As the Pearson family gets bigger, we get what may go down as the most pointless flashback sequence in the history of the show.
We know that "This Is Us" love to throw new twists and turns at us, so we got pretty excited when we met a fresh new couple and began to explore their lives together.
While we know it's not his lineage, we couldn't help but speculate that maybe, somehow, this Indian man and Argentinian woman were going to be Miguel's parents. Yes, the timeline didn't quite fit, either, but poor Miguel has been playing second fiddle to these Pearsons for years now. When is it his turn?
Not this week, as it was instead time to expand the cast with the addition of a "new big three," as Kate dubbed the arrival of her daughter by surrogate, and Kevin's twins with Madison.
The big looming question for the hour was whether or not Kevin was going to make it in time for the birth. It was also about connections, with a genuinely touching one shared by Rebecca and her kids through a piece of smudged artwork.
Almost ruined after a flood at the family cabin, the way their handprints ran together became a symbol for Jack and Rebecca of the connections within their family. And thanks to the power of modern technology, they were able to still be connected, even as COVID-19 forced them apart.
In truth, video chat was instrumental in every facet of this story. Randall and Beth were able to be there for Madison as Kevin struggled desperately to get there through the power of video chat.
Toby was able to connect with Kate, and ultimately with his new daughter, thanks to video chat. Rebecca, Miguel, Randall, Beth and even Uncle Nicky were all able to "meet" the newest additions to the family thanks to the power of this new technology.
We totally agree that the power of technology and the internet is amazing, but we were still totally flummoxed when the couple we met at the top was just the guy who helped develop the earliest forms of technology that made all of this possible.
Yes, that means he's a remarkable and amazing dude who did an incredible thing for our nation -- for which we are even more grateful during these times -- but that doesn't mean he deserved to become a totally disconnected character in this Pearson story.
His saga got several interludes, progressing through his meet-cute with his wife up to when he explained to her what he was working on when their son was four years old. Um, that's great and all, but if you're running out of stories to tell with the Pearson family even as it's growing, can we recommend you take some more time off rather than do this ever again.
As we do every week, we're going to single out the show's most powerful moments, scoring them by how many tissues we tore through just to watch them. Believe us, these are happy tears of anguish.
Sometime before this show ends, we demand that Miguel finally get his story told, finally gets some damned respect from these needy Pearsons and finally gets to relinquish the burden of always being the strong one. Miguel is a complicated character who's had an interesting arc that we've never explored.
Rebecca acknowledging here that he lost his best friend when Jack died, and yet he has to grieve differently because he's married to her and stepdad to her kids, is but the first drop in the bucket of what Miguel deserves from these writers. Maybe this is a step in that direction.
1 tissue (better late than never)
"One of Rose's Favorites"
We weren't sure where this was going to go when the cranky, older man showed up to yell at Toby for being in "his spot," like this is "The Big Bang Theory." But it turned out rather sweet, as the man was merely superstitious and praying for his wife's recovery from Covid.
Unlike many shows, "This Is Us" has fully embraced the Covid world we all live in, but not in a heavy-handed and strange way. But it is because of Covid that Toby had to wait in the parking lot for his daughter to be born, while this man had to wait in the parking lot in hopes his wife would recover.
Oh, did we mention that when "Badass Rose" came around, it was via video chat that she was able to tell her husband she was coming home? He still didn't deserve three segments in this week's show.
Nevertheless, we were touched that Toby and this man were able to connect, bonding over their shared anxiety and even sharing a little bit of their stories. This was how the man came to share with Toby one of his prized pigs, which he and his wife have collected for luck. It was a sweet gesture and a great way to connect their disparate stories.
It happens eventually to every parent and it's heartbreaking every time. This week, it happened for Jack as their teenaged kids decided they didn't want to spend the weekend at the cabin with their parents anymore. Rebecca was all about it, but Jack was hurting.
So much focus is always put on the experiences of younger people as they navigate through life, it's refreshing to see the emotional journeys that their parents go through being given equal weight here. Losing that connection with your kids is hard, because even though it evolves and they stay a part of your life, once gone, that exact relationship is usually gone forever.
"You Named Him After Me?"
Instead, as we get older, we get to enjoy a whole different kind of connection that can be just as touching. After having not appeared for quite a while, it was beautiful to see Kevin introduce Uncle Nicky to his new baby by simply telling him his name, Nicholas.
