What is happening in our world? Who is doing what? what is going on now? These are questions that will be answered. Enjoy.
This Is Us Season 1 and 2 Recap
As This Is Us heads into Season Three, it’s hard to remember exactly what’s happened—it’s been a long emotional ride in 36 episodes. And if you’re not a regular watcher, then you’re probably feeling like you’ve totally missed out on a lot of drama. Who has time to binge two seasons of a show whose whole marketing campaign is to emotionally damage you?
Here’s the low down on what’s going on, who’s who, and what everyone has been crying about for the past year and a half so you can stop asking coworkers on Wednesdays why they’re looking so devastating. If ratings are any indication, This Is Us probably isn’t going anywhere any time soon.
The matriarch of the Pearson family has been tasked with double duty since the show’s start. The series primarily runs on two different timelines: present day and memories of the past. A central force in both is Rebecca Pearson, who literally kicked off the show by giving birth to three of the main characters: Randall, Kate, and Kevin. Season One hinged on her and Jack’s relationship, the difficulty of losing a triplet in childbirth, and creating a blended family with the addition of Randall. She also has to traverse that whole “my husband died in the aftermath of a slow cooker fire” thing, so, that’s a bummer. If you’re looking at those above pictures and thinking, “Wow, that makeup is kind of unfortunate,” roll with it. Everyone is doing their best.
Season Two really teased out the effects of having a “favorite child.” As the series progressed, the storyline of Rebecca’s preferential treatment of Randall begins to develop. Initially resistant to his adoption, her preference to Randall is an overcompensation—one sorely felt by her biological children. She ends up marrying her husband’s best friend, Miguel, though viewers aren’t sure when or why that happened and considering the teasers for Season Three, it probably won’t be answered soon. Just keep that nugget stored away for later. There’s also a singing plot line that seems to have been a bit abandoned, but when you have the critically acclaimed singer of “Candy” Mandy Moore playing a part on your family drama, you have to shoot your shot, you know?
Want to know Rebecca better? Watch Season 1, Episode 18, “Moonshadow”
The patriarch of the Pearson family has been ill-fated since the early episodes of Season One. His storyline has been a revolving door of struggle: haunting memories from serving in Vietnam, a stillborn child, alcoholism, and eventual death via smoke inhalation from a slow cooker fire (it never gets old). The one quality that seems to carry over is that Jack is a consistently good-natured guy. If Rebecca’s chosen child is Randall, then Jack’s is Kate—a point of contention for Kevin, the remaining triplet left out of the circle.
Played by Milo Ventimiglia, we clearly don’t see him in the future because, well, death. But in the upcoming season, we’ll see his character’s arc go backward instead of forward. After two seasons of vague callbacks to his time in Vietnam, viewers will get to see that era of his life and the brother that is seldom spoken about. As for the not-war torn version of Jack Pearson, it’s almost certain we’ll see the after effects of Vietnam as well. RIP the strong mustache game we’ve become used to.
Want to know Jack better? Watch Season 2, Episode 2, “A Manny-Splendored Thing”
Sterling K. Brown’s Randall Pearson has been given some of the meatiest storylines on This Is Us:coming to terms with being an adopted black child into an all-white family, reconciling with the father who gave him up for adoption, and then losing that father to cancer. While Season One primarily focused on the balance between Randall’s relationship with his adoptive family and his biological father, the crux of his storyline came down to a lost sense of identity. After a panic attack, he makes the decision to foster a teenage girl named Déja with his wife, Beth, with whom he’s already had two daughters. This is 100 percent not advised.
Season Three is likely to carry on the same narrative for Randall that the first two did: a man trying to make sense of a world he’s just recently learned about through his dad. He’s purchased the rundown building his father used to live in and brought this girl into his home, but it’s all ultimately in pursuit of answers to a past he’s still not completely reconciled with. And if anyone’s aware of how out of character these snap judgments are, it’s his wife Beth, who has already made it clear that he’s breaking the bonds of their team-dynamic.
Want to know Randall better? Watch Season 1, Episode 16, “Memphis”
Chrissy Metz has given a critically acclaimed performance as Kate, the lone daughter of the Pearson family who has made a habit of nursing life’s hurdles with a bit of overeating. While her story has drawn quite a bit from the struggles of being overweight and wanting to lose the pounds, one of the main draws of Kate’s character is the dichotomy between her and Rebecca. So much of her image has been molded by her mother’s and her inability to live up to the standard Rebecca has set. That goes all the way back to the singing—a career that Kate has tried to break into off and on.
As Season Two ended, she was finalizing her marriage to Toby, a man she met at her overeater’s support group. Oh yeah, back in Season One, Toby also had a heart attack loosely connected to his weight because this show is trying to RUIN ME. Toby has spent a good deal of his relationship with Kate helping her to see her own potential. Kate’s story is full of her own demons: a fear that she’s the reason her father went back into the fire that took his life (for the family dog), a miscarriage, and the lingering dread that her weight could be holding her back personally and professionally.
Want to know Kate better? Watch Season 1, Episode 6, “Career Days”
The remaining Pearson triplet played by Justin Hartley is Kevin, a good-looking former jock whose football career ended after a shock knee injury. Without the favor of either parent, Kevin has always managed to land on his feet (though, not too hard because, knee injury, you know?). But even with a mostly successful track record, his story begins to unravel early as he abandons the set of his sitcom, The Manny (think Two and a Half Men, but not Jon Cryer), in pursuit of more meaningful work. He’s closest with his sister Kate, often leaning on her for advice and support.
Season Two forecasted a dark turn for Kevin as a re-injured knee placed him back on painkillers and quickly into an addiction spiral. Through a series of really unfortunate errors, Kevin’s former glory as high-school-athlete success story is broken down after a drunken trip back to his high school where he has a one-night stand and leaves an important pendant behind that his father gave him. He manages to kick the addiction through therapy, but not before an explosive blow up with his entire family where he bluntly states that he was the child left behind. As the season ends, he heads to Vietnam to reconnect with the past his father never spoke about.
Want to know Kevin better? Watch Season 2, Episode 8, “Number One”
That’s a lot of information, but if you’re trying to jump back into a show two seasons in without buying stock in Kleenex, then consider this your catch up. This Is Us returns to NBC on September 25 at 9/8c.