The Season 4 premiere of This Is Us felt more like an episode of Game of Thrones than the NBC family drama we know and love.
The amount of critical information viewers received in the span of 50 minutes was staggering thanks to the episode, aptly titled "Strangers," being jam-packed with people we've never seen before — all of whom have a connection to the Pearson clan in one way or another.
Who are the new characters in Season 4 of This Is Us? We've got a cheat sheet for you below:
1. Cassidy (Jennifer Morrison)
A military vet deeply affected by her experiences in Afghanistan. She seeks help from a support group after lashing out at her young son, but things go south when one of the meeting's attendees throws a chair through a window in a drunken rage. That person is Nicky Pearson, Jack Pearson's younger brother.
2. Ryan (Nick Wechsler)
Cassidy's husband, who feels alienated by his wife when she returns home from serving overseas and worries about her excessive drinking.
3. Matty (Noah Salsbury Lipson)
Cassidy and Ryan's 9-year-old son, who gets hit in the face by his mom while she's intoxicated which convinces her to join a veteran's support group.
4. Malik Hodges (Asante Blackk)
A teenage father trying to provide for his baby girl. At a friend's barbecue, the auto body repair shop employee develops a crush on Deja, the adopted daughter of Randall and Beth Pearson.
"He’s going to play a big part in Randall’s family’s story," the show's creator, Dan Fogelman, told Entertainment Weekly shortly after the premiere aired.
5. Darnell Hodges (Omar Epps)
Malik's super supportive father who's also crazy in love with his wife and doesn't want to see his son have to grow up too fast.
6. Kelly Hodges (Marsha Stephanie Blake)
Malik's mother and Darnell's wife, who keeps both her boys in line. She tells her son "to shine that beautiful light of yours onto the world today."
7. Jack (Blake Stadnik)
A blind musician who finds fame after meeting the love of his life at a diner. We also see him surrounded by empty beer bottles after a night of songwriting, possibly foreshadowing an addiction to alcohol. This Jack happens to be Toby and Kate Damon's son, who was born prematurely. The actor portraying him, Blake Stadnik, is visually impaired in real life.
"He’s exceptionally talented," Dan told EW of Blake. "It was important to us to not cast a sighted actor here. It was also very important to us that we have somebody who can hold the screen and sing, and Blake just checked a tremendous amount of boxes."
8. Lucy (Auden Thornton)
Jack's wife, a chef who used to waitress at the diner where they met. She reveals she's six-weeks pregnant in the Season 4 premiere.
9. Dave Malone (Tim Matheson)
Rebecca Pearson's father, who doesn't think Jack (as in Milo Ventimiglia's Jack) is the right fit for his daughter. "You're a good man, Jack. I can see that," the concerned dad says. "I can also see a man who is carrying things with him. And I can see a man who is far more haunted than he wants to let on."
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