(Spoilers ahead. You’ve been warned.)
Weep-inducing “This Is Us” has returned, and the NBC drama has once again delivered an hour of television that prompted tears to fall across this great land.
Tuesday’s season premiere starts off a year after the series began, with the “Big Three” celebrating their birthday. It also offered more clues as to how Jack Pearson (Milo Ventimiglia) died, included some promising personal growth moments for the Pearson triplets and left us in a puddle. Here are the moments that made us cry hardest, in order of ascending severity:
Beth and Randall make a decision:
It seems there’s some trouble in Randall-and-Beth paradise, but these two managed to surprise and jerk some tears out in the process.
Randall (Sterling K. Brown) is dead-set on adopting a baby, and Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) feels he’s pushing without taking her into consideration. “Thirty-seven years ago, my parents chose me, and that’s why I’m here with you,” Randall says. “This isn’t going away, Beth. You need to get your head around it.” Beth responds: “I’m not throwing down with you in an adoption parking lot.” Superb retort.
But Beth reflects on some words of wisdom given to her by William (Ron Cephas Jones) in his favorite park – the place reminds him of home, he says, and it’s not nearly as white as where they live now, Beth adds with a laugh.
After Randall comes to his own revelations, he tells Beth they have a perfectly imperfect marriage and they’ll figure out a way forward, together.
OK, sweet, but no big crocodile tears – until Beth takes Randall to William’s favorite park and gives him his birthday gift, William’s poems to his son, bound like a proper book. She also tells Randall how things could have turned out so differently for him, as they see a nearby young kid getting involved with things he shouldn’t. Beth asks instead of adopting a newborn, why not an older kid, one who’s having a much harder time finding a home? While they can’t mold such a child the way they could a baby, Beth says, “If we’re going to risk our perfectly imperfect life, let’s go all the way.”
Good point, Beth, and NOW I GOT CROC EYES.
Just seeing Rebecca (Mandy Moore) and Randall back together on good terms makes one weepy. But this conversation – oof. The first big cry of the episode.
Present-day Randall wants the origin story: Did Rebecca and Jack immediately know that he was theirs, as Randall grew up hearing? “It’s complicated,” Rebecca says, and Randall accurately points out that’s “something people say when they don’t want to tell the truth.”
The real story: Jack had wheeled Rebecca to the hospital nursery, pointed out the little baby boy and said, “Can’t you just feel it? Can’t you just see it?”
“I said, ‘No,’” Rebecca confesses to Randall 37 years later. “But your father was so sure I was tired and I was grieving, and he just kept pushing me. He was so determined that you were meant to be, meant to be ours.”
She continues: “Sometimes in marriage, someone has to be the one who pushes to make the big moves. Oftentimes in our marriage, yes, it was your father. Our marriage wasn’t perfect, it’s true. But none are. Your father wasn’t perfect either, but he was pretty d--- close. As close as they come. He pushed a stranger on me, and that stranger became my child, and that child became my life. He became you.”
TEARS HAVE BEEN SHED AND SNIFFLES HAVE COMMENCED.
We almost thought we’d make it out of this episode with just a few cries of the heartwarming variety. Then suddenly, we’re hit with a Mack Truck of sorrow.
Teenage Kate and Randall are on a couch, crying their very hardest, as Randall’s girlfriend (right?) and Miguel awkwardly try to provide solace. This is not good. Kevin’s someplace else, making out with someone (who better be Sophie), and blissfully unaware of the horror engulfing his family. And Rebecca (Mandy Moore) drives alone, steely-faced and in a Steelers shirt, with a plastic bag containing Jack’s wedding ring and watch in the passenger seat.
She pulls the car up to their house, and it seems that the very sight of the mailbox reading “Pearson” causes her to break down. Then the camera pans out and we see that their entire house had been burned in a fire. The yellow caution tape still surrounds the property and Rebecca is emotionally destroyed.
These last few scenes gave us bits of information that shed light on the great Pearson family tragedy, but honestly, how many did you catch? Could you even see through the waterfalls descending down your face?
Leftover, non-emotional moments:
“They’re like gremlins – by next week, there’ll be a bazillion more of them.” That’s Kevin on the Kardashians, and it’s an inadvertently extra-harsh burn this week as rumors of Kylie Jenner and Khloe Kardashian pregnancies abound.R.I.P. William, but please continue to provide voice-overs during each episode.Randall’s lame-dad-joke-of-the-week has a Michael Scott flavor: “Get up in it – that’s what she said.” We’ll forgive you.Hmm, I don’t know. I kind of still preferred Kate’s rendition of “Nothing Compares 2U.”