'This Is Us' recap: A trip to Vegas gives us a slight break from total emotional devastation

Caitlin Thompson as Madison, Chrissy Metz as Kate, Susan Kelechi Watson as Beth in "This Is Us."

Previously on “This Is Us”: Even the self-aware folksy wisdom of Dr. K couldn’t really patch up our broken hearts.

But do not fear, friends. After some much needed down time for healing, thanks to the Winter Olympics, we’re back with a relatively easy-going episode to ease us back into PearsonLand.


And I can report with great relief and joy, Jack’s death had absolutely no impact on his presence in the episode. He’s still there, and we can all breathe a little easier.

If you haven’t seen it yet, click the back button and come back when you’re all caught up, because the very nature of a recap dictates that spoilers ensue.


Everyone else, grab your bag of candy and your Cosmos and let’s dish on “Vegas, Baby”!

Back in the Day …

You know what happens when you’re Jack and Rebecca Pearson, Reigning King and Queen of All Things Romance, and you nail the anniversary thing year after year?

You end up banning each other from doing anything by the time the kids are in middle school. And then you know what happens? Said kids decide that’s the year they’re gonna take over, thank you very much.

So the Big Three team up and rally. There is a romantic activity researched and planned (meteor shower watching on the roof) and twinkle lights and Cornish game hens from Kevin. (Seriously.)

But Jack forgets to turn on the oven, ruining dinner, and Kevin rapidly slides into tears and terror. He’s afraid Jack and Rebecca are getting divorced, just like Sophie’s parents. His parents, naturally, are deeply confused and reassure the kids that’s not going to happen, ever.

Kevin, oddly, recovers super quickly and declares loudly that the Big Three are going to bed now. And they all tromp off to their rooms, leaving Ma and Pa Pearson staring at each other in utter confusion.

Rebecca goes ahead and cooks the hens, and then she and Jack discover the aforementioned twinkle lights — laid out like a runway leading to the window out of which they’ll one day escape a fire (sob) — and directions for watching the heavenly light show. They promise each other never to skip another anniversary, no matter how good a job Jack has done creating three little mini-mes who were all too happy to step in and Jack Pearson the heck out of that anniversary.

… Present Day

We’re all converging with Toby and Kate in the neon desert of Nevada in order to celebrate simultaneous — but very much separate, because they acknowledge their stunning codependency — bachelor/bachelorette parties. Let’s not forget Madison, who is responsible for the planning portion of Kate’s evening, as well as a few nicknames for Toby. (Make note. Toblerone: Hell, no. Toby Bryant: Yeah, he’ll accept that.)


Toby is adorably looking forward to spending time with his soon-to-be brothers-in-law. But Randall is distracted because he’s worried about Deja, whose mom couldn’t afford the gas bill, meaning they had no heat for weeks. And though he paid the bill surreptitiously, it’s apparently not enough to put Randall’s mind at ease. Beth, on the other hand, really needs him to let Deja go, so they can both enjoy the heck out of their “pity invites” to the festivities.

So when Deja tries to reach him mid-party, he rushes out to talk to her. She claims everything is fine, she just saw Bill Nye on TV and thought of Randall (I admit, this made me laugh probably more than it should have, but it’s just so “Randall,” y’know?). However, when they hang up, it’s clear that Deja is walking around at night in a fairly sketchy neighborhood, and my blood pressure spikes for her.

And Kevin? Well, he’s trying to avoid temptation (I mean, really guys, you wanna bring the guy fresh out of rehab to Vegas? That seems oddly cruel) by enlisting the aid of the hotel maid to monitor the minibar. And he seems to be managing it pretty well for a while, telling fun stories to Toby and his friends about taking Randall to a seedy strip club, where Randall convinced two of the strippers to quit and go back to school. (Kevin, on the other hand, ended up dating one who didn’t.)

But when he runs into a co-star from the Ron Howard movie, he finds out some potentially triggering news: Ron Howard cut his co-star from the movie, and since Kevin had half his scenes with her, there’s every chance he’s been cut, too. Kevin tries to take it stoically but makes his excuses and heads back to his room to do crunches and worry about his career.

