This Is Us recap: The mystery of Kevin's wedding tryst and soul mate is solved
After last week's Rebecca-centric This Is Us episode set on the day of Kate's wedding, this week's installment took us back to, as the title says, "The Night Before the Wedding" to explore the mystery of Kevin's apparent romantic tryst.
Clues suggested it could be any one or a combination of Cassidy (Jennifer Morrison), Sophie (Alexandra Breckenridge), and the wedding singer, Arielle (Katie Lowes). To set the stage for the answer, the episode begins with grade-school Kevin sitting in class on Valentine's Day. Apparently his days as a ladies' man began early, as he writes Valentine's Day cards and trade smiles with, of course, three different girls in his class. From there we jump back to the three women he may be torn between in the present, 40-something years later, as the puzzle of his latest potentially game-changing romantic adventure finally comes together. Here are the pieces.
The day before the wedding, ahead of the rehearsal dinner, Kevin (Justin Hartley) is clearly antsy, but to deflect Kate's questions about why, he praises the wedding singer. In response, Kate (Chrissy Metz) notes that hot singers on stage doing rock classics is Pearson kryptonite — it's how Jack fell for Rebecca. That fact boosts the possibility of the wedding singer actually being Kevin's new flame (despite fans insisting all week that it could never be a random new character). Yet there's still plenty show left…
Subsequently, Cassidy approaches Kevin, looking fantastic in a black dress with white trim. They banter, then she heads off, and Kevin resumes his restlessness. Randall (Sterling K. Brown) calls out the reason: Kevin's anxious for Sophie's arrival. Randall reminds him she's married. Kevin insists they're just friends, but as he spots her walk in on the other side of the room, he abruptly falls silent, the tension palpable.
He soon winds up offering to take Sophie into town to find replacement clothes, since the airport lost her luggage. Their ride: the antique convertible Kevin rented for Kate and Phillip. Kevin removes the "just married" sign, so it's not "awkward." In town, the only thing still open is the dry cleaners, so Sophie asks for unclaimed clothes, a thrifting trick she learned from her mom. As they look for a dress — of course she finds a sexy one that fits and is the perfect shade of green — and then go grocery shopping, Sophie and Kevin catch up on each other's lives.
Sophie reveals that she's working as a travel nurse. Things delve progressively into flirtatious territory, though, and the two stop at a vineyard on the way home. There Sophie admits that despite having implied otherwise all afternoon, she is no longer married — she's recently divorced. Flabbergasted, Kevin struggles to respond. Presumably he's delighted, but doesn't want to be disrespectful. While they stroll through the vineyard, Sophie hints at circumstances around the divorce but never outright explains anything. I found this frustrating, especially since it happened just in the time since Kate's engagement party, where Kevin met Sophie's husband, who seemed madly in love. At most, Sophie implies that she just didn't truly love him. Sophie eventually asks if Kevin's dating. He says he's stuck in a bad pattern but can't explain what the problem is. Sophie thinks she understands. The implication: Neither of them can make relationships work because they never moved on from one another. I am not a fan, because been there/done that, but here, Team Sophie looks like a winner…
That night Sophie and Kevin trade longing glances across the fires everyone's gathered around, until finally, they wordlessly meander to Kevin's room. Sophie takes his key card and lets herself in before him, and at last they kiss. Things get hot and heavy. The bra comes off — the clue Beth and Madison found. But when Kevin tells Sophie her hair smells the same as ever, she abruptly stops. She emotionally says she has carried Kevin with her for too long and does not want to go backward. She hurries out of the room, and Team Sophie nosedives.
Later that night
During the day, Kevin formally met the wedding singer, Arielle, in a playful but brief interaction. That night, when Kevin visits the bar after Sophie's 180, Arielle is there and he sits beside her. Arielle orders him his usual drink, which she'd learned by observing him all day, then shares song lyrics she wrote based on her other observations. The words seemingly reference the anxiety Kevin displayed all day waiting for Sophie's arrival. Arielle wrote them on the napkin Beth and Madison found. Another clue solved.
Kevin soon leaves Arielle and heads to his room. He encounters Nicky (Griffin Dunne) on the way and confesses he's frazzled by Sophie and getting "hit on through napkin poetry." (Not sure Arielle was actually hitting on him, but okay…) Nicky responds with an odd metaphor about pinball and suggests that Cassidy might be Kevin's person. Team Cassidy, rejoice!
Cue Cassidy arriving at Kevin's door, seeking help with unzipping her dress. As she changes into comfortable PJs in his bathroom, she mentions needing to find a partner so she can rely less on Kevin. When she re-emerges, Kevin says Nicky thinks they should be together. It's the second time this season Kevin has so unromantically thrown himself at Cassidy in desperation — to my chagrin, as Cassidy deserves better, and even if they weren't endgame, it insults the genuine romantic connection they almost/once had and the platonic connection they still have.
Anyway, Cassidy again asserts that they were hot messes when they met, and even though they've both figured things out, they're not each other's "person." Kevin again reluctantly agrees, and the two praise their friendship. Team Cassidy, wave the white flag, sadly. Suddenly three women becomes no women, as Kevin goes to bed alone.
The wedding day
After the ceremony, the speeches, and Rebecca's performance, Kate's wedding reception brings two pivotal conversations that thrust us toward the grand finale.
First, Rebecca (Mandy Moore) recognizes that Sophie seems sad, and it's about Kevin. Thinking, in a memory slip, that Sophie and Kevin are 20 years old, Rebecca says the timing simply isn't right because Kevin isn't yet ready for Sophie — but one day he will be, and if Sophie's still waiting for him then, he will be so great to her.
Meanwhile, Kevin tells Randall about Sophie. When Randall asks why he's depressed that she's single, Kevin admits he's afraid of messing up again. Like Nicky, Randall responds with a bizarre metaphor, but he ultimately asserts that Kevin and Sophie make sense, and he's confident Kevin won't hurt her again.
So Kevin approaches Sophie. But before he can launch into a speech, she insists on speaking. She says she spent most of her life praying that Kevin would grow up, and he's finally the man she always knew he could be. They're both the best versions of themselves and in the right place at the right time, but she's afraid of falling back into their old selves. She needs Kevin to love her for who she is now, not who she was, and she wants to fall in love with who he is now. FINE, I'm won over. I'll still mourn Cassidy, but my heart melted over this reunion.
After debating his response, Kevin pulls something from his wallet. As a flashback reveals, it's a valentine he wrote that day in grade school. After he wrote ones for the other girls, the teacher introduced Sophie as a new student. Kevin immediately wrote one for her. In the present, as Kevin shows her the note, saying he's always carried her with him. With that, the two kiss — and everyone in the room cheers.
Thus the puzzle is complete: Kevin's future is with his day-one love. It was always Sophie. While some fans have said that outcome would be too predictable for this twisty show, the poetry of it fits. It means we have a Pearson college-sweetheart romance (Randall and Beth), a Pearson stranger-in-a-bar romance (Jack and Rebecca), a friend-turned-partner romance (Miguel and Rebecca), a workplace romance (Kate and Phillip), and finally, with Kevin and Sophie, a high-school-sweetheart romance (albeit in a roundabout way). That covers nearly all possible non-app-based love-story tropes. Now maybe all of us can have a Pearson love story we personally identify with. Here's to that, to the true-crime-with-sex mystery being solved, and to the other Pearson happy endings to come in the show's final four episodes.
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NBC’s beloved era-hopping drama tells the story of the Pearson family through the years.