The winter hiatus is finally over and the Pearsons are back! If you need a reminder of where we were left before the break, check out the previous episode recap here. Continue reading for this week’s recap, and remember spoilers abound, so if you have not caught up yet you may want to wait.
The episode opens on election night, with Randall surprisingly holding his own against Councilman Brown. Zoe, talking to Beth, reminds her that it will all be over soon. She looks over at Kevin, who is across the room, and repeats herself, “It will all be over soon.” Kevin asks Randall what is on his mind and he explains that he has been thinking of his visit with Jack to Howard University. Randall asks Kevin what is on his mind and Kevin, looking past him distractedly, says, “John Stamos.” He walks off to Zoe and it is quickly apparent something has happened between them. He apologizes for pushing her and she tells him, “I can’t do this,” handing him a key chain with a photo of John Stamos on it.
As she walks off, Kevin’s phone rings. It’s Toby. He wants to know if Kevin has “a twin cure” for Kate’s crying. He asks how the night is going and Kevin responds, “Unclear.”
Randall and Jae-won are talking. Jae-won tells him that no matter what the outcome, getting to where he is now in the election is unheard of. Randall looks at Beth and replies, “It’s been the longest seven weeks of my life.” The tension in the room is thick and it is clear the fallout of Randall and Beth’s argument over staying in the election was big.
The episode jumps back to seven weeks before the election. Beth is waking Randall, who slept on the couch, before the girls see him. He moans that he wanted to be back in Philadelphia earlier and she is shocked that he has decided to still run even after their argument. He explains he can’t let his district down and she wonders aloud about his family. He tries to assure her they are his number one priority and he has even ordered an audio book to help him with Tess. “You cannot audio book your way through our daughter’s life,” Beth says, frustrated. He explains he knows how hard the weeks leading up to the election will be but he cannot let the district down. Beth tells him that he is on his own.
Randall flashes back to his trip to Howard University when he was a teenager with Jack. As they stare at the sites one night, Randall tells his dad that he is planning on majoring in political science. Jack looks at him proudly. “Look at you. What a great life you’re gonna have. What a great man you’re gonna be.” Present day Randall sighs. He gets a text message alert from Kate, who tells him her baby is now as big as a lime. Randall jokingly responds that he resembles Kevin and she giggles.
Kate calls Toby into a room filled with action figures and other memorabilia. She wants them to turn the room into the baby’s nursery and Toby excitedly agrees, until she says that means he will have to sell all his “toys.”
Kevin and Zoe are in his loft, having arrived back from their trip to Vietnam. Kevin has even more questions now that he knows that Nick did not die in Vietnam. She tells him to calm down and asks what he will tell his family. He negates that idea, explaining the Pearson texts get crazy over simple announcements so he did not want to attempt this. They talk about being home and Kevin hands her the John Stamos key chain from earlier, explaining it came from Annie and Tess. Zoe takes it from him.
It is now five weeks before election night. At Randall’s campaign headquarters, Randall and Jae-Won are discussing the campaign. The closer it gets to the election, the busier Randall is with the voters. “I warned you this would be rough,” sympathizes Jae-Won. Randall flashes back to talking with Jack again. He explains he worries about having a career and a family and losing focus.
Kate and Toby have sold all of the collectibles from Toby’s room. He begins looking around and asks her about another box, a box marked “DNS” (do not sell) that held all of his 1977 Star Wars figures. A complete set. She explains she donated them, still not realizing their importance to him. “Babe, come on, they’re just toys.” Toby begins to get upset and explains why they are more than toys to him, and how he wanted to pass them down to their son. Kate is dumbfounded.
Kevin and Zoe are the Department of Veteran Affairs. The woman helping them explains that without proof that he is related to Nick, she cannot give him any information on his whereabouts. Zoe says that she will get a letter from a congressman, one that she previously dated.
Driving home, Randall is listening to Councilman Brown on the radio talking about his supportive wife. Brown remarks he is not sure Randall has the same support. When he gets home he tells Beth that he believes she and the girls need to return to showing up to events so that he will not seem like a family man without a family. She counters that he has not been there for his family and that it still does not look like he has a chance of winning. When he tells her he took care of the family for a year while she worked, without complaining, she storms off.
Zoe’s ex-boyfriend, the congressman, meets Kevin and Zoe for lunch. Things seem awkward between the two exes as Zoe explains what they are needing. He explains he thought it would be something more serious and that he can just email them, emphasizing the word email and making her uncomfortable. He apologizes and gets up to leave, explaining he thought enough time had passed between them but apparently it had not. He agrees to help, however, and says his office will get the records. Kevin thanks him and, confused, sits down. He asks about their history and she avoids as much as she can until she explains they dated for two years before she broke up with him via an email because he wanted to settle down and move in together. She makes up an excuse to leave quickly and Kevin is left alone, most likely wondering if she will do the same to him.
