Since the dawn of time (the This Is Us pilot episode), Rebecca and Randall have always had a special relationship. And by that I mean both extremely complicated and sometimes a little much. In “Sorry,” both the former and the latter are on display as we experience some “quality R&R time” (Randall admitting that name for hanging out with his mother is lame does not make it any less lame) in two timelines.
In “Storybook Love,” we saw Randall making lists of things to do around the house, as he anxiously looked for ways to help his grieving mother. In “Sorry,” we see him make good on that to a fairly unhealthy extent. Not only is Randall fixing his mother’s dishwasher, but when he sees her fretting about financials and needing a job, he offers to help her with her résumé. “Résumés are my jam,” he tells her. Oh, you beautiful nerd! Never change. (He doesn’t.)
He does much more than prep her résumé — he goes with her to her interview. Where is Kevin to tell his brother he’s being weird when you need him? The interview is fine, but it’s clear that because Rebecca doesn’t know the computer software necessary, she won’t be getting the gig. Well, until Randall figures that out and has a word with the guy doing the hiring. He tells this man about how Rebecca and Jack adopted him after being left in a fire station, and how his father died saving them in a house fire, and that his mother just needs someone to take a chance on her, and he’ll teach her any software she needs to know. It’s very peak Randall Pearson. Which is to say, it’s a lot.
Rebecca gets the job because that hiring dude loves a good cry from time to time, and of course, Rebecca had spotted Randall going into the office and knows he spoke on her behalf. Although grateful, she wants to make it clear to her son that she’s fine and he doesn’t need to worry about her. She follows that up by bursting into tears about starting an entry-level job and how she can’t believe that this is how her life turned out. And then follows up that emotional display by again telling Randall she’s fine and that she is the parent and he’s the son. He doesn’t need to take care of her. It’s a very confusing message for an 18-year-old.
Fast-forward to 2019, and Rebecca’s in Philadelphia for Thanksgiving. It’s the R&R Redux no one except probably Randall asked for. Randall takes his mother for a tour of the city and his office, but things seem off. She mistakenly calls him a congressman, she is taking photos of literally everything, and when he asks about Los Angeles, all she wants to do is show him photos of Baby Jack, and when she misplaces her phone, she gets flustered and upset.
Randall grows increasingly concerned throughout the day with his mother and doesn’t waste time confronting her about it. Rebecca tries to dismiss his worries by explaining to her son that she’s just getting older and getting older sucks. That may be true, but Randall suggests she see a doctor just to make sure everything’s okay. This feels like a big leap after just one afternoon of Rebecca misplacing her phone, but since we have glimpsed into the future and seen that Witch Ghost Rebecca has dementia, we know Randall’s right to worry so much. It’s very annoying. The emotion jumps up a notch at the suggestion of a doctor, and Rebecca once again reminds her son that she’s the parent in this relationship. And then Randall starts to remark on how ridiculous it is that she tells him he’s the child here after the last 20 years, not exactly saying that he’s the one who took care of her, but also completely saying that. Rebecca is offended, you guys. She kicks her beloved son out of her room. This escalating tension in the Pearson family can only mean one thing: It’s time for Thanksgiving dinner.
This year’s holiday looks like it might be the most awkward one yet, because guess who else is coming over? Uncle Nicky.
Over in Bradford, PA, familial tensions are also on the rise, because when are they not on this show? Nicky’s figured out that Kevin and Cassidy slept together and reams his nephew out for blowing up Cassidy’s marriage. It’s tough for Kevin to take, especially since he starts seeing his father being disappointed in him every time he looks at Nicky. Kevin’s always been his biggest critic, and he spirals a bit, winding up at a bar looking for trouble in a place where a local patron literally asks him if he’s looking for trouble. Ah, the subtlety.
Kevin doesn’t drink, but he does get punched in the face, as he was hoping. It only pisses Nicky off more since it becomes abundantly clear that Kevin has completely forgotten that today is his uncle’s hearing. You know, the whole reason why Kevin’s here.
With the help of Cassidy and some concealer, Kevin gets himself together enough to be there for Nicky. Aw, you guys, the moment when Kevin fixes Nicky’s tie is everything I want this show to be. Remember when Jack taught Teen Kevin how to tie a tie? Someone hold me! Even better is Nicky’s big moment during his hearing. When the judge asks him if he has remorse for throwing that chair through a window, Nicky says no, he does not. Throwing that chair was the best thing that ever happened to him because it helped him get sober, get into therapy, and most important, it brought his nephew back into his life. For the first time in 40 years, Nicky realized that he was sick and he needed the help of people who care about him. Be still my heart, Uncle Nicky!
What a lovely little redemption story. Could you even imagine the Nicky we met last season willingly going to a Pearson-family Thanksgiving? What a time! Nicky being able to turn around his life after everything he went through is inspiring for Cassidy as well, who, encouraged by Kevin, begins to make amends with Ryan and Matty. Baby steps, but it is a start. Kevin, always so worried about if he’s a bad person or not, is slowly starting to see that, at least during his short stint in Bradford, he’s done some good. It especially helps his personal development when Nicky tells him he’s a good kid and he sees his father there, saying the same. He just wants to make his dad proud, okay? We all do!
Agh! Just get me to Pearson Thanksgiving so I stuff my emotions down with cheese dogs and enjoy the emotional fireworks that are sure to come.
This Is the Rest
• You guys, the longest, most enthusiastic round of applause for Cassidy Sharp solely for uttering this line to the face of a Pearson child: “Not all of us have to talk about our dead dads all the time.” Bless this woman!
• Wow, so Marc is the world’s worst, huh? He calls Randall “Randy,” he casually helps himself to beverages in Rebecca’s fridge, and he informs Kate that they’re not going to see Practical Magic because they’re not 12-year-old girls. Not only is it demeaning and controlling and holy hell, I cannot wait until Kate’s brothers dress this dude down, but also HOW DARE HE come after that Nicole Kidman–Sandra Bullock vehicle. It’s a classic.
• Where are we going with this Kate and Toby story line? We’re seriously wasting precious TIU minutes on “Kate lying to Toby about Jack eating his first solid food at Gregory’s?” Either just tell Toby the truth — that he is missing out on Jack’s firsts and that’s not her fault — or really commit to the lie, Kate. Also, I don’t care.
• Add Deja’s birth mother, Shauna, to the list of guests to this impending Thanksgiving Feast of Awkward. After fighting with Malik over asking Beth and Randall, the truth comes out and Deja wants to see her mom. On Thanksgiving. Beth says okay with her mouth, but definitely says “This is a horrible idea” with her eyes. Fun!
• Deja gives Beth a lot of grief about chaperoning her date with Malik, but she should be grateful her chaperone isn’t Randall. Could you even imagine? Even with Beth’s whole “Take the popcorn, Malik” shtick, Randall would be 300 times worse.
• Yes, Rebecca, making a bed by yourself is hard. You don’t get to own that misery.