'This Is Us': Pearson Family Dinner Goes Awry, Kev's Hockey Outing & More From 'Storybook Love' (RECAP)
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 4, Episode 5 of This Is Us, "Storybook Love"]
This Is Us dealt with romance and relationships in its latest chapter, aptly titled "Storybook Love," which included two dinners that go horribly wrong, one bumpy hockey outing and mental health hurdles.
Below, we're breaking down all of the key moments featuring your favorite TV family — the Pearsons — as they continue on this journey known as life.
Rebecca's Meal Gone Wrong
After it was revealed in last week's episode that Kevin (Logan Shroyer) and Sophie (Amanda Leighton) got married secretly in New York City, Rebecca (Mandy Moore) — now living in a new home with Kate (Hannah Zeile) — plans to put on a celebration dinner. Needless to say, Kate isn't thrilled, and shows annoyance when Rebecca reveals she's invited Miguel (Jon Huertas) to join them as the young adult grumbles that he's been around nonstop as they settled into the house.
In the meantime, while Rebecca's prepping the meal, we see that Kate's getting along rather well at her new record store job as she kisses coworker Mark (Austin Abrams). As promised, the night is a family affair once the Pearsons convene at the new house as Randall (Niles Fitch) and Beth (Rachel Hilson) join in on the "merriment." Kate tries to get Randall to admit that Kevin's wedding announcement was strange and the tension just grows from there.
Beth reveals a housewarming gift she brought — hot sauce — and the reaction by Rebecca, Kate and Randall is immediate as the matriarch notes Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) used to use hot sauce on everything. The development leads Beth to share that it's a tradition her father, who is also recently deceased, had taken up due to his own love of the condiment.
When Kevin and Sophie arrive, their affectionate behavior and story of Princess Bride signs dictating their decision to tie the knot begin to get uncomfortable. Rebecca rings the metaphorical dinner bell and not long into sitting down, the real door bell sounds. Who could it be? Just Kate's new boyfriend Mark that no one knew about. Despite his unexpected arrival, he seems to mesh with the table until the Big 3 head into the kitchen and begin talking significant others.
Kate's mad Kevin kept his marriage a secret, the boys are weirded out that Mark's quite a bit older than Kate and Beth's all-around perfect to Randall's siblings. Their heated kitchen debate gets even hotter when Rebecca enters the mix, chiding her children that this was supposed to be a meal marking a fresh start in their lives, though it should be noted that everyone at the table can hear the conversation. She reads them the riot act, and the kids say they'll eat the meal — which consists of half-burnt-half-raw poultry — and turn the night around.
In a moment with Miguel, Rebecca worries that their family dynamic will never be good again with the loss of Jack, but he assures her otherwise. When they sit down finally, Rebecca tells a story about her and Jack's first meal — which is shown intermittently throughout the episode — in their home when she was pregnant. It included a burnt meal, a bird flying into the kitchen and a poorly constructed table that eventually led to lasagna splashed on the ground.
She tells them it wasn't perfect, but that if they could find laughter then, than they should be able to find it now and not fear talking about the perished patriarch. Eventually the evening ends with pizza, a song from Rebecca to newlyweds Kevin and Sophie and some fun family photos.
Kevin's Hockey Healing
Meanwhile, in present-day Pennsylvania, Kevin (Justin Hartley) and Nicky (Griffin Dunne) sit outside their trailers and talk about Jack. Nicky says his brother liked ice cream, but then when Kevin isn't satisfied with the lack of detail, he launches into a more distinct memory about ice cream cartons with a slice instead of a scoop. It's then that Kevin asks if Nicky's going to come to the hockey game where Cassidy (Jennifer Morrison) is going to be honored for her military service.
When Kevin informs his uncle of the plan to help Cassidy win her husband back, Nicky simply said that the actor has strange relationships with people. After arriving at the ice rink, it's clear that the noise and flowing booze is a challenge for Nicky to be around, while Kevin is preoccupied with meeting Cassidy's husband Ryan (Nick Wechsler) who is civil but clearly less than thrilled to be at the ceremony.
