SPOILER ALERT: This article contains details about Tuesday’s episode of This Is Us.
Tonight’s episode of This Is Us is titled “Six Thanksgivings”, which basically means that you will need six times more Kleenex when watching the episode which celebrates a time of year when we give thanks for friends, family and food, of course. But most of all, this episode answers the burning question: “How did Jack get that necklace?”
True to form and as the title of the episode suggests, we travel to significant Thanksgiving benchmarks of the Pearson family timeline. We start off during the heydays of the Pearson fam with Jack (Milo Ventimiglia), Rebecca (Mandy Moore), and the teenage versions of the Big Three are about to celebrate turkey day with Miguel (Jon Huertas) is still navigating his troublesome divorce. Randall is about to submit his essay about who had the most impact in his life for his college application and his family is playfully busting his chops about it.
Then we are brought back to the Vietnam war where Jack is still trying to take care of his unwilling and bitter brother Nick (Michael Angarano) while befriending a local Vietnamese woman. That brings us to the “present.” Adult Randall (Sterling K. Brown) takes Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson), Deja (Lyric Ross) and Annie (Faithe Herman) to serve food to the homeless as part of his campaign. While there, Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Toby (Chris Sullivan) make Thanksgiving dinner while Tess (Eris Baker) stays behind sick. In the same time period, Rebecca accompanies Miguel to have Thanksgiving lunch with his estranged children — which is associated with the introductory story. We also travel back into time to see William (Ron Cephas Jones) and Jessie (Dennis O’Hare) meet for the first time before they jump ahead into time and cross paths again. Both have been through a lot of stuff and the two reconnect before William convinces Jessie to celebrate Thanksgiving — a holiday he hates.
As usual, This Is Us juggles multiple storylines and manages to have it all gel together in the end as a montage of scenes backed by emotional acoustic music plays, making you want to hug your television. But again, the origin story of the necklace is what is on all of our minds.
During the scenes in Vietnam, Jack, being the unbelievably good guy he is, helps a young Vietnamese boy whose foot is cut by the barbed wire. Against the wishes of his brother — who basically thinks the villagers are less than human — he continues to help them and gives the boy the care he needs. His mother, who he befriends earlier in the episode, gives him — wait for it — a necklace as a token of her appreciation. And yes, it’s the same exact necklace that Kevin (Justin Hartley) wears and the one that brought him to Vietnam in the previous episode.
“Six Thanksgivings” finally gives Miguel’s narrative time to breathe and sheds some more light on his relationship with Rebecca and his estranged children who are now adults. During a tense Thanksgiving lunch, Rebecca tries to make nice with the children and they are just being polite — except for Miguel’s son who is basically a jerk to her. Miguel puffs his chest and puts his son on blast and basically says, “Look, I tried to be a good father and you wouldn’t let me — take shots at me but leave my wife out of this.” He also says, “The Pearson kids are better than you guys will ever be because they don’t treat me like trash.” Well, he doesn’t use those exact words, but you get the idea.
Meanwhile, at the Thanksgiving volunteer event, Randall’s campaign manager Jae-won (Tim Jo) is butting heads with Beth, who is now his field manager, about how to run a campaign which puts Randall in a pickle. This brings us back to the previous episode when Beth asks Randall if the job he gave her was out of pity. He insists it’s not, but in this episode, we find out otherwise.
Back at Randall’s house, Toby is spazzing out because he is under an enormous amount of pressure to make cranberry sauce and live up to the perfect men in Kate’s life — which actually brings levity and humor to the episode. Toby’s presence on the show has become more tolerable since his first couple of episodes where he was just a fedora-wearing buttinsky who uttered obnoxious jokes. He was like the unfunny uncle that makes you roll your eyes with every single comment that comes out of his mouth — now he is actually cool.
While the two try to make Thanksgiving dinner, Toby decides to take some chicken soup to Tess who we all thought to be sick. When the two run into each other, she has a box of tampons and pads in her arms. She screams out of embarrassment — and so does Toby. The scene is quite hilarious. That being said, Tess has gotten her first period. With Beth out of the house, Kate, testing her maternal instincts, helps navigate Tess through this time in her life. They have a heart-to-heart and Kate shares the humiliating story of her first period. As they talk more, Kate finds out a secret from Tess: she likes boys…and maybe girls too. This takes Kate by surprise but after Tess asks her to not tell her mom and dad Kate says she won’t and that “they will love you no matter what” and that she should tell them. This might have been the biggest moment of tonight’s episode…next to the necklace, of course.
As the episode comes to a close, Toby has messed up Thanksgiving dinner and ends up ordering takeout from Cracker Barrel and Popeye’s and the family comes together — even Kevin and Zoe (Melanie Liburd) join via face time from Vietnam. Like clockwork, there’s a montage touching on all the key moments of the episode. All the while, teenage Randall reads his college essay, waxing poetic on how there is not just one person who has had an impact on his life — there are several.
Once again, the Dan Fogelman NBC drama tugs at our heartstrings with the journey of the Pearson family, unveiling secrets and giving us more reason to reach for the tissues and hug our loved ones while we gorge ourselves on turkey and an array of carbs.