This Is Us is back with a special Valentine’s Day gift. Just as the show had episodes prepared for Thanksgiving and Christmas, we find the Pearson family celebrating Valentine’s Day in “Jack Pearson’s Son.”
This episode, the 15th in the first season, begins the final lap for the show’s first season. After “Jack Pearson’s Son,” there are only three more episodes, since NBC and creator Dan Fogleman decided that each season of the show will run 18.
Just to quickly recap the events of “I Call Marriage,” we saw Kevin continue to pester Sophie for a chance to rekindle their relationship. Toby was surprised that Kate didn’t really welcome him with open arms at the weight-loss camp. Randall was disappointed that his boss wants him to work with Sanjay, as he’s been distracted by William dying. In the past, Jack and Rebecca revived their marriage after learning that their friends Miguel and Shelly were getting divorced.
Here’s a look at all the action in “Jack Pearson’s Son.”
The episode kicks off in the past, with Rebecca and Jack wishing each other a “Happy Valentine’s Day” while he’s on his way out the door to work. Rebecca is making a list of all the things Jack will have to do while she’s out on tour singing. He plans on taking Rebecca out for dinner after her performance.
After the title, Jack makes a reservation for Valentine’s Day dinner at the office. Miguel comes in and asks him if he’s really handling Rebecca going on tour. Jack is not really happy about it, since they have three kids at home. He’s also jealous of Rebecca’s boss. Miguel says that Rebecca wouldn’t even fall for Jeff Goldblum. (This places the “Past” scenes in 1993, since he makes a joke about Goldblum in Jurassic Park.) Jack tells Miguel to go to Rebecca’s show with him and he agrees to.
The teenage versions of Kevin, Kate and Randall come home from school to see their mom carrying a suitcase from the basement. Kevin makes a joke about Randall not having a date on Valentine’s Day, and Kate tells him not to worry. “He thinks he walks on water now because he’s having sex with Sophie.” Rebecca overhears this and is stunned. He refuses to talk to Rebecca about it, and so do Kate and Randall.
Jack and Rebecca confront Kevin about having sex with Sophie. However, Randall walks down, worrying that his paper on Hamlet won’t be good enough. Jack holds his head and tells him to calm down a breath. He’s putting too much pressure on himself, a dirty habit Randall clearly hasn’t outgrown. Jack walks Randall out of the basement to get him to calm down.
After coming down from Randall’s room, Jack sees Rebecca getting nervous too. How can she possibly go on tour with all that’s going on? (The Pearson family is one nervous bunch.) Jack insists that she has to go and he’ll take control.
At the bar where Rebecca performs, Jack tries to get Miguel comfortable with getting himself back out there. Miguel orders a girl a drink before Rebecca starts singing “Bring It On Home To Me” as a duet with her boss, Ben. Jack is completely absorbed by the moment, ignoring everything Miguel says. Jack isn’t sure if Ben is just playing for the crowd or if there’s a real connection growing between Rebecca and Ben.
After the performance, Ben tells Jack that he’s lucky to be married to Rebecca. Ben lets it slip that he dated Rebecca long before they met. Ben leaves, just as Rebecca arrives. Jack is so angered by the conversation with Ben that he decides to skip the Valentine’s Day date and go straight home.
Rebecca and Jack come home after a nearly silent drive. He insists that there’s no problem, but Rebecca won’t stop. Jack tells her that he just found out that she’s going on a tour with her ex-boyfriend. Rebecca tries to play down her relationship with Ben, saying it happened when they were only 19 years old. Jack starts arguing, and Rebecca tells him that her relationship with Ben didn’t mean anything.
Jack then tells her that he doesn’t want her to go out on tour, despite what he said earlier. He only wanted her to go on tour because he thought she needed something for herself. She really did need something for herself, which is why she never told Jack about Ben.
“I needed to have something for myself without you getting in the way.”
“I never thought of myself as being in your way,” Jack says as he storms outside.
The first scene in the present finds Kate walking up to Duke’s cabin. She tells him off. “Do I have issues? Yes, but deep down, I’m awesome. And until you can figure out why you’re such a jackass, you’re going to wander this camp, miserable and alone until the day that you die, probably saying something snarky under your breath to a horse.”
Duke’s not all that happy with that. He tells her that his parents own this “godforsaken place.” “You’re done here,” he says and slams the door on her face.
Kevin is being interviewed by Katie Couric, who asks about how he got started in acting. He began as a model and was then cast as The Manny. But the questions turn oddly personal when Couric tells Kevin that he slept with the lead actress, then slept with the playwright and then tried to self-finance the play. Kevin is left fumbling. Couric has had enough of this guy pretending to be something he’s not and walks away.
Obviously, this turned out to be a dream. (Come on, Katie isn’t that nasty in real life.) Kevin is woken up by a call from Sophie, who asks if he had that “Katie Couric dream” again. It turns out that it’s opening night for the play. Sophie can’t make it because of work, and Kevin thinks it’s a good idea to hold off on announcing to his family that he’s “cautiously dating” his ex-wife. She suggests he calls Kate to help relax his nerves.
