Last week, This Is Us returned to the present after a week spent solely in Vietnam. As expected from this show, the Pearsons are going through it right now. Toby’s depression is tearing its ugly head and Randall’s first campaign didn’t get to the start he was hoping for. By far the biggest bomb from last week though came in Kevin’s storyline. In his quest to discover his father’s role in Vietnam, Kevin discovered that his father seemed to have a possible Vietnamese lover while stationed there. This week, hidden truths are uncovered as the present day Pearsons begin moving forward from their experiences last week.
First, to get it out of the way, Jack teaches Randall to box in the 90s and gives us another layer on top of Randall and Jack’s relationship. Outside of this scene, the episode trades the time spent in Vietnam two weeks ago for time spent in the present this week. And boy does it pay off for the three Pearson siblings.
Toby is back on anti-depressants but his condition is not improving and Kate is struggling with how to help him. After their dog has a medical emergency, Kate turns to Rebecca for guidance. Rebecca helps Kate realize that she must take the wheel in her relationship with Toby. From there, Kate reaffirms her love and support of Toby, the one thing that seems to help his condition improve.
Beth’s story mirrors Kate’s this week in an interesting way. After she breaks down while trying to help her daughters sell Girl Scout cookies Beth is lost. She turns to Deja, her own maternal figure, for advice and she tells Beth that she has to feel confident sharing her feelings with Randall, who is continuing his campaign even after his disastrous first event.
Randall doesn’t fare much better to start this week as he is again questioned for running outside of where he lives, this time by his opponent directly. However, upon meeting Kevin at a restaurant in Koreatown, Randall discovers that his opponent has never campaigned there. Jack’s mysterious woman isn’t revealed here, it seems Kevin’s season-long plot will revolve around this reveal. While there though, Kevin shares his discovery from last week and convinces Randall to condone his search after an initial hesitance. Then Kevin, of all people, helps his brother appeal to the citizens and begin gaining traction in his campaign. It doesn’t come easy though as Randall is AGAIN questioned for his outsider status.
However, this time instead of using buzzwords and acting as the town’s savior, Randall simply asks for a chance and begins actually listening to their concerns. He wins over some people, including a new campaign chair, and begins to find his footing in the race. Beth is waiting for Randall upon his return home and she shares the pain she felt after being fired and, even though he still tries to fix her problems, Randall is more supportive than she expected. He offers her a job on his campaign and, while she may only see it as a pity offer, it seems Randall may now have an ace up his sleeve with her on staff.
Overall, this is one of the better episodes of the season that surprisingly contains very few flashbacks. The strength of the episode’s present-day focus may signal a shift away from the flashback-heavy formula of the last two seasons. Either way, this episode saw all three Pearson siblings actually grow and begin going down new and exciting paths.
This Is Us airs Tuesdays on NBC.