‘This is Us’ Season 3, Episode 1 Recap – “Nine Bucks”
The season 3 premiere of This is Us aired Tuesday night and it was filled with the roller coaster of emotions we have come to expect from the Pearson family. If you have not seen the episode yet, you may want to go ahead and stop reading now until you have a chance to catch up.
The episode begins with a multiple shots of several story lines all in quick succession. There’s an unidentified man going through his morning routine of getting ready. He talks to his mother on the phone and asks her if his family will be watching. It is not clear yet what he is referring to. We are then taken through a montage of moments with Kate, Randall, Kevin, Jack, and Rebecca. Kate and Toby are shown as they make the decision to try to get pregnant and are unsuccessful. Randall is shown running with Deja as we also see clips of Deja’s mother relinquishing her rights as a parent. Kevin sleeps with Beth’s cousin, Zoe. He sends her a text as Randall and Beth and the girls are having fun at home. Randall and Beth exchange looks and it is clear they are suspicious of what is happening between Kevin and Zoe. Rebecca is shown performing in a club as Jack walks in and catches her. One of the other patrons remarks that it is obvious Jack is a goner from the way he is looking at Rebecca.
Jack and Rebecca get a drink together after her performance at the club. She asks him if he would like to leave and go somewhere else and he agrees. He runs outside to meet Miguel and tells him that he has met “the girl.” He asks Miguel if he has any money he can borrow but Miguel tells him they are broke. That is the reason they are where they are. Miguel leaves and Rebecca walks out to meet Jack.
The next scene we see Randall asleep in bed. Beth has left him a note that says happy birthday. It is the Big Three’s 38th birthday! Downstairs, Tess and Annie are decorating birthday cards as Deja watches. She thinks about her mother and worries out loud that she did not get Randall anything. Zoe overhears and tells her that she should stop worrying because she is just a kid, she is not expected to buy anything. In the kitchen Randall and Beth discuss their plan to talk to Deja about something. Zoe overhears that Kevin is coming to the birthday party later and after she questions them about it, Beth tells Randall that now she knows they are sleeping together. He asks her to swear she will not say anything, hilariously saying, “I need you to swear it on Oprah.” She says she swears but when he leaves she remarks, “Even Gayle let Oprah down sometimes.”
Next we see Kevin finishing up an on camera interview. Zoe calls him and says he cannot come to Randall’s because Beth knows what is going on but Kevin tells her it is his birthday and he is going. They flirt adorably before Zoe ends the call. Now, Kate and Toby are waiting in a doctor’s office. It becomes clear that this is a fertility doctor. They explain their conditions to the doctor. The doctor tells Toby that his antidepressants might be causing his low sperm count but Toby remarks that they are also causing him to not cry all the time. Kate says she believes it was fate that they got the appointment on her birthday but the doctor says she cannot take them as clients. The risks with Kate’s weight is too high. She tells them it is not likely they will find another doctor that will help them.
After leaving the club Jack and Rebecca have gone to a carnival. The man in the ticket booth asks Jack if he caught the game. Jack asks Rebecca who replies, “What game?” They walk around the carnival as Rebecca recounts a story from childhood about a candy apple and Jack offers to buy her one. She requests a hot chocolate too. He buys her both. The man at the concession stand also asks Jack about the game.
Kevin arrives at Randall and Beth’s house and runs into Zoe first. There is a lot of awkward tension as they pretend they haven’t seen each other in a while when Beth walks in on them and tells them that she knows what is going on. Toby and Kate are getting in their car and he tells Kate that they do not have to go to the birthday party but she says it is her friends and she is fine. Madison greets them and Kate joins the party although it is clear Toby is concerned. Randall and Deja are driving and he pulls over in front of the apartment building that he and Beth bought. As he and Deja lean against the car he explains to her how he met his father then lost him within a year and how being adopted was a bigger part of who he was than he realized at first. This big life-changing thing happened to him without his permission. Because of this, he tells her that he and Beth would like to adopt her but they want her to have the choice he never had. Deja tells him their situations were nothing alike and she will never have a choice. She wants to go home.
Jack and Rebecca are still walking around the carnival. There is a bit of awkward conversation and Jack mentions how he was in the war and how his brother was killed there. Rebecca decides she wants them to play a game where they name two things and they both say what they prefer at the same time. They disagree on both and it is very obvious that the date is not going well. It starts to rain and she sees umbrellas that they can buy. Jack argues that it is not really raining hard enough to warrant buying an umbrella. Rebecca looks disappointed.
