The This Is Us season 3 premiere, “Nine Bucks,” dropped quite a few expected, twisty breadcrumbs. We got a glimpse of Jack Pearson (Milo Ventimiglia) in the Vietnam War, bloody and likely cradling his brother Nicky (newly cast Michael Angarano). The final scene added depth to the “Who is 'Her'?” mystery (is it Kate?!). But the one surprise no one could have seen coming was the appearance of Rebecca’s (Mandy Moore) mystery man gentleman caller at the end of the episode.
Immediately, viewers were left wondering who this man is, why he's kissing Rebecca, and what the hell he and his flowers are doing getting in the way of Jack and Rebecca’s epic love story. While we don’t know the answers to many of those questions, we do know two things: his name, and the fact he’s going to be an obstacle for the parents Pearson.
If you were to watch “Nine Bucks” until the very end, you’ll notice only one name appear on the guest star slate: Hunter Parrish as Alan. When you look closely at the mustachioed mystery man standing on Rebecca’s doorstep, you’ll realize it’s definitely Hunter Parrish, of Weeds and Quantico fame, only with a some surprise facial hair. Everyone, meet Alan! You’re probably going to hate this brand new character, if only for already making everyone’s beloved Jack Pearson look so sad, so early into This Is Us season 3.
It’s also a mystery what Rebecca and Alan’s history is, though they certainly do seem to have a lot of it. As we observe in Alan's “Nine Bucks” introduction, he knows exactly where Rebecca lives, felt comfortable going in for the kiss upon seeing her (without even a hello!), and she kissed him back, much to Jack’s heartbreak. These two have a past.
Rebecca’s portrayer Mandy Moore confirmed as much, pointing out all the aforementioned doorstep details as evidence, telling Entertainment Weekly, “She didn’t back away from the kiss, so they know each other.” Considering Rebecca’s lengthy explanation to Jack the night of their first date about all the things she “never does” in romantic situations, it’s pretty likely she would have started screaming if a strange man showed up at her house and kissed her. Even a man as debonair as a 1970s Hunter Parrish.
But before This Is Us fans get out the pitchforks and mean Twitter hashtags, Moore reminded viewers Alan doesn’t exactly stand a chance. “We obviously know where things end up so he can’t be that big of an obstacle, can he?” she continued to EW. “There will be a resolution to who he is and his dip into Jack and Rebecca’s romantic life … it will resolve itself in due time.”
After all, it’s not like some stray bland blonde mystery man hasn’t shown up before to throw a wrench into Rebecca and Jack’s romantic destiny. In season 1 finale “Moonshadow,” we’re all led to believe Jack and Rebecca are going to meet through a blind date set-up… until some previously unheard of banker named Ethan (Joe Conti) appears at Rebecca’s dinner table instead. The entire Jack-Rebecca blind date suggestion was a classic This Is Us misdirect. Thankfully, Ethan proved to be so painfully boring, Rebecca ran out of their date and headed straight to an open mic night. That is where she randomly met Jack, who immediately fell for her.
So don’t sweat mystery man Alan and his mustache. Rebecca and Jack’s love is far stronger than any retro turtleneck.
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