Why This Is Us Took A ‘Really Big Swing’ With Those New Characters

this is us kate toby flashforward son jay nbc
(Image credit: NBC)

This Is Us has been known for delivering emotional twists and turns throughout different eras from the very beginning of the series, and Season 4 has introduced some new characters who could be very important to the present and the future. In fact, the fourth season premiere spent more time on the newcomers than on the Big Three in what was a surprising format for fans who have been waiting months to catch up with Kate, Kevin, and Randall after the divisive Season 3 finale.

Showrunner Isaac Aptaker weighed in on the potentially polarizing decision to start Season 4 with a bold episode largely devoted to new characters, saying this about the premiere and the subsequent episode:

I would say this is a return to classic This is Us for us. We knew we wanted to take a really big swing with our season premiere and introduce all of these new characters — and in a way, do something reminiscent of the pilot where there was a big twist at the end as to how everything connects. But we also know how much people love the Pearsons and the Big Three in our regular cast. So it was always probably the plan to have the next episode be a real return to form for us. And we’re doing that in a very big way.

So, fans don't have to worry that the Season 4 premiere with the focus on newcomers like Jack Damon and Cassidy will be the new normal of This Is Us, and it was a deliberate bold move -- or "big swing," as Isaac Aptaker stated to EW -- before a return to more or less the status quo. The Big Three haven't become the Small Three who will fade into the background for primary focus on the newbies.

That's not to say that the newcomers won't be key to Season 4. Cassidy, played by Once Upon a Time alum Jennifer Morrison, is a military vet who may also be Kevin's future wife and the mother of his child. The Season 4 premiere did set them up to cross paths soon due to the actions of drunk Nicky Pearson smashing a window at a substance abuse meeting, and Kevin getting the call to bail him out.

Then there's Jack Damon, a.k.a. the celebrated blind musician who is none other than Kate and Toby's son all grown up. The premiere delivered much more about Jack than about his parents and their future relationship status, with the flash-forwards taking place about ten years after Rebecca's flash-forward death.

Adult Jack will presumably only appear in flash-forwards unless This Is Us gets supernatural -- no, not that kind of Supernatural -- in Season 4, so viewers may see more of another newcomer: Malik. The teenager tasked with caring for an infant daughter is poised to become a friend to Deja, who was actually smiling from ear to ear after spending some time with him. I think Randall and Beth might have something to say if the relationship takes a romantic turn.

This Is Us: How Each New Character Is Connected To The Big Three

Find out what happens next for the Pearsons and Co. when new episodes of This Is Us air Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC. A Million Little Things seems to be ABC's answer to NBC's This Is Us, if you're in the market for another drama about family and friends, and the fall TV schedule is packed with upcoming premieres.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).