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By Amanda Ostuni
March 16, 2021 at 10:17 PM EDT
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Tonight's episode, titled "I Got This," is all about the Pearsons settling into parenthood. Last week, they dealt with post-birth fatigue as they drove home from the hospital. Now, they're into parental grooves — that is, they're getting used to not sleeping, constant feedings, changing diapers, and the like. We see this in a heart-warming opening montage of sleepy, busy Pearsons: Jack and Rebecca with the Big Three, Kate and Toby with Hailey, and Kevin and Madison with their twins.

The episode title also connects to the Pearsons experiencing unpleasant curveballs — namely, financial and employment woes, and complex mother-daughter dynamics — that shake their confidence. These problems emerge via a This Is Us staple: chaotic dinners. Kevin invites Kate and Toby to dinner so they can all feel civilized again amid newborn craziness, Beth and Randall have a family dinner that includes Beth's mother Carol (Phylicia Rashad) and Déjà's boyfriend Malik, and Jack and Miguel attend a work dinner hoping to land Jack a promotion. Let's break down what the Pearsons learn about themselves and each other through these dramatic dinners.

Beth & Randall

Beth's mother Carol — introduced in season 3 and last seen in season 4 — is in town. She watched the kids while Beth and Randall visited New Orleans and now won't leave. This is problematic because Beth and Carol's relationship is strained, and as Randall says when Beth finds him hiding on their porch, the tension between them is palpable. The kids' bad behavior isn't helping.

Beth plans a special dinner for what she thinks is her mother's send-off, but then Carol delays her return for an unspecified later date. While cooking, Beth deals with Carol's criticisms while Tess gets mad at her for not letting her have dinner with her friend Alex, and for accidentally using the wrong pronoun for Alex — "her" instead of "their." After Beth apologizes and says she's still getting used to the terminology, Carol smugly says it's not hard, which further irks Beth.

Soon Malik arrives. To Déjà's annoyance, he rushes to find Randall. He solicits Randall's advice about a situation: Jennifer, the mother of his baby Janelle, wants back in Janelle's life; Malik doesn't mind giving Jennifer a chance but knows his parents won't like it since they had to fight a nasty custody battle when Jennifer's parents wanted to put Janel up for adoption. Randall admits it's a complicated predicament, but he stresses the significance of knowing one's birth mother.

With all these issues looming, it's no surprise multiple fights unfold during dinner, with only Annie escaping unscathed.   

Malik & Déjà
Déjà sees Jennifer is blowing up Malik's phone and demands to know why. She notices he glances at Randall before telling her. Mad about Jennifer and mad Malik told Randall first, Déjà storms off.

Tess & Beth
Another conversation arises between Tess and Beth about Alex, and when Beth again uses the wrong pronouns for Alex, Tess explodes. She then announces that she and Alex are together and have been dating for three weeks. Shocked, Beth wants to know why Tess didn't think she could tell her. After more heated words, Tess storms off.

Beth & Carol
Frustrated about Tess, Beth barks at her mother about being judgmental and says she needs Carol to go home and take her judgment with her. Hurt, Carol says she'll pack and leaves the table.

Make-ups
Of course, Pearsons rarely stay mad long. While we don't see Malik and Déjà reconcile, Randall comforts Déjà. She's upset because Randall is the first person in her life who was ever completely in her corner, and she doesn't want his bond with Malik to change that — her confidence in Randall's devotion has been shaken. Randall promises he'll always put Déjà first. Tissues, please!

We also don't see a reconciliation between Beth and Tess, but we do get one between Beth and Carol. Beth apologizes but reiterates she feels constantly judged. Carol admits she's critical about small things, but says she envies things like Beth's chaotic household. Carol doesn't want to go to her empty home because it's upsettingly quiet. At this, Beth decides to let Carol stay — indefinitely, to Randall's shock. Yay for viewers, because it means more Phylicia Rashad, but what's it mean for the Pearsons? Time will tell.

this is us
Justin Hartley and Caitlin Thompson in 'This Is Us'
| Credit: NBC

Jack & Rebecca

Back in the newborn Big Three era, Jack dines with Miguel and their bosses. He's dressed his best, including a tie, as he hopes to land a promotion. Rebecca both puts pressure on him and encourages him beforehand. During dinner, Miguel nudges Jack to tell a story about meeting a Pittsburgh Pirates player. The story is a hit, and Jack seems to be doing well overall. But then one of the bosses suggests credit card roulette to determine who pays the bill — let the waitress pick one from the bunch. Miguel tries to get Jack out of it, but out of pride and a sense of obligation for the sake of his promotion, Jack insists he'll partake. Of course, the waitress picks his card — for a $230 bill.

Rebecca is furious, but Jack insists he had no choice, and things will be okay. Later, Rebecca firmly tells Jack she's taking over the family finances since she knows best how much they spend and need to save. She also says she's taking 10 percent of all Jack's future paychecks, for savings. Jack lovingly smirks in acceptance. (More on this later).

Kate & Toby and Kevin & Madison

To reinvigorate their lives, Kevin plans to have Madison, Kate, and Toby over for dinner. When Kevin calls Kate about it, she's picking up Jack from music school. A teacher tells Kate she's been missed as a volunteer there since newborn chaos took her away.

Meanwhile, Toby's at home doing a Zoom job interview while rocking Hailey. Getting blunt with the interviewer, he says it's his 30th interview, so he's tired (his confidence is shaken), and wants to know if he actually has a shot at the job. The interviewer says he's their top candidate. After the call, Toby stands up, revealing he's not wearing pants. Best Zoom joke of the season, writers!

En route to Kevin's, Toby asks Kate not to tell her brother about his situation. Once there, Toby joins Kevin outside for a cigar. Toby is distant while Kevin rambles about fatherhood and building a compound in Malibu so their kids can grow up in the same place. Kate and Madison are similarly giddy over being mothers together, with Kate even jokingly thanking Madison for sleeping with her brother.

this is us
Credit: NBC

Things take a turn during dinner. After Kevin pulls out his phone to buy a fancy baby machine for Hailey, Toby goes off on Kate, mistakenly thinking she told Kevin about his unemployment. Kevin offers solace and Kate suggests she could work, but Toby snaps that her job wouldn't pay enough and they'd both have to work. Toby says Kevin is being condescending, that he can take care of his own family, and that their families are not the same. Then Toby indirectly insults Madison, but upon doing so, realizes he's gone too far and backs off, using a crying Hailey as an excuse to step away. Kate apologizes to Kevin, and Kevin makes her promise she'll ask him for help if her family ever needs it, because what's his is theirs. Toby and Kevin also seemingly make amends before saying goodnight.

Later, Kate calls Rebecca to thank her for ensuring she and her siblings never wanted anything, even if Jack didn't make much money. Kate wonders how she managed, especially after losing Jack. Rebecca says Kate has handled her own share of curveballs and can handle others that come. Then, echoing what Rebecca did with Jack all those years ago, Kate tells Toby she's taking a job at Jack's music school and says they're going to be okay. Toby smiles in agreement.

Meanwhile, Kevin laments that you grow up under the same roof with your parents and siblings, and one day that suddenly ends. But then he says he's happy to be sharing walls with just Madison and their twins. But then the doorbell rings. At the door is… Uncle Nicky.

If he's about to become an indefinite guest like Beth's mother, buckle up for a potentially bumpy ride.  

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