Is it his childhood sweetheart, Sophie? His best friend, Cassidy? Or the hot wedding singer who writes lyrics about him? All the clues point to -- all three of them?
After what has seemed like literal decades, "This Is Us" is finally ready to spill the beans on who Kevin ends up with. Does he finally get his happily ever after? And who was he with at Kate's wedding?
In a cut b-story running through last week's wedding-centric episode, Beth and Madison went on the hunt as private investigators after they discovered a bra, a sweater (shawl? well, something), and a hand-written love poem in Kevin's room.
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Who did he hook up with last night? And as the day progressed and they shadowed Kevin as he interacted with various people, it quickly became clear that not one, not two, but three different women were in his room last night!
The sweater (shawl? wrap? whatever!) belonged to Cassidy, the poem was from the wedding singer Arielle ... but then, Sophie was also in his room. Was it her bra? If so, what happened between them? Did he sleep with all of them?!
It was a silly mystery to lighten an otherwise pretty heavy episode, with all the answers promised for this week's episode, which stepped back in time one day to show us just what happened between Kevin and all of those women, and how each of those items wound up in his room.
And then, we finally got our answer as to who -- if anyone -- Kevin winds up with on this show. We're running out of episodes, after all, so it's now or never. We thought we had something when Madison wound up pregnant, because we knew he had kids in the future, but she wasn't his person.
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.
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"You're Pretty Much My Best Friend"
In a moment of confused vulnerability, and off the advice of Nicky -- who was clearly distracted by whatever ice-based sexcapades he and Edie were about to get up to -- Kevin asked Cassidy if there was a chance between them. We loved that she sweetly shut him down by telling him what he already knew. They're best friends at this point, and that can get confusing at times, but that's all they are.
That's right, despite the mystery aspect of last week's episode, this week didn't really bother to frame this as a whodunnit type of mystery. Yes, we needed to learn how the various artifacts got into Kevin's room, but this story was always and only ever moving in one direction. And that direction wasn't Cassidy.
As for her shawl (was it a sweater?), that got in his room because she found herself trapped in her dress and needed her best friend to help her unzip it. She simply tossed the item down, changed in his bathroom and then forgot about it. In his frenzied mind, Kevin probably never even noticed it.
1 tissue (always a bit of a goof, but proof that Kevin has come a long way)
"I Am Your Biggest Fan"
There was certainly chemistry between Arielle, the wedding singer, and Kevin. She had a great personality, and we loved that she used Kevin as a way to get away from creepy Oliver -- Phillip's family is weird! It's also sad that she had to use a man to convince him to leave her alone.
Nevertheless, it was all setting up nicely for a very sweet meet-cute. She even gave him lyrics she'd written while observing him in the bar. But while Kevin took the lyrics, written on the napkin to his room, he did not take Arielle with him (or them). As we said, this chapter was only and always moving in one direction. It wasn't who, it was how.
1 tissue (the meet-cute that almost was)
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"I Am Really Happy, Kev. I'm Also Divorced"
In other words, this story was only ever moving toward Sophie. We already know that Kevin and Sophie go all the way back to childhood. They are each other's beginning, and maybe now each other's ending. From the moment she walked in, the chemistry was palpable; that strange longing that neither could quite lose.
And yet, from the beginning, Kevin was too much of a child, a self-centered, spoiled brat to be worthy of her -- or anyone. We've watched him grow in fits and starts, but even with his near-wedding to Madison it was clear he was still chasing this ideal without fully immersing himself in the emotions of it. It was as if it was all a production and he was trying to act the part.
Perhaps that's why Sophie was hesitant to reveal to him that she was now divorced after she arrived. She played it off for a while that her husband Grant was still in the picture. She knew that there was this draw between her and Kevin and it scared her, so better to use that safety buffer -- again of another man. Until she couldn't do it anymore.
2 tissues (opening herself up to whatever happens)
"I'm Never Gonna Be Able to Fast-Forward Over You"
At one point while chatting, Kevin shared that he thought of calling her -- Sophie is a nurse -- when little Nicky hurt himself. She told him in an almost breathless whisper that he could have called. Later, she laid it all out on the line for him, telling him that her husband used to jokingly pretend to fast-forward through his scenes when he'd be on TV.
