There are always hidden lessons tucked away in every This Is Us episode.
Lessons are taught as past, present, and sometimes future experiences that mirror each other.
Kevin, Randall, and Kate are all moving into new phases of their adult lives.
Randall’s making a name for himself as the “unhinged” councilman in Philadelphia after announcing an open door policy for all his constituents.
Randall: He’s a man of the people and his policy reflects that. Unlike most politicians, Randall isn’t in this as a stepping stone to some greater title that gives him more power. His purpose is to evoke change, which is something Berenice, his toxic and moody assistant, didn’t fully grasp. Berenice surely meant well, and she had the experience to offer up plenty of useful insight into Randall’s tenure, but it wasn’t enough to keep her around.
Berenice criticized Randall for not being a typical politician as if that’s something someone should strive to become.
Randall may be taking an atypical approach, but he’s doing exactly what he’s been voted into office for — to help the people that elected him.
Yes, he’ll need the help of his other councilman to do his job, but he can’t help pass anything if he doesn’t know what the real-life, everyday problems are. Too many politicians nowadays don’t live the life regular people do, they don’t experience the problems, they don’t understand where they’re coming from. Randall is taking a hammer to all of that, and Berenice wasn’t going to bring him down.
She overstepped by suggesting that he fire Jae-Won and keep him strictly as a “friend.” Jae-Won shared the same passion for the work as Randall does. He believes in change, and he believes it’s time to change how they go about ushering in change.
He’s been there since day one, and helped Randall win the election — he deserves to be there.
Randall’s present-day confidence and ability to do what he felt was right juxtaposed his first day of school experiences where he had a panic attack for getting in trouble for being out of dress code.
He’s grown immensely from the boy that followed the rules to a man who makes his own and speaks out against injustice.
Kevin – Kevin’s on a journey to find himself, and it seems he’s been on this same journey since he was in middle school.
Kevin’s storylines are always filled with so much heart and that’s because he’s an emotionally vulnerable human. His ego always preceded him, but when you get to know him, you see that he’s always putting everyone he cares about ahead of himself.
When he was in middle school, he sacrificed his “me day” to help Randall deal with a panic attack despite not fully understanding what was happening to Randall. When he chucked it up to being a phase in “puberty,” I muttered: “I wish.”
In the present, Kevin was extending the same care towards Nicky, who was visibly struggling with addiction.
Kevin is the most underrated character and the one who pulls from Jack’s caring nature.
He never gives up on the people he cares about. Nicky resisted the help, but Kevin never wavered; he stuck around.
It’s amazing that This Is Us can bring me to tears with a summarized montage of Nicky’s up-and-down battle with addiction. It allowed us to explore Kevin’s more serious side as he put his foot down and told Nicky how all of this would go down. And, as most viewers have been anticipating, it led Kevin to meet Cassidy, his potential love interest.
Nicky threw the chair because he was driven to drink after losing the only therapist he felt comfortable opening up to.
As Kevin supported Nicky in the aftermath, he befriended Cassidy’s kid in the waiting room.
Although sparks weren’t flying between Kevin and Cassidy during their first meeting, they did bump into each other again at an AA meeting.
Cassidy and Nicky couldn’t keep it together as Kevin was pouring his soul out and it led to a laugh attack from all three.
Sometimes, laughter is the best medicine.
Helping Nicky may have just led Kevin to his next chapter and a new purpose.
Kate – Kate struggled with her weight again in both the present-day and the flashbacks. Though she’s much more confident than the Katie girl who did one work out video with her mother in the 80s and felt deterred after she saw she wasn’t losing weight, the reality of her weight still well, weighed heavy on her.
It was only amplified when she realized how slim and hunky Toby’s been looking. That paired with his client meeting in which she had to admit she couldn’t fit into a booth and needed a table instead really triggered her.
Kate’s anger is expected as she’s always put so much pressure on herself to be thin and gets upset when it comes easily or naturally to others. But the anger wasn’t warranted, which is why it’s good she got over it quickly.
Toby didn’t mean to hurt her by taking care of himself and his health — his motives for doing it for his child were inspiring — he just didn’t want her to feel bad about not doing it also.
No one should ever be blamed for doing what’s best for them, even if it isn’t what others believe you should be doing.
Kate apologized and acknowledge how great his healthy lifestyle was, but there’s definitely going to be some animosity going forward. This isn’t the end yet. Could this be why Kate and Toby aren’t together anymore in the future?
Kate’s neighbor, Gregory, was unlikeable at first, but it teaches an important lesson about not judging people because you never know what they’re going through.
His callous way of requesting that Toby didn’t block the driveway seemed insensitive and uptight. It was obvious the storage unit was taking up too much space, and there was obviously a better way to go about getting his point across.
But later, we learned that Gregory was recovering from a stroke (guest star Psych’s Timothy O’Toole was also a stroke survivor) and walking a mile was a personal goal, which was being hindered by the car in the driveway.
Knowing that changed our whole outlook on Gregory – he went’ from being the “asshole neighbor” to the funny and slightly cynical one.
There’s potential within this new friendship, and maybe Gregory will be the one to push Kate in a way she’s never been able to push herself.
There’s an emphasis on health here from both Toby and Gregory that I don’t think Kate will ignore.
The first step is just taking that walk around the block.
First Day of School – The first day of school was the connection between young Kate, Randall and Kevin, and Randall’s girls, Deja, Annie, and Tess.
Both Tess and Randall wanted to make a good impression and found themselves misunderstood.
Tess may have come out to her parents and family members last season, but her storyline will echo what many LGBTQ folks know all too well — coming out never truly ends.
Every time you meet a new person, you’ll have to come out to them, which Tess realized is more difficult than she thought it would be.
Deja was having a situation of her own when Malik informed her that he was the father of a baby girl.
Finding out someone has a child is a lot to process for an adult let alone a teenage girl who isn’t prepared for such responsibilities.
But, Deja is more mature than many other girls her age. She’s gone through difficult times and experiences, which have made her stronger, and that outlook on life is why she’d probably be open to Malik’s situation.
And we’re all secretly hoping she gives Malik a chance because we want to see Randall’s reaction.
Will Beth and Randall handle the news maturely? Or will Randall spiral into another bus incident?
Jack and Miguel – Friendship is the key to life. I mentioned that Kevin is just as caring and nurturing as his father, and this rings true in the flashback to Jack and Miguel. Both men had each other’s backs during a difficult situation. If it wasn’t for Miguel, Jack would have lost his job over an accidental mistake.
Both men are/ were lucky to have each other in their lives. I do wonder if this backstory will have some impact on their friendship going forward. Jack seemed to make the mistake because he wasn’t happy in his line of work. Otherwise, the scene felt like they were just inserting it to give us some quality Jack time. I’m never opposed to that, but it isn’t how This Is Us operates.
The fourth season is delivering storylines that exemplify that character’s strengths, showcase their rawness, and propel the plot forward.
Even though fans were skeptical about how the series would move on, at some point, we have to move on from grieving from Jack’s death.
This new handful of characters allows us to do so while still connecting to inspiring moments with our Pearson clan.