‘This Is Us’: Past & Present Pearson Family Drama Abound in ‘The Cabin’ (RECAP)
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 4, Episode 14, of This Is Us, “The Cabin.”]
This Is Us continues its course in the latest episode of the family drama as the Pearsons convened at their woodsy abode in various timelines for the installment aptly titled “The Cabin.”
Following three distinct timelines, “The Cabin,” included a past timeline with Jack (Milo Ventimiglia), Rebecca (Mandy Moore) and the kids while Kate (Hannah Zeile) and Marc’s (Austin Abrams) more recent past is explored. And, as teased the Big 3 — Kevin (Justin Hartley), Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Randall (Sterling K. Brown) — came together for a much-needed getaway. There may have even been a brief fourth timeline involving the future.
Below, we’re breaking everything down, but beware of MAJOR spoilers.
Kate in Crisis
Continuing the storyline from the previous installments, Kate’s arrival at the Pearson cabin with Marc is filled with apologies and “I love yous” as they get settled in. Meanwhile, on the road, Rebecca, Randall (Niles Fitch) and Kevin (Logan Shroyer) discuss their concerns for Kate’s situation, and while they bicker about the situation it’s clear the brothers have differing views when it comes to handling the predicament. Kevin’s out for blood, and Randall defends Rebecca’s lack of prying in Kate’s personal life.
Eventually, they hit a road block and aren’t able to pass on through to the house, leaving Marc and Kate alone for the night. As they make some warm drinks, Kate asks her boyfriend to pick a different mug since the one he chose had always been used by Jack. He gives her a hard time and actually breaks the mug “on accident.” This of course, turns into a fight which when Kate goes to fetch firewood and finds herself locked out, we’re left wondering if she’ll make it back inside as she bangs on the door pleading with Marc to let her back in.
The next morning, when Rebecca and the boys arrive, she tells them they’re not there to embarrass Kate, just to check in on her. They’re greeted at the door by Kate who reveals Marc’s cooking breakfast. During the meal, it’s noted how cold it is inside, which leads Rebecca, Randall and Kevin to discover a broken window. Kate explains away, claiming she didn’t notice, but cleaned up glass tips them off and her family presses for more information.
It’s then that they notice her gloved hands and she reveals deep gashes caused by the broken glass, she tells them she got locked out, but when Marc fesses up about the story, Randall asks how long he locked her out for. Needless to say, things don’t go well and Rebecca tells Marc to leave her home and never to contact Kate again. The Pearsons depart the cabin as a unit, solid and resilient.
In the oldest timeline, Jack shares with his family that he’s procured a time capsule to bury on the property and he asks his kids to pick something special because they plan to dig it up for when they turn 18. There’s some whining as they complain about participating, and later as Jack and Rebecca discuss the family project, he stops her from revealing what she’s putting into the capsule. “Don’t give it away, I’ll find out in five years,” Jack tells her.
He shares a sketch with her while they chat, telling her it’s a rough idea for an expansion to their land, a bigger cabin for their growing family in the future. We can’t help but notice the familiar exterior resembles the home seen in flash forward sequences where Rebecca was revealed to be on her supposed deathbed.
The Big 3 are drawn to the capsule during their present timeline because a puzzle Randall begins working on is missing a piece. Recalling that’s what he buried, he gets his siblings to join him for the excavation in the backyard. Among their discoveries are a tape which Jack left behind, describing the day they decided to bury the capsule. He talks about Rebecca — who buried his drawing of the “someday” cabin that was teased earlier in the episode. He tells his kids how special their mom is and that if she did in fact bury his drawing which he ended up discarding shortly after finishing it, then it’s proof of her amazing faith in her family. This is only part of the episode’s emotional peak.
Pearson Cabin Fever
After each having “A Hell of a Week,” Kevin, Kate and Randall convene at the family cabin for a little getaway from reality. Before arriving, Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson), who is taking the girls to see her mother Carol (an absent Phylicia Rashad), tells her husband to relax and try not to think about the things he can’t control. Meanwhile, Kevin and Madison (Caitlin Thompson) agree that Kate doesn’t need to know about their fling. Kate in the meantime is second guessing her decision to go as she gives Toby (Chris Sullivan) last-minute instructions.
