OK, briefly, this is what you need to know about this week’s fall finale of This Is Us.
— Kate finally gets a win. In fact, she gets two. After her doctor tells her that all the driving she does with the Adele-O-Grams is unwise given her pregnancy, Kate applies to be a high school chorus teacher, but she is rejected because she doesn’t have a college degree. In the meantime, Kate and Toby also tell Kate’s doctor that they do not want to know the gender of the baby, because they’re both afraid to get too attached to a baby that might not make it to nine months. Toby, however, comes through on both counts, insisting that Kate go back to college and buying a gender-reveal cake. It’s a boy. Kate and Toby actually go into the fall finale on a positive note, which is the unspoken biggest twist of the episode.
— During Kevin’s trip to Vietnam, he comes up empty in his attempt to track down the woman with the necklace, or learn anything about his father’s time in Vietnam (there is a very nice exchange, however, between Kevin and the town historian, whose father fought Kevin’s father in the war). As Kevin is leaving, his tour guide tells him that there is no record of Nicky dying in Vietnam. Meanwhile, in the Vietnam timeline, we see Nicky relapse after a few days of sobriety. Later, Jack hears a boat explode, and we assume the worst.
However, in a scene in the present, we meet old-man Nicky for the first time. In what is perhaps the most predictable twist of the season, Nicky is still alive. He’s played by Griffin Dunne, and he’ll return as a recurring character after the break.
That tracks. When the series returns, we’ll find out what Nicky has been up to, where he lives, and how much Jack knew about Nicky, if he knew anything at all, and why he kept that secret from his family.
— Finally, in the episode’s best storyline, Randall basically crushes councilman Brown in their debate, and it feels for the first time like he actually has a chance at winning the election. Though, as soon as the debate is over, he’s informed that a new poll shows that he has no chance in hell of winning, that the gap is too much to make up. In the meantime, Deja tells Beth and Randall that she wants to visit her mom, and in the episode’s best scene, Tess comes out to Beth and Randall and they absolutely crush it in the parent department. It’s basically the scene every parent should duplicate if their child comes out to them. It is remarkable.
With Tess coming out, Deja wanting to visit her mom, and Randall’s prospects of winning dim, Beth finally asks Randall to drop out of the race, asking him to make good on his promise to quit at any time Beth asks. Randall refuses, saying that he’s got to follow this through. At the end of the episode, Randall finds himself sleeping on the coach. Meanwhile, in the flashforward to the future, we find out that the person who is being visited in the hospital is Rebecca, and there is an alarming implication that Beth and Randall are separated.
Unacceptable. Beth and Randall cannot be separated.
And look: Not my marriage, but Beth can’t reasonably ask Randall to drop out of the race now! He crushes in the debate, and that poll was taken before the debate. There are only a few weeks left of the campaign (at the most). Driving Deja to see her mom and dealing with Tess’s drama (which isn’t drama, as she makes perfectly clear) should hardly be reasons to put the brakes on something that Randall and Beth have invested so much time in. I mean, they’ve been driving two hours each way to Philly to campaign every day. Driving to Delaware is nothing compared to all of the other issues these two have dealt with over the years. If they were a year out. Or six months out. Or even two months out, maybe I see Beth’s point. But a few weeks? You don’t ask someone to quit a race based on a poll. Polls are unreliable!
You know Randall is going to win, right? And then he’s going to resent Beth for asking him to drop out. And she’s going to resent him for not dropping out. And shit, they are going to divorce, aren’t they? DAMNIT. Their marriage is 80 percent of the reason why I watch this show.
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