Randall also bails on Toby’s party. He tracks down Beth, who’s hanging with Kate and her friends in the Magic Mike Live show (as you do) and tells her Deja’s in trouble but couldn’t tell him more on the phone.

And I hate to say this, but here is where Beth, the Empress of All That Is, Was, and Ever Shall Be, slips down a few ranks. Maybe Duchess?


Look, I get it. Beth wants a night off from the drama. Randall perseverates hard on everything that causes him worry, and she’s not entirely wrong that it’s not fair to anyone to continue to treat Deja as if she’s part of their family.

Regardless, though, it’s a super-ugly spat, loud and hostile, and I really really hate it when mommy and daddy fight. So does Kate, who tries to intervene but ends up making it worse by snapping she is well aware who the more important person in Randall’s life is …

Record scratch.

Even Kate gets it. She’s all “wow, I cannot believe I just said that out loud” and hurries out of there by herself.

Randall finds Kate because he is an awesome brother, even when he’s distracted by concern and anxiety. They reminisce about watching “Sex and the City” together, and Randall points out the obvious: He only watched it because Kate needed him, not because he loved the show.

And I love Kate a little bit more for not getting that fact until right that moment. I’d say I love Randall more for admitting it, but “loving Randall more” does not compute for me at the moment. He is perfect and I shall brook no dissension on this point. Fight me.


Kate knocks on Beth’s hotel room door to make amends. She confesses she’s always found Beth a little intimidating, which — girl, me too. Beth points out all the ways in which she’s floundering herself, including her constant obsession over Deja and inner struggle to let the girl go. It’s a lovely moment between these two very different but equally amazing women, and probably long overdue.

Meanwhile, Kevin and Randall show up sheepishly at a nonchalant Toby’s door. No big deal, he says, when they apologize for ditching him. But when they ask if he wants to go for a walk, Toby basically trips over himself to grab his awesome Vegas jacket. (Are those orchids? Feathers? It’s a whole lot of look, dude.)

On the walk, as both the Pearson men confess what’s dragging them down at the moment, Toby tells them his younger brother can’t be bothered to show up for him, and never has. He was looking forward to bonding with the two Pearson brothers, as sort of a second chance. And Toby Bryant, you are breaking my heart right now.

He gives Kevin a pep talk and encourages him to fight for his role by calling Ron Howard. And to Randy — no, excuse us, Randall — he says this: “If you, Randall Pearson, are beating yourself up over anything, then the rest of the world should be collectively jumping in front of a train.”

Kevin and Randall take their new brother to seedy old Vegas, which is just about the only other thing Toby wanted this weekend other than time with these guys.

What’s more, Kevin takes Toby’s advice and calls Ron Howard, who reassures him that only the romance subplot was removed. He thinks Kevin’s work with Sylvester Stallone is the best work he’s ever done (here is where I studiously avoid mentioning “The Da Vinci Code”) and suggests Kevin buy a tux (for the premiere).


On the way back home, Randall and Beth have a heart-to-heart. The upshot of it all is Mommy and Daddy aren’t fighting anymore, Randall agrees he needs to let go of Deja, and Beth decides maaaaybe Randall was right this time …

So they drop in on Deja and her mom. Except they’re no longer living there.

As they walk out of the building, Beth spots Deja asleep in the back seat of a car, her mom asleep in the front. Beth taps gently on the window. Deja wakes up, then nudges her mom, as Beth and Randall peer in.

And all I can think is, “Please be kind to Deja’s mom, R & B.”

What’s Next for the Pearsons?

Weekend Watch


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It looks like a Randall-Beth-Deja focused episode, as we catch up with what’s been going on to lead Deja and her mom out of their apartment and into that car. Randall tells Deja she’s going to have that same “big, beautiful life” that he gets to enjoy.

Remember there are only 18 episodes this season! So next week’s outing is the next-to-last.


I’m so not ready. How about you guys?

Fresh from “This Is Us” on Twitter

Have you ever seen such a trifecta of cool? I think not.

Madison, you may be annoying at times, but this week, setting up this fiesta for our girl Kate, you’re the real MVP. (The fact it was Sterling K. Brown tweeting this is the icing on that delicious beefcake.)

In fact, Sterling had another fun shot to share, this one of Beth actually sort of … participating. (It’s the cha-cha effect that makes it, really.)