The first to arrive, Randall’s working on a puzzle that features a picture of the Pearson clan when Kevin and Kate show up. Kevin’s surprised by Randall’s upbeat tone considering his obvious struggles with the intruder over their phone conversations. When the three of them decide talking isn’t exactly their first choice in preferred activities, Kevin explores their movie options in the cabin.
When the power goes out, though, he rushes out to check the circuits, leaving Randall and Kate to briefly discuss Rebecca’s medical condition in private. When the lights refuse to turn back on, the siblings decide to take a ride to the nearby store for supplies like candles. flashlights and snacks. There, Randall and Kate check their phones while they have service, but Randall panics when he can’t get ahold of Beth and the girls despite knowing they aren’t supposed to be in Philadelphia. Kate checks her phone, too, touching base with Toby, and discovers multiple messages from Madison in which she reveals her and Kevin’s tryst.
Confronting her brother, Kevin acts like he knows nothing until Kate plays the message aloud where Madison drops the big reveal. The exchange in this case is slightly hilarious even if Kate doesn’t think so. Back in Los Angeles, Toby has a scare, though — without informing Kate — when Jack chokes on the scrambled eggs he feeds him. When they get back to the cabin, Kate and Kevin tell Randall they’re worried. Kevin says he’s “prime for a meltdown,” which Kate thinks is harsh, but she doesn’t disagree.
Randall equates his behavior with being tired. He tells them it’s all of the traveling, and that’s when he slips about having been in Los Angeles — a detail Kevin hadn’t known about. Realizing his slip, Randall attempts to recover, and Kate also tries to help, but Kevin knows Randall wouldn’t come to L.A. without visiting him unless something was up, and that’s when Kate and Randall reveal Rebecca’s diagnosis of Mild Cognitive Impairment.
When Kevin asks if they’re “talking about Alzheimer’s,” Randall speaks honestly to his brother, saying “possibly.” Kevin’s seething put it mildly, feeling betrayed by his siblings for their blatant lack of information to him. He’s upset they felt like they couldn’t trust him with the information and he needs a minute to cool off.
Back in L.A., Toby has taken Jack to the doctor, where he gets a clean bill of health. But after the experience, Toby is clearly shaken. He takes that opportunity to spend quality time with Jack, introducing his son to Star Wars with some toys and expertly made noises.
In the cabin, Kate and Randall wonder if Kev’s okay, and they discuss the burden of Rebecca’s illness. She tells him she’s strong and wants to help so he’s not so bogged down. When they discover the missing puzzle piece in the midst of their conversation, they’re led to the backyard for the time capsule excavation. Joining in, Kevin rifles through the items they find including his photo with Sophie, Kate’s old MASH game, the puzzle piece, Jack’s recording and Rebecca’s salvaged sketch of Jack’s dream cabin.
Randall tells his siblings Beth wants him to see a therapist. He reveals that he’d been holding in his emotions so long that he couldn’t help but explode when he attacked that mugger (a few episodes back). He’s honest when he says he choked in the past when it came to picking a time capsule item — his puzzle piece was actually Kevin’s idea — and now he’s let go after choking with the home intruder. When they’re listening to Jack’s tape they’re reminded of how strong and important their mother is to their lives. When they part ways there’s no animosity on the surface as they hug and head to their cars.
It’s then that Kevin looks at the horizon, in the same spot Jack is seen admiring earlier in the episode when drawing his plans. As we watch Kevin, the song “To Build a Home” which played in the episode “That’ll Be the Day” sets the tone as the home from the future materializes on the hill.
Next, an aged Kevin pulls up in his car, and he looks down at the original cabin, admiring the house that started it all. He’s then greeted by Beth in the flash-forward timeline fans have seen a few times. She helps him with the food and says everybody has flocked to Rebecca’s side. As he goes to join, we’re shown Jack’s drawing is hanging on the wall inside, an ode to the original designer.
Still no confirmation on who Kevin’s wife is, but answers could be around the corner, right? Fans will have to tune in to find out as Season 4 continues to air on NBC.
This Is Us, Tuesdays, 9/8c, NBC