This Is Us recap: Widowed Rebecca tries dating, other Pearsons pursue love
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After a detour last week into Jack's past for a spotlight on his mother Marilyn, tonight's episode of This is Us returns to the Big Three, as they continue navigating present-day challenges.
Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) grounded Déjà for her secret getaway to see Malik in Boston, but their eldest daughter isn't done just yet, as she and Malik drop a bomb during dinner. Kevin (Justin Hartley) continues his desperate quest for love and fulfillment, and Kate (Chrissy Metz) bonds with Rebecca (Mandy Moore), though she has a bomb of her own to drop. And of course, there's some time travel. This week, it's flashbacks focusing on Rebecca, in relation to both Kate and Miguel. Through these scenarios in episode 5, titled "Heart and Soul," there's fights, tough love, and tenderness. Let's feel those feels, shall we?
Randall and Beth vs. Malik and Déjà
Randall and Beth are still reeling from Déjà's Boston stunt. So, when Déjà (Lyric Ross) says Malik (Asante Blackk) wants to cook them dinner while he's in town for the weekend, they expect that it will come with either an apology, or worse news — like pregnancy or elopement.
That night, Malik makes them an elaborate meal, and waits on them excessively. Beth and Randall try to be gracious, even praising Malik's cooking. But with Annie and Tess's odd behavior and the looks between the young couple, it's obvious something's up, so it doesn't take long for Beth to demand they come clean.
Déjà plans to graduate early and move in with Malik in Boston. At this, Beth and Randall furiously launch into objections, asserting she is too young. Déjà reminds them, especially Randall, that her hard life means she's wiser than her years. Does she have a point? Perhaps, but her past is also why it feels like the Déjà we know is too wise and appreciative to buck everything the Pearsons have given her, and everything she could pursue for herself.
Randall storms off, infuriated. Later, Malik finds Randall on the front steps. They exchange kind words initially, but then Randall tells Malik that if he really loves Déjà, he'll end things with her so she can find her own path — moving in with him isn't what's best for her. Malik coldly rejects the suggestion.
Afterward, when Randall and Beth discuss that conversation, Randall affirms his wish to take a hard stance, to keep Déjà from throwing her life away. Beth, however, thinks if they handle it too harshly, they'll only lose Déjà. Will stubborn Randall listen? To be determined.
Kevin seems to be doing better with co-parenting with Madison, but remains averse to the presence of Eli in Madison's life, making snide comments to Madison, and brushing Eli off directly. After dropping the twins off with Madison, Kevin is bound for Pennsylvania for the weekend to check on construction of the house he's building Rebecca by the cabin. He invites Cassidy (Jennifer Morrison) to join him, Nicky, and Nicky's new girlfriend (Edie!) at the property. To his surprise, Cassidy asks if it's a sex thing, prompting a bizarre conversation about being friends with benefits. Ultimately, Cassidy accepts his invitation, with benefits on the table.
Upon hearing of Kevin's plans with Cassidy, Randall says, in a sports announcer voice, "I did not see that one coming … [Cassidy] coming down the home stretch, seemingly out of nowhere, beating out all the local favorites ... " It's a hilariously epic meta moment, and it continues with Randall listing all of Kevin's epic exes: Sophie, Madison, and Zoey. Kevin brushes off the jokes, and Randall's claim that he's a serial monogamist liable to propose to Cassidy soon.
However, as Kevin observes Nicky and Edie in "new love," he indeed develops heart eyes for Cassidy. But when he makes a romantic move, she rejects him. She says their relationship would never work, and he's chasing the wrong blonde in the wrong city. When Kevin questions which other blonde he should be chasing, she says that's basically her point; he's a wrecking ball for women — he married one woman, cheated on her, almost married her again; and couldn't say 'I love you' to the most recent one, but insists on hating her new boyfriend. Cassidy can't be Kevin's next mess.
Kevin seems to take it well enough in the moment … but I wouldn't be surprised if it makes him even more desperate to break the pattern and find his forever woman. His first step, though, is to make amends with Eli. In a peace offering, he calls him to offer advice on dating Madison — when he gets food for himself, order some for her, too, without asking, because she probably wants it but her eating disorder keeps her from saying so.
With that gesture, it seems Madison, like Cassidy just before her (RIP my dream ship), is officially ruled out as Kevin's potential endgame. So, who, if anyone, will it be? It appears this mystery may be one of the last ones solved.
[Side note: Nicky stresses to Kevin over his potential first time being intimate with Edie – it's adorable].
Kate and Rebecca
In a flashback, a young Kate plays the piano with her mother for the first time, giddily. But the primary flashback is the era of college-age Kate living with her mother – when Miguel is still helping Rebecca cope following Jack's death. After Kate suggests Rebecca and Miguel are lame for spending every night watching television (together, as friends), Miguel convinces Rebecca to join him for speed-dating.
Neither does well initially, each harping too much about their sad circumstances. But just as they plan to ditch the event, Rebecca hits it off with Matt, a school parent whom she knows, and who once asked her out. Miguel smiles as he sees them talking, but there's maybe a hint of jealousy… and thus, we move another inch closer to seeing how Miguel and Rebecca became a couple.
After speed-dating, Rebecca and Matt go for coffee. She arrives home, overjoyed, but then Kate berates her for betraying Jack by going out with another man. She even calls Rebecca a slut, at which point Rebecca slaps her. Kate storms off, and Rebecca breaks down. She calls Miguel, crying about the fight, and how unbearable her grief over Jack still is. (Cue my uncontrollable sobbing.) Kate overhears Rebecca's breakdown, and feels guilty. Soon, she and her mother swap apologies sitting in front of the piano. Rebecca tinkers with keys as Kate tenderly rests her head on her shoulders.
In the present, when Toby can't make it home as planned, Rebecca offers to take his place and watch the kids while Kate's at the music school the next day. Instead, Kate invites her to join her and the kids at the school. Rebecca is delighted, and even more overjoyed when Kate asks her to play piano for the students.
Watching her play, Kate gets emotional. She calls Toby to lament how it took so long for her and her mother to get to the special place they're in and she wasted so much time in darkness. However, she risks returning them to that darkness, when she later tells Rebecca she and Toby are no longer comfortable having her watch the kids alone, given her health. As expected, this crushes Rebecca.
However, when Kate shows up at her home to reconcile, Rebecca apologizes for snapping. Kate notes, even more apologetically, she spent so many years taking everything out on her mother. She wishes the timing of their good relationship was better. Rebecca notes timing drives everything — from her meeting Jack to everything that's happened since. To cap off the reconciliation, Kate asks Rebecca to teach Jack to play piano. With that, we see mother, daughter, and grandson play piano together, interwoven with memories of mother and daughter playing together — music always being something to bind their hearts and souls.
This is Us will be on hiatus during the Olympics, but catch you again in late February, for more mother-daughter (or other Pearson) bonding — or struggles — in the next chapter of the Pearson swan song.
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