Two weeks before election night. At campaign headquarters, Randall tells Jae-won he is heading home to have pie with his girls on New Year’s. Jae-won tells him he found something to use against Councilman Brown, proof that he paid off the police and the newspaper to cover up a charge against him. Randall goes to a bakery to get a blueberry pie, Beth’s favorite, but they are sold out. He begs the woman to just bake him one quickly but she refuses, saying she wishes she could help him. A man, Reverend Hawley, gets his attention and Randall tells him he is wondering if he will be the worst father and husband ever. The reverend tells him he could drop out but he explains that he only wanted to do something for the people because they deserved better. Jack’s words to him, he explains, are always on his mind. He does not want to use Jae-won’s evidence to win the election because he wants to be a better man. The reverend advises him to live in a way that he would be proud of and then hands him a box with a blueberry pie inside.
Beth and the girls are watching the New Year’s Eve countdown. Deja remarks how cute she thinks Anderson Cooper is, surprising Beth, who teases her about it. Randall walks in and the mood swiftly changes. He says he is sorry and Beth tells him she should just be happy he got there before midnight. He explains that he does not mean he is sorry for being late, he is sorry about everything that has happened. He apologizes for letting the campaign take so much priority. The election is not what is most important to him, his family is. They are what makes him great.
Toby and Kate are trying to track down his Star Wars figures. When they find the house, Kate points out Gabe, who bought the box. He sees them and immediately refuses to sell before they have had a chance to say anything. Toby shakes his head, defeated, but Kate stands her ground. She tells him how long Toby has waited to give the action figures to his child and now, she is finally pregnant. She goes further, telling him she has nothing of her own childhood to pass on because of the fire that took her father’s life. The only thing they could pass on were Toby’s Star Wars figures. Does Gabe really want to disappoint her? Gabe thinks for a brief moment and then decides, “Yeah, sorry.”
Kevin is looking through Nick’s file as Zoe walks in. She is oblivious to how tense he is when he sees her until he finally lets it out. Her boxes are still unpacked in his loft and he is worried she is going to break-up with him in an email like she did with the Congressman. Zoe did not want to move in with him, she explains, she wanted to make him happy. They begin fighting about their relationship until finally she leaves, telling him, “I need some space.”
It is one week before election night and Randall and the girls are watching Fuller House. He thinks back to how Jack told him that it takes an important woman to hold everything together. Later, Beth is watching Randall sleep. When he wakes up, she tells him she thought he would be going to Philadelphia for a final campaign push. He tells her no. She apologizes for not having his back and encourages him to keep going with the campaign. They are finally on the same page, it seems, and they are going to church in Philadelphia as a family. They listen as the Reverend tells the congregation that they will have to choose who will serve them. He tells how he knows Councilman Brown has served them and he has not known Randall that long so he does not know how he will do. But, he explains, Randall is a decent person, which is rare, and he goes to great lengths to be there for the people. Reverend Hawley tells the congregation that with either man, they are in good hands, giving Randall an unexpected endorsement.
Toby is painting the nursery as Kate walks in, holding a handful of Star Wars figures. He sighs and she is shocked that he knows they are not his even from the doorway. She explains how she kept trying to get his back from Gabe, who would not budge. She tells him that even though they have no material things to pass down, they do not need them. They have each other.
Finally, it is election night. Toby calls Kate into the nursery, where he surprises her with a replica of the Pittsburgh Steelers stadium that Jack built for her when she was younger. He explains he called Kevin who helped him find a photo that he then took to a man to recreate. She begins to cry and we are back at the beginning of the episode where Toby, panicked, calls Kevin for help. Kevin hangs up and Toby cautiously approaches his wife, asking, “Is this a good cry?” She nods, yes.
Randall excuses himself from Jae-won and Kevin to go see Beth. She asks how it is going and he tells her the results will not be complete until after midnight. He calls for everyone’s attention and begins to thank them for being there with him during the election. He tells them no matter what, they should go home, get some rest, and be proud of the work they did.
Zoe watches Kevin leaving and follows him. She explains to him how hard it is to give up her own safe space after what happened with her father. He tells her she does not have to but she explains that she wants to because she is in love with him. “I want John Stamos back.” Later, back at the loft, the two are unpacking boxes when Zoe discovers a postcard from Nick to Jack, dated after Vietnam. Jack knew Nick was alive.
Randall and Beth lie in bed, while Randall wonders what Jack would have thought of his life, as Kate places a tomato inside the stadium, telling Toby their son is the size of a tomato. “To-mah-toe,”corrects Toby, because “our son is gonna be classy as hell.” Randall wonders aloud to Beth about feeling like his entire life has been planned out for him by someone else and how maybe he is not special. She reassures him that he is as the phone rings. Randall answers to find out the election results. He won.
There were no really outstanding tear-jerker moments in this episode, which was rare, and it felt a bit like they wrapped up the drama between Randall and Beth too quickly. While they are a fan favorite couple in the show and nobody wants them separated, to wrap it all up in one episode seemed too easy. It was a bit disappointing, to say the least. Still, the performances by the cast were outstanding as usual and the next episode looks like it will be the same.
Do not miss next week’s This is Us, airing Tuesday at 9/8 central on NBC.