Before diving in on this week’s breakdown, check out Def Pen’s breakdown of last week’s episode if you missed it or just need a refresher!
This week, the Pearsons all get together at Randall’s for their first Thanksgiving in Philadelphia. The entire family is present, even Nicky decided to tag along to meet everyone. But first, we check in with Nicky and Jack in the past on their last Thanksgiving before Vietnam, though they don’t know they’re going there yet. That holiday was never easy for the two of them and the young men decide to make it their own and head to a local bar together. Nicky wins a good amount of money betting on football and they treat themselves to a Thanksgiving feast of 5 pounds of shrimp.
Back in the present, Nicky goes with Randall to their old home to retrieve the all-important ‘Pilgrim Rick’ hat. Meanwhile, Kevin helps Tess overcome her fear of coming out on social media by having her start much smaller instead. Back at the house, Beth struggles to accept Shauna’s lack of issues while Kate struggles to accept ‘Crossfit Toby.’ As all of that is happening, Rebecca is left to her own devices on a day out where her mental issues worsen quickly and she ends up alone in a Chinese restaurant having a breakdown.
Once everyone’s home, save for Rebecca, all the drama is virtually gone. Tess has come out on Instagram to the universal support of her peers; Randall and Nicky make it back in time for dinner, with a new tradition in tow as Nicky shares the shrimp story and presents his own platter of 5 pounds of shrimp; Kate and Beth both drop their issues as Beth finds her place as Deja’s adopted mother isn’t meant to be one of jealousy. Meanwhile, Rebecca is driven home by the police after her mental breakdown, however, that moment is actually revealed to be about 9 months in the future, on the Big Three’s next birthday. Rebecca’s condition has obviously worsened, Kevin’s engaged (and not talking to Randall), and Kate is sitting at the table alone, no Jack and no Toby.
But, back in the present, everyone’s together and happy as Rebecca returns from her movie with the pie she promised. Turns out her movie was long and she simply turned her phone off for its duration. Tough times are certainly ahead for the Pearsons but this week, things ended on an ultimately happy note.
I really really enjoyed this episode, but that’s nothing new for This Is Us Thanksgiving episodes. This one had a lot of big ‘firsts’ though. Nicky’s first Thanksgiving with another Pearson since before he went to Vietnam, Tess’ first time coming out to someone other than her family, and Rebecca’s first time admitting that she needs to see a doctor for her mental issues. All these firsts, along with their significance, and that cryptic scene in the future set the stage for a very interesting, and sad second half of season four. And I, for one, can’t wait.
This week’s MVP is Nicky hands down. At first, it seemed like he’d slip back into his old grouchy ways but, New Nicky is apparently here to stay as he became the surrogate Jack by the end. Seriously, his character is one of my favorites in the show period, and this episode feels like the culmination of everything he’s been through since last season.
Did I cry?
Nope, though I was on the verge of tears for basically the entire second half of the episode. But, it ended on a surprisingly joyful note as, for now, everyone is together and happy.
Now, here’s a look at the best three moments from tonight’s episode:
3. “He loved explaining it.”/”I’m Tess Pearson and I’m gay.”
Alright, so I’m going to cheat a bit here and include two moments because I just couldn’t choose between them. First, seeing Tess finally accept herself and come out in public was unexpected just because this show has trained me to expect the hardest road to happiness. This change was welcome and cathartic and I loved it. Then, the other moment that makes the list here is Randall explaining the Leonard Cohen song to Nicky like Jack always would. Watching Nicky realize real-time that, regardless of the lack of pictures and real stories, Jack made sure that Nicky lived on in his family’s lives.
2. “Tell me the story about that video.”
Had Nicky not made his grand gesture at the end of the episode, this moment would’ve likely been number one. I was expecting (and dreading) some larger confrontation between Beth and Shauna to resolve this issue. But, instead, we got a quiet moment between Beth and Deja where Beth realized that her role as Deja’s adopted mother wasn’t in jeopardy and, again, jealousy over things like that have no place in her relationship with either Shauna or Deja.
1. “I’ve learned that traditions inspired by Jack Pearson are the backbone of this shindig.”
And finally, there’s no way this moment wasn’t going to end up being number one. Again, Nicky served out this week’s ‘Jack Pearson Moment’ with a speech about his late brother and the story of the Shrimp Thanksgiving. Nicky’s realization that he has a place in the family he’d shunned for so many years was long overdue and the perfect way to end this year’s Thanksgiving episode. (I know it wasn’t *really* the end but, it ended most of the conflict in the present so, it counts.) And, seeing baby Jack continue the shrimp tradition in the future just proves how important it was to the family.
Well, with an entire half-season to look ahead to, there’s obviously a lot that could happen. Based on the promo alone though, I think we’ll see Kate and Toby’s marriage issues worsen as Rebecca gets real help for her illness. Over the course of the next nine episodes though, we’ll also see her condition worsen and Randall and Kevin’s relationship fall apart again. I think Randall’s failure to share the details of his mother’s illness will be at the heart of that breakdown. Also, though I wasn’t a fan of them at first, I really hope Kevin’s mysterious fiance is Cassidy, but I think there’s a decent chance we won’t see her again. And the fact that Kate is seen looking sad, without Toby, in that future scene seems like they could be heading for a divorce. But, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
The title for the next episode has yet to be revealed but, you can check out the promo for it below:
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 7/8 C on NBC.