This Is Us recap: Miguel and the Pearsons confront complicated feeling
For Randall, that means continuing therapy as his family deals with Beth's mother's presence and Tess's first relationship. Meanwhile, Toby and Kate adjust to their new breadwinner-homemaker dynamic, and Kevin and Madison's wedding planning begins. We also get more Miguel than ever.
Permeating everyone's stories is the concept of the episode title, "Both Things Can Be True." The message seems to be that love can be a complicated struggle. Let's dive into how that applies to the Pearsons.
Randall attends a support group meeting for people adopted by different-race families to discuss their experiences.
An Asian man says he struggled with being raised by a white Jewish family, and he's never gotten over the need to prove himself. A Black man says he always wondered if the mailman was his father because that was the first Black man he saw in his neighborhood. Another man says he prayed at night for his birth mom to find him but felt guilty when his adoptive mom tucked him in.
As Randall listens, we see flashbacks of Randall experiencing similar emotions as a child. He's struck by the stories but declines to share his own, for now.
Next up in the group, a woman laments that she and her birth mother don't speak the same language, and says her adoptive family isn't talking to her because she told them she would have chosen her bipolar birth mother over adoption.
It's clear from Randall's journey thus far that he similarly loves his family, but has always wished he could have known life with his birth parents. Both things can be true.
Beth & Tess
Meanwhile, Tess has her non-binary partner Alex over for the first time.
When Beth confronts Tess about having her bedroom door closed — which is against the rules for the girls with significant others — she walks in on Alex and Tess kissing. An argument ensues, and, after Beth sends Alex home as punishment for Tess calling her a psycho, Tess implies her mother made a homophobic face when she saw them kissing. Beth earnestly insists she didn't.
But later Beth confides in her mother, admitting it's possible she hasn't let go of things she imagined doing with Tess that won't happen given her sexuality, like talking about boys. Beth loves and accepts Tess, but is struggling with this new reality. Both things can be true. Carol says she has to do more than let go of what she anticipated — she has to adjust to what is. Carol had to do that with Beth for different reasons, and she took too long to realize it. Carol doesn't want Beth to make the same mistake.
Beth then tries to reconcile with Tess. She apologizes for making a face and swears it's not about Tess or Alex. Tess softly acknowledges Beth is trying, but she's upset she doesn't have to try so hard with Déjà or Annie. Tess thinks their closeness is gone forever because of that.
Will Beth find a way to regain that closeness? It's This Is Us so the answer has to be yes… right?
Kate & Toby
Kate starts her new job as an assistant music teacher for blind children at Jack's school, and she quickly clashes with the primary teacher. He chastises her for not being early and for checking her phone.
She's struggling with being away from the babies for the first time, but unmoved, the teacher says Kate wasn't his first choice for the job. A superior's support of Kate gave him no choice, but he won't tolerate her not being present for his students. Kate wins him over, though — at least somewhat — when she brilliantly helps a vocal student.
Meanwhile, while at the park with Madison and their babies, Toby confesses to Madison that he's not handling stay-at-home dad life as well as he's pretending to with Kate. Spending 10 hours a day with his children has been difficult. He loves them but misses work. Once again, both things can be true.
Madison urges Toby to tell Kate how he's feeling. But later that night, he chickens out. Perhaps this is what causes Kate and Toby's apparent (potential) future separation…
Jack & Miguel
In the past, Jack, encouraged by the advice from his old army lieutenant, is ready to propose to Rebecca. Miguel spends the day helping Jack prepare — they're staging her apartment to look like the carnival where she and Jack had their first date. Upon arriving with supplies, Miguel asks Jack if he got Rebecca's father's blessing yet. Dejectedly, Jack says he hasn't. He thinks Dave still considers him the drunken kid who can't golf (so Jack really couldn't golf the day he went with Dave; he must have learned afterward).
When Miguel makes Jack practice his proposal speech, Jack gets carried away and puts the ring on Miguel's pinky finger, and, to his horror, it gets stuck. They're still trying to free the ring when Dave shows up at the apartment. He apologizes for not calling Jack back and says he wanted to tell him in person that he's going to try to "be civil… and tolerate this marriage."
Butting in, Miguel says, sternly, that Jack is not the kind of man Dave should tolerate marrying his daughter. He's the kind of man Dave should be grateful for. He says everything Jack has done for as long as Miguel has known him has been about Rebecca. Miguel says if Dave won't give Jack his blessing, Dave is the one with poor character.
Clearly moved, Dave softly offers his help getting the ring off Miguel.
The scene shows how special Jack and Miguel's friendship was and how decent Miguel is, contrary to what some might think because he married Rebecca. (More on this soon).
Kevin & wedding planning
Kevin's engagement to Madison hits entertainment magazines (their ship name is #Mevin), and their wedding planner is creating an extravagant event.
Nicky & Miguel
Nicky offers to help Rebecca and Miguel host the rehearsal dinner (in L.A.), though it seems his motives might involve an anti-Miguel sentiment.
Sure enough, when Miguel joins them at Kevin's while Madison is out with Toby and the babies, Miguel and Nicky trade harsh barbs until Nicky ultimately criticizes Miguel for replacing him in Jack's life and then "swoop(ing)" in and marrying Jack's wife.
Miguel says he married Rebecca 13 years after Jack died, and he constantly wonders what Jack would think, but he owes an explanation only to Jack. (Maybe his kids, though?) Miguel's "both things can be true" is that he loved Rebecca, but never stopped respecting Jack.
Later, Nicky apologizes to Miguel. Miguel forgives him and says Jack never replaced Nicky. In a flashback, after Jack and Miguel finally free the ring and finish proposal preparations, Jack asks Miguel to stand at the altar with him. Recounting this to Nicky, Miguel says Jack never used the words "best man" because, as Miguel believes, Jack was saving that title for Nicky. Tissues, please! Soon the two men are laughing together as if a new friendship has begun.
At the park, Madison tells Toby she doesn't want to get married at the venue Kevin's wedding planner booked. He urges her to tell Kevin, and unlike Toby, she doesn't chicken out later. That night, she tells Kevin her favorite memory — one of her only good ones — about her childhood. When she and her mom joined her father on a business trip to Japan, they spent a day walking through a garden, holding hands, laughing, and picnicking under cherry trees. Shortly after, her parents divorced, and Madison has been chasing that happiness ever since. She wants to get married in a local garden that reminds her of that place in Japan. Kevin immediately agrees.
Kevin & Randall
Kevin struggles all day to ask Randall to be his best man. When he finally calls him, Randall says yes, but Kevin admits he procrastinated making the call because he doesn't want there to be any bad blood between them at the ceremony. He wants to discuss Randall's race-related upbringing issues. Randall isn't up for it then, he's drained from therapy, but Kevin doesn't want to speak via phone, anyway. Instead, he wants to visit Randall. Surprised by Kevin's commitment, Randall agrees to the visit.
True reconciliation is almost here. We'll need all the tissues for this conversation.
In the episode's final scene, three women buy the tabloid announcing Kevin's engagement. One by one, we see their faces: Zoe, Cassidy, and Sophie. They all smile about Kevin settling down. But does this mean the door is closed on those relationships, and Madison really is his future? Or, might one of these women still fight for Kevin… My heart still hopes for Cassidy but Sophie was the last shown and the only one to appear potentially regretful, so she seems the most likely candidate. We shall see…
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