This week’s episode of This Is Us (titled: “Jack Pearson’s Son”) was another emotional rollercoaster that put all of the Pearsons in tough spots.
The past timeline
The Big Three are teenagers at this point, and Rebecca is about to leave for her tour with Ben and the band. Jack plans a special night for himself and Rebecca at O’Shannon’s for after her show on Valentine’s Day night. And while Jack seems very supportive, he admits to Miguel that he really doesn’t want her to go but also doesn’t want her to think he’s holding her back.
That afternoon, Rebecca overhears the Big Three talking about Kevin having sex with Sophie. When Rebecca and Jack sit down with Kevin to have “the talk,” Randall is having an anxiety attack about his Hamlet paper. Jack calms Randall down, ending the conversation with Kevin. Rebecca is worried that this isn’t the time for her to go on tour, and Jack reassures her, saying he can handle it.
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At the show that night, Jack and newly single Miguel sit together to watch Rebecca’s performance. Rebecca and Ben sing together (and to each other), and anyone who didn’t know them would think there was something more going on. Jack is mesmerized and fumes at his table while Miguel flirts with another woman. After the show, Ben talks to Jack about Rebecca. And Jack is very prickly. Ben mentions that he and Rebecca dated, and it appears that this is the first time Jack is hearing about their relationship.
Back at home, Rebecca confronts Jack about canceling their plans for O’Shannon’s, and he wants to know more about her ex-boyfriend. She and Ben dated for two months when they were teens, and she knew Jack would freak out about it if he knew. He can’t believe she lied, and he leaves, needing to be alone. We find him at his reservation at O’Shannon’s, sidled up with a burger and a Maker’s Mark to keep him company.
Last time we sat Kate, she was standing outside of Duke’s cabin. But not all is as it seems! (Thank goodness!) She tells Duke off, and he kicks her out of the camp, since apparently, his parents own the place.
Kate goes to Toby’s hotel room and tries to explain herself. Toby admits to being jealous of Duke, and Kate wonders why. Toby tells her he doesn’t know much about her, and she wants him to ask whatever questions he has. They start the “interview” at a clothing store so Toby can get a nice outfit for Kevin’s opening night. The questions are innocent enough until Kate wants to know about Toby’s depression. He is open with her, but when he asks about Jack’s death, she is unable to talk about it. But she promises eventually she will be able to.
At the opening, Toby wants to postpone the wedding until they are at a point where they can tell each other everything, and Kate agrees.
Kevin wakes up from a recurring dream that involves an interview with Katie Couric. She voices all of his insecurities, and he awakens frantic. Kevin and Sophie have started dating again, and all appears well with Sloane and Kevin at work. Both of them are having a few jitters about the show, but Kevin is worse off than Sloane. Kevin calls Kate and ends up going through to voice mail. Then he tries Randall, who is too busy with William and work to handle Kevin at the moment. And finally, he goes to Rebecca’s house to talk to another “artist” about the pre-show jitters. Rebecca is out, but Miguel is there and invites Kevin inside. Kevin isn’t expecting to get advice from his stepfather, but Miguel steps up and says whenever he got nervous about something, he always thought of Jack and what he would do. This advice seems to work for Kevin, and he leaves with a new plan to calm himself down before the show.
Five minutes before the show, Kevin gets a strange call from Randall. After Randall hangs up, Kevin appears confused, and when he and Sloane are standing backstage about to go on, she tells him she’s imagining everyone in their underwear. When she asks him what he’s thinking about, he tells her he’s thinking of his father. Lights up on the stage, and Sloane delivers her opening line, but Kevin isn’t there.
Randall’s need to be perfect has affected him for a long time. And it’s only getting worse. Randall arrives to work and is told an important meeting is being moved up to that afternoon. Then he gets a phone call from William’s nurse, who tells him that William locked her out of the house. He is all out of sorts but leaves the office to let her back in. When he confronts William, William tells his son that he wanted a Coke and that he’s not sure how much longer he can handle the symptoms of dying. Randall convinces William he needs the nurse and tells her if he wants a Coke, she should give him one. Randall goes back to work, visibly upset. He arrives late to the meeting and can’t get it together. Sanjay takes over, and Randall is at his breaking point.
Later that night, close to the opening of the show, Randall is at his desk, and he’s having trouble seeing. He calls Kevin and apologizes for not being able to make it to the show. He’s upset but doesn’t say anything to his brother. Kevin arrives at the office, completely ditching Sloane and the show, to be there for his brother.
So many emotions! The whole Randall and William story line tonight was heartbreaking, and I hate to see Randall’s health declining as much as William’s. It was very sweet to see that Kevin came to his brother’s side, even though it was at the worst time for Kevin’s career! But I liked how he stepped up to his father’s standards. I feel awful for Sloane though. I’m not sure she will be that forgiving, especially with the New York Times reporter there opening night.
Did anyone think that Kate was going to give up the goods on Jack’s death? I did! And was sorely disappointed when she clammed up.
The final image of Jack this episode was haunting. Miguel made a comment earlier in the episode about going out with Jack, but he wouldn’t force Jack to have a drink. Seeing how much he enjoyed his whiskey made my heart hurt!
As we’re counting down to the last episodes of this amazing first season, I wonder how much more the Pearson clan can take…
Join me next week for the recap/review of the next new episode of This Is Us, which airs Tuesday, Feb. 21, on NBC at 9/8c.