The Big Three Questions: Decoding This Is Us Hints From the Season 3 Premiere

*Spoiler alert!* Obviously, if you haven’t watched/wept through the Season 3 premiere yet, read on at your own risk!

Ishani Nath
This Is Us Season 3 premiere spoilers: A screenshot from the Season 3 premiere of This Is Us showing Randall and Beth snuggling in the kitchen
Beth and Randall snuggle up in the Season 3 premiere of This Is Us (Photo: Getty)

This Is Us *finally* returned to TV with the Season 3 premiere and, let me tell you, it was everything that we have come to love—and weep over—from this award-winning drama.

Season 2 ended with a rapid-fire series of hints that left fans speculating all summer about what the show had in store for the Pearson family and their loved ones. Is Toby battling depression? Will Kevin and Beth’s cousin Zoe get together? Is something bad going to happen to Beth?! It was… a lot.

As with each opening episode of This Is Us, the Season 3 premiere focused on the Big 3’s birthday. The triplets are celebrating their 38th year and we learn that newlyweds Kate and Toby are trying to have have a baby, but facing complications. Kevin is indeed, as Beth puts it, “knocking boots” with Zoe, and the two are absolutely smitten with each other. Randall is navigating a complicated relationship with Deja, whose mother has now relinquished her full parental rights. And in a flashback, we get to see Rebecca and Jack’s not-so-perfect (but also perfect) first date on a $9 budget.

While the premiere of did provide some answers (LIVING for #Kevoe), it also gave us a whole lot of new questions and concerns. Just like the Season 2 finale, the episode ended with a bunch of hints—and from the looks of it, creator Dan Fogelman and his team of writers are going to keep playing games with our hearts all season.

Here are our most pressing Qs from the This Is Us Season 3 premiere, plus some fan theories and creator insight on what’s coming next.

Why is there a lemon attached to the This Is Us hashtag?

As This Is Us fans snuggled in for an evening of ugly crying and live-tweeting, some social media users noticed a new addition to the show’s hashtag: a lemon emoji. Before you get excited about a potential collab, no this is not hinting at a future guest spot by Beyoncé. (But sweet baby Blue Ivy, that would be unreal!) The lemon emoji is actually a reference to a line from the first episode of Season 1. When Jack was attempting to process the arrival of Kate and Kevin, and simultaneously the loss of their third triplet, the doctor sits with him and tells him that he is confident that Jack can take life’s sourest lemons and turn them into something resembling lemonade. That concept sticks with Jack and becomes somewhat of his life’s motto—and the inspo behind the lemon on the This Is Us hashtag.

Does something happen with Kate and Toby?

In the Season 2 finale we got a hint that Toby was headed for some dark times, seemingly dealing with depression and Kate becoming his caregiver. In the Season 3 premiere, we get a glimpse of why that might happen. During a meeting with a fertility doctor, Toby learns that his antidepressants, which are, as he says “preventing him from crying all the time,” may be decreasing his sperm count, making it harder for them to have a baby. At the end of the episode, Toby flushes all his pills down the toilet.

Chrissy Metz has said that this season will show deeper aspects of what it’s like to live with depression and also give Kate a chance to be a source of strength for Toby, after he stood by her through her grief and guilt over her father’s death. “He’s helped Kate get through so much of her stuff that she’s really ready to show up for him, and while it might be difficult, it’s going to be necessary because they’re going to contend with some hardships. Yet again. Life on life’s terms,” Metz told Entertainment Weekly.

According to the Season 3 premiere, in addition to Toby’s mental health, it looks like his relationship with Kate is also headed for rough times. In the flash forward, we see an aged Toby sitting alone in bed, and—as eagle-eyed fans pointed out—he is not wearing his wedding ring.

Who is Tess not ready to see?

One of the biggest mysteries from the Season 2 finale was the hint that in the future, someone in the Pearson clan is not doing well. At first, fans worried that something was going to happen to Beth, but actor Susan Kelechi Watson promised that her character isn’t going to die in Season 3. While we can all breath a collective sigh of relief about that, it also leaves this mystery unsolved. At the end of the Season 3 premiere, This Is Us returned to that same flashforward scene between a greying Randall and grownup Tess, who becomes a social worker.

“It’s time to go see her Tess,” Randall tells his daughter.
“I’m not ready,” responds Tess.

Those two lines set off a firestorm of speculation about who Randall is talking about and why Tess doesn’t want to see her.

In the Season 3 premiere, This Is Us writers added a hint that whoever they’re going to visit has some deep, and complicated, connection to Toby. While Randall calls Toby and asks if he’s going to join them, Toby says he is unsure whether the undisclosed person would want to see him. Randall assures him that, “she’d want you to be there, Tob.”

With Toby’s involvement, some fans figured that something might have happened to Kate:

Assuming “her” is one of the Pearson women, other fans wondered if family matriarch Rebecca might be the one in trouble and that Toby’s struggle is actually because he’s divorced, not a widower.

But then again, there is the very real possibility that we just don’t know what’s coming.

In the same way that previous This Is Us seasons had us on the edge of our seats wondering how and when Jack would die, the only thing that seems certain is that we’re likely not going to find out any of these answers anytime soon. Thankfully, Fogelman promised that we will learn the identity of “her” this season. “You’re going to get it in little doses and you’re going to get your answers,” the This Is Us creator said after a screening of the Season 3 premiere, according to Deadline. “We’re not going to string it out over seven seasons. People will get their answer.”

In the meantime, we’ll just be over here, rooting for the one good thing that came out of the Season 3 premiere: Beth’s fire.


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