Tuesday night’s season premiere of “This Is Us” threw viewers for a loop when they got a surprising new look at a member of the Pearson family they briefly met last season.
One of the main storylines from the premiere focused on a blind singer, played by legally blind Blake Stadnik, who met and fell in love with a waitress before going on to achieve great success. At the end of the episode, it’s revealed that the singer is actually Toby and Kate’s son, Jack, who we discovered was born blind, although doctors told his parents he would grow up to see some light.
Show creator Dan Fogelman says Kate and Toby will deal with their son’s visual impairment in the present.
“It’s a gigantic story,” he told Entertainment Weekly.
Fogelman says Jack’s blindness will definitely test Kate and Toby.
“Raising a child is a complicated process, and raising a blind child comes with extra challenges," he said. "Obviously, having a newborn child — with or without sight — is a challenging time for young parents. For any parents. You’re snipping at each other, you’re exhausted. (Now) there’s added stuff. This was not expected. It’s a surprise and that’s a big part of their season this year.”
The season premiere had the feel of a series premiere, in that multiple new characters were introduced. In addition to an adult Jack, there was a veteran named Cassidy struggling to acclimate to civilian life who was in the middle of a support group meeting when Nicky threw a chair through a window, and a teen dad named Malik raising his daughter who appeared to become smitten when he met Deja at a barbecue.
The episode centered almost exclusively on these new characters, allowing viewers to get their backstories before learning how they intersect with the Pearson family, although Jack and Rebecca’s blossoming romance was featured when they returned from their cross-country trip and had dinner with her parents at their country club.
Fogelman says he relished the opportunity to introduce new characters in a fresh way.
“Normally you would meet characters through the eyes of your main characters, which always gives you a little bit of a skewed perspective, because you’re meeting them through our characters. But that’s not how you meet strangers in real life,” he said.
“The first time you meet the person who becomes your husband or wife or your new boss or your business partner, they’ve had a whole life before you and the meeting with them is your first experience of them," he added. "So I wanted to give the audience that feeling of getting to know these people before you got to know them in relation to our main characters.”