'This Is Us' recap: Mandy Moore gives us one of the most tear-jerking moments yet
By Annie Sisk
For The Baltimore Sun|
Nov 01, 2017 | 10:35 AM
Happy Halloween, y’all! BOY, a lot happened in this week’s “This Is Us” episode, so let’s just get to it, shall we?
Before we do, however, take heed: Spoilers abound below, so if you haven’t yet seen the episode and don’t want to be spoiled, go baaaa-aaaaack. (Imagine I said all that in a super-scary haunted house voice, OK? OK!)
Everybody else, pull up a couch, grab the kids’ leftover candy, and let’s dish on ”The 20’s”!
Back in the Day…
It’s Casa Pearson, circa 1990, and everybody’s getting their Halloween on. Mama Bec is sewing a veterinarian’s costume that Kate will not be wearing, Randall (who’s going as Michael Jackson, “Bad”-era) is planning his trick-or-treating like Patton plotting out D-Day, and Kevin is chomping on a fake cigar, dreaming of the day he doesn’t have to do chores and can leave his shirttail untucked, just like his hobo role models. (Rail-riding presumably not included.)
After a last-minute change of costume to Sandy from “Grease” (Pretty Sandy, not Tough Sandy), Kate joins her siblings and parents (a highly credible Sonny and Cher). There’s a tiny meltdown — Randall wants to follow his map, Kevin and Kate want to hit the haunted house first — and then Team Pearson splits up for Operation Get All the Candy.
Kate has an ulterior motive, though. She wants to go through that haunted house with classmate Billy, in hopes that he’ll hold her hand during the scary parts. She skips off in search of her crush, while Kevin tells his dad it’ll never happen.
But later, Kate comes out of the house holding Billy’s hand! As giddy Kate runs off to find her friend Molly, Jack spies his son dumping all his candy into Billy’s pillowcase. He realizes Kevin bribed Billy to hold Kate’s hand. Kevin admits it, with pure Kevin logic: He can always get more candy.
Meanwhile, Bec is trying to get Randall to loosen up and go off script once in awhile. Ultimately he confesses what’s bugging him: A neighbor family told him that he’s a miracle, because his parents “lost” the other baby and “found” him. Randall, being 10 and all, thinks they misplaced this other baby.
So Bec sits him down on someone’s lawn and tells him exactly what “lost” means — that Kyle died, and that this is how Randall came into their lives.
Team Pearson reunites … but while this is the wrap-up of the “back in the day” storyline, there’s one more scene to discuss, which I’ll come back to. Meanwhile, let’s hop forward to …
… A Little Less Back in the Day
Whoa, show pulled a heckin’ bamboozle! Instead of coming back to the present day for our second timeline of the episode, we hop off in 2008.
It’s a magical time, when the Big Three are in their 20s, Barack Obama is a few weeks away from winning his first presidential election, and Beth, Empress of All She Surveys, is super-duper pregnant and still gorgeous.
Randall, however, is starting to Randall out again as he struggles installing a ceiling fan. He’s two months removed from his big stress-induced blindness episode, so when Beth reassures soon-to-be-born Tess that Randall “always comes through,” it’s extra poignant.
Rebecca arrives and she and Beth are so concerned about Randall that it’s awkward and weird. So awkward, in fact, that Randall announces he’s returning the fan to the store so the women can discuss him freely.
Randall is getting overwhelmed staring at the fans, so he tells the very nice guy at the big box store about his fan not working and his breakdown two months ago and the baby coming tomorrow and his wife’s concerns … and the very nice guy says simply, “I’m sorry.”
And Randall just … talks. He tells the guy how two months ago, the fetus was six months old, and he learned that’s when the baby starts to dream. Before then, it’s a big mass of cells and parts but after that, it can dream — so his kid’s in there, and he or she is a whole universe, and how can he be in charge of a whole universe?
And just like a successful side quest in a video game, Randall has apparently stumbled onto the right guy at the right time with the right answers. The guy tells him he has five kids, and he knows this to be true: Tomorrow, when Randall’s baby enters the world, he will have the answers he needs when he needs them. That’s how parenting works.
Simplistic though it may be, the man’s response helps Randall, who sniffles a bit and asks the guy what the “G” on his name tag stands for. “Garuda,” the man says, then: “Damn. I almost had a baby named after me until right then, didn’t I?” He hands Randall a card for the best fan they sell.
And that’s when Bec calls Randall and tells him inducement isn’t happening tomorrow because the baby is coming right now. Like, instantly.
Randall arrives home to find his wife in active labor, Bec on the phone calling for an ambulance (which will have to fight through the hordes of trick-or-treaters, because apparently Randall and Beth’s neighborhood turns into a zombie movie set on Halloween?), and we all know what’s coming, right? Yep. Randall delivers his daughter in their living room.
Kate’s a waitress at a diner with a very cute regular customer with a very cute smile. And when she joins him at the neighborhood bar with a very cute opening line — “Trying out my costume: Nervous Girl Taking a Chance” — he bounces back with “Guy Who’s Happy to See You” and asks if she wants to go somewhere quieter.
And yeah, that’s code for exactly what you think it’s code for. The next scene is Kate’s bedroom, the guy too-brightly saying he’d better go … and Kate putting it altogether. “You’re married, aren’t you?”
So why did Kate sleep with him if she knew? She confesses she’s just tired of waiting for everything to feel right, because nothing ever does. And right then, her mom calls with the news of baby girl Pearson’s arrival in the world.
Poor Kevin — he’s the shampoo guy at a tony LA hair salon. And he cannot stop talking about his career frustrations to the woman whose head is in his sink. His roommate Zeke booked a Christian Bale movie (see Twitter tidbits below for an interesting aside on this scene) and very kindly invites Kevin to a big party at the director’s house that night.
He introduces Kevin to the director, who’s polite for about 3.2 seconds then interrupts Kevin (as he’s complimenting the guy, sheesh) and drags Zeke off, leaving Kevin by himself.
But then Kevin really screws up. He corners the director and actually tries to steal Zeke’s part right out from under him. The director is not having any of it, though. He says not only will he never hire Kevin for any project he ever casts, but he wouldn’t even hire him as a waiter.
Back east, Randall finds his mom crying in the kitchen over a broken dish. She says the birth of her first grandchild was one of the happiest moments of her life. Randall guesses that means the tears are happy tears. She says yes, a little, but also sad, because Jack isn’t there. All her future happiest moments will also be partly sad, and that’s something she’ll have to come to grips with.
Kevin and Kate both make it to the hospital to greet their first niece. And THE NAME, you guys. Tess’s name came from the fan that Garuda gave him in the store — the Tessana.
Later, in Randall and Beth’s kitchen, the twins commiserate over their not-so-stellar lives. But then they kick each other into gear. Kevin can join an improv group! Kate can move to LA! And in brief flash-forwards over the next scene, we see that’s exactly what happens.
Bec goes to the nursery to talk to Tess and, y’all, give Mandy Moore all the Emmys now, because this is crushing me. She tells baby Tess that she’s not just beautiful, she’s “Randall and Beth beautiful” — and I lose it. It’s intercut with a flashback of young Bec greeting baby Randall in the same way over 20 years earlier, and it’s perfection.