‘This Is Us’: Tess’ Thanksgiving Reveal and Jack’s Necklace Mystery Solved (RECAP)
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 3, Episode 8 of This Is Us, “Six Thanksgivings”]
It’s that time again for the Pearsons to convene for one of the most “joyous” times of the year. Of course, in true This Is Us fashion, the story jumps around to tell small Thanksgiving tales, past and present.
The episode focused on three timelines: Jack’s (Milo Ventimiglia) final Thanksgiving, Nicky’s (Michael Angarano) last Thanksgiving, William’s (Ron Cephas Jones) first meeting with Jesse (Denis O’Hare), and the present. The current story line had three separate tales, one following Toby (Chris Sullivan) and Kate (Chrissy Metz) cooking at Randall’s (Sterling K. Brown), another with Randall and Beth’s (Susan Kelechi Watson) homeless shelter service, and the introduction of Miguel’s (Jon Huertas) kids.
Aptly titled “Six Thanksgivings,” the episode stayed on the lighter side of things but still mixed in plenty of drama. Below, we’re breaking down each of the Thanksgivings and more moments to keep in mind for the midseason finale next week.
Jack’s Final Thanksgiving
Set somewhere in the ’90s, Miguel attends the Pearson family’s festivities after his recent divorce with Shelly. The teens are sitting in the living room laughing as they discuss Randall’s (Niles Fitch) college application question – who has had the biggest impact on his life? Of course, he says the question is flawed because how could you pick one, but his family thinks it’s fairly straight-forward for a child that was discovered at a fire station.
Meanwhile, Miguel is barely hanging on as he tries to maintain a relationship with his children, Andy and Amber. It doesn’t help that Jack and Rebecca (Mandy Moore) still hold their sweet Pilgrim Rick tradition with their kids. Jack pulls his friend aside to give him the kind of pep talk and he advises Miguel to keep trying with his kids.
Nicky’s Last Thanksgiving
Back in Vietnam, Jack and his brother are finally reunited but they’re clearly still not on good terms. After some turkey is flown in by helicopter, Jack notices that Hien (Porter Duong), the woman in his Ville, is mildly injured, as is her little boy. A curious Jack stops by Hien’s hut to offer some food but also check on the little boy, whose foot is clearly injured. When he learns that the boy’s food is severely infected, he orders former medic Nicky to help.
The decision backfires when Nicky refuses because he believes helping the Vietnamese is detrimental to Americans. Later on, Jack asks for an explanation and his brother shares a war story in which his friend “Bones” was targeted after being outed by the woman who cut his hair in Vietnam. Finally fans were given an answer to one of the season’s biggest mysteries when Hien gives Jack her necklace as a thank you for his help.
William and Jesse Meet
We finally get a full story for William’s relationship with Jesse and how the pair became more than friends. It begins when Jesse sees William play the piano and the rest is history. We see their friendship grow over tough conversations like Jesse’s addiction to cocaine and William does his best to support him, inviting him to a musicians’ meeting for sober individuals.
William’s feelings for Jesse become apparent when Jesse arrives with a woman in tow and the pianist’s face falls. Later on, Jesse reveals to William the woman is his cousin implying he’s on the same page with him in terms of his feelings. While this may seem inconsequential, the sentiment is relevant to another Thanksgiving celebration in the present.
Kate and Toby’s Meal
Randall, Beth, Deja (Lyric Ross) and Annie (Faithe Herman) head off to serve families at the homeless shelter, while Tess (Eris Baker) stays back with Toby and Kate who are supposed to cook the family dinner. Seemingly recovered from his bout of depression, Toby is ready to take orders from Kate but things turn awkward for Toby when he brings food to Tess. The two have a hallway run-in that includes a surprised scream and Tess carrying two boxes of feminine products.
Kate goes upstairs to comfort her and tells stories about her first period as her niece begins to feel at ease. This causes Kate to bring up some exciting things ahead of Tess including getting her first boyfriend. But Tess says, it may be a “girlfriend.” Though she’s surprised, Kate quickly reassures Tess that her parents will be supportive.
Homeless Shelter Struggles
While that’s going on, Beth, Randall, Annie and Deja are at a Philadelphia homeless shelter, helping the community and furthering Randall’s political campaign. But things come to a head when Beth and Randall’s campaign manager Jae-won (Tim Jo) go toe-to-toe over whether photographers should be allowed. Beth feels it will make Randall look attention-hungry, while Jae-won disagrees. The outburst puts Randall in a tough spot as he turns down Jae-won against his wishes because he doesn’t want to hurt Beth.
After a side discussion, Beth learns that Randall is hurting his campaign by allowing her to make decisions, though he won’t admit it to her. It’s an eye-opening discovery, and all the while, Deja is dealing with flashbacks of her own. As she serves guests, she remembers being on the other side of the table. And though she initially ignoring her mother’s Happy Thanksgiving text, the memories linger.
Before heading to Randall and Beth’s for dessert, Jack and Rebecca attend Thanksgiving with Andy, Amber and their spouses. It’s our first time seeing his kids, and Miguel is treated as somewhat of a pariah as he tries to make his grandson laugh with small-talk. Eventually, Andy makes a snide comment about Rebecca stealing Miguel from their family.
This comment sets off the usually calm Miguel — he’s not going to take it and we love it. He admits that he wasn’t around enough, but he won’t accept ill treatment of his wife. This outburst spurs his daughter to take his hand and Andy quiets down. They end on a warmer note with the family, including Kevin (Justin Hartley) and Zoe (Melanie Liburd), chatting via Skype in Vietnam.
The Thanksgiving episode was one slice of pumpkin pie short from being one of the sweetest TV episodes we’ve seen, and fans wouldn’t want it any other way.
This Is Us, Tuesdays, 9/8c, NBC