And it all comes full circle. Not only in the Pearson clan but in general for the fourth season of This Is Us, which kicked off last September by introducing a handful of new characters. Some became more pertinent to the storyline then others, and similarly, “Strangers Part Two” plays out similarly.
At the top of the hour, we meet a man attempting to tame his horse, who gets some assistance from his daughter, Sadie. We’re also introduced to Hailey (Adelaide Kane), a young woman working in a museum who turns down her best friend and co-worker, Zach’s, advances for a date. I’ll get to those two a little later in the review, but keep them in mind!
The season finale had it all — a number of celebrations, a bombshell reveal, the Pearson blow-out of 2020, and a cliffhanger.
With so many timelines blending cohesively into one unified message, I think the easiest way to tackle this episode is to break it down into three: the past, present, and future. This ensures that I give all of them equal attention.
PAST: The past finds Rebecca and Jack gearing up to celebrate the Big Three’s first birthday. Birthday’s are the overarching connection in the finale. Rebecca’s mood quickly takes a turn when she gets emotional about Kyle, Kate and Kevin’s triplet who passed away during birth. Bec reveals she struggles to talk about him, and Jack agrees that he usually pushes the thoughts from his mind because they make them sad. The Pearson’s are never ones to wallow in that sadness though especially since Jack always has the perfect solution that’ll cheer them up. They pay Dr. K, the obstetrician, who gave birth to Kate and Kevin, for some advice, and since he also lost a child once before, he knows just what to say (he always does). The advice that happiness and sadness should co-exist is one that rings through much of the episode as happy moments are filled with heartbreak. That’s life, isn’t it?
PRESENT: Everyone gathers at Kate’s home for Jack Jr.’s first birthday. It’s a momentous occasion filled with some underlining tension, as any gathering with the Big Three is. Randall and Kevin haven’t spoken since their squabble in New York, plus Randall hasn’t exactly gotten around to telling his siblings that he forced his mother through methods of sheer manipulation to agree to the 9-month long clinical trial in St. Louis.
Honestly, we’re all like Beth in this episode, just bopping around the house, going back to the car cause we forgot something, and sippin’ our tea while minding our own business.
When Rebecca finally makes the announcement to her kids, Randall immediately offers support. Kate and Kevin aren’t as on board with it and their curiosity leads them to what may be the final Big Three conversation for a very long time. There, they question what could have happened to change Rebecca’s mind and still, Randall says absolutely nothing because he knows it won’t land well with either of them.
Kate lets it go and goes to her “surprise” event with Jack Jr. and Toby, but Kevin’s still not convinced. He goes to check in with Rebecca who echoes the same explanation as Randall just mere moments ago: it’s an investment in her future. Ding-ding. Kevin realizes that Rebecca is not acting out of her own free will but on the behest of Randall. He confronts his brother, who pretty much attempts to avoid the confrontation because he’s sooooo convinced he’s doing his mom a solid.
Listen, Randall, if everyone including your mother, your siblings, and your wife think that you’re overstepping and the tactics you used aren’t kosher, maybe consider that you aren’t seeing clearly. Randall has always considered himself as the alpha in the family, but really, Randall’s character hasn’t made nearly the amount of progress as Kevin’s.
Rebecca changed her mind about the clinical trial, which Kevin wasn’t fond of, but he accepted it because he figured it’s what she wanted. Kevin had a rational reaction because he trusted that the best thing to do was to let his grown mother make her own decision. Randall could never, and he proved it by the stunt he pulled on Season 4 Episode 17. It’s crazy for me to say this, but I don’t think Randall is as emotionally mature as Kevin.
Randall said that “when her good time inevitably comes to an end, everyone will be grateful” he made the call for the trial, but this thinking hinges on so many variables. For instance, does the trial work? Does she survive the trial (we know she does, but they don’t at this point)? It also ignores the obvious point that there’s no cheating death. Eventually, Rebecca will die and it’s something he has to come to terms with. There’s a great argument for prolonging life, but not if it isn’t what the patient wants.
If they left it alone, this argument didn’t have to end a brotherly relationship, but Randall couldn’t let it go. He came back to fight with Kevin — at a very, very, very bad time when Kevin was getting overwhelmed from every direction — to bring up that he was there for Rebecca and taking care of the family while Kevin was pursuing his acting career. Clearly, Randall holds a lot of resentment for his brother making something of himself and continues to try to guilt him into thinking he abandoned the family or something similar. For the first time ever, I found myself wishing Kevin would just punch Randall, but I was impressed with how he managed his emotions and remained calm and collected. This is yet another example of Kevin’s growth as a character. He didn’t break down, he didn’t rush to grab a bottle, he simply digested what was happening.
Credit: This Is Us/ NBC
Kevin challenges Randall’s beliefs that he “took care of the family” by bringing up the night of the fire. Randall retorts that they’ll never know if Kevin would have saved their father like he believes he would have because he wasn’t there, once again, and then throws the punch: “and dad died ashamed of you.”
