Warning! The following contains spoilers for This Is Us Season 3 finale. Read at your own risk!
After weeks of arguments, tense fights, and storylines designed to make America hate Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us finally showed the conclusion to Beth and Randall's tense situation. The couple looked to be headed for a messy split, but figured out they'd just relocate the family to Philadelphia and try to figure it out. Furthermore, we saw a flash-forward to the future and learned that, yes, they will figure it out and everything will be okay.
Now, it's not like I wanted This Is Us' it couple to split up, but the flash-forward reveal removed any and all future tension in the Randall and Beth storyline. Any struggles Beth will have at her dance studio will ultimately work out for the best, and any future fights they'll have in the midst of downsizing their lives to accommodate both of their dreams are ultimately meaningless. What's left to know?
It left a bitter taste in my mouth and left me realizing that I didn't actually want the answer to Beth and Randall's relationship just yet. Truth be told, it was one of the most interesting stories Season 3 had to tell, and one This Is Us could've rode a bit longer. The writers cut the possibility of creating any real tension with audiences going forward, and it makes the move to Philadelphia feel so trivial now.
Granted, the flash-forward did drop other things for viewers to latch onto, but for me, why should any viewer feel invested in what's happening with Kate Pearson, who the mother of Kevin's son is, or why Nicky Pearson is at Rebecca's bedside? Will each of these plot threads start with a lot of tension, then eventually result in an ending that makes the road that led to it feel so meaningless afterwards?
It's a criticism that creator Dan Fogelman may have expected, as evidenced by his comments about Season 4 to People. Fogelman teased that some of the new reveals will resolve the way fans like, and others won't.
Fans are going to like the way some things go, they’re going to have questions and not like the way other things go...I think that’s the fun of making a TV series. We’re at the middle of the movie right now, we’re not at the end.
While This Is Us may have just gotten a couple stories started, it has officially closed the door and ended the story on a pretty significant part of Beth and Randall. It feels like a large part of their story is over, and that will be a challenge for the writers to continue to make their future conflicts and trials meaningful now that audiences know it's all good in the end. Will they pull it off?
Season 4 of This Is Us has yet to get the official green light from NBC, but a renewal is all but assured. Viewers looking for something new to watch in the meantime should head over to our midseason premiere guide, as there's plenty of great things arriving in the coming weeks that are worth tuning into.