“This Is Us” is at its best when the characters show humanity and vulnerabilities underneath their conflicts — and on Tuesday night's episode, viewers saw plenty of that.
From Randall’s showdown with his mother-in-law to Nicky recalling a lost love, there was no shortage of drama for the Pearson family — and no shortage of tissues needed.
1. Jack won't stop crying
A show known for its tear-jerking moments went heavy on actual tears when Kate and Toby take Jack to a music class for babies that turns into a disaster when he won’t stop crying because he is overstimulated, forcing his parents to have a frank discussion about letting their son do things that all kids do, despite his blindness. It reiterated the challenges Kate and Toby will face raising Jack. After some back and forth, they wind up going to the beach to enjoy the world around them.
In a flashback, Kate lands a job in a record store (might her new boss become a love interest?) and buys a Carole King CD. She brings it home and dances with Rebecca, a scene interwoven with images of her dancing with her dad, Jack, the only time he appeared in the episode. It's emotional anytime papa Jack is on the screen, right?
2. Moms meet
Rebecca and Carol (Beth's mother) meet for the first time while visiting their children at college. They bond over the recent deaths of their respective husbands. It was a nice moment, but one with underpinnings. Carol later tells Beth that Randall’s family is broken and she doesn’t need that. And while Rebecca continues to try and pick up the pieces after Jack’s death, her world is rocked at the end of the episode when Kevin leaves a message letting her know how he’s doing before casually mentioning he and Sophie got married.
3. Nicky's love story
Nicky has always been enigmatic, but he opens up a little bit when he tells Kevin and fellow vet Cassidy about a girl he dated before going to Vietnam. When he came back, he went to her house, but she wasn’t home and he decided not to follow up again because he felt it was never meant to be. It was a sad story and a rare look into Nicky’s soul that left us hurting for him. Kevin continues his newfound interest in helping others when he took Nicky and Cassidy RV shopping to occupy them before an AA meeting. We also see Cassidy soften her view toward Kevin and tell him that her husband wants to proceed with a divorce. (Anyone else secretly hoping for a Kevin and Cassidy love story?)
And in a flashback that takes place during the taping of the pilot of “The Manny,” Kevin reveals to Kate he’s unsure if the show will go anywhere and that he may not even want to be an actor, but everything changes in an instant when he soothes a crying baby in a scene that makes him see the value in his own life.
4. Randall and Beth kiss
How did Randall win over Beth after they met in college? We got a good idea last night. When their mothers meet, Randall puts down a lemon near Beth’s tray while sitting in the cafeteria. When she asks him later why he did that, he says she asked for a lemon with her soda when they went out. She is so flattered by how perceptive and caring he is that she kisses him on the lips in a sweet moment.
5. Randall proves himself
We didn’t know a lot about Randall’s relationship with his mother-in-law, Carol, prior to last night’s episode, but we did learn that she’s not his biggest fan. Things got tense when Carol arrives for the opening of Beth’s dance studio and they discover some sort of dead animal in the building caused it to smell. Randall takes control of the situation by nixing Carol’s plan to postpone the opening. Later, they enjoy a moment when she admits that she was wrong about Randall being wrong for her daughter because she didn’t realize the kind of man and father he would become.
While Randall finally earned acceptance from Carol, he has a whole new problem on his hands after learning Malik, who's spending time with Deja, is a teen dad, a development that is sure to create some tension.
Will we also learn more about Nicky's old flame? And even though we know Kevin's marriage to Sophie doesn't last, how will it play out? We hope to find out soon.