In tonight’s episode of This is Us, “So Long Marianne,” everyone struggles with changing relationship dynamics and new life realities. Kate must face the reality of her fit husband, Beth confronts her struggles with her place in Deja’s life, Kevin must determine what he wants next for his life, Randall must figure out how to handle his concerns for his mother’s health.
And it all happens around Thanksgiving dinner at Randall and Beth’s house in Philadelphia, the day after the events of last week’s episode.
Let’s look at the biggest moments from the hectic holiday.
On the plane to Philadelphia, Toby is beaming about his CrossFit friends and Instagram followers loving a video of him feeding Jack his first solid food.
Kate finally confesses Greg actually fed Jack avocado first. Toby is mad she lied, but Kate notes she won’t always be able to control what Jack does while she’s home and Toby’s gone. The couple apologizes to one another and blames their bickering on exhaustion.
Later, at Beth and Randall’s, Kate and Beth notice each is bothered by something. They swap problems. Kate admits she hates CrossFit Toby. She says when they met, she was reluctant to date someone who was also fat because she thought it would reduce her motivation and ability to lose weight. They ultimately promised to lose weight together. Now Toby’s done it without her, and she’s hurt. Beth urges her to tell him how she feels, for the sake of their marriage.
Soon after, Kate tries to express her feelings to Toby but then chickens out.
At the end of the episode, she accidentally sees a text message exchange on Toby’s phone. In response to Toby saying “getting past” something is hard, a woman had written: “Don’t let her bring you down. Here for you.” Kate is stunned. She of course assumes it’s about her — a weight loss thing, potential cheating on the horizon — but I bet it’s not what it seems.
Beth, Deja, and Shauna
Early Thanksgiving Day, Randall, Annie, and Nicky head to Randall’s old house to retrieve a missing Thanksgiving tradition box. Beth hopes they’ll be back before Deja’s birth mom Shauna arrives. She’s nervous about having to deal with a potentially hot mess Shauna alone.
Shauna indeed arrives early, so Beth is on her own, but Shauna seems good. She has a job, an apartment, friends. Shauna and an ecstatic Deja instantly fall in sync, laughing at inside jokes, reminiscing, watching a video of themselves dancing the Cupid Shuffle on Thanksgiving years ago. Beth looks on, jealously.
Beth admits to Kate that she hates that Shauna is doing so well because she feels threatened. She’ll never have the same dynamic with Deja as Randall because whereas Randall is the only father Deja has known, Beth isn’t Deja’s only mother.
However, later, Beth ends up comforting Deja. Tearing up in Beth’s arms, Deja says she wishes her mother had gotten to the good place she’s at now when Deja was younger, so her childhood had been different. Beth asks Deja about the dancing video. Deja says her mother cranked up the music and taught her that dance one Thanksgiving, both of them stomping as loud as they could, to get revenge on a neighbor who’d insulted Shauna. Deja says that day was perfect. Beth says that despite the hardship her mother put her through, Deja can’t forget all the good times she had with Shauna. Go, Beth!
While getting ready to go to Randall’s, Kevin suggests to Nicky that he may stick around town a little longer instead of returning to California as planned.
Later, at Beth and Randall’s house, with Nicky off with Randall, Kevin ends up helping Tess. He finds her in her room, down about something. She says her classmates are posting pictures of their celebrity crushes. Tess wants to honestly partake and put Zendaya (excellent choice, writers) but that means finally coming out to everyone at her new school.
Kevin takes her to a drive-through restaurant. Once there, applying the “one-step-at-a-time” lesson of AA, Kevin tells Tess she should come out to a complete stranger — the drive-through attendant — to see how it feels. Tess gathers her courage and says into the box, “I’m Tess Pearson and I’m gay.” Hilariously, the attendant says, “Okay,” then asks if they want fries with their order. Such a goofy and adorable moment.
The drive-through test does the trick, and eventually, Tess posts her Zendaya picture.
