'This Is Us': Jack's Lies Come to a Head in 'Songbird Road: Part Two' (RECAP)
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 3, Episode 12, of This Is Us, "Songbird Road: Part Two"]
The show certainly didn't slow down in its return, as viewers were offered plenty to analyze until next week — from Jack's (Milo Ventimiglia) post-Nicky funk and Kevin's (Justin Hartley) effort to help Nicky to Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Randall's (Sterling K. Brown) trip down memory lane. Ultimately, despite Jack's physical absence, much of the episode revolves around the fallout surrounding his lie about Nicky.
Below we take a look at all of the key moments that are shaping the Pearson family's story, but beware of some major spoilers ahead.
Picking up where things left off, "The Big 3" take Nicky back to their hotel, where they set him up with a room of his own. His discomfort is both immediate and obvious as he quickly tells the gang that he's going to sleep. Ever the worrier, Kevin reassures Nicky that he's just across the hall if he needs him. In the hallway the siblings discuss the predicament.
They conclude that Nicky is clearly suffering from PTSD, is an alcoholic, and suicidal, as was indicated in the final moments for the prior episode. Kevin is determined to help and asks who will help him but Kate and Randall aren't really helpful and Kevin's left to call Rebecca (Mandy Moore) himself.
The next morning, it's obvious that Kevin spent the night researching, as he tells Kate and Randall about all of the potential Veteran Centers to which they could bring Nicky. Kevin also shares that Rebecca is still processing the situation and had a lot of questions before Nicky arrives at the table. Despite 'The Big 3's" urging, Nicky isn't keen about visiting a Vet Center.
But before their conversation can turn into a mini-quarrel, Rebecca arrives, much to everyone's surprise. She tells the group that she got in the car and just drove after Kevin's call, and introduces herself to Nicky as "Jack's wife." She immediately recognizes a resemblance in Nicky's face to that of Jack's saying that it's something about his eyes.
Suddenly, the questions turn serious when she asks Nicky if he knew about them — Jack's family — and he reveals that he did know due to Jack's visit in '92, which fans saw in the previous episode. The single question makes Nicky uncomfortable because he excuses himself before heading out and that's when Rebecca recalls that specific day following the visit.
She may not have known where Jack was, but his foggy state didn't go unnoticed. That evening laying in bed, Jack tells Rebecca that he needs a break from tomorrow's plans, which means that Rebecca will take a young Kevin (Parker Bates) to the mall and Jack will hang back at home.
In the Pearson family kitchen, Kate (Mackenzie Hancsicsak) greets Jack, happily asking if he brought a treat from his business trip — he doesn't. Then Kevin is upset when he learns Rebecca is going to the mall with him instead of Jack, but Rebecca takes it in stride. Jack hangs back with Kate and Randall (Lonnie Chavis) to work on Valentine's Day cards instead.
Back in the present, Rebecca brings this past memory back up with her children, claiming that Jack had told her he went to visit a war pal, but nothing beyond that. She tells her kids that she knew Jack was off, but didn't know what about. When Kevin takes this opportunity to speak he tells his family that he wants to help Nicky get into a Vet Center, but Kate who has a doctor's appointment and Randall who will begin his position in office opt out. At first, Kevin lashes out at Randall for not being helpful but quickly apologizes hinting at a lack of sleep. Mirroring the past mall trip, Kevin turns to Rebecca and they make helping Nicky a mother-son effort.
Meanwhile, on Kate and Randall's return trip, she tells Randall she remembers that weekend that Rebecca was referencing saying that it was the same weekend they had a family sequin fight and recalls Jack's laughter. The memories inspire the brother and sister to take a detour on their way home at their old house.
In the meantime, fans are shown pieces of the past as Jack oversees Kate and Randall's Valentine's Day crafting. It's clear that Jack is off when he tells the kids to not make a mess before leaving them in the living room. Ever perceptive, Randall follows Jack out the front door and sits with him in silence on their front steps.
As Kate and Randall reminisce, Rebecca and Kevin do their best with Nicky, but he's resistant when they're visiting the Vet Center. Nicky says he appreciates the thought but says counseling hasn't worked in the past, he's a drunk, and has the shakes. Kevin assures Nicky that it could help, but he won't hear it, telling Kevin he's out of his depth. Kevin excuses himself then and heads off to the hallway where he and Rebecca chat.
Kevin shares that he's frustrated with the situation and that Nicky won't listen after all the work he did to find him. He also reveals he's mad at Jack for keeping Nicky's existence a secret. Rebecca agrees with Kevin, but tells him that it is difficult to be angry at someone who is gone, since getting angry doesn't solve anything in that scenario.
In the past, viewers see Rebecca and Kevin in line at the mall as he waits to meet the Pittsburgh Pirates' John Smiley. When Rebecca asks to leave the line to get food, Kevin refuses to go with her and she finally allows him to stay under the order that he won't leave the store or line no matter what, the significance becomes clear a bit later in the episode. Meanwhile, in the present, Kevin asks that Nicky stay for one more night in the hotel before returning to his dilapidated trailer, and Rebecca takes her opportunity to speak with Jack's brother.
