Wednesday, November 28, 2018

This Is Us 3.09: “The Beginning is the End is the Beginning”

“No, Nicky, the mission is to get home.”
- Jack

We have reached the mid-point of season 3 and that means our fall finale. Fear not, Pearson clan, we will resume with new episodes in mi-January and that gives you plenty of time to ponder the little tidbits of information we got throughout this episode. Before we dive into the biggest of the storylines, let’s check in with Kate and Toby. She’s now through the first trimester and their tests have come back normal for chromosome disorders (fun fact, that’s where I’m at in my own pregnancy). The doctor asks if they want to know the sex of the baby but Toby says no. Kate may also have to give up her job as a singing Adele telegram because of how much time she spends sitting (driving around). She almost lands a job as a chorus teacher but her lack of a college degree puts the kibosh on that. At home, after Toby puts his foot in his mouth about thinking Kate should just stay home while pregnant, Kate forces him to admit they are both terrified something could still go wrong with the pregnancy. So, in a bid to face their fears, Toby brings Kate to a local community college so she can get those last 8 credits to earn her degree and they end up finding out they are having a boy. The first Pearson grandson!

Across the country, Randall is getting ready for his big debate against Councilman Brown. Beth has left the campaign but she still wants to help him prepare. The Pearson girls each have their own thing going on, too. Annie is trying to ace her spelling bee; Tess is still struggling with coming out to her parents and Deja wants to reconnect with her mom. Rebecca brings Tess to the debate and admits Kate told her about what Tess said, so that Tess would have someone close by to talk to if she needs. She’s not happy that grandma knows the truth but after the debate, Rebecca confides that she kept secrets from her family and it physically manifested into pain she still carries. She doesn’t want that be her granddaughter’s fate.

Speaking of the debate, Randall is clearly struggling at first trying to hold his own in the usual debate format but once he steps off the stage and starts talking to the people on their level, he wins them over. Unfortunately, he’s too far behind in the polls that he can’t possibly win. That night, while Beth and Randall grapple with what to do about the campaign, Deja asks to go see her mom and then Tess comes out to her parents. It was a sweet moment and I’m glad she told them. They had the reaction you would expect from them to show their love and support. But, things take a turn when Beth flat out tells Randall she wants him to drop out of the campaign, citing a promise he made earlier to her that he would back out if she asked. Randall refuses and ends up sleeping on the couch. This may be the harbinger of horrible things to come because we make a surprise visit to the future and learn that the “her” they are going to see is Rebecca. And it appears Beth isn’t on speaking terms with Randall because Tess has to call her. Beth appears to have a new job overseeing a dance troupe or something. This now makes me wonder if Beth and Randall eventually split up. And I also have a theory that perhaps Rebecca has dementia or something.

We also get some answers (and some shocking surprises) over in Vietnam in both the past and the present. In the past, Jack’s time to get Nicky straightened out is coming to a close and Nicky is still isolating himself from everyone. Eventually, Jack convinces his brother to go with him to a quiet spot away from the village (it involves Nicky getting to take a swing at Jack) to try and give him perspective. Jack says their mission is to survive the war and go home but Nicky isn’t convinced he’s going to make it. That night, he gets high and Jack finds him the next morning sitting on the dock pretending to shoot the villagers. Nicky explains that he doesn’t want to be clean because he remembers all the horrible things he witnessed while in country. He storms off and a little later, Jack can’t find Nicky and then there’s an explosion by the dock. We see Jack jump into the water and that’s where we’re left.

In the present in Vietnam, Kevin and Zoe finally get to the village where Jack served. He talks to a man who was a boy during the war and for a minute I thought he would be the little boy that Jack helped treat. But, it turns out he wasn’t. He was just another child whose father was part of the Viet Cong. The man doesn’t know the woman in the photo and Kevin thinks he’s gotten nothing out of his trip. Sure, he and the man get to share a moment realizing both of their fathers pretended everything was okay after the war for the sake of their children but it’s clear that Kevin needed more closure. He may not have gotten that but we do get some interesting news about Nicky. Their guide who brought them to the village had wanted to give Kevin a memento to put on his uncle’s grave but when he looked at the rolls from the war, there was no record of Nicky dying during the war. The man posits that Nicky may have died but not during the war. As it turns out, we catch a blurry glimpse of a man whom I believe is Nicky at the very end and he’s got a stack of unanswered letters sitting on a counter. You can’t see who they are from but we now have more mystery to unravel.

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