Before Cassidy is recognized, Nicky excuses himself and endures flashbacks from Vietnam, brought on by the loud banging noises in the rink. As the festivities begin, Kevin notices Ryan's lack of enthusiasm as Cassidy and son Matty (Noah Salsbury Lipson) take to the ice — Ryan is looking at his phone. A short time later, Ryan tells Kevin he's leaving and that Cassidy can bring Matty home anytime.
The decision leaves Kevin discouraged, but upon accompanying Cassidy back home with Matty, he calls out Ryan for his behavior and it's then that the standoff-ish man opens up about the reason for it. He tells Kevin that he's known Cassidy since he was 15 and knew then that she'd be his best friend, but that having to sit there and honor the thing that altered her permanently — somewhat taking the old version of Cassidy away — is more painful than Kevin could probably understand.
He caps off his story by warning Kevin to stay away from "his wife," and so when Cassidy exits the house to leave, Kevin tells her hope isn't lost for the relationship, as Ryan still likes her. When Kevin finally returns home to Nicky, he finds the man in better spirits, where he regales the origin of Jack's ice cream ritual as being something learned from their father. While telling the story, he slices a piece of ice cream for his nephew in a sweet moment.
Beth's Three Favorite People
In Randall's (Sterling K. Brown) present-day storyline, the morning is hectic as Deja (Lyric Ross) gives him the cold shoulder over his and Beth's (Susan Kelechi Watson) treatment of Malik (Asante Blackk), while Tess (Eris Baker) is stressing about school. When Randall's back to work making up for missing drinks with the fellow councilmen and about to make amends, he receives a call from Tess's school — she's had a panic attack.
After picking her up, he tries to comfort her, but his relating to her experience only seems to make it worse and she storms up to her room. Meanwhile, Randall does somewhat the same by getting to work in his home office, but not before telling Beth about his guilt for passing his anxiety onto his daughter.
The statement sends Beth back in time, and she recalls a conversation with William (returning guest star Ron Cephas Jones). He tells her he experienced moments and bouts of anxiety, like Randall was at the time of their conversation — fans will recall his Season 1 breakdown with Kevin. William continues to tell Beth that his mother used to soothe him by pouring a glass of seltzer water and watching the bubbles settle and disappear, and like those bubbles the anxiety would dissipate.
Needless to say, Beth takes the opportunity in the present to use this tool on Tess and Randall and tells them how great they are. She also tells Tess that she can't be saying anything bad about herself or Randall for their anxiety because three of her favorite people share that trait. Tess opens up to her parents then and reveals she pretended to be straight and called one of the guys at her school "hot" when she was put on the spot, but now she's anxious about coming out and being seen as a liar.
Randall assures his daughter that all will be fine, but later on when Beth tells him she found a therapist for Tess, she also mentions finding one for him. He's extremely defensive and refuses to even entertain the idea. Could there be more trouble ahead for the fan-favorite couple?
As for Kate's (Chrissy Metz) present-day storyline, she bids Toby (Chris Sullivan) farewell for the day and awaits the delivery of a gift from Randall for baby Jack. When she calls her brother to ask what it is, he refuses to tell her, and so she's forced to hang around. Later on when there's a knock at the door, Kate thinks it's the gift, but it's only Rebecca who has come to see her grandson.
Eventually, after waiting most of the day, the gift finally makes it and it's the piano that once belonged in their family home growing up. It's clear that the gift will impact baby Jack's future, considering we know he becomes a successful musician. But as Kate inspects the piano, she lifts the hood and discovers photos from the disastrous dinner fans were introduced to earlier.
When she finds a shot of her former boyfriend Mark and herself, she shows Rebecca and they share a knowing look — but what could it mean? "I was trying so hard to hold it together that year after your father died, and I wanted to believe so badly that you kids were happy," Rebecca says to Kate, "I didn't see what was happening." Then Kate adds, "I didn't see what was happening either." So whatever the hidden meaning is behind their words, it's clear we should expect drama from Kate's past relationship.
Tune in Tuesdays to see how the Pearson family story continues to unfold and check back here after each episode for the latest recap.
This Is Us, Tuesdays, 9/8c, NBC