The final season of “This Is Us” kicked off Tuesday, with the Big Three’s 41st birthday.
Season five ended with some surprising revelations — including Kevin’s fiancee Madison’s decision to call off their nuptials, and what appeared to be Kate’s future wedding to her boss, Phillip. Fans have waited since May to find out what’s in store for the Pearsons’ final chapter.
“I think people are going to be satisfied with a full heart,” Milo Ventimiglia told TODAY about the new season Tuesday.
Here’s what happened on the premiere episode, aptly titled “The Challenger.” (Warning: Spoilers ahead!)
Jack and Rebecca
It’s January 1986 when the episode kicks off. Jack pronounces REO Speedwagon “the next Beatles,” and the kids are excited to drink Tang. But after Kevin, Kate and Randall go to school and see coverage of the Challenger disaster, Rebecca worries about how to explain the tragedy to the young kids. Kate sweetly observes, “It’s a good thing they were that high up; that means they were closer to heaven.” Randall acknowledges that he’s sad, later expressing concern for who’s making dinner for the kids of the “astronaut teacher.” But Kevin seems oblivious to the news, asking for more mac and cheese. “It was a story on TV; it wasn’t real,” he tells Jack.
“His brain’s just protecting itself,” Jack assures Rebecca. “It’s not like he’s going to wind up some 40-year-old man who can’t stop talking about the Challenger explosion, right?”
Rebecca then compares Randall to “Catcher in the Rye” protagonist Holden Caulfield. “He might spend his whole life trying to save everyone, and he won’t be able to. I just worry that his life will be this beautiful but perpetually disappointing ride.”
In the present-day storyline, Rebecca, Miguel and Nicky take Kate and Toby’s kids to the park. Nicky reveals he’s been Facebook-stalking Sally, the “one who got away,” each day, but keeps losing his nerve to contact her. The group boards a kiddie train, prompting Rebecca, who’s in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, to reminisce about riding trains with her dad as a child, and she struggles to remember the word “caboose.” She later tells Kevin, Kate, Randall and Beth she got the results of her PET scan, which showed plaques building in her brain. “It’s still very early,” she assures them.
Kevin and Madison
Kevin has moved in with Madison to co-parent twins Nick and Franny. Madison is spending a lot of time with Elijah, a guy from her book club who shares her love of literature — unlike Kevin, who thinks watching the subtitled film “Parasite” counts as reading a book. “People said it was crazy, me living in your garage just to stay close to the twins,” he says. “It’s possible they had a point.” He leaves to stay with Kate.
In other news, “The Manny” is being rebooted (it was only a matter of time), and Kevin is offered a role. No, it’s not the titular manny he played on the original — he’s “far too old” — but the role of the dad on the show. He accepts, so he can stay in LA and be close to his kids.
Kate and Toby
Toby calls to wish Kate a happy birthday from his new job in San Francisco. He’s arranged for Rebecca and Miguel (and Nicky) to take the kids for the afternoon while Kate gets a massage from “a woman with the hands of an offensive lineman.”
Later, the massage therapist tells Kate that Toby is very thoughtful. But Kate, still adjusting to their newly long-distance marriage, responds that he’s usually more of a “giant in-person, grand gesture kind of guy,” adding, “This outsourcing is a little new.” Kate’s boss, Phillip (saved in her phone as “Phillip Mean Jerk”), then texts her to come in due to a “little emergency” at school.
Kate shows up at school to find Phillip harshly breaking up with his partner, Jessica, whom he tells, “You bore me,” adding that spending time with her is like “watching paint dry.” After witnessing that awkward moment, Kate learns that the “emergency” is really a happy birthday surprise: The students have planned to serenade her with a touching performance of “Time After Time.” Toby later comes through after all, returning home to see Kate.
Randall and Beth
Randall is notified by the Philadelphia Police Department that the suspect from his home robbery is in custody and will be arraigned that afternoon. The suspect pawned all of the family’s jewelry, but has hung on to one of Randall and Beth’s wedding photos. Randall arrives in court to meet the man, and realizing that he struggles with drug addiction, decides to bail him out and find him a bed at a shelter. “I see thousands of addicts in my district I was elected to help who I’m not doing nearly enough for,” the city councilman tells Beth.