In tonight’s episode, “Taboo,” Rebecca addresses issues with her mother in one time period, her feelings about Miguel in another, and her health in the present; Weight issues plague Kate in the past and present.
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In less than a week, Daylight Savings regions will spring forward. But tonight, This is Us took viewers back to early winter for its fifth and final Thanksgiving-themed episode. The episode reinstates a series tradition that unfolded seasons one through four but was lost last year due to COVID — the same reason for the off-timing of this episode. And without missing a beat, the episode, titled "Taboo," delivers all the blow-out drama of Pearson Thanksgivings past, as it propels us toward the show's final chapters.

The episode features Thanksgiving dinners in three different eras: when Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca (Mandy Moore) are engaged and looking ahead to their wedding, when the Big Three are college-age mourning Jack, and the present day. Pre-marriage Rebecca clashes with her mother, post-Jack Rebecca and Miguel (Jon Huertas) face a reckoning as does Kate (Chrissy Metz), and in the present, Rebecca drops hard truths and sweet sentiments as Kate and Toby (Chris Sullivan) clash.

Gobble up the juicy details below.


The episode opens on a flashback to Rebecca as a child making a family Thanksgiving specialty sugar pie with her mother, Janet (Elizabeth Perkins). The memory sours when Janet tells little Rebecca she's not going to eat the pie because they [ladies] have to watch themselves.

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Credit: Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Cut to Rebecca stressing about she and Jack hosting her parents for Thanksgiving. Once they arrive, things begin roughly, as Janet aggravates Rebecca with endless food critiques – including a comment about Rebecca not using the secret ingredient in the pie. Rebecca pointedly reminds Janet she's never told her the ingredient. Janet further aggravates Rebecca with comments about wedding planning, and not eating too much before the wedding. Rebecca blows up at her mother during dinner, and storms off.

Ever the fixer, Jack confronts Janet. He says Rebecca spent weeks trying to make Thanksgiving perfect for Janet. Janet tearfully laments how her daughter used to want to be just like her. She then reveals she and Rebecca's father, Dave (Tim Matheson), are moving to Connecticut and she's terrified Rebecca will never visit. Jack promises they will. Then Jack listens to Rebecca vent about her mother, but says things are just crazy with the holiday, wedding, and moving. To his surprise, Rebecca didn't know about the move. Jack's slip works in favor of his mission to make mother and daughter reconcile, however, as Rebecca tells her mother she'll miss her, and the women lovingly embrace. (A secondary victory is that Jack and Dave, who initially despised Jack, bonded while the women fought).

As Janet leaves, she and Rebecca giddily discuss wedding planning, and she whispers something in Rebecca's ear that seems to delight her. More on that later …


Two major stories unfold this Thanksgiving: Miguel and Rebecca, and Kate's weight struggles. Both are alluded to in the same scene. While Kate and Rebecca bake the sugar pie, Rebecca says, in a jealousy-laced tone, that she's excited to meet Miguel's girlfriend Marguerite. Then, when Rebecca offers Kate batter, Kate reluctantly declines.

Kate's struggle continues. When Randall and Beth arrive, Kate dares Randall to comment on her weight gain — just as she'd done with Kevin. Perhaps Kate really wanted someone to push her to lose weight, despite seeming to hate such efforts in other flashbacks. Regardless, Randall doesn't take the bait, but addresses it privately to Kevin later. Kevin, however, brushes it off, implying the gain is understandable since Kate is having difficulty with being stuck at home, and coping with her horrible ex and the guilt of thinking her dog got Jack killed.

During dinner, Kate resists temptation to eat unhealthy food. But when Randall invites her to visit him and Beth at school, she eats to spite him, as if she knew he was asking her in judgment of her weight and work/school situation. Later that night, she's tempted by the pie but sings Kiss Me (by Sixpence None the Richer) as she throws it away.

Meanwhile, things are weird for Rebecca, Miguel, Marguerite, and Matt, Rebecca's new man. There's an awkward greeting. Then, Miguel and Rebecca take turns having jealous reactions to something the other's date says, and trade snide comments to one another about Matt (Matt Corboy) and Marguerite.  