At this point, my jaw was on the ground because Randall Pearson, how dare you? He’s obviously hurt and in defense-mode, but this was a gut-punch unlike any other and said to a man who has already carried so many demons.
He continues in such a harsh manner that it’s best I just leave you with the full quote: “I think that’s the part that really gets you, isn’t it? The shame that he felt for you and the pride that he felt for me? You’re not even chasing Dad’s shadow, Kevin, you’re chasing mine. But you’ll never be him, and you’ll never be me.”
And, if that’s not enough, he tells him that he’s never cared about anyone but himself. Everything else was just a “tired, stale performance…. like all of your performances,” once again proving that Randall is not here for Kevin’s acting career.
Whoo, thank god Beth made Rebecca, Miguel, and the girls leave because it would be heartbreaking to witness this fight.
Kevin has a simple yet effective comeback to all of this, and again, he says it without even getting upset: “Hand to God, Randall: The worst thing that ever happened to me was the day they brought you home.”
I’m going to need a minute…
That was harsh, but it also felt like it was a long time coming. That’s not a rift that either of them will bounce back from anytime soon because a lot was said that cannot be taken back or forgotten.
Randall clearly feels some type of way about the situation and there’s no convincing him otherwise, whereas, I think Kevin is at the point where he’s done prioritizing his brother and living in the shadows and is ready to focus on himself.
Right before the second wind of this fight kicked off, Madison rang the doorbell after going to the obstetrician’s office to confirm she’s pregnant. Pregnant with Kevin’s baby. To echo Beth, “Mh-hhhm.”
Remember when I mentioned a man with a horse and a daughter named Sadie at the beginning of the episode? Well, that’s Madison’s doctor, who listens to her say that the father of her baby deserves a great love story and tells her not to write him off just yet. It’s unclear why we needed to know so much background about the doctor’s personal life. Is he going to be more involved? Is he going to be the Dr. K to Madison and Kevin? I read a wild theory that the doc is actually Kyle, the triplet that Dr. K stole from Rebecca and Jack, and while that would be a twist with a capital T, I can’t see the show taking that direction. So, for now, we have to wait and see.
Back to Madison, though. We don’t know what Kevin would have said to Madison had it not been for that explosive fight that made him want to care about someone, make something of himself, and prove his brother wrong. However, seeing Kevin’s face while she tells him the news and says she doesn’t want anything from him makes me think he was going to be on-board regardless. After all, he wanted a child by his 40th birthday, remember?
Madison was so quick to write herself off from Kevin’s life, but who knows, maybe she will become his great love. Then again, the writers gave us glimpses of BOTH Cassidy and Sophie, so it’s not 100% certain that Kevin’s wife and Kevin’s baby momma are the same person.
Still, Kevin tells Madison he’s all in and he wants this baby more than ever. Madison then corrects him that it’s not just one baby, it’s twins. Full-circle, friends, full circle.
While all of this is going down at Kate’s house, Kate, Toby, and baby Jack pay a visit to the NICU where they spent a lot of time praying and hoping for Jack’s survival. It’s incredible how the passage of time offers up a different perspective in the same place. Toby suggests that they have a second baby, which Kate immediately shoots down because of how hard her first pregnancy was, but Toby reminds her that the Pearson clan has a good track record with adoptions. Both of them weigh their options and consider whether or not it’s a good idea, and honestly, none of that matters because they both do really want a second child.
FUTURE: Which finally brings us to the future aka Rebecca on her death bed at Kevin’s house, the one he built by the cabin from his father’s renderings. He arrives at his mother’s bedside. Randall and Nicky are already there. Though Randall and Kevin seem estranged, the fact that Kevin puts an arm around his brother means that there’s some hope that they patched things up eventually.
Kevin also says “hi” to Nicky, and the camera pans to his hand, which has an engagement ring. Who did Nicky marry? Miguel’s absence and the fact that Nicky is sitting by Rebecca’s side makes me think that maybe Rebecca married Jack’s brother, but that’s kind of weird. The other theory is that Nicky married Cassidy, but again, that’s also weird. So, for now, much like Madison’s obstetrician, this remains a mystery.
We also see Kevin’s twins — a boy and a girl, though no Madison.
Also in the future, Jack Jr. and his wife are waiting to meet their child. Finally, she goes into labor and they deliver a beautiful baby girl whom they name Hope. It’s fitting considering all this family has overcome.
And remember Hailey, the girl from the museum that we met at the kickstart of the episode working in a museum? She’s Jack’s sister, who rushes to the hospital to meet her niece. We assume that she’s the adopted daughter, but there’s a theory here that Kate and Toby run into some trouble adopting — they have a lot on their plate and a special needs son — so they have a second child and Kate doesn’t make it. It could be why in the present, we never see Kate and the focus is solely on the Kevin and Randall.
Alright, that was a lot. What did you think of the finale?
Are you glad Madison is pregnant? What did you think about the fight? And whose side were you on?
Why do you think we got so much insight into the doctor’s personal life?