On Kate and Randall's path, they knock on the door of the house that stands where their old home did, but familial discord leads to a slamming door in their face. Heading back to the car they chat about those memories of Jack's return home the weekend after seeing Nicky, Kate recalls that on top of the sequin fight they also ordered Pearson pizza for the first time.When the little girl of the family inside the house comes to their car window, she invites Kate and Randall in.
Before entering the house, more of the flashback sequence plays out as Randall finds Jack lifting weights, and he asks what they're going to eat. Jack gives Randall money and tells him to order a pizza that the whole family will like.
At Nicky's trailer, Kevin tries his hand at cleaning the place, but a phone call to Zoe's (Melanie Liburd) answering machine proves that he's discouraged. Suddenly he looks up at something... Is it good? Bad? We're not sure yet, but there is an answer by the episode's end.
Meanwhile, the couple that own the house apologize for their initial treatment blaming their grown daughter for her behavior. While inside they recall where certain rooms would be if the house remained, and then Kate and Randall disagree about their memories as Kate calls the sequin fight one of their best days, but Randall remembers Jack's pent-up emotions.
Confused, Kate leaves with Randall when the family asks for them to depart, Randall asks if Kate remembers the plate, as viewers are shown another flashback where Jack returns inside to find a mess from the kids' crafting. He begins to get upset and taking the pizza they ordered with him, you hear a crash from the kitchen. Did Jack throw the plate or was it an accident? Either way Kate's memory is soon tinged with Randall's perspective.
Back at the mall, Rebecca returns to the line to find young Kevin at the front getting his baseball card signed by John Smiley. When she asks what they talked about Kevin shrugs and says nothing, but when Mr. Smiley is passing he reveals that Kevin provided different locations where he could find his favorite past-times such as pool or other activities — in other words Kevin was looking out for his favorite player who was rumored to be traded to another team.
It's then that Rebecca realizes how thoughtful her son is. Despite his tough exterior, he's just a sweet boy underneath it all. The scene plays into Rebecca's talk with Nicky who she tells that she didn't want to meet at first. She shares that it's a strange thing to be in the presence of someone who has different memories of Jack and asks about any stories he might have, but Nicky's prickly and says their childhood wasn't great.
Soon Nicky gets upset, he says that Jack told them he was dead because he wished that he was dead, but Rebecca reveals that she knows about Vietnam now from the kids and that Jack was getting sober and probably would've repaired things with Nicky if he had the chance. In Nicky's eyes it's too little too late, but Rebecca says it isn't too late to fix things with her or Jack's kids. She shares that Kevin isn't an open book when it comes to his level of caring, but that he really cares about Nicky's well-being.
Rebecca says that Kevin is sensitive as much as he probably wouldn't like to admit it, and that like Jack, he's recently sober. Nicky takes this the wrong way, and says that when he looks at Kevin he sees a movie star looking to be a real hero for a day, this comment has Rebecca turning on her heels as she departs the conversation.
Meanwhile Kate and Randall tackle their own memories as Randall admits that it's good Kate remembers the good because that's a parent's job. There will be good and bad days but if you can outweigh the negative with the positive, it can turn into good memories like their sequin fight which includes Rebecca and Kevin when they return from the mall in the flashback.
Rather than leaving things on a negative note, Rebecca attempts to make amends with Nicky, apologizing for taking him from his trailer and making him uncomfortable. It's then that Nicky tells Rebecca about a Jack's love of building recalling his construction of their tree fort and using the phrase "tongue and groove, Nicky." He opens up and tells Rebecca he used to have dreams but he isn't sure he knows how to be a person anymore. Before getting up to leave he tells her that she and the kids were all Jack ever wanted in life.
Similar to with Rebecca, Nicky asks Kevin to accompany him to the trailer, there he allows Kevin to fix his leaky roof. He tells his nephew he plans on attending at least one meeting at the Vet Center for Kevin, a small but wonderful victory it would seem. He knows Kevin wants to fix him, but he can't right now because it's too painful for Nicky.
As Kevin leaves, Randall arrives home to find Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) with one foot out the door after her mother injures her hip and needs assistance in D.C., while Toby (Chris Sullivan) greets Kate at the door of their apartment, slippers in hand. Kate tells Toby she wants to make big memories with their baby, saying she wants to put projectors in the backyard so they can watch movies — an attempt to outweigh any potential negatives.
In the car with Rebecca, Kevin looks out the window in a daze, but why the long face? Calling back to his time in the trailer alone, Kevin's sights were set on Nicky's booze. Watching his internal struggle, Kevin loses out on the battle and chugs the bottle. The episode ends with Rebecca telling Kevin how proud she is of him when he feels anything but proud.
Below are some things to remember as the season progresses:
- Beth's backstory episode is coming up and this installment set it up perfectly, fans will see Beth travel with Zoe to care for her mother in the highly anticipated segment.
- Kevin's fallen off the wagon, so what's next? We hope this doesn't mean danger for his relationship with Zoe, because he may not recover, if that's the case.
- Is Nicky going to return? He asked to be left alone but said he would follow Kevin's advice. He also said he may see them again, but in what respect? Considering all of the time they lost as a family it would be nice to see Nicky in the fold.
This Is Us, Tuesdays, 9/8c, NBC