‘This Is Us’: Rebecca’s Descent Into Confusion & Thanksgiving Tensions in ‘So Long, Marianne’ (RECAP)
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 4, Episode 9 of This Is Us, “So Long, Marianne.”]
This Is Us has reached its midway point in Season 4 and as per usual its fall finale episode, “So Long, Marianne,” left viewers with a major cliffhanger. The installment was steeped in extra drama with the Pearson family convening for Thanksgiving, including additional members Shauna (Joy Brunson) — Deja’s (Lyric Ross) mom — and Uncle Nicky (Griffin Dunne).
Below, we’re breaking down all of the key points from the pivotal episode, including familial discord, Rebecca’s (Mandy Moore) continued path of confusion and much more.
As with many This Is Us episodes, we’re introduced to a past timeline which will weave its way throughout the hour. In this installment’s case, things begin with Nicky (Michael Angarano) and Jack (Milo Ventimiglia). We’re offered a glimpse of their childhood Thanksgivings including the toxic environment that their father and grandfather created with their temper.
When time moves forward, the boys decide to ditch the day with family and head to the bar where they await results on a bet Nicky made. Luck paid off as the $200 Nicky put down doubled when it was returned. With the draft on the horizon, they decide to live it up and splurge on a five pound platter of shrimp.
Later on when the boys leave the restaurant, Nicky and Jack listen to music by the car — “So Long, Marianne,” to be exact. The scene serves as a key flashback during a segment from the present timeline. As Jack somewhat knocks the song, Nicky denies him the diss and says the Leonard Cohen tune is poetry, before adding that it tells a story of a man who loves a woman he’s no longer with, but there’s no bitterness between them.
Their conversation is essentially repeated back to Nicky by Randall (Sterling K. Brown) in the present during a car ride from New Jersey where they had to go pick up a forgotten box at their old home which contained the Pilgrim Rick hat. It’s clear to Nicky as he attempts to hide his tears that Jack didn’t erase him from the family — he kept his presence alive in other ways, like sharing the song with his own kids.
So, when Nicky, Randall and Annie (Faithe Herman), who tagged along, arrive back in Philly, Nicky has a trick up his sleeve. Entering the kitchen, he reemerges with a surprise platter. He tells the family that he knows Jack’s traditions are stamped on this holiday and so he wanted to share a new one, one that he and his brother would have maintained if their relationship continued.
He presents them with five pounds of shrimp, and in a flash forward we’re shown that the tradition lives on as the grownup Jack (Blake Stadnik) reveals his own Thanksgiving prep that includes hot dogs and shrimp platters. The reveal hints at Nicky’s new permanence in the Pearson family.
Rebecca and Randall’s Decline
As prep for the day begins, Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) convinces Randall to smooth things over with Rebecca. When their conversation devolves into fighting again. Rebecca declares she needs some air and says she’ll probably see a movie and pick a pie up on her way home. When we follow Rebecca out of the house, she is passing by a park when she thinks she sees William (Jermel Nakia).
When she follows them, she quickly learns it’s not William, but a mistake. She asks about a bakery, and the stranger directs her to a grocery store. There, Rebecca asks about the bakery section but is confused once again when she’s distracted by flowers. Deciding to purchase those instead, she has trouble finding her wallet but notes she’s feeling a bit foggy. The cashier then notes there’s a Chinese restaurant across the street.
When she exits the store, we see her leave her phone behind as Randall is calling to check in. We see her son repeatedly try to get a hold of her, but to no avail we believe Rebecca’s lost her ability to contact him again. Now, as Rebecca tries to pay for her meal, she notices her phone’s gone and proceeds to flip out. Eventually the cops are called and they give her a ride.
But when Rebecca is dropped off at the Pearson family cabin, we’re confused too. Although it would seem like this is present-timeline Rebecca, it’s actually set a few months ahead of time as she enters the home decorated for Kevin (Justin Hartley) and Kate’s (Chrissy Metz) 40th birthday. As they all look concerned, we learn that Kevin’s engaged with a pregnant fiancé. But we also note that one of the Big 3 is missing. “Is Randall here yet?” Rebecca asks, and it’s Kevin’s response that floors us all. “No, Mom, Randall’s not coming. We’re not speaking, remember?”
Yeah, our minds are blown too. We’re not sure if that means Randall isn’t talking to his mother, but her buzzing phone would suggest otherwise in the near-future timeline. Could Rebecca’s state be causing a sibling rift?
Before the episode ends, we see Rebecca confide in Randall when she returns to his house after her movie with a pie in hand. She tells him she was halfway through one of the trailers when she forgot which movie she was there to see. Needless to say, she admits she needs help, but we’ll have to wait in order to see where it goes.
During their journey to Randall’s, Kate reveals the truth about baby Jack’s first food to Toby (Chris Sullivan). He gets upset when he realizes she lied to him and she apologizes, but his feigned acceptance is flimsy when they arrive at Randall’s. Kate confides in Beth about the situation, telling her that she hates cross-fit Toby, while Beth tells Kate she’s been upset that Shauna seems to be doing well.
Beth advises that Kate be open to Toby about how she feels, but when Kate tries, she opts out of the intended conversation, instead wishing him a happy Thanksgiving. When a photo op arises with baby Jack wearing the Pilgrim Rick hat, Toby has Kate take his phone to snap a pic, but she notes a message from his cross-fit group texts that says “Don’t let her bring you down. Here for you.” To say Kate seems devastated would be an understatement.
Beth’s Girls and Uncle Kev
Before the big meal, Beth prepares for the arrival of Deja’s biological mother Shauna, and when she arrives early in great spirits, Beth’s a little surprised. When Deja gets chummy with Shauna, Beth’s jealousy is apparent on her face and that’s when she confides in Kate.
But as the day progresses, Shauna’s new life makes Deja feel like she wasn’t good enough, and Beth’s able to swoop in and comfort her. Beth tells Deja to remember the times with her mother where she was perfect. Meanwhile, Tess (Eris Baker) is off with Uncle Kevin, who she confides in about a social media trend revealing crushes. She’s conflicted on whether or not to come out or avoid participating.
He brings her to a drive thru and says she could test coming out to a complete stranger. She gains courage and does so with confidence, allowing her to make a decision about her social media post — she reveals her “celebrity crush” as Zendaya. When they share the news about Tess’ reveal to Randall, he asks Kevin what’s next for him. Kevin tells Randall he plans on a family by 40, but when Randall points out that the birthday is only nine months away, it makes the feat seem more impossible. Based on the flash-forward scene though, we know that Kevin appears to have accomplished his goals sans Randall.
So much is thrown at viewers in this topsy turvy episode, with so many questions raised, it will be an excruciating stretch now until the show returns next year. Let us know what you thought about the fall finale in the comments below.
This Is Us, Tuesdays, 9/8c, NBC