Grab The Tissues — This Is Where We Left Off With This Is Us

Photo: Ron Batzdorff/NBC.
After months of not sobbing at our television screens, This Is Us season 2 is here to end the tear-free streak. The NBC drama returns on September 28 to remind us we really, really need to buy more tissues.
The first season of This Is Us was a dazzling array of time jumps, plot twists, and ominous suggestions. In fact, the series was purposefully confusing from the very beginning. In the pilot, we see adult versions of Kate (Chrissy Metz), Kevin (Justin Hartley), Randall (Emmy-winner Sterling K. Brown), Rebecca (Mandy Moore), and Jack Pearson (Milo Ventimiglia). It isn't until the final seconds of the season 1 premiere This Is Us confirms we're looking at two separate timelines: the day Jack and Rebecca's children Kate, Kevin, and Randall were born in 1980, and the Big Three's 36th birthday in 2016. The flashbacks and flashforwards only get more intense from there, leaving it pretty hard for fans to keep the Pearson family timeline straight.
That's why we decided to put together a handy refresher course together to help you remember exactly where our five favorite Pittsburgh natives left off with season 1 finale “Moonshadow.” Keep reading for the walk down memory lane you seriously need.
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Randall Pearson

Randall ends season 1 as the best because he is always the best. Before “Moonshadow,” the father of two quits his high-stress job when he realizes his company doesn’t respect him or value him in the least. That choice frees Randall up for a trip to Memphis with his dying father William Hill (Ron Cephas Jones), otherwise known as the biggest cryfest on television in 2017. While in Memphis, William dies, which leads to an emotional wake back in New York, filled with tear-jerking speeches and crisp walks with dapper hats. Randall puts on his father’s signature hat and I subsequently start crying.

In the finale, a grieving Randall realizes the amazing impact his own adoption had on his life and the lives of his family members. After taking all of that in, he tells his wife Beth Pearson, “I want to adopt a baby.” The couple’s humongous house certainly could fit another little body.
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Kevin Pearson

Kevin, Kevin, Kevin. The Pearson family’s most famous member started out as my least favorite character within the entire vast ensemble that is This Is Us. But, all of that changed starting with “Jack Pearson’s Son,” when Kevin ditches his massively important opening night show for his off-Broadway play to save a broken Randall. Now I’m seriously rooting for Kevin and his ex-wife-slash-new-girlfriend Sophie (Alexandra Breckenridge).

Since this is This Is Us, a wrench has been thrown into the new-old couple’s cheese fries heaven, and that wrench is Kevin being ask to audition for a major new Ron Howard film. Kevin heading to L.A. is what spelled out trouble for the duo last time. So, we’ll see if they’re strong enough to weather the bi-coastal storm this time around.
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Kate Pearson

Kate and boyfriend Toby Damon (Chris Sullivan) close out season 1 engaged and successfully back in Los Angeles after quite some time in New York. Although Kate had a number of jobs over 18 episodes, from acting as Kevin’s personal assistant to working with a woman named Marin (Jami Gertz), she’s finally ready to pursue her real dream, which is singing.

Kate comes to this decision after seeing an old photo of her mom on stage, which could signal the only Pearson daughter might also be ready to improve her tense relationship with Rebecca.

Going into season 2, we’re hoping to find out why Kate believes she killed Jack, as she claims in penultimate episode “What Now,” and if she’ll actually marry Toby, whom she’s only known for a short amount of time.
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Jack Pearson

Fans were terrified going into This Is Us finale “Moonshadow” since viewers were convinced they were about to find out how beloved Pearson family patriarch Jack dies. That is not what happened.

Instead, we got a look at two major points in Jack’s life: the day he meet his wife Rebecca and the day he irrevocably ruined his marriage with Rebecca. In the former, fans learn Jack was a general handyman and mechanic around town who was saving his money. He eventually wins a huge poker game, but is assaulted and robbed by his competitors. Jack decides to retaliate with an elaborate scheme, where he plans to steal a bunch of money from the cash register of the shady men who attacked him. Instead, he falls for Rebecca (more on that soon).

In the latter storyline, Jack decides to go see Rebecca’s nearby performance after a teen Kate criticizes her dad for stubbornly trying to skip it. The only problem is, Jack is so irritated by his wife’s decision to go on tour for weeks on end, he gets drunk on the way to the gig and keeps drinking when he arrives. As viewers know, Jack has a history of alcoholism, which he tried to deal with when his children were much younger.

Unfortunately, a drunk Jack creates a commotion at Rebecca’s performance and is kicked out, forcing Rebecca to drive him home. When they get in the house, Rebecca demands to know what Jack loves about her in that moment, not in the past. He very sweetly tells her, “I love the mother that you are. I love that you are still the most beautiful woman in any room and that you laugh with your entire face. I love that you dance funny, and not sexy, which makes it even sexier. But, most of all, I love that you are still the same woman who, all those years ago, ran out of a blind date simply because she had to sing.”

Even with this lengthy profession of love, Jack leaves the Pearson household as penance for his terrible behavior.
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Rebecca Pearson

Before Rebecca meets Jack, she is bombarded at all sides with people wanting to set her up. Her mom, her grandma, her grandma’s friend, and even her own friends, who are both living more traditional lives with marriages and babies on the horizon, are trying to find the free spirit a man immediately. Despite Rebecca’s insistence on holding onto her dreams, she eventually “diversifies” her life plan, as her friend recommends, and relents on the no blind dates edict; Rebecca lets someone set her up.

While it originally seems like Rebecca is being stood up — presumably by Jack, as the famously manipulative This Is Us storytelling would lead you to believe — the guy (Joe Conti) is actually just late and a total snooze. He’s so boring, the character is listed as “Blonde Banker” on IMDb, even though Rebecca literally calls him Ethan at one point. This makes sense because Blonde Banker spends his date explaining the difference between mergers and acquisitions for what seems like at least a half hour.

To avoid passing out into her plate, Rebecca flees the restaurant to go perform at her open mic night. This is where Jack is struck by her singing, and doesn’t commit that crime we were talking about earlier. The rest is history.

In the more recent flashback, Rebeca tells bandmate Ben (Sam Trammell) it’s “all over,” meaning both the immediate gig they were supposed to perform in 20 minutes and, likely, their partnership. The latter fact is especially probable because Ben tried to kiss Rebecca and a drunk Jack responds by beating Ben to a pulp. While an argument does break out between Jack and Rebecca, she clearly ends the finale hopeful she and her husband can make their marriage work.