The first episode of Season 3, “Ave Maria”, finds each of the Pearsons moving in a new direction. The “Big Three” spend their birthday dealing with some serious life decisions while Jack and Rebecca go on their first date.
Randall and Beth (Sterling K. Brown and Susan Kelechi Watson) have continued to foster Deja (Lyric Ross) after her mother gave up her parental rights. Deja clearly has mixed emotions about being abandoned by her mother and we learned that her father has never had an interest in being apart of her life. After a heartfelt conversation with Deja about his own adoptive family, Randall tells her that he and Beth want to officially adopt her. Unable to give her response, Deja expected this but can’t relate to Randall’s comparison of the two of them. Deja feels torn between these two families that she cares for deeply. She packs her backpack and appears to be running away but ends up at the shoe store where her biological father works. She lectures him about missing out on her life and it’s a powerful moment in the episode. Deja returns home to tell Randall and Beth that they can begin the adoption process.
Kevin is weeks away from the premiere of his new movie and has started a secret relationship with Beth’s cousin, Zoe (Melanie Liburd). Beth is suspicious of them and warns them both against it. Beth has seen Kevin enter into quite a few relationships which never seem to last. What at first looks like she is being over protective of Zoe is actually her looking out for Kevin. She warns him that Zoe has a complicated history but Kevin doesn’t pay much attention to her protests.
Since their wedding, Toby and Kate (Chris Sullivan and Chrissy Metz) have decided to start their family. Kate has continued to have difficulty getting pregnant since her miscarriage and they are exploring all of their options. Kate’s weight is causing issues in her ability to conceive but it turns out that Toby’s antidepressants are also a part of their problems. In previous episodes Toby has told Kate about his serious battle with depression that almost led to him committing suicide. Kate is trying her best to remain hopeful about their small chance, however Toby is unsure about starting the fertility treatments. Instead of hearing the positivity in their doctor’s voice he can only see their high chances of failure. In hopes of bettering those chances, he flushes his medication down the toilet.
Following the timeline in the past, Jack and Rebecca go on their first date. Jack notices her singing in a bar and is immediately smitten. Jack opens up to Rebecca about his recent return from Vietnam, being without a job, and struggling with the death of his brother. Their date has a rocky start but as usual Jack manages to make the best out of the situation. Rebecca admires his honesty and leaves her jacket his car in hopes of seeing him again. Later she is getting ready to go out and is caught off guard when another man shows up at her doorstep. Jack sees the two of them embracing when he pulls up to her house and quickly drives away.
The episode draws to a close with a series of flash forwards. Last season we were given a brief conversation between an elderly Randall and adult Tess. He was telling Tess that it was time for her to go see “her” but we were never shown whom he was referring to. This scene continued with that same timeline, this time Randall calls Toby who is shown lying in bed without Kate. Like Randall’s conversation with Tess, he tells Toby that she wants him to be there. It’s unclear who Randall is speaking on behalf of but we’ll have to wait for the reveal of this mystery woman.