'This Is Us' Midseason Finale: Kevin's Discovery, Randall's Politics & Kate's Baby (RECAP)
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 3, Episode 9 of This Is Us, "The Beginning Is The End Is The Beginning"]
NBC's fall finale for This Is Us was filled with all sorts of Pearson family drama ranging throughout the years.
Of course, fans have come to expect nothing less than drama when it comes to their favorite Tuesday night family. Offering viewers a variety of stories, "The Beginning Is The End Is The Beginning" served up a bombardment of emotional blows in its final moments.
The actress also reflects on filming in Vietnam and teases more to come from Zoe's backstory.
Below, we're breaking down all the major moments and need-to-know details, so beware of spoilers, because this episode gave more than one.
Despite the decades between them, one of the most pivotal plots in this episode includes Kevin (Justin Hartley) and Jack's (Milo Ventimiglia) days in Vietnam. While Jack continues to try and reach his brother, Kevin is trying to find answers about his father.
In the final days of Nicky's (Michael Angarano) time in the Ville with Jack, he's distant — desperate for the mind-numbing high he was getting at his own camp, Nicky is aggressive, as well. When Jack comes up to him in an effort to make conversation and invite him to a quiet spot, the pair end up fighting. Later, though, Nicky allows Jack to show him the spot which is across the water from the Ville.
While there, the brothers talk, and Jack explains that they have a mission to be focused on. When Nicky says the mission is to kill, Jack counters by saying the mission is to get home. The talk has little effect on Nicky, as he sneaks some pills out of Jack's bag while he sleeps. Sitting high at the end of the Ville's dock, Jack lectures his brother and talks about getting him clean again.
Nicky doesn't want to get clean, though, he says he sees everything from the war when he's sober and decides he doesn't want to finish the mission they talked about earlier. When Nicky doesn't return to camp after storming off, though, viewers are forced to think the worst has happened. But Kevin's storyline changes it all.
Everything fans thought they knew has shifted.
Itching for answers, Kevin is frustrated about being holed up in a hotel waiting for the rains to pass, allowing him and Zoe (Melanie Liburd) to travel to Jack's Ville. As he complains about needing to know, Zoe hints that it's better to not get anxious, "the thing about documentaries is you can’t force them to end the way you want them to," she tells him.
One morning during breakfast they're finally told they can travel with the help of a guide who will also help translate. Before setting off, Kevin asks if the guide may know anyone in his pictures and casually mentions that his uncle Nicky died in Vietnam — something that would be key later on.
During their visit, Zoe and Kevin don't learn anything about the woman or Jack's necklace, but share a heartwarming moment with one of the villagers who shares with Kevin his own tales of his father's war experience. Even though Jack and this man's father fought on separate sides, their sons can sit at a table in peace today. Eventually ready to depart Vietnam, Kevin is stopped by his guide, who tells him that none of his family died in the war.
The man says he looked up Nicky's name in a database and that he wasn't declared dead. This revelation blends into a new scene which shows Nicky old and grey living in a small trailer, his identity indicated by mail on the table. "Nicholas Pearson, 2125 Songbird Rd. Bradford, PA 16701," the envelope reads.
Could Tess' secret change the 'her' mystery?
One of the biggest shockers of the episode by far, this only scratches the surface as Toby (Chris Sullivan) and Kate (Chrissy Metz) dealt with the sex of their baby. After learning that their child is healthy by ultrasound, their doctor informs them they can learn the sex of their baby if they want — but they agree to be surprised. Kate's doctor does warn that her job as an "Adele-agram" could be too much stress on her blood pressure, so she advises finding something else to do.
This spurs a possible teaching career when Madison (Caitlin Thompson) suggests Kate pursue a chorus teaching position at the school where she works. During the interview, things appear to go well until the interviewer learns that Kate doesn't have a college degree. Defeated, she returns home to Toby, where they discuss their fears about learning the sex of their child because of their past miscarriage.
In an effort to help her, Toby brings Kate to a local community college, where he encourages her to enroll while she's pregnant to keep her busy. It's then that they also agree to learn about the sex of their child, which after a gender reveal cake is cut and blue spills out, fans learn with the couple that they're having a boy.
As for Randall (Sterling K. Brown), Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) and the rest of the gang, they begin the episode preparing for Randall's debate with Sol Brown (Rob Morgan). Beth gives her husband a Randall-type pep-talk and advises that he give it his all no matter what. Meanwhile, he's been caught up in Tess' (Eris Baker) distant behavior, Annie's (Faithe Herman) spelling bee studying, and Deja's (Lyric Ross) contact with her mother.
Rebecca's voice was the key all along.
Although the debate goes well for Randall, he projects poorly in the polls — bad enough that Beth and his campaign manager advise that he pull back from the race. This doesn't sit well with Randall.
While all of this is going on, Rebcecca (Mandy Moore) has a moment alone with her granddaughter, who has yet to reveal her big secret to her parents. Tess finds out that her grandmother knows about her sexual orientation — the revelation causes a rift, but the pair eventually talk it out. Rebecca doesn't want Tess holding things in, and this inspires her to speak with her parents.
Shortly after Deja asks to visit her mother in Delaware, Randall and Beth are greeted by Tess, who shares her secret. Needless to say, it's an emotional moment for all, but with a positive outlook. It's positive until the parents sit down to a glass of wine and find out they're on different pages.
We know Randall isn’t a quitter, but usually when Beth asks something of him he’s quick to please – not this time around. Beth reminds Randall that he promised to leave the campaign if she wasn’t on board with it anymore, and that’s what she claims is the truth for her now. Even with this admission, Randall declines Beth’s plea and it doesn’t bode well. It’s clear she’s upset that Randall is choosing the campaign over the important issues arising in their home with the kids.
The decision lands Randall on the couch and that’s when viewers are once again transported to that future timeline – you know, the one with older Randall and Tess, then Toby and now... Beth. Well in this latest installment from the segment, Randall asks Tess if she’s called her mother to which she answers that she’ll do so in the car. Next we see Beth overseeing a ballet class, and a woman approaches her saying that Tess called and that her and Randall are on the way.
But it’s what Beth says next that blows viewers minds when she seemingly reveals the identity of "her." Beth responds to her supposed employee by telling her, "We’re all going to see Randall’s mother." She also reveals a promise to bring a game of pin the tail on the donkey.
What does it all mean? Things are certainly becoming clearer after this episode, but there are a few missing puzzle pieces we can’t put our fingers on yet. Hopefully when the show returns from its break on Tuesday, January 15 new answers will arise. Until then here are a few points to keep in mind:
- The discovery of Nicky's fate could change the face of the show and makes us wonder if he was in Pennsylvania all these years, had he crossed paths with his brother's family before?
- Randall and Beth's tiff at the end of the episode is giving us a bad feeling... Hopefully these two can makeup because that is the only thing fans want from the pair, but the flash-forward does hint that maybe this once amazing couple can't stand the test of time.
Fans didn't see this one coming...
- Now that Kate and Toby know they're having a boy, will that new knowledge prove beneficial or detrimental to their well-being? If complications arise will they be able to handle it?
- The flash forward hinted that the "her" is in fact Rebecca, so is she on her death bed? At this point she'd be advanced in her years so it's a strong possibility.
This Is Us, Season 3 Returns Tuesday, January 15, 9/8c, NBC