This Is Us has replaced "How did Jack die?" with "Who is 'her'?" for its new gigantic mystery.
The NBC drama concluded its sophomore season with a flash forward of Randall (Sterling K. Brown) meeting with his adult daughter Tess and cryptically saying, "It's time to go see her." Tess answers with a sullen, "I'm not ready," and Randall agrees, but they still leave her office together.
From the brief conversation we know they are going to see a woman that they are close to and neither of them are emotionally prepared for the meeting to happen. That means they either have serious issues with the person they are going to visit or there's an emotional reaction to whatever kept the mystery certain someone from them in the first place.
Fans have to wait until Season 3 to figure out exactly who Randall and Tess were discussing, but we already have theories about who it could be.
Over the course of the finale, we discovered that Deja's (Lyric Ross) mom terminated her parental rights to allow Randall and Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) to legally adopt her. It also became apparent that Deja wasn't happy about it. She even took a baseball bat to Randall's Lexus to show how much she disapproved of being considered part of their perfect family. If that self-destructive behavior continued, it's entirely possible that Deja ended up in a downward spiral. Perhaps she's in prison and that's what makes it difficult for Randall and Tess to see her. Maybe she committed a horrible crime that they haven't been able to come to grips with. Or maybe something worse.
Why it might not be her: The scene of Deja wrecking the car was juxtaposed with the scene of Randall and adult Tess talking, which is a classic set up for a This Is Us head fake. It's like the writers and producers purposefully wanted you to associate Deja with Randall and Tess's conversation so you'd make the required assumption and be shocked when the two scenes turn out to be completely unrelated. This is This Is Us foolery 101 folks, and we're too experienced to fall for it.
We weren't that concerned that Beth wasn't in the previous flash-forward of Randall and adult-Tess. The previous scene explained how older Randall and his adult daughter went to dinner every week and we assumed it was a daddy-daughter bonding thing. Beth was probably at home making pot brownies or doing her hair and being awesome. However, her being absent in a scene where Randall and Tess have to reluctantly go see someone they care about? Consider the alarm bells ringing at full volume. Earlier in the season finale, Beth predicted during a game of "Worst Case Scenario" that Deja would go full rage and murder them in their sleep. Maybe Deja didn't do it, but something terrible could have happened to Beth and so Randall and Tess are scared to go see her in whatever condition she's in.
Why it might not be her: Could Randall ever function without Beth? If something awful had happened to her, there's no way he'd be composed enough to go sit at Tess' desk at work. If Beth was in a hospital bed, Randall would be posed beside it every minute his wife was there. They are an undisputed power couple and there's no way that Randall would separate himself from Beth unless physically forced to do so. If something was wrong with Beth, there'd be something wrong with Randall and he wasn't a complete wreck in the scene so we can assume Beth is probably safe. Probably.
This is the darkest timeline. Beth isn't the only one that's been missing from the flash-forward scenes. Randall's youngest daughter Annie has also been a no-show in each of those sequences. Does Randall only go to get dinner with one of his kids? That doesn't seem like a Randall thing to do. If adult-Annie ended up in trouble or in a precarious situation, it might take some emotional reserve for Randall and Tess to work up the nerve to see her.
Why it might not be her: There's a very reasonable explanation for why Annie isn't in those scenes! Maybe she moved away or she's still in college. If there's reasonable doubt, you can't convict so there's reason to be optimistic that This Is Us hasn't done something terrible to the cutest member of the Pearson family. Reasonable doubt is really the only reason we have to believe that it's not Annie in the center of that conversation though.
Who do you think the mysterious "her" is?
This Is Us returns this fall on NBC.