Randall jokingly calls Kevin a “Ray Donovan” fixer. He then asks Kevin what’s next for him since Nicky doesn’t need him anymore. Kevin says the last few months made him realize that more than anything, he wants a family. He vows that by their 40th birthday, he’ll be married and fatherhood-bound. Randall notes their birthday is in just nine months.
Alas, in a flashforward to their birthday, in a deliciously twisty way, we learn Kevin has a pregnant fiancé. It HAS to be Cassidy, right?
The episode opens on child-age Nicky and Jack in their basement listening to football. Their bliss is interrupted by their father yelling. Flashforward to a pre-war Nicky and Jack on Thanksgiving. Jack and Nicky decide to ditch their sloppy-as-usual family and take off to go watch football at a bar.
When we next see them, Jack is giving Nicky a hard time for betting against the Cowboys just because their father likes the Cowboys. Nicky says it doesn’t matter if he loses the money because he’s going to Vietnam, but Jack insists he won’t be drafted. Their war solemnity is interrupted by the end of the game. Nicky rakes in hundreds on his bet.
Present-day Nicky appears hurt as he looks at Pearson family photos at Randall’s house. It seemingly prompts him to insist on joining the box retrieval adventure. When Annie at one point asks why she hasn’t heard more about Nicky, Nicky says it’s because Jack erased him.
Back in the bar scene, Jack and Nicky bask in Nicky’s winnings. Nicky orders five pounds of shrimp.
On the way home from Randall’s old house, Nicky picks a song from a CD collection Randall had retrieved. The song “So Long, Marianne” plays and Randall relays the story Jack always told about it. As Randall talks, we see in a flashback that Nicky actually introduced and explained that song to Jack — Randall’s story is Nicky’s story.
Knowing Jack thought of him in some way moves Nicky to near tears. He asks Randall to make a stop. We find out for what when before dinner, Nicky interrupts family chatter to tell everyone about the Thanksgiving he had with Jack where they had shrimp. In the concurrent flashback we see the boys declare it their best Thanksgiving and vow to make it a tradition. Nicky tells the Pearson clan that if war hadn’t gotten in the way, he and Jack would have kept their word. So, he wants to introduce a tradition that almost was: shrimp every year on Thanksgiving. Such joyous progress for Nicky! Sure enough, the tradition sticks — we see Kate and Toby’s son Jack carrying it out with his wife at their own Thanksgiving meal.
Randall and Rebecca
In the morning, Rebecca gives the cold shoulder to Randall because of their fight. During an attempt at amends, Randall insists eventually they’ll have to talk about her health. Rebecca becomes enraged and decides to take some space and go to a movie. She vows to get cake on her way back.
When we see her again, she’s walking outside and passes a playground. There, she thinks she sees William. She follows the man, and when she learns it’s not him, she just gets directions to somewhere she can get a cake. He directs her to a grocery store. She turns to leave and is nearly hit by a passing skater. She stands in the intersection looking confused.
Next, she’s at the grocery store. On the way to the bakery section, she’s distracted by flowers. She picks out a bouquet then again has a moment where she looks confused. She buys the flowers — and no cake. In emptying her purse to find her wallet, Rebecca ends up leaving her phone at the register. After eating at a Chinese restaurant the cashier recommended when she said she was hungry, she discovers her phone is missing and has an apparent panic attack.
Back at Beth and Randall’s, Randall gets increasingly worried as dinner draws nearer and there’s no sign of Rebecca.
Eventually, we see Rebecca in a cop car, being brought “home.” But “home” turns out to be a house in the woods. Kevin opens the door to reveal a Happy 40th Birthday sign. Rebecca has flowers, no cake. Rebecca asks where Randall is, and Kevin says he’s not coming because they’re not speaking. It seems Rebecca should know this but forgot.
Then we see Rebecca arrive at Randall’s on Thanksgiving. She has the cake. She really did go to a movie and had simply turned her phone off. Randall apologizes for getting all worked up over nothing. But Rebecca admits that halfway through the trailers, she forgot what movie she’d gone to see; she needs to see a doctor. Randall is fearful.
The Alzheimer’s plunge has begun.
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