Randall is jogging, with plenty of thoughts racing through his mind. He remembers that Rebecca knew about William, his boss wants him to work with a rival and William is dying. Randall takes a breather and Kevin catches up with him. Kevin asks what’s the problem, but Randall won’t talk.
After a shower, Randall is mumbling to himself as he gets prepared for work. There’s too much going on in Randall’s life. Beth then gets a call about her mother slipping and breaking her hip. She then has to rush to Washington D.C. William drops something in the sink. “Is grandma going to be ok,” his younger daughter asks. “Yes, everything is going to be fine,” Randall replies before the This Is Us title.
Later, Kate shows up at Toby’s New York hotel room. Kate admits to being a jerk at the weight-loss camp. She tells him that she told off Duke and has been kicked out of the camp. Toby says that he was jealous of Duke. He explains that their relationship has “been a bit of a wild ride.” Kate agrees. They are talking about getting married and there is still a lot that they don’t know about each other. Kate says he only has to ask and she agrees to help him get new clothes for Kevin’s opening.
At the theater, Kevin leaves a message for Kate, who is clearly busy. Sloane surprisingly decides to help ease his nerves, but she only makes it worse by telling him that the New York Times is going to review the play.
While shopping, Kate and Toby talk about their childhoods. She says that she likes how he loves flashy clothes. When she asks about kids, he says “fo’sure.” He insists that they “go deep” into their past. She asks if he ever tried suicide more than once. Before he can answer, a salesman interrupts.
At his office, Randall is late again. His boss tells him that a client wants to have a meeting in the afternoon instead of waiting until tomorrow. Kevin shows up at the wrong time and William’s nurse calls. Since William fired his nurse, he has to leave the office to rush home.
In a coffee shop, Toby recounts his history of depression with Kate. He says that he has dealt with it for most of his life and hit rock bottom when his first marriage ended. He thought he wouldn’t be like his parents. At that point, he thought about committing suicide. “I hate that,” is all Kate can say. Since then, Toby has worked hard to get his life on track. “I’m in the best place I’ve ever been,” he tells her.
Toby decides to bring up Jack’s death, since Kate never explained what happened. She sits there, silent for a few moments. “I can’t seem to…” she trails off. Toby tells her that it’s ok. She says she wants to talk about it, but she’s “not quite there yet.”
“It’s been blocked for a really long time,” she says.
“How about this… whenever you’re ready,” Toby replies.
Randall arrives at his home to find William’s nurse standing outside. William is huddled in his bedroom, complaining that the nurse told him not to drink Coca-Cola. William starts crying, as he’s tried and doesn’t know how much longer he can take this. Randall has to go, and tells the nurse to give William a Coke.
Kevin shows up at his mom’s home, where Miguel answers the door. He really wanted to talk to his mom about his jitters because Miguel isn’t an artist. He’s convinced that he is going to suck. Miguel tells him to calm down, and tells him how he got over his nervousness. Miguel tells Kevin that he reminds Jack in almost every way.
“Sometimes, you remind me of him so much, that the hair on my arms stands up,” Miguel tells him. “That’s why it breaks my heart that you don’t like me, Kevin. Because when I’m around you, I feel like I get a little piece of my best friend back… You are Jack Person’s son. You have him inside you. When you’re nervous or at your most nerve-wracking moment – the curtain’s about to go up – all you have to do is remind yourself of that. Think about what he’d do, and you’ll be fine.”
It takes Kevin a second to digest that and he decides to go back to the theater instead of waiting for his mom. (Hey, this Miguel guy’s not all that bad after all.)
“Miguel, I don’t not like you,” he tells him.
“Well, that’s a start then, isn’t it?” Miguel replies.
During the meeting with the client, Randall finally shows up and is told to get right at it, even though he missed the start. He’s stumbling over his words and Sanjay takes over, even taking the tablet out of his hand. A tear rolls down Randall’s cheek.
At the theater, Toby arrives a bit late to meet the Person family. He asks to talk to Kate alone and tells her that they might need to slow down. He still wants to get married, but they should do it “when they’re ready… I think the woman that I marry should be able to talk to me about everything.” Kate pretends to agree and Toby talks about their dream wedding as they go inside.
The last act of the show starts with Randall sitting in his office by himself, holding his cell phone and shaking. We then cut to Kevin, who is sitting in his dressing room. He picks up the phone and it’s Randall, who tells him that he can’t go to the play. Kevin is really disappointed and tries to shrug it off. Kevin is called to the stage.
As the audience is seated, Sloane asks Kevin what he’s thinking about. “I’m thinking about what my dad would do.”
The lights dim, they walk on stage and Kevin’s not there to respond to Sloane’s first line. He runs out of the theater. There’s a cut to the past, where Kevin finds Randall crying in front of his computer. We see Kevin try to comfort Randall, who is crying on his office floor.
There’s one last scene in the past, showing Jack at the restaurant where he was supposed to spend Valentine’s Day with Rebecca. He orders a drink, takes a sip… and cut to black. Could a return to drinking be at the center of Jack’s cause of death?
The next episode of This Is Us is called “Memphis” and it airs on February 21. The episode description reads, “Randall and William take a road trip to Memphis, where Randall learns about his biological father’s past.” In addition to “Memphis,” there are only three more episodes of This Is Us‘s first season left.