Things escalate during a game of Taboo, as Rebecca personalizes all the clues to Miguel, and even yells a casual "I love you" when Miguel gets the last word right. This upsets Marguerite and Matt, and makes the kids suspicious. Outside the house afterward, Kevin confronts Miguel. After saying he hears Jack's disappointed voice about what he did to Sophie, Kevin warns Miguel that if he's even considering acting on what's going on between him and Rebecca, Jack will turn over in his grave.

When Rebecca finds Miguel outside later, the two confess feelings for each other, but Miguel reveals he's moving to Houston for a new job and to be close to his kids. Before he walks away, he also implies he has to leave so they don't cross the line that would feel like betraying Jack. Devastated, Rebecca takes to her room in tears. Randall stresses to his siblings that he can't console her. Kate says he can't fix everyone, but then herself goes to Rebecca, lays down beside her and hugs her.


On the way to the cabin for Thanksgiving, Randall (Sterling K. Brown) makes his daughters promise to stay off their phones (so they'll give Rebecca their full attention). Déjà (Lyric Ross) says it won't be hard for her to resist texting Malik because he's been acting aloof. This foreshadows trouble for the young couple. On another note, Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) makes her own prediction — of a dramatic holiday because the Pearsons are defined by being lovely people, crying a lot, and having dramatic Thanksgivings.

Indeed, things are messy. Kevin bugs everyone with bad songs about being alone and not having his kids because of Elijah. He also, while walking everyone through his plans for the new house, takes one of his usual jabs at Miguel, dismissing his suggestion to include a guest house. Meanwhile, Randall bugs everyone with incessant photography. And Toby and Kate bug everyone with marital fighting.

Their first clash comes after Rebecca playfully declines to give Kate the secret ingredient for the sugar pie. Kate subsequently gives Jack a taste of pie batter, and an argument breaks out between Toby and Kate about feeding Jack too much sugar and Toby not being around. A similar fight unfolds during dinner, and Toby admits he's worried about Jack, given their obesity genetics — apparently a taboo topic for them. At this, Kevin demands Toby remove the Pearson-tradition Pilgrim Rick hat he'd been given the honor of wearing.

Later, Toby acknowledges to Kate they keep having the same fight about his work, but on the Jack and food fight, he's determined to help Jack avoid the pain they both suffered being fat kids. In response, Kate says that after losing her father, when she wanted to stop gaining weight, she'd sing the song from the She's All That makeover scene, Kiss Me, and picture herself as the character, thin and beautiful. But she slipped into a cycle of bingeing, feeling shame, and bingeing because of the shame. She doesn't want food to have that same power over Jack. (She's choosing the opposite route Rebecca's mother took, always forcing Rebecca to be mindful of food.) Kate then asserts she's been extremely considerate of what she feeds their kids, and she's disappointed Toby doesn't trust that. Their discussion is interrupted by Rebecca requesting Kate's presence in a Miguel and Big Three-only meeting.

So comes Rebecca's moment for her own taboo discussion. She begins by noting the silver lining to her disease is that unlike when Jack died, she can plan for her death to ease the burden of everyone figuring out roles and how to move on. She announces that Miguel will make decisions about her care going forward, and makes the children swear acceptance. She then notes Miguel asked Kevin about a guest house for the in-home caregiver she may need eventually. Next, she says if Miguel isn't around, it will be up to one of the Big Three: Kate. The boys seem shocked but verbally agree. Will their acceptance last? We shall see …

Then Rebecca makes her last request. Lamenting that her disease will be harder on her children than herself, she makes them promise they won't focus on her demise and make their lives smaller for her, or let her condition hold them back from their own life moves. Not Enough Tissues.

Later, Kate asks Rebecca why she chose her. Rebecca says, simply: "you're my daughter and my best friend … it was always you." As if it wasn't already cemented that the relationship once thought possibly the weakest is actually, in a way, the strongest, it sure is now.

Rebecca then whispers something to Kate, as Janet did to Rebecca after their Thanksgiving fight: the secret ingredient in sugar pie. Alas, it seems we'll only learn it if Kate tells her daughter before the show ends. To be determined.

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This Is Us - Season 3
This Is Us

NBC’s beloved era-hopping drama tells the story of the Pearson family through the years.

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