It's time for bachelor and bachelorette parties, Pearson style! -- which means lots and lots of tears. They may not be doing this right.
As Kevin and Madison approach their long-awaited nuptials, it's just about time for those last-minute jitters and doubts to start creeping in. And since "This Is Us," that creep is more like a tidal wave!
It's always interesting when long-running shows mix up the character dynamics, and that was accomplished quite effectively by having the show follow Kevin's bachelor party and Madison's bachelorette party.
This gave an opportunity for the wives, such as it is, to get to know one another while painting (hilariously enough) an ex of Madison who ghosted her ... and painting him in the nude! Meanwhile, the guys headed down to the cabin where the campfire brought out their softer side.
In a way, we kind of love it that the ladies enjoyed the more raunchy bachelorette experience, while the guys did a lot of talking about their feelings and watching a movie. It's a reversal of how these parties are traditionally featured on the screen (not counting "Bridesmaids").
But out of all that melancholy came something very important for Kevin to hear, and very exciting for us as viewers. Suffering cold feet after another surprise call from an ex, this time Sophie with a mysterious new number and a "long story" behind it, Kevin actually found solace for his concerns in Miguel.
Poor beleaguered Miguel came through for his stepson in a major way, and it set the stage for us to maybe finally get the story of how Miguel and Rebecca came to be husband and wife. Certainly, there's a story even more unorthodox than the story of Kevin and Madison.
Next week is the big wedding season finale, but of course the big question is whether or not either party will be missing at the altar. We ended last week's episode with Kevin feeling major doubts. This week, it looks like it's Madison's turn and we cannot handle all this stress!
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.
Nicky has always said some pretty awful things in life, having virtually no social skills and even less filter. But he really crossed a line with Kevin when he basically said that Kev was marrying Madison for the kids and not because he really cares about her. Of course, this got into Kevin's head, but as Nicky revealed later, it wasn't even about him.
It's easy to just think of Nicky as this curmudgeonly old man, but he lived an entire life and it was one of missed opportunities and squandered -- well, everything. Now that he's putting himself out there, experiences like this (and apparently the movie "Jerry Maguire") remind him of all he lost. In this case, it was the girl he was in love with 50 years ago.
At the end of the episode, he was seen looking her up online to see if he could track her down, but he's going to have to dig a little deeper than just putting her name out there. Still, it's sweet to see him thinking about her like that.
"How Is This Marriage Gonna Work?"
With all the growth adult Kevin has experienced in the course of the show, it's becoming harder and harder to see him as the young adult version of him. He was such a jerk in his younger years, and in this case he was hopelessly aloof and disinterested in how his time in LA was hard on his new wife, Sophie.
The fact he dismissed her concerns about it over and over again was a sign of how selfish he was -- or at least presented -- during those years. At least he redeemed himself somewhat with the "Jerry Maguire" inspired mission statement he wrote her to declare his love. But all the Jack Pearson grand gestures in the world couldn't make up for his failures and their relationship was still doomed.
We're glad to see that Kevin has come a long way emotionally, finally becoming the best version of himself, albeit in fits and starts. At the same time, it's always worrisome that this other version of himself is always in there, skulking around and ready to sabotage anything good.
Oh Kate, what a dear friend. She took off her sister hat and put on her best friend hat to check in on Madison during the bachelorette party, and Madison said all the right things. She spoke about how Kevin's depth and compassion has surprised her. But is she just saying the right things, or does she feel them?
While we've been upfront and center with Kevin's doubts, Madison has been far more quiet. And it's not like she hasn't had doubts about him and all of this from the start. We're still rooting for them to get through the pre-wedding jitters, but like Kate, we also want to make sure she's happy with her choice.
Not only did we get to see Miguel play the role of wise father, and be accepted as such, we got to see what is the genesis of his unusual path to marriage with Rebecca. It happened while Rebecca and the kids were at the cabin, and she found herself watching two young couples interacting.
When Miguel called out of the blue, worried (it's what he does) that he hadn't been able to get a hold of her, she opened up to him that she was actually opening up her mind to the idea of love for herself again. Miguel's response sounded like he was just about to ask her out, but settled for just telling her how amazing she was and that if she's ready, she's sure to find it.