It was during one of those moments that she realized she couldn't. It was too real for her, what existed between her and Kevin. Even after all these years, that flame still burned bright. Yes, Kevin was a royal screw up who cheated on her when they were in their early 20s, and he continued to screw up everything for years and years and years, but still the flame stayed lit.
2 tissues (sometimes love doesn't know any better)
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"I Don't Want to Hurt Her Again"
When they were together in Kevin's hotel room, things were getting hot and heavy and shirtless fast -- thus, the bra! -- but the brakes were pumped just as fast when Kevin thought Sophie was using the same shampoo she used to use.
Earlier, she'd told him that she's happy with herself finally, but also divorced. In other words, she's learned how to be content to just be Sophie. She's done a lot of growing as a person. She doesn't live in her past, and she got scared in that moment that getting with Kevin would be doing just that -- or that he'd be doing that.
And so, Kevin spent the night alone, and spent the day of the wedding deep in thought, because he couldn't get her out of his head. When he talked to Randall and told him why he was hesitant to even pursue anything with her, despite the yearning in his heart, it said everything about his growth.
He was willing to not follow his heart if there was a chance it might hurt her again. He was done hurting people, as we'd seen him do already with so many women. He's finally ready, and Randall knew it. That's why he told him in no uncertain terms that he knew for a fact Kevin wouldn't hurt her.
3 tissues (he doesn't even know how mature that statement is)
"He Isn't Ready for You"
Twice Sophie had an encounter with Rebecca about Kevin, and twice Sophie thought it was more than 20 years prior when Kevin and Sophie were young and in love and Kevin was too much of "an idiot" to do the right thing and keep the right girl.
Despite her dementia, Rebecca was still able to offer Sophie sage advice at just the right moment. By telling her that 20-year-old Kevin isn't ready for her, but that someday he will be. Someday, when the time is just right, he's "going to be so great."
As Sophie was wrestling with her fears of falling into the same old things with the same old Kevin, she also had to recall the man she'd met this weekend. She'd seen him with his kids, co-parenting like a champ with Madison, and showing more care and thoughtfulness for others than perhaps in his entire life. Turns out "someday" is right now.
3 tissues (heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time)
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"I Want to Fall in Love with the Man That You've Become"
Fortuitous pep talks out of the way from Rebecca and Randall, Kevin decided he needed to approach Sophie and talk to her. That draw was just too strong to ignore, and he wasn't going to do it anymore. He even prepared a Jack-worthy speech to bowl her over, so we kind of loved it that she shut him down.
Kevin has given a lot of speeches over the years and a lot of them have been total b.s. We have no doubt this one would have been sincerity, but it was even better that Sophie took control of this moment. She acknowledged that both of them have finally done the work on themselves to emerge from this life in a happier, healthier place.
They've been toxic for one another in the past, so they can't live there. Their past can inform their future, but the genesis of any new relationship needs to be right now with the people they are, not the people they were or the ones they may aspire to be.
It was a Pearson-worthy speech if we'd ever heard one, while also making it very clear that if they go down this path, she wants to go all the way down. She wants to fall in love with him the right way this time and she wants this to be their one and only true love experience.
4 tissues (we have no choice but to stan a woman who knows what she wants)
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"I've Always Carried You with Me, Soph"
Of course, Kevin is a Pearson so there's never going to be a moment that he doesn't have a grand gesture in his pocket. In this case, that's literally where he had one. And it was a callback to this week's sparse flashback sequences.
We opened the episode with little Kevin in the classroom, filling out Valentine's Day cards for all the girls in the classroom, who were all smiling and mooning over him. In the closing moments of the episode, we jumped back to that scene and it's when Sophie first moved to his school. This was their meet-cute as we saw him put her name on a card.
He's apparently been carrying that card in his wallet ever since. If so, that's very weird as he almost married Madison and has had all kinds of relationships in the interim, but it's also possible. Kevin is a hopeless romantic, and we all know the reason he couldn't tell Madison he loved her is because he's never gotten over Sophie.
It was all kinds of Hallmark movie and treacly, but "This Is Us" has been getting sentimental in its old age, so perhaps we can forgive it. Next week, we finally get to see Miguel's story, and it looks like we're getting his whole story, so there should be some more sweet moments as we finally get to see how he and Rebecca crossed that line.
5 tissues (Pearson men and their grand gestures -- corny bet we kind of love 'em)
"This Is Us" is down to its final four episodes, Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.