This Is Us is serving us new heights with progressiveness, and we’re absolutely loving it.
Last time on This Is Us, the audience got a deep dive look into Uncle Nicky’s (Griffin Dunne) life — two instances from the past and the present as he was heading to Kevin’s (Justin Hartley) house to meet the new twins.
This week, wedding bells are ringing as Kevin and Madison (Caitlin Thomspon) are planning their wedding and, in a flashback, Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) is gearing up to propose to Rebecca (Mandy Moore).
Though Kate (Chrissy Metz) has already agreed to be Madison’s maid of honor, Kevin is worried to ask Randall (Sterling K. Brown) to be his because of their conflict. While Kevin tries to come up with the right words to say to Randall — in an impersonal email, might I add — Nicky is trying to get involved with planning Kevin’s rehearsal dinner by collaborating with Miguel (Jon Huertas). Right from the get-go, Nicky has a problem with Miguel for being with Rebecca after Jack’s death.
The two get into a big fight about him “stealing Rebecca,” and Miguel explains he feels guilty every single day that the one person he wishes he could explain himself to is gone and that he wonders every day what Jack really would think of the situation.
Later, Nicky feels bad and calls Miguel to apologize. He explains he felt replaced with Jack by Miguel, but Miguel tells him that even when Jack was asking Miguel to be the best man at his wedding, he couldn’t even say the words “best man” because Miguel thinks that deep down, Jack was saving that spot for him.
“He never replaced you, Nicky,” Miguel said.
Madison and Toby (Chris Sullivan) are at the playground with their kids, enjoying the day, when they decide to come clean about their real feelings. Madison tells Toby she doesn’t want to get married at the location Kevin wants, and Toby tells Madison he is struggling as a stay-at-home dad while Kate is working. They agree to keep each other’s secrets.
Kate is struggling, too, but with being away from the kids at her new job as a music teacher for children with autism. At first, she butts heads with the head music teacher, who openly admitted he didn’t want to hire her, but then they start to get along as Kate shows him why she got the job in the first place.
Madison finally decides to tell Kevin that she doesn’t want to get married at the villas and explains there’s a garden in Japan that she has a fond memory of with her family. She tells Kevin there’s a garden near them that’s not exactly the same but has a similar feeling. Kevin immediately agrees and is thrilled to do so.
Toby, however, doesn’t tell Kate how he feels and instead listens to her excitement from work and shows her pictures from the park that day with the kids.
At the same time, Jack and Miguel are preparing for Jack’s proposal to Rebecca. When Jack practices the proposal on Miguel, the ring gets stuck on Miguel’s pinky. While they’re working on getting it off, Rebecca’s father shows up.
He tells Jack that though he isn’t excited about the marriage, he’ll tolerate Jack for the sake of Rebecca. As he’s about to leave, Miguel stands up for him to Rebecca’s father. He gives the most heartfelt speech about how amazing Jack is as a person and how dedicated he is to Rebecca and leaves his father speechless.
When he finally talks, he asks Jack if he has any dental floss to help get the ring off, and all is forgiven.
Meanwhile, with Randall’s family, Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) is meeting Tess’ (Eris Baker) significant other, Alex (Presley Alexander), who uses they/them pronouns. Beth is nervous that she’s going to screw up when talking to or referring to Alex, and Beth’s mother’s (Phylicia Rashad) incredibly larger understanding of nonbinary language is making Beth jealous.
When Deja (Lyric Ross) tells Beth how unfair it is that Tess and Alex get to be in her room with the door closed while Deja and Malik (Asante Blackk) have to leave the door open, Beth heads upstairs to find them making out. She gets frustrated with Tess’ behavior, and when Tess tells Alex her mom is a “psycho,” Beth makes Alex leave and proceeds to get in a fight with Tess.
Beth and her mother share a kind moment together as they talk about how to let go of Beth’s preconceived notions about who Tess wants to love.
“If you saw anything on my face today when I saw you and Alex together on your bed, you need to know this: it has nothing to do with how much I love you,” Beth said. “Actually, it has nothing to do with you at all — because you’re perfect, just the way you are. And Alex seems pretty perfect just the way they are.”
But Tess wonders if she and her mom will ever be as close as they used to be, which is a true, heartbreaking feeling that most LGBTQ+ kids feel with their parents. Beth assures her they are close and will always be.
While Beth is stressing at home, Randall is stressing at group therapy. He’s at a support group for people in minority groups adopted by white people and as other people talk about their experiences, he finds he’s experienced most of them himself. It’s a difficult day for Randall, but I think this effort with his therapy is a really great step for him.
At the end of the episode, Kevin finally asks Randall over the phone instead of email to be his best man at the wedding. Randall agrees, happily, but Kevin says he wants them to talk and resolve their issues first before the big day. Instead of doing it over the phone, Kevin offers to fly to Philadelphia to visit Randall and the family and work things out. Randall agrees, setting up next week’s episode to be about them making amends.
The audience also gets to see Kevin’s exes seeing the news of his engagement and wedding in a magazine, including Cassidy (Jennifer Morrison) and Sophie (Alexandra Breckenridge), who looