'This Is Us' Midseason Premiere: Randall's Election Ends & Kevin and Kate Adapt (RECAP)
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 3, Episode 10 of This Is Us, "The Last Seven Weeks"]
This Is Us is back after its winter hiatus with its latest Season 3 installment “The Last Seven Weeks.”
As the title indicates, a lot can happen in seven weeks, and from baby prep to the challenges of moving in together and elections, there was no shortage of drama from the Pearson clan. Below, we’re diving into the episode’s key moments, but beware of major spoilers ahead.
Picking up seven weeks since we last left the characters, the episode opens on election night and most of the Pearsons are together, except for the L.A.-based Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Toby (Chris Sullivan). A newscaster informs us that Randall (Sterling K. Brown) is neck-and-neck in the councilman election with Solomon Brown (Rob Morgan). Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) is front-and-center when Zoe (Melanie Liburd) joins her, and they agree that either way, the whole thing will be over soon. But when they do, Zoe looks at Kevin (Justin Hartley).
Rebecca (Mandy Moore) and Miguel (Jon Heurtas) are also there supporting Randall, overwhelmed with anticipation. Off to the side, Randall is remembering his college visit to Howard with Jack (Milo Ventimiglia), and Kevin is thinking about… John Stamos. Kevin approaches Zoe and admits he doesn’t know how to speak with her – clearly there’s trouble in paradise. Zoe responds that she can’t do “this” and hands over a keychain with John Stamos’ photo.
Kevin then receives a call from Toby, who reveals Kate is crying — and he can’t determine if it’s a happy or sad cry. Jae-Won (Tim Jo) swoops in, telling Randall no matter the turnout, what he's accomplished is unheard of.
So what did happen in the last seven weeks? Mercifully, the writers turn back time to show us as the next portion of the show tackles those weeks before the election.
We pick up with Randall sleeping on the couch after his fight with Beth in the midseason finale. Beth informs him Annie (Faithe Herman) is awake and shouldn't see him exiled from the bedroom.
Randall doesn't want to give up the race, but he adds that family is priority. Beth tells him she won’t stand in his way but that neither she nor the kids will help him on the rest of his race. We then get a flashback of Randall on the park bench with Jack in D.C. near the Vietnam War memorial wall. The father and son speak candidly and Randall shares his interest in a political science major. Jack tells him he’ll be a great man, no matter what he does for a career.
Meanwhile, Kate and Toby are getting into gear with baby prep. Kate wants to turn the spare bedroom into a nursery and Toby agrees — though she wants to sell all of their “junk,” aka his childhood memorabilia. At the same time, Kevin and Zoe arrive home at his loft when he points out that she says she’s glad to be "home," meaning that she sees his place as her home. This prompts him to ask her to move in, and she happily agrees, accepting the spare set of keys with John Stamos’ picture on it.
We then jump to five weeks before the election and Randall is in even deeper than he was before. After a discussion with Jae-Won, he says he will have to stay at the office with all of the work that needs to be done with Sol 10 points ahead of him. Randall’s tension with Beth is apparent when he asks if Jae-Won can call her to tell her he's staying late. And as with the previous Randall scene, the moment matches up with another Jack flashback on the same park bench as a teen Randall (Niles Fitch) worries aloud about balancing a career and family.
As for Kate and Toby, she’s been selling their “junk” to her college classmates but quickly learns that one of the boxes she sold was Toby’s "do not sell" box. He reveals he was planning on saving the Star Wars action figures for his own children and he’s utterly crushed.
At the same time, Kevin’s search for the (very alive) Nicky (Michael Angarano) continues at the local veterans office where he gets into a debate with the clerk over familial connections and Game of Thrones. When the clerk won’t release Nicky’s info, Zoe says she knows a congressman that could possibly help them out — her ex-boyfriend.
It’s then three weeks before the election and Randall is in the car listening to Sol Brown talking about the race on local radio and noting the absence of Randall’s family. This brings him to ask Beth if she and the kids could show up to a few of his engagements and needless to say that doesn’t go well. Beth relays that she’s been busy keeping the family at home in order, buying Christmas gifts, and more. But Randall asks if she’s really upset at him or the situation and se storms out of the room.
In a notably awkward meeting Kevin and Zoe attempt to get some help from Zoe’s ex-boyfriend and Congressman Andy (La Monde Byrd). The tension between Andy and Zoe clues Kevin into the fact that something went awry in their relationship as he notes the emotional baggage Andy still carries. Zoe admits that she broke up with him through an email after he tried getting her to move out to New York – essentially what she just did to be with Kevin. Before Kevin can learn more, Zoe heads out to meet Beth for some cookie baking, but upon returning home to his loft, Kevin can’t help but notice Zoe’s unpacked boxes.
Fast forward to two weeks before the election and Randall is running home late from the election office in Philly. Jae-Won reveals that Sol had an unpublicized arrest that he and Randall could shed light on to help create a lead, but Randall is upset by the idea. When he stops by a diner to pick up his family’s blueberry pie for the New Year’s Eve and learns that the last one has been sold, he’s understandably upset. Reverend Hawley (James Moses Black) calls him over, he asks what’s on Randall’s mind.
Randall tells the Reverend that he’s been trying his best to give the people what they deserve but is learning that it’s harder to be a good man than a great man. He wants to be great like Jack said he would be, but not in the way that’s been offered. In response the reverend offers Randall his blueberry pie – the last one from the diner – and tells Randall to think about what will make him happy on his death-bed and that’s what he should be focusing on. As Randall exits the diner he throws away the files on Sol’s arrest.
Upon returning home, Randall offers his family a heartfelt apology, telling them he’s sorry for missing as much as he has. He tells them, “this family is what makes me special,” as he recounts the advice the Reverend gave him. Happily the family enjoys their blueberry pie for the New Year’s Eve celebration.
Meanwhile Kate is on a mission to recover Toby’s action figures, as she tracks down its buyer to an apparent frat house. When the young man sees her approaching, he tells her that he won’t be giving them back. Kate tries to level with him, explaining that these toys are important to Toby, that she’s pregnant and she herself doesn’t have childhood toys to pass on due to a fire that claimed all of her childhood belongings. She even goes so far as to say that she lost her father in the fire, but the info doesn’t make the young man budge, he won’t give them back.
Back at Kevin’s loft, Zoe arrives home to find Kevin absorbed in Nicky’s file, and she’s upset he didn’t tell her it was there. They learn that a medevac took Nicky out of Vietnam in ’71, but little else was available in the information provided. It’s obvious to Zoe that Kevin is being distant as she tries to learn more, that’s when he snaps, asking why she hasn’t unpacked her boxes – he’s paranoid after hearing about her experience with Andy. Zoe claims that Kevin has been pushy in the relationship and she’s beginning to feel uncomfortable before she leaves the apartment for space.
At just one week before the election Randall is seen enjoying some Fuller House with his family as more flashbacks with his park bench moment with Jack play back. Jack tells his son that the key to the balance of his work and family belongs to finding the right person, that the right person will bring out all of the good in him. Next we see Randall in his room with Beth, as he sleeps in and she worries that he’s late to his next engagement, but he shrugs her off. She recalls a time from their early days when she brought him shoe shopping, he remembers, saying she had a meltdown.
Beth tells Randall that he’s a man who cares too much and tries too hard, but that she won’t let him forget who he is. She apologizes for not having his back in the election and tells him he needs to finish the race. But before he can agree, Randall asks what caused Beth’s meltdown at the shoe store all those years ago – the woman who handed her a pair of shoes smelled like her father who died.
The Pearsons are then seen in full force at the Philly church where the Reverend notes Randall’s presence with his wife and daughters. The man essentially gives his endorsement by saying that even without a 15 year history, Randall has given the people reason to believe he’s capable of being their public servant, just as capable as his competitor Sol. Next we see that Kate’s found some toys on eBay, and even though they aren’t Toby’s original ones, she tells him that they won’t matter because toys won’t be the baby’s favorite thing, Toby will.
Finally we’re back to election night and Kate is watching the evening unfold through streaming, but Toby calls her into the nursery. There she sees a homemade football stadium – modeled after the one Jack made for her as a girl as is seen in flasbacks – with Toby’s Star Wars action figures inside and she’s overwhelmed. The tears come out the moment he tells her that he’ll be their baby’s second favorite because she’ll be the first. This scene loops back to the episode’s start when Toby calls Kevin. When Toby hangs up, Kate says her tears are happy as they hug.
Back in the election office Randall tells everyone to turn in for the night as it’s been a long process and no answers will be in until the morning most likely. That’s when Zoe eyes Kevin leaving and she follows him. She tells him that he’s one of the only people that knows about her father’s abuse and that it takes a lot for her to leave her safe space in Chicago. She tells Kevin she wants to live with him, even if he’s pushy, she likes what he’s pushing for. She tells Kevin that she loves him.
After she accepts her John Stamos key back, we see them in the loft unpacking boxes, when Zoe accidentally opens a box of Jack’s things. The couple find a post card signed C.K. which they presume means Clark Kent – a pen name that Nicky Pearson used. Luckily the card has a return address, but the revelation is sure to be tough as Kevin notes Jack knew his brother was alive.
Meanwhile as Randall and Beth lay in bed, Randall wonders aloud what his father would think about his life, telling Beth that he believes his life has been predetermined and it feels like his father is pulling the strings. But he says maybe everyone feels that way. The scene is intermixed with shots of Kate putting a tomato in the center of the football field had made – it’s the size of their baby. And young Randall asks Jack if he wants to find Nicky’s name on the Vietnam memorial, but he denies it saying it’s too sad. All of this plays out before Randall gets the call – he’s won the election.
Here are a few things to keep in mind moving forward:
- The Pearsons are in for a shock when they'll come face to face with Nicky as is teased in the preview for next week's episode, but will this change the way that they look at Jack? "The Big 3," have always looked up to their father, but this could definitely alter their view.
- Zoe and Kevin have come to an open place in their relationship, will that bond strengthen? It's hard to tell because Zoe's fragility is becoming more apparent with each episode.
- Things between Beth and Randall seem repaired for now, but could that change with the news of his win? Fans will have to wait and see.
This Is Us, Tuesdays, 9/8c, NBC