Following a shocking fall finale, This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman and star Justin Hartley opened up about the show’s constant twists and turns. While fans eagerly wait to learn more about Toby’s (Chris Sullivan) fate, Hartley admitted that he was just as surprised as everyone else.
In an interview with Us Magazine, the actor revealed that the shocking cliffhanger completely blindsided him. At the end of the holiday episode, titled “Last Christmas,” fans watched as Toby collapsed and was rushed to the hospital on Christmas Eve.
“I didn’t see it coming!” Hartley shared. “Every single episode is like that for me. I’m like, ‘Welp, didn’t see that coming!’ I don’t know if I’m stupid or what, but I’m always shocked by their storytelling. It blows my mind.”
Fortunately, Hartley dished that we will learn about Toby’s fate when the series returns to NBC next year. “It picks up directly where we left off. So you’ll get some immediate answers – not immediate like act one answers – but you’ll get some answers in the first show,” he explained.
There’s no telling what will happen to Toby in the second half of the season, although Fogelman offered a ray of hope that Toby will get back on his feet again. In an interview with Deadline, the creator discussed the show’s “optimistic underbelly” and hinted that Toby could make it out all right.
“Well, you’re gonna have to wait 3.5 weeks or so to find out what happened to Toby. Hopefully, by now we’ve shown that we’re not scared to make a big choice. That said: the show has an optimistic underbelly. So I guess you could say there’s an argument that could be made both for Toby “making it” and “not making it,” he stated.
Of course, the title of the This Is Us fall finale doesn’t help Toby’s case. Although the name could be a reference to Toby’s final Christmas, Fogelman revealed that the title was originally selected because of the episode’s opening song. The song was eventually switched out, but the title stuck.
“I believe in the first draft, Don Todd – who wrote the fantastic script – had scripted “Last Christmas” by Wham as the song that opens the episode in the ’80s. In the edit it didn’t feel quite right and felt better to open and close with the Sufjan Stevens Christmas song. But the title held – I like how it refers to previous holidays (as in “do you remember last Christmas”) but also – in the end – carries a slightly ominous tone,” he shared.
Fogelman also discussed where the show is headed next year. With half of the season still to come, the showrunner revealed that more bold decisions are ahead, including further use of separate time periods.
“We have a bunch of episodes coming up that focus on particular characters and storylines, which I love for this show,” he said. “As I mentioned we play more with time – changing time periods, seeing Jack and Rebecca in various time periods (even before they met), and completing a lot of our season 1 storylines that we’ve established. Hopefully, it all won’t go to s**t. I don’t think it will.”
According to ET Online, there are still a lot of unanswered questions about Toby’s surprising medical condition. Not only are fans left wondering about the status of Toby’s relationship with Kate (Chrissy Metz), but we still don’t know what happened to him. Did Toby have a heart attack? Or is he dealing with something connected to his high blood pressure?
Thankfully, the series will answer these all-important questions once This Is Us returns next year. Fans can only hope that Toby survived the ordeal and that his romance with Kate is back on track.
Season 1 of This Is Us is scheduled to return to NBC on Jan. 10.
[Featured Image by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images]