued. "As we were also wearing face shields for the first time in our lives and masks, and we have the actors literally in plastic bubbles between sets. It's a brave new world over on set, but we found our normalcy really quickly and we haven't lost our rhythm on set."
Brown revealed that he and his cast members have been working Saturdays, something that would normally take place with a season winding down.
"We're actually right on schedule," Fogelman assured. "We're shooting the same amount of days per episode. We keep saying on set, I would not envy a first-year show or a pilot being made now, who are all kind of finding their rhythm and their relationships and whatnot. We're very blessed to have...We don't lose people on our crew, so it's kind of the same group of people who are doing the same job. We're just doing it in PPE now."
This Is Usreturns with a two-hour premiere Tuesday, Oct. 27 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.
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