The sixth episode from Season 3, “Kamsahamnida” spends some time catching up with the “Big Three” the in the present timeline. Each of the Pearsons experience some level of personal growth in one of the strongest episodes from this season.
Previously Kevin (Justin Hartley) was given an old photograph of Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) during his time in Vietnam. Kevin immediately notices that a woman in the picture is wearing his dad’s necklace, which Jack gave to him shortly before his death. Naturally this stirs up a new curiosity in Kevin and he has become obsessed with this mystery. The woman clearly held some level of significance in Jack’s life but Kevin has no idea how to find the answers he’s searching for. When he reaches out to Randall (Sterling K. Brown) he advises him to leave it alone, if Jack wanted them to know about that part of his life he would have told them.
After a successful IVF cycle Kate (Chrissy Metz) shares the exciting news of her pregnancy with her friends and family. While Kate is overjoyed she is also concerned for Toby (Chris Sullivan). His anti-depressants have not started working and he cannot seem to get out of bed. Kate leans on Rebecca (Mandy Moore) for support but Rebecca reminds her that this is her family and she is more than capable of handling difficult circumstances. Toby finally opens up to her about his fear that she will become some so tired of his fight with depression that she will walk away from their marriage like his ex-wife. In a beautiful moment showcasing Kate’s growth as a character she tells him that this is her time to take care of someone else and not be the one who needs to be taken care of. She recalls their wedding vows and promises him that she committed to him in sickness and health for the rest of lives.
Randall is still in the early stages of his campaign for City Councilman. In an effort to meet more citizens and be a part of the community he goes to church in the heart of Philly. During the service the current Counselor, who is using his positive status as an intimidation tool, introduces Randall to the congregation. This leads to the backwards jump in time when twelve year old Randall asks Jack to teach him how to box. One night Jack arrives home from the gym with a black eye. Rebecca expresses her confusion about Jack’s need to box. She is concerned for him and makes his promise to be more careful in the future. Hearing this Randall convinces Jack to teach him so he can defend himself against a bully in school. It’s later revealed that there was never a bully but that Randall simply wanted to have something passed on to him from Jack like Kevin did. Jack lovingly reminded Randall that his greatest weapon was his brilliant mind and it was all he needed to fight off any bully that came his way.
In the present Randall and Kevin meet for lunch at a small restaurant in Koreatown where Randall learns that his brother is incredibly popular. Randall then decides to use Kevin’s celebrity status to reach out to the district’s prospective Korean voters. Originally this doesn’t sit well with one particular member of the community and he calls Randall out. Once Randall promises to listen to the needs of he community, which changes the mind of his critic. It just so happens that he has political experience and offers to work as Randall’s Campaign Manager.
Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) also decides to join the team. Until now she has been struggling since she was let go from her job. While selling Girl Scout cookies with the girls her feelings of inadequacy present themselves and she starts shouting at them in public. But surprisingly Deja is quick to remind her that she cannot put on a brave face all the time. She reminds her that there isn’t anything that Randall wouldn’t do for her. When he boasts about his successful day on the campaign trail, Beth finally expresses her feelings. As we’ve come to expect from Randall, he chooses just the right words to encourage his wife and reminds her that there’s nothing that the two of them cannot accomplish together. He convinces her that this is not a pity offer and she joins the team.
As the episode concludes more is explained about Jack’s interest in boxing. Rebecca has an obvious distain for it but we know that later on it becomes a tool in his fight to overcome his addiction. Jack opens up to her, explaining that boxing helps him to work through his memories from Vietnam. Flash-forward to Kevin as he is inspired by Randall’s tenacity on the campaign trail, Kevin decides to find the answers to his questions. He asks Zoe (Melanie Liburd) to join him on a trip to Vietnam where he knows he can find the mysterious woman in the photograph.