If it wasn’t for the two major reveals that This Is Us threw our way on tonight’s episode, this recap would have been about the super couple that is now Kevin and Toby. Seriously, when This Is Us wraps up years from now—but let’s not think about that—I would pay to watch a series with just Justin Hartley and Chris Sullivan. Whoever wrote Toby’s line when he meets Malia (the host/gate-keeper at a swanky rooftop bar) and says, “Malia, please give my regards to Sasha,” needs to be paid more. Like, I’d literally shell out big bucks to watch these guys on a weekly basis.
But humor aside—because there were many hilarious moments in this episode—it was Kevin’s past and Jack’s funeral that took center stage. We knew there were going to be big moments, thanks to a heads-up from executive producer Dan Fogelman, as well as some telling words from Justin Hartley. Still, we could never have expected what happened next.
(Warning: Spoilers Ahead!)
Let’s start with the biggest tearjerker of the night: Jack’s funeral. While Kate is away at a weight-loss and lifestyle camp, she’s forced to come to terms with the emotional barriers that have prevented her from reaching her goals. During an emotionally charged workout class, Kate flashes back to significant points in her life, starting with the time she was alienated by her friends at the community pool. We then see her vogueing with Jack at her tenth birthday party. If you weren’t in a puddle of tears by that point, then Jack’s actual funeral must surelyhave done you in.
“The [scene] was more than I thought it was going to be,” Chrissy Metz (Kate) tells Glamour. “I was like, ‘I’ve got to commit to it.’ Watching that scene was even more overwhelming.” It’s true. When Fogelman played the clip to TV critics at the Television Critics Association winter press tour last week, Metz was overcome with tears as the lights came up. “I just hope it resonates with people. Mackenzie Hancsicsak (young Kate) does such a beautiful job, so to see it all compiled is like, ‘[Gasps!] I hope I did her and Kate justice.’ ” (Oh, Chrissy, you did more than achieve justice.)
Tears and emotions aside, you had to rewind that scene multiple times if you wanted to pick up all the clues about Jack’s funeral. Viewers still don’t know the cause of death (though here’s a popular theory), but it’s now evident that Jack likely passed away sometime in his late fifties or early sixties. And while we don’t actually see the actors in the funeral scene, we do see Rebecca’s silhouette—and that she’s wearing the necklace Jack gave her. She’s holding hands with a teenage or early-twentysomething Randall, who is standing next to Kevin and Kate. These obviously aren’t the same actors currently playing the 10-year-old version of themselves, which means if Jack was born in the mid-1940s (as flashbacks have led us to believe) and he was able to watch the 2006 Super Bowl with Kate, then Jack possibly died at 62 or 63. However, the photo used of Jack at his funeral depicts him more in his late forties. So, in other words, I now feel like I know nothing and am back taking the SATs.
“We have a while to go in the big picture,” Fogelman says, which makes me feel better about trying to figure out an unsolvable puzzle at the moment. “The needle we have to continue to thread is parsing out information so it never becomes too frustrating for people, but at the same point, it’s obvious—there’s a before and after to this family. Slowly but surely you will learn when, then much later how, and then we’ll see it. But that will take hopefully many, many episodes.” In other words, appreciate the scenes from Jack’s funeral as a reminder to love the remarkable people in your life while they’re still here. (And a reminder that every TV Father’s Day list from here on out had better have Jack at the top of that list.)
OK, moving on to the second biggest reveal of the night: Kevin’s past. As Justin Hartley previewed, “Kevin is in a free fall now [after losing both Sloane and Olivia]. By the end of [tonight’s] episode, it will be very clear which way he’s going.” Oh, yes, it’s very clear. It turns out that Kevin’s future doesn’t include Sloane or Olivia (which, perhaps, is not a huge shock), but…his ex-wife! That’s not all: We also learn his ex-wife is none other than Kate’s best friend, Sophie, who first makes an appearance at the triplets’ tenth birthday party. “I think the audience will very much be in complete and total shock,” Hartley says, stating the obvious. “You’re like, ‘What?!’”
Sophie hasn’t appeared in present day until now (this episode marks The Walking Dead alum Alexandra Breckenridge’s first appearance in a recurring role), which means who knows how long she was BFFs with Kate or if she and Kate still talk. All we know is that Kevin and Sophie—who is dressed in scrubs—divorced 12 years ago, she hasn’t seen him since, and she bears a striking resemblance to Robin Wright in The Princess Bride. Which, by the way, was Kevin’s favorite movie when he was 10—the age he declared that he was in love with Sophie. Is your head spinning yet?
All we know for sure is that there are five episodes left in This Is Us‘ incredible first season, and we know one hell of a scene with Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia is coming up. In other words, get out the tissues and hold on for dear life.
Need more of This Is Us? Check out 10 secrets you didn’t know about the show.