Clearly, his feelings were already there, but it was such a strange mountain to climb, he wasn't ready to tackle it just yet. But it's already adorable and we can't wait to see this long-awaited story finally get told.
In two different eras, we got to see what makes Rebecca such a superstar as a mother and just a person. And there's clearly a warmth in her that's been present for a long time. It was touching watching young Beth open up to her about her anxieties about a big internship, afraid of losing another dream.
Having lost her own singing dream, Rebecca understands this facet of Beth beautifully, and she was able to provide a much-needed pep talk. It's always beautiful how much this extended family supports and lifts one another up, and Rebecca is easily one of the best in this capacity.
Seeing Beth again lean on her as an adult, with Rebecca coming through with just the right thing to say to encourage Beth to not only go be great, but to maybe follow her own muse and go into those stuffy dance academies and just change them. That's a powerful thing to say to someone, a testament of belief. But if there's one person you can bank on, it's Beth.
"Writing Their Stories in the Stars, Together"
Kevin has always been a romantic, and because he's a dreamer in that way, the unorthodox way that he and Madison found themselves in this position left him doubting if it could be real. Enter Miguel and his own love story.
Even we hadn't considered the parallels there, but it's true that Miguel's journey to love with Rebecca is just as unorthodox as Kevin's. Yes, there is such a thing as that beautiful story of fate intertwining two people's lives. It happened with Rebecca and Jack. But that doesn't mean their love is somehow more real or stronger.
There's no denying the deep love that Miguel has for Rebecca, and vice-versa. It's perhaps different than what she shared with Jack, but it's no less real and valid. And Miguel's words clearly resonated with Kevin, as our closing moment with him was him deleting Sophie from his Contacts. At least his cold feet seem to have warmed back up.
Rebecca had as much to thank Beth for as Beth had appreciation for her guidance. For the first time in a long time, Rebecca was not only made to feel useful as a mom, but she was made to feel like a whole person.
Miguel has been doting and fretting over her so intently, and the kids have been almost treating her with kid gloves. She said she feels more like a patient than a full person. She even lamented that Randall hadn't opened up about his trip to New Orleans to learn about his birth mother.
But that's when Beth threw some advice her way. If you want to know about something, just ask. Rebecca was marginalizing herself, internalizing this notion that she is a fragile patient. So she wasn't asserting herself in the way she obviously can. Thankfully, Miguel's chat with the boys reminded him of the strong women he'd married and he apologized for being overly worried. See, there's love!
"The Question Is Moot"
A silly bachelorette game where Kevin joked that there's no point in even discussing his future after the kids are out because he's going to stay young forever turned into a whole thing when compared with the mission statement he wrote to Sophie when they were young newlyweds.
In his letter to Sophie, he spoke about their lives together after they'd grown old, but when asked about that life with Madison, he balked. Kate froze at that moment, remembering the past, but are we putting too much into it? He nailed her dream morning, so does it matter if Kevin 20 years later wants to crack a joke about immortality?
We'll be honest, when Madison was watching the video later, we found ourselves hoping he'd follow up his joke with a matching fantasy about their lives together like the lengthy and beautiful one she shared with the girls. Instead, the clip stopped and Madison had a look as if she was suddenly questioning everything.
We're worried that Madison may decide not to go through with the wedding, as the writers are going to think that Sophie should be Kevin's endgame, because he's been in love with her forever. But do we need "This Is Us" to put a bland, generic rom-com plot into the middle of what's otherwise been pretty realistic character developments.
It's enough that Kevin is a movie star, his live doesn't have to follow the plot of one, does it? It's pretty clear from Sophie's comments about changing her number that maybe things went bad with her last guy, clearing the way for her to be available. But we like the idea of life having just moved on for them. They simply missed their chance.
Kevin and Madison are good together, they're actually quite adorable together, and it should be perfectly okay that he doesn't end up with his first love. He can be just as happy in this second marriage as Rebecca and Miguel. He's spent his whole life chasing his father's dream, maybe it'll be okay if he winds up with something a little more similar to his stepfather's.