Nicky was touched and moved beyond words that the relationship he and Kevin had forged meant so much to Kevin that he would honor him in this manner. In a way, though, it was Nicky who stepped up as the father figure Kevin needed to finally start to get his life back on track. It's a touching, and deserved, tribute.
Baby Nicky's sister is named Frances, but we're already all calling her Franny because that's much cuter. She's named after Madison's grandmother, which is also touching and sweet but since we don't know her, it's not hitting us the same. Sorry, Grams!
Look, we saw this one coming a mile away, but it was still a very sweet gesture. Think about how important Dr. K was for Jack and Rebecca after the birth of their babies. This stranger in the parking lot was that figure for Toby because he was the only other person he could interact with.
While their paths will likely never cross again, their stories will remain intertwined. The man will probably tell his wife Rose about the man he met in the parking lot anxiously awaiting the birth of his daughter. Toby helped this man take his mind off his worries and think about life.
And the love the man showed for his wife of 55 years was the same kind of love Toby has for his own wife and the child he hasn't even met. It's the love of family, and it connects us just as strongly as those video chats (still bitter!).
"We're All Still Together"
It was touching how Rebecca lifted Jack up when he was down about the kids not wanting to come by recontextualizing a piece of art they'd done together as a family that got ruined by water damage. What was five handprints is now five interconnected blobs, but it represents their family in a whole new way now.
Now, no matter what happens in life and how the years may pull them apart physically, they'll always be connected, their stories will always overlap and connect. The picture became the framing sequence in the present, as well, for Rebecca's anxiety and disappointment that she can't be there for the births of her newest grandchildren, either.
Of course, Covid wouldn't have allowed her in the room. And since Madison and Kate and Toby's birth mother, Ellie, were basically giving birth at the same time, Rebecca wouldn't have been able to be at both anway ... and she doesn't want to pick favorites. So in a strange way, this was actually better.
There was so much to love about the scene between Madison and Kevin when he finally arrived at the hospital. We don't know the story of how he pulled it off after losing his wallet, but we don't need to know. What matters is that he made it.
But it's so much more than that, because in making it, Kevin finally realized what he'd been searching for his whole life and finally realized the one thing that will bring him complete and total happiness.
Kevin has worshiped Jack as a father all these years because that is what he wants more than anything. And so, nothing else matters as much. By the same token, it was clear that he wants to be a father with Madison as the mother of their children. Does she feel the same? It's hard to tell, as she was kind of busy, but it's looking hopeful. We're still rooting for them!
"It Just Might Be the Best Thing I Ever Do"
We started to sweat a little bit when Ellie asked to hold the baby after delivery, as we've seen these heartbreaking sagas play out before. But Ellie has always been a little squirrelly but ultimately devoted to doing what's right for her baby.
To find out that she just wanted that moment before handing her off to "someone really special" was powerful and moving. In fact, she advocated so hard for Kate throughout this episode, that she quickly became a favorite of ours (who we may never see again).
When a nurse called her "Mom," it was Ellie who spoke up immediately and told her that Kate was "Mom." Kate was never going to do that herself, so it was amazing to see Ellie standing strong with her belief that this is the right thing and demanding that everyone around her see, know and acknowledge that reality.
We're sure Kate was sweating, too, when Ellie asked to hold her baby, but even as she did share that brief bond with her, she never wavered in knowing that the right thing to do by her baby and herself was to allow her to live in that household of love with Kate and Toby.
There is so much baggage and so much unspoken between Kevin and Randall, but every scene they shared this week showed how ready both of them are to start working through those things and finding a better way forward. It's beautiful to see.
Kevin was so touched when he walked into the hospital room to hear Randall's voice, being there for Madison. And it was clear that Randall was touched by Kevin reaching out to him about his experiences in their family as a Black man, even if this wasn't the time to have that conversation.
Both men have grown tremendously in the past few weeks through their unorthodox and equally "Damn!" adventures, and they're finally ready to see each other as whole human beings, flawed but no less amazing and no less deserving of brotherly love. We love to see it!
And we look forward to when time slows down and they can have that conversation. Will the writers be bold enough to let the viewers in on it, or are we just going to one day be past it? Wait, this show isn't linear -- there are no excuses!