NBC's This Is Us returned with an emotional episode that catches viewers up on what the Pearsons have been up to for "The Last Seven Weeks." Our troubles over Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and Beth's (Susan Kelechi Watson) marriage are eased. Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Toby (Chris Sullivan) excitedly prepare for their growing bundle of joy. Kevin (Justin Hartley) and Zoe (Melanie Liburd) have a rocky start to take the next step in their relationship. Finally, we learn more about Jack's brother Nicky (Michael Angarano)–aka C.K.
Have your tissues handy as we dive back into the juicy drama of life.
Randall and Beth
Beth is no longer on board for his campaign. If his chances of winning are so slim, then it is time to put his family first again. Tess (Eris Baker) just came out to them and really needs their support – all the girls need him. Randall has always been there for his family. He's more than a hands-on dad – he's a "Superdad." Still can't believe he threw it in Beth's face like that, but I can understand why he lashed out. He's almost always there for Beth and the fact that she refuses to support him in this endeavor just plain hurts.
But, he needs to remember that Beth is at a low point in her life. Losing her job threw her for a loop. When Beth got fired, Randall was already getting wrapped up in running. He didn't see her as clearly as he usually does. His means of making amends and giving her purpose (a job on his campaign) backfired. Now she feels like she's losing her husband to a community of strangers who will come before their family.
She could use his Superdad skills to help with the girls during this time of great change. They go Christmas shopping together, he understands and gets through to Tess in a way she can't, and he even has a special bond with Deja (Lyric Ross). She's giving him a reality check before he loses sight of his priorities.
Randall and Beth are a team. They always have been. They show up for each other and for their children. When people are present for you, they are held to a higher standard. Randall has always been reliable – at work and at home. Now we know that the work-life balance is something he's worried about since his teens.
I love the advice, encouragement, support, and confidence Jack gives his son. Those sentiments are echoed in Randall's chat with the Reverend when he's trying to bring some "boo-berry" pie home to his wife. He's been in the doghouse for weeks. If he returns late and without the pie on New Year's Eve, he may never recover from his mistakes.
Randall is at a crossroads – one that will decide what kind of man he's going to be for the rest of his life. On his deathbed, what memories will he hold dear? How much of himself is willing to compromise for this campaign? It all comes to a head in one sweeping moment.
Of course, we never really doubted Randall's intentions. He is Jack's son after all. He dumps the dirt on his opponent – an act of decency that the Reverend praises during mass. He sees this fundamental goodness in Randall, so he hands him the last blueberry pie and boosts his campaign efforts with the best kind of endorsement you can get.
By episode's end, Randall is back in Superdad shape. He delivers a Jack-like speech apologizing for his behavior and making things right. He's one with his wife and caught up on all the Christmas movies he missed out on over the holidays. Now that he's won the election, he's going to find a way to be there for his family and his people. It will be a tough balancing act, but at least we know his priorities are on point.
We also get a little hint about Beth's backstory. We know her father passed away before she was in college. After the latest casting news, I wonder if we'll see what happened to Beth shortly after he died.
Toby and Kate
I love Toby! He is the best! I totally felt his pain over the Star Wars memorabilia. Those things aren't toys, they're collectibles – very expensive collectibles. But that wasn't the issue for Toby: he's upset because he kept those treasures for his future children. Sigh.
Kudos to Kate for desperately trying to make it right. She messed up, felt terrible, and tried her best to salvage keepsakes for their kiddo. She points out an important contrast that we may never have really thought about. Kate lost her childhood keepsakes in the fire. None of that mattered as much as losing Jack. Kate had to learn how to let go of that kind of stuff as a teenager, so it is easy to understand why she didn't think twice about selling Toby's "toys." Also, that college kid has no shame – poor form, dude!
The way they are keeping track of the baby's size and sharing it with everyone is adorable. The line "looks like Kevin" had me in stitches. The whole family is celebrating this gift and we all want to see it play out with nothing but happiness. Thanks to Toby, their little tomato has a great start.
Toby recreates the Steelers' stadium that Jack handmade for his Katie Girl. I couldn't stop crying! All the feels! He is going to be an amazing dad and he's already a wonderful husband. He is so much like Jack and I love it. When Katie cries for five minutes straight, once we know what she's crying over – we knew it was a happy cry. It is precious that Toby calls Kevin for a blind twin connection on the tears. Too sweet! As expected, Kevin is dealing with a little drama of his own and can't comment on any present twin vibes.
Kevin and Zoe
It all comes down to John Stamos aka Uncle Jesse (again, adorable). Kevin and Zoe grew very close during their travels through Vietnam. Both learned a lot about each other's family histories. When they return "home" Kevin gets the wrong impression, jumps ahead and asks her to move in–but things don't get really awkward until after they meet someone from her past.
I have to admit, the mystery person is not who I expected. Kevin wants to learn what became of his Uncle Nicky since he didn't die in Vietnam. Unfortunately, they need proof or political power to gain access to that kind of information–and that's when we meet one of Zoe's ex-boyfriends.
Beth warned Kevin that her cousin had a troubled past with a trail of broken hearts in her wake. She's a man-eater, but that didn't scare Kevin…until now. She dated this guy for two years and broke up with him in an e-mail. That is harsh. When Zoe hasn't started unpacking her stuff yet, he lashes out. They spend some time apart and see each other again on Randall's election night.
When Randall talks about positive pushes in his life, Zoe realizes that Kevin is pushing their relationship in a good direction. They finally get on the same page. She is falling in love with him and it is scary. She's remained guarded for good reason and is very protective of her safe space. She didn't want to live with anyone until now. She wants to take that chance on Kevin.
This is huge for both of them. We're happy and all, but we're still waiting for that other shoe to drop. Finally, at the very end of the episode, we circle back to the jaw-dropping cliffhanger: Nicky is still alive.
But that's not all…
Jack and Nicky
Jack always knew that Nicky did not die. WHAT?!? He kept postcards signed C.K.–so Jack was the Superman to Nicky's Clark Kent. I mean…goosebumps galore!
The postcard says this is the last one. It doesn't seem like Jack's style to let his brother go. Maybe he tried his best and realized that's all he could do – or maybe Jack continued to keep tabs on his little brother from afar. It just breaks my heart that Jack listened to vile insults from their father about failing Nicky, when we now know he really did save his brother.
Nicky has major issues, and I can't help but feel that Jack kept him a secret from his family for a very valid and important reason. I don't think Jack was completely lying when he told Randall that visiting the Vietnam Memorial would be too sad. Nicky survived the war, but he didn't come back the same person Jack grew up with. I'm afraid he's going to stir up some trouble when the Big Three pay him a visit in the next episode.
Next week? The beginning of a two-parter:
This Is Us s03e11 'Songbird Road (Part One)': Rebecca and the Big Three reckon with secrets Jack kept from them. Jack's Vietnam story continues to be revealed.
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. EST on NBC.