William and Rebecca: Secret connection revealed! Kate nails first nursing home gig (but not Toby in the closet)! Jack and Rebecca change adopted baby’s diaper, name! Last Tuesday’s episode of This Is Us boasted all sorts of headlines — and hinted that the Pearsons are headed for major family drama given the revelation that Rebecca (Mandy Moore) hid from Randall (Sterling K. Brown) the identity of his biological father, William (Ron Cephas Jones), who is now staying under his roof. While “Kyle” whisked us back to 1979/1980 for its flashback story, as Rebecca and Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) were trying to get a handle on raising three infants, tonight’s episode sends us back to one particularly hot day in 1988. Before you head to “The Pool” (9 p.m. ET, NBC), check out these three — these Big Three — teases from This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman.
It’s no day at the beach for the Pearson family — it’s actually a day at the pool.
When we last visited Jack and Rebecca in the late ’80s, they were trying to weather some stormy times raising their trio of 8 year olds. Some good news: Jack has kept his word about being a 10 — no, a 12 — dad and putting down the bottle. “They’re in a good place,” says Fogelman. “Their story is a very simple one — their air conditioning has conked out and they’re trying to have one peaceful day of relaxation at a public pool. It’s a story about two parents trying to watch three kids around loads of people, lifeguards, and water. As the series has evolved, Jack is evolving into this superhero dad, the kind of dad every person wishes they could be or have, and you start seeing his superpowers a little bit with the kids. We’ve already seen Rebecca’s, and it’s a real showcase for Jack [being] the best dad of all time. He’s confronting issues, particularly when his daughter — who is the apple of his eye — starts covering herself at a public pool for the first time. It’s dad who comes to the rescue.”
The episode will give each of the Big Three a story in the past.
“You actually have eight stories going on in this episode, in that all three of the kids have a story in the past, all three have one in the present, and then Rebecca and Jack have their stories, so there’s a lot going on in the episode,” says Fogelman. “There’s a lot of firsts in the past; it’s the first time Randall explores being a black kid raised in a white family. It’s the first time Kate is becoming aware of body image issues with other little girls at a public pool wearing a bikini, and we watch this confident, brassy little girl go inward for the first time, which is heartbreaking for her parents. And for Kevin, it’s the first time we watch this beautiful towheaded boy start getting the short end of the stick of parental attention, with the attention being given to either the adopted child or the child suddenly with body image questions. That will obviously have lasting effects on him as he gets older.”
William runs into problems on his neighborhood stroll.
Early in the episode, William is hassled by a private security guard patrolling the upscale neighborhood in which Randall lives just because of the color of his skin, which sparks some intense discussions about race. “It sets forth a story which you think it’s one thing — of Randall and William coming to terms with two very different backgrounds and viewpoints — and by the time you get to the end of the episode… it’s a very emotional ending between William and Randall,” says Fogelman. “You learn that Randall has been defensive about the way he’s raising his children and where he’s raising his children for a completely different reason than we realize, and it’s very fulfilling. It’s a moment of firsts at the end of the episode between William and Randall, and it’s very impactful. I think it’s one of our most impactful and emotional scenes that we’ve done, between this estranged father and son as they come to an accord.”
To get a first look at a scene from “The Pool,” which involves Kevin’s very awkward audition for an Off-Broadway play, click here.