The fall finale of This Is Us left us with a rather large cliffhanger. The ninth episode of Season 3 gives the audience some strategic answers but also continues to provide more questions when it comes to the beloved Pearson family. The constant question this season has been the identity of a certain someone in the future only referred to as “her”. Meanwhile in the past we were told that Jack’s younger brother Nick died in the Vietnam War but we weren’t exactly sure how.
In the past Jack and Nick (Milo Ventimiglia and Michael Angarano) are coming to their final days together. In earlier episodes Jack requests two weeks with his brother in an effort to get Nick sobered up. Nick is aggressive, easily angered by Jack’s presence, and refuses to do anything Jack orders him to. Jack reminds him that they have a mission to get out of this war alive. Later he finds him high on the river dock, Nick tries to explain to him that getting high is his only way he can hide from what’s going on all around him, he shouts that he can’t and won’t finish their mission. Now in the present, Kevin (Justin Hartley) walks the same village pathways as his father did all those years in the past. With the help of a translator he meets with a villager who says he was a small boy during the war and remembers his father making up stories for him as a way to escape the brutality surrounding him. You get a sense with this show that certain characters may seem to play a small role initially but they just might show up later on, this man had that sense about him.
Kate and Toby (Chrissy Metz and Chris Sullivan) continue to have positive ultrasounds but neither of them is allowing themselves to get too excited since their risks of having a healthy baby are small. Kate can’t allow herself to think of the baby as real until she learns that she’s having a boy! The two of them promise to remain hopeful about Kate’s pregnancy and focus on the excitement that lies ahead of them. Her doctor pushes her to find a more active job where she’s spending so much time in her car and Kate applies at a local high school to teach music. After being rejected due to her lack of a degree, Toby encourages her to go back to college and as a way to get more active.
Beth and Randall (Susan Kelechi Watson and Sterling K. Brown) are having difficulty balancing his campaign and all that comes with raising their three daughters. Their normal flirtatious banter and teamwork has been shaky throughout the season, which is alarming. In episode 8, Tess (Eris Baker) shared a secret with Kate about her attraction to girls. Kate promised she wouldn’t tell anyone but on an awkward car ride, Tess learns that Rebecca (Mandy Moore) knows her secret. Her grandmother encourages her to let go of a secret before it tears her apart from the inside. That night she tearfully opens up to her parents who handle the conversation with grace and are ever so supporting.
In his debate against the current city councilman, Randall appears to be gaining the support of the voters but the polls reflect otherwise. He’s advised to drop out of the race but Randall is determined not to give up. Beth reminds him when he told her that he would end this whenever she was not okay with it, with all that’s going on she decides she is no longer onboard. Instead of giving the adoringly submissive response that we’re accustomed to hearing from him, Randall says he can’t do that. He won’t push this aside; he needs to see this through. Beth is shaken by what she just heard. By the looks of flashes in the future this conversation could have a large impact on their marriage.
The final moments of episode 9 set up nicely for the spring premiere. It turns out that the “her” character that was referenced in a few episodes is Rebecca. Sometime in the future the Pearsons are all coming together to visit her. The shocking reveal here is that Beth and Randall seem to be separated. Beth is noticeably cold when Tess calls to say that she and Randall are on their way and seems to be directing her own ballet studio. Naturally this raises a large number of questions. Considering this is the fall finale the creators had to leave us questioning more than just the status of Beth and Randall’s marriage. As Kevin is getting ready to travel back to the United States his Vietnamese translator mentions that he looked up Kevin’s last name at a war memorial for fallen soldiers during Vietnam. He says he couldn’t find “Pearson” listed anywhere and that wherever his uncle died it wasn’t in Vietnam. In one of the biggest reveals thus far a man walks into a musky cluttered trailer. The man tosses a stack of envelopes addressed to “Nick Pearson” on the table. It’s unclear whether Nick is alive in the present or if this is at some point in the past but from what can be seen of the man he looks to be around the same age as Rebecca. Of course no one can predict what sort of changes this will bring for the Pearsons but this was so unexpected and it reminds me that just when I thought I knew all there is to their story there’s even more!