Thanksgiving seems like a holiday tailor-made for the brand of family feel-good vibes that This Is Us delivers, and by that I mean, DEAR GOD RANDALL, it’s bad enough that you make the rest of us feel like inadequate fathers, but HOW DO WE COMPETE WITH THIS?
Speaking of Randall, his and Beth’s storyline took place largely at a soup kitchen in the Philly district in which they just popped over from Jersey to work at before their own Thanksgiving dinner. There, Beth and Randall’s campaign manager, Jae-Won, come to loggerheads over choices in the campaign strategy. Randall gets caught in the middle, and after the first round of fighting, Randall acquits himself well. “Beth is my wife. She’s for real, and it’s not open for discussion.” The second round, however, doesn’t go so well for Randall. “What do you want me to do, man? I don’t care if it’s a mistake. She’s my wife.”
That’s not what you want your wife to overhear, so maybe Randall is not so perfect, after all, because now Beth is feeling like a pity hire. She doesn’t have time to wallow in it because she gets a call to return home because Tess just got her period for the first time. But never fear: Kate is back at Randall’s home, and while Toby f—ks up Thanksgiving dinner, Kate saves the day by out-humiliating Tess with her own first-period story. Having conducted herself well with Tess, Kate is not even bothered that Toby dropped Thanksgiving on the floor because she’s high on a successful parenting experience and convinced that she’ll make a great mother. A rare win for Kate on this show.
Meanwhile, we find out in a flashback to Miguel’s first post-divorce Thanksgiving at the Pearsons that he wasn’t always the perfect human being. As a father, he put his work ahead of his kids, and that led to a lifelong estrangement with his children. However, in the present timeline, Miguel and Rebecca attend Thanksgiving dinner with Miguel’s adult children — a “pity” invite — but it proves to be awkward and uncomfortable. Miguel’s son is passive-aggressive with Miguel and Rebecca, and when he finds out that Rebecca put almonds in the green-bean casserole, he blows up. “First you steal my father from my mother, and now you’re trying to kill my brother-in-law,” he yells at Rebecca. That’s when Saint Miguel steps up, and I’m paraphrasing here: “Don’t you dare disrespect my wife, son.” After that, Miguel’s daughter holds Miguel’s hand (Hey! That’s Yara Martinez!), Rebecca asks what the football score is, and everything seems to be hunky dory.
In another timeline designed just to include William in the Thanksgiving episode, we find out how he met Jesse at a narcotics anonymous meeting. He basically calls Jesse on his bullshit; asks him to come to a Thanksviging party where he’s playing jazz; and when he arrives, William displays a little jealousy when he sees Jesse speaking to a woman. “Relax, will you?” Jesse says. “She’s my cousin.” Cute. Also, William can continue to be on this show because time is a flat circle.
In the Vietnam timeline, we find out how Jack comes into possession of the necklace, and there is nothing nefarious about it at all. Jack sees that the son of the Vietnamese woman with the necklace is hurt by barbed wire. When he comes to deliver some Thanksgiving leftovers to her and her family, he discovers that the wound is infected. Jack tries to convince Nicky to dress the wound, but Nicky is having none of it, because the Vietnamese are the enemy. Jack’s like, “F—k you, these are women and children,” and Nicky is like, “Don’t matter. An old woman who cut my hair also led the Viet Cong to my commanding officer’s bunk and tossed in a bomb. They’re all the enemy.” Who hurt you, Nicky? (Oh yeah. His abusive father. Many times.)
All the same, after the boy’s wound heals, the grateful mother gives Jack the necklace to show how grateful she is. That may or may not be the extent of their relationship, but if I had to guess, the Vietnamese woman probably ends up saving Jack during the battle with the VC that is ultimately responsible for Nicky’s death. If only Nicky had dressed that boy’s wound, maybe it’d be him who’s still alive.
Finally, in the teenage Randall timeline, he reads a poignant college application essay about how there’s no “one” most impactful person in his life that brings all the timelines together in their feel-good conclusions while a Mumford and Sons song, “42,” from their new poorly reviewed album, Delta (released this week), plays us out.
Header Image Source: NBC