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This Is Us: Stars preview tonight's episode

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Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Tuesday’s episode of This Is Us, titled “The Best Washing Machine in the Whole World,” is about… well, sure, a washing machine. But the spin involves more than just machine. There is sibling rivalry to explore. There is a secret to be semi-exposed. There is an obstacle to challenge a romantic relationship. There is a new time period to visit. And, yes, there is Milo Ventimiglia in a goatee. Want to learn more about what’s in store for The Pearsons in the seventh episode of the NBC dramedy? Proceed cautiously.

“Oh, dude, this is a heartbreaker,” warns Milo Ventimiglia, who plays stellar (and dearly departed) patriarch Jack. Here, Ventimiglia and several other stars of the NBC dramedy toss a load of teasers into your preview of “The Best Washing Machine in the Whole World,” which airs at 9 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.

Brotherly love was in short supply in the Pearson household.

The relationship between Kevin (Justin Hartley) and Randall (Sterling K. Brown) is tenuous at best, and this episode will help to explain why, while also giving you your first glimpse at their teenage years. “You’ll see that it started very, very early,” says Hartley. “It’s a very alpha male thing. They grew up in the same house and they don’t share a lot in common on the surface, so lots of conflict carried over into their teen years and young adulthood.” Adds Brown: “I think more than cries, there will just be like, damn. I feel like many times people will say: ‘Damn!’ People will be shocked: ‘So you guys lived in the same household and you both made it to adulthood?’ That’s an impressive feat in and of itself. Jack and Rebecca actually achieved something by the fact that their two sons are alive.”

Kevin will try to bridge the gap with Randall.

Now that Kevin is staying with Randall while he prepares for his off-Broadway debut, there is a chance for them to reconnect. Or… for things to get more awkward. “They find themselves in the same home again and maybe a little more mature,” says Hartley. “Kevin is trying to reach out and repair the relationship and he feels guilty and in his private moments, he feels like he was a s—ty person to Randall.” Offers Brown: “These two brothers, for a long, long time, have a history of just being upset but not really copping to being upset, never talking about it — until now. We’re finally getting to that place. It took us being under the same roof again for an extended period of time to be able to say, ‘Okay, you are my brother.'” Adds Hartley: “And it doesn’t mean it’s all resolved. But now at least it’s on the table, and we’re looking at it so we can figure out what it is.”

Like a washing machine, Jack and Rebecca are going through the motions.

The episode begins and ends the same way, but in reverse order,” hints Mandy Moore, who plays matriarch Rebecca. “It’s an echo of their relationship, told through the life cycle of a washing machine… and we highlight the journey that this relationship has taken and where they find themselves now, which is — it’s not a good spot… It feels ominous.” Adds Ventimiglia: “Things at home are not good. It’s not that they’re bad, they’re just…. not what they used to be. Something’s off…. I think we’re getting to a crossroads.” Moore drops one more hint: “Rebecca’s really lonely. There’s nothing worse than being lonely in a relationship. I think that’s how she’s been feeling for quite a while, even if she’s not able to articulate it.”

You’ll see a different Jack (and not just because of the goatee).

In Jack, you will see the stress of a strained marriage and the financial pressure of raising three kids, while he tries to keep this family on the same page. “You have to step up to that next level job in work,” says Ventimiglia. “How much time do you have to spend at work because you have to provide? Jack’s also looking for his own identity… Jack is fighting for a little bit of himself.”

Rebecca is getting in tune with her past dreams.

This episode finds the mother of three — who put her musical aspirations on hold for a decade— rediscovering the joy of singing. “I think it’s coming at a really welcomed time for me, I need it, I need to step outside a little beyond the family and find myself again,” says Moore of her character. “It’s an exciting time for her because she feels really alive, like, ‘Look, I’m able to fill that side of me — the creative artist — and I’m still able to get home in time to shuffle everyone off to the football game and get them fed and ready to go, so I can be mom and still be Rebecca, the singer.” Helping her to find her singing self will be a musician named Ben, played by Sam Trammell. “We used to play music together,” says Moore of her character and Ben. “Sam was in my band back in the day, and we haven’t seen each other in, like, 15 years. He knew me before I was married.”

Toby’s loss is Kate’s pain.

Kate (Chrissy Metz) will discover something about Toby (Chris Sullivan) that will pose an obstacle for their relationship. In addition, “she’s doing everything in her power to try to lose this weight and still this scale isn’t budging, but it’s happening very quickly for Toby,” says Metz. “And there’s some tension built that you can’t really control. It’s frustrating and it’s not necessarily about Toby; it’s about Kate not achieving what she wants. Toby never wanted to lose weight, and now he’s doing it very quickly, so it’s hard. I’m still obviously proud of him, but it’s heartbreaking when you’re trying your darndest and still nothing’s happening.” Hints Sullivan ominously: “Welcome to the dark side.”

William and Beth break down some boundaries.

Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) will have a breakthrough with Randall’s biological father, William (Ron Cephas Jones), a man she was initially suspicious of, as she tried to protect her husband. “Beth is the last one to come around in regards to totally accepting William, and I think that’s a moment when you see how Beth slowly opens up to him and accepts him for who he is,” says Jones. “Once those questions are answered for her, it’s a moment of seeing Beth open up to William in a way that you’ve never seen her before. So now he’s bonded closely with everyone in the family.” Things take a turn for the intense when a secret is shared, and — warning — the conversation is fueled by some pot brownies. Quips Jones: “Let’s just say that they bond on a higher plane.”

Executive producer Ken Olin drops more hints about Beth’s conversation with William right here.

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