I learned long ago that NBC's exquisite "This Is Us" - not unlike ABC's "LOST," the last series I made a point of watching every week, and often utilized flashbacks to completely alter storylines - was prone to pulling the rug from under the viewer. Heck, the very first episode of the show gave us a loving couple happy at home with the triplets they waited nine months to arrive, only to reveal in the final minutes of the debut that one of the babies was stillborn and that third sibling was one abandoned, on the very day mom Rebecca gave birth, and they now had the room, and love, and were prepared, to take on. So, this surprise-laden series introduced itself as one where everything you think you know can go at any time.
My daughter and I have watched every episode, bemoaned the "in two weeks" crawls above previews for the next episode and bizarre "Fall Finale" headers (what are Fall Finales anyway and when did that start?), in our spots, jaws hitting the floor in 6-minute intervals.
We waited to find out how Jack, the Pearson papa we all lamented ultimately would no longer be in the show, since it was revealed straightaway that he had passed, lost his life. But, thanks to the aforementioned flashbacks that have become as much a regular on the show as Madison, the brilliant Milo Ventimiglia continues to tug on heart-strings as the struggling-to-be-better-than-his-pop parent in the series. And when that cause of death was revealed it was nothing anyone saw coming, while crock pots across the country were thrown in the garbage. We found out a brother he told everyone was dead wasn't, and got a new character - when we believed there was no more room for any new characters - and came to love him as much as Toby and Deja.
And so it goes that the 2-hour season five premiere ended with a character we were all told was dead all these years (both the five seasons, and the 40 years of the characters' lives) very much alive. What's more, I shouted to my daughter at 9:08 that I thought this was coming. I felt it in my TV junkie bones. So, trust me when I tell you: That third sibling that Rebecca (Mandy Moore) was told by her doctor (the better-than-ever Gerald McCraney) didn't make it? Don't count that kid out yet.