Why is it that watching This Is Us is getting harder and harder as the season goes on? Maybe it’s because there’s only four new episodes left in season one after tonight’s show. Knowing that eventually we’ll experience Jack’s passing is certainly not helping things. Then, we learn that William (played by the brilliant and captivating Ron Cephas Jones) is nearing the end of his life. And just when I thought I couldn’t take any more, it appears something is wrong with Randall.
No, no, no. Not Randall.
There were plenty of surprising reveals during tonight’s episode (more on those in a second), but the last few minutes truly scared me. It started out OK: Randall comes home late from a meeting and walks into his bedroom while Beth is sound asleep. On his nightstand is a glass of water, which perhaps was a sweet homage to his parents (Jack used to leave a glass of water for Rebecca after her late nights singing on stage). So far, so good.
But then, as he picks up the glass of water, his hand starts shaking rapidly. He’s forced to put the glass down and grips his hand in an attempt to stop the shaking. But before we find out more, the episode flashes back to Rebecca and Jack’s wedding.
I’m sorry, what?! What the hell are you doing to us now, Dan Fogelman? Because I’m telling you now: If Randall is battling any sort of disease or syndrome other than stress or panic attacks, this is not going to go well. And now we have to wait another damn week to get any sort of answer. Could this be nothing? Totally. But when has a drama ended on a shaking hand that wasn’t indicative of some other plot point? Yeah, exactly.
That intense moment with Randall wasn’t the only major reveal of the episode. We also learned through flashback that Miguel and Shelly were divorcing, which upset Jack more than Rebecca. Jack couldn’t understand why a couple could drift apart and not fight for what they had. Rebecca tried to explain that sometimes that just happens, but Jack wasn’t hearing it. Then, a teenaged Kate entered the bathroom to borrow a tampon from Rebecca—and her brief appearance at this age reminded me that Jack’s death is looming.
Of course, seeing how much Jack loves his family and wants to be with his wife until he’s old and gray is even more devastating knowing that the end is near. Will he die suddenly in a tragic accident? Or develop an awful disease that takes his life quickly? The only thing we do know is that this Whole. Thing. Sucks.
In the present day, we discover that even though Kevin considers Sophie his true love, he cheated on her while they were married. She divorced him, married someone else, and then got divorced again. He’s also been keeping tabs on her through the years by pretending to be a fake friend on Facebook. She asks about Kate, which alerts the audience to the fact that she hasn’t been in contact with her former BFF in some time. We also learn that Sophie’s mom has been battling MS, and she’s currently dating someone. By the end of the episode, she seems open to rekindling things with Kevin even though she still harbors a lot of anger.
Meanwhile, Toby surprises Kate at her weight-loss camp—but not before meeting Duke, who continues to make everyone who crosses his path miserable. Kate seems delighted by her fiancé’s surprise visit…until he steals her thunder in workout class by turning the attention on himself. “You’re not supposed to be here,” she later complains. “I take this place seriously, and you’re acting like a total ass.” Toby explains that he’s just trying to do something nice for her before revealing that the incisions from his two recent—and major—surgeries aren’t healing as fast as his doctor expected them to. Every morning he wakes up and his chest hurts so much that he thinks he may have another heart attack. After this reveal, Kate shows some remorse for being upset with him. (Side note: I’m sorry, but who leaves for camp mere weeks after your fiancé—to whom you just got engaged—nearly drops dead from a heart condition?)
Toby then gives Kate his grandmother’s engagement ring before walking off, but not before Kate just stands there and says nothing. Yeah, this is definitely a couple who should be engaged…
Back in the city, Randall is struggling to balance an important work account with his family back home. He shuts down Beth when she attempts to find positive ways to prepare their daughters for their grandfather’s impending passing. He can barely crack a smile when he sees that his eldest daughter is learning chess from William. No doubt he’s under major stress and not sleeping well, but unless he’s self-medicating to deal with everything that last scene with his hand tremor shouldn’t be happening.
And then, as we catch back up with Kate, she’s hard at work on a stair-climber when she runs into Duke, who invites her over to his cabin. Clearly unsure of whether she’s ready to commit to Toby forever, we later see her outside of Duke’s log house, prepared to give in to his advances.
To top it off, we end the episode with Rebecca and Jack re-reading their original wedding vows. Rebecca says, “You are my great love story, and Jack Pearson, our story is just getting started. We are going to be OK.” He says, “I know.” Meanwhile, those of us at home know things are not going to be OK, and well, damn it, now we’re going to walk into work tomorrow morning with puffy eyes.
The episode ends with Rebecca telling Jack that she’s been offered to go on tour with her band (a state tour, but a tour nonetheless), then we fade to black.
So there you have it. Another terrific episode—but there’s a lot to discuss. What’s up with Randall? Will Kate go through with Duke’s invite? And are you watching every scene with Jack with bated breath?
We’ll find out when a new episode of This Is Us airs next Tuesday at 9 P.M. ET on NBC.