Back at Randall’s, Beth is yelling at Zoe about Kevin as he sits on the stairs with Tess and Annie and listens. He tells the girls he planned on asking Zoe to his movie premiere with him. He leaves them and walks in as Beth is yelling at Zoe. Beth tells Zoe to leave and Kevin to sit down, but she changes her mind and yells at him to leave before he can. At Kate’s birthday party, they bring out a cake made out of carrots tied together and tell Kate to make a wish. Kate asks if they want to know what she wished for but Madison says that it will not come true. Kate tells them she wished to have a baby but it was not a wish that would come true anyway. She talks about her struggle with her weight and how she just wants a break.
When Randall and Deja arrive home, he apologizes. He tells her he planned the day for weeks and even memorized he had his speech memorized. He says that it was lame but he just wanted everything to work out. He tells her she is an exceptional person and she apologizes for ruining his birthday. He tries to tell her that she did not ruin it but she has already walked out. Beth walks in and tells him that she had to say something to Zoe and Kevin but she donated to Oprah’s foundation. He knew she would not be able to stay quiet. Upstairs, Deja packs a backpack and climbs out the window. It seems like she is running away but she goes to a shop to speak to a man. She tells him not to bother pretending he does not know her. It is her father. She says that she is going to do something great with her life because she met a family that goes to weird lengths and plans conversations to tell her things.
Jack and Rebecca are still waiting in the rain at the carnival. He asks if she would like to play a game, but at the same time, she says she wants to go home. Jack drives her home. Rebecca tells him it was very nice to meet him and Jack confesses that he could not afford the umbrella. He tells her how he paid for everything else and he did not have enough money for the umbrella because he wanted to have money in case she wanted to play one of the carnival games. He felt like he could not take her to a carnival and not let her play any of the games if she wanted to. He tells her he has been struggling since he returned from the war but he enjoys talking to her because she makes him feel like he has not felt before, like he is home. He apologizes again for the date. She tells him her friends told her to leave an item behind and that way he has an excuse to return but she is not that kind of girl. She kisses Jack goodbye and as he goes to leave he sees that she has left behind her sweater.
Beth talks to Kevin. She explains that he is the only one who treats her daughters as if they are regular people and not children. She tells him everyone loves him and that she loves him, too. Zoe, she says, will break him and she does not want to see that. It is apparent that she was concerned because she wanted to protect Kevin. Toby and Kate arrive home from the birthday party. They talk about how there are other ways to have children and IVF is not a great idea for them. Toby offers to cut back on his antidepressants but Kate says no. They agree not to think about IVF again just as Kate’s phone rings. It turns out the doctor from earlier wants them to come back to her office.
Randall and Beth call everyone to come down to the birthday party just as Deja walks in with her backpack. Randall begins to tell her they have rules but is stopped as Deja pulls out a birthday present. He happily asks if it is his. Jack gets home after their date and his father is waiting. He asks Jack what is going on with him and Jack shrugs. Toby and Kate are sitting in the doctor’s office as she tells them that she did not like the way things happened earlier. She says she would rather look at the 10% chance of success and agrees to take them as clients. Kate is overwhelmed and happy but Toby’s reaction is more unsure. He smiles at Kate but it is clear that he is uncertain.
Finally, we see the game that was being discussed at the carnival. The man at the beginning of the episode was Pittsburgh Steeler Franco Harris. He miraculously wins the game for the Steelers by running the ball into the end zone just as time expires. Kevin and Randall are celebrating their birthday with Randall’s family and Zoe. Deja tells Randall he can also sign her adoption papers. Harris is shown being interviewed as the sportscaster tells him the play “changed destiny.” We are then shown Toby dumping his antidepressants down the toilet.
A glimpse into the future shows Randall with an adult Tess. He explains someone is waiting for her. Randall calls Toby to ask if he is also coming but Toby does not know if it is a good idea. Randall tells him to come. Back to the past, Jack has bought flowers for Rebecca to give to her when he returns her sweater. Rebecca opens her door just in time to find another man with flowers. It is apparent she knows him and as Jack approaches her house, he watches from his car as they kiss.
This episode seemed to jump around a lot but it was interesting to see how each Pearson handled a disappointing situation and how that situation was then turned around. The scene where Jack explained why he did not buy Rebecca an umbrella was particularly heartfelt and sweet. Sterling K. Brown never fails to knock it out of the park as Randall Pearson and once again he did not let me down. The entire cast is amazing and it boggles the mind how they are each able to bring such captivating performances to every single episode.
I am looking forward to seeing how the glimpse into the future plays out as the season goes on. I am also anxious to see how Toby’s disposal of his antidepressants affects their fertility treatment. With all of the heartbreak that Kate and Toby have been through, it seems clear that their struggle is not ending any time soon.
This Is Us airs Tuesday nights on NBC at 9EST.