This Is Us did it again! The NBC drama’s season 4 premiere on Tuesday, September 24 — titled “Strangers” — quickly connected the dots on a group of mystery characters and their relevance to the Pearsons, but not without throwing in a few good twists.
A blind man who wanted to be a musician met a waitress named Lucy (Auden Thornton) in a diner, which led them to fall in love and get married. Turns out, the man was the future version of Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Toby’s (Chris Sullivan) son, Jack. Toby and Kate learned when Jack was a baby that his eyesight was permanently damaged, but he became a famous singer and Lucy, a chef with her own restaurant, told him she was pregnant.
Meanwhile, a Marine named Cassidy (Jennifer Morrison) sought help after returning home from active duty. Her husband (Nick Wechsler) separated from her when she hit their son during what appeared to be a PTSD-driven episode. She also had a drinking problem. As she opened up to fellow veterans in a support group, someone broke the window behind her. That someone was Nicky (Griffin Dunne). He was arrested, while Kevin (Justin Hartley) received a call to come and bail him out in Pennsylvania.
Elsewhere, a teenager named Malik (Asante Blackk) worked with his father, Darnell (Omar Epps), as a mechanic while raising his baby girl with his parents’ help. Malik tried to get involved with some shady dealings to earn money for his daughter, but Darnell warned him against it. He later went to hang out with his friends, which is where he met Deja (Lyric Ross) and the two instantly developed crushes on each other.
The premiere gave fans little of the present-day Pearsons, but flashbacks showed Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) meeting Rebecca’s (Mandy Moore) parents for the first time. He prepared by getting a sport coat from a salesman who loaned him the jacket since he couldn’t afford it. The friendly staffer was none other than his future BFF, Miguel (Jon Huertas).
At the awkward country club dinner, Rebecca’s parents took Jack to task, but he held his own, detailing his hard upbringing and how he “lost” his brother in the war. Rebecca’s father (Tim Matheson) seemed to be looking out for Jack when he subtly pointed out that the tag was sticking out of his jacket, but he later pulled Jack aside to tell him he was not good enough for his daughter and he would do everything he could to stop their relationship.
This Is Us airs on NBC Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET.