Have all of the tears — okay, most of the tears — stopped rolling down your face? Good. Time to go to Las Vegas and roll the dice.
After bringing you the heartbreaking-yet-surprising death and funeral of Jack Pearson, the NBC family drama is lightening your emotional load for Tuesday’s episode. “It was super important to us,” This Is Us executive producer Isaac Aptaker tells EW. “[‘Super Bowl Sunday’ and ‘The Car’] were maybe the two heaviest episodes of the show we’d ever done, and they aired two days apart, and it was just a lot. We wanted to come back with something that was a little bit more of a bit of a fun, and a lighter side of our show. These [last] three episodes are really about building toward Kate and Toby’s wedding. It’s an exciting, happy time in our characters lives, and we wanted to do one that wasn’t so much about death and grief but that was about a really joyous, celebratory part of life.”
Not to say that the bachelor party for Toby (Chris Sullivan) and bachelorette bash for Kate (Chrissy Metz) keep the good times rolling. “Bumpy” is how Aptaker describes them, given the mix of friends and family that the couple brings with them to celebrate in Sin City. “What’s interesting about Kate and Toby is, if you think back, they don’t have huge, deep pools of friends to draw from,” says Aptaker. “They stay in with their dog in their cozy apartment. So that means when it’s time to assemble their groups of people for their bachelor and bachelorette parties, it’s not necessarily this perfect cohesive group of friends; it’s a bit more of a motley crew…. Everyone heads to Vegas with somewhat disastrous results.”
In Kate’s crew are Madison (Caitlin Thompson) and Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson), who are “a little bit oil and water,” notes Aptaker. In addition, Kate and Beth have, of course, shared very little screen time on the show leading up to this episode, and “that’s very indicative of their relationship,” says Aptaker. “For Kate to bring Beth into this group that she’s already a little stressed about, it’s just an added layer of anxiety for her because they don’t have a particularly close relationship. But they get to a really unexpected place in the episode.”
Meanwhile, Toby is “very, very excited to finally get to spend some time with Randall [Sterling K. Brown] and Kevin [Justin Hartley] and really bond with his new future brothers-in-law,” says Aptaker. “It’s not smooth sailing.” Especially for Kevin, who only recently cleaned up in rehab. “Vegas is pretty high up there on the list of places that you don’t want to go if you’re a newly sober guy,” he adds. “He’s really really tested, and we learn that he’s been a big Vegas guy. It’s one of his favorite places, and he’s now going there with a totally different outlook in the world, and it’s really going to challenge him.”
Delving into the past, this episode will show you an evolution of anniversary celebrations for Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca (Mandy Moore), starting with their first anniversary, which Jack stages at the bowling alley. “This story is a charm offensive,” quips Aptaker. “As we know, Jack is the big romantic; he always overshadows Rebecca a little bit. She’ll give him a gift, and then he’ll give her the world and blow her away.”
But when we settle into the era circa 1990, we’ll see that some of the shiny love luster and ambition has worn off, and these parents of three kids opt to take a year off. The Big — or Little — Three have a different idea, though. “They step in to throw an awesome party for their parents, not realizing that when you’re a 10-year-old throwing a party, you’re actually making more work for the people you want to celebrate as opposed to giving them a nice night off.”
Moore told EW that seeing the couple back together directly after the back-to-back blows of Jack’s death and funeral episodes feels “bittersweet,” but Aptaker believes that viewers can escape for an hour into the sunnier side of this saga. “Knowing what we now know, there’s always going to be a little bit of that,” he says. “But our hope — and why we wanted to come back with one that was really fun and romantic and celebratory — is that people can still watch the show and see his life was too short but he had this amazing, full life with all these really great moments. We hope the audience can enjoy losing themselves in the happier times in this family and forget a little bit what does wind up happening to him and just revel in how great they were when they were.”
For hints about the final three episodes from This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman, click here.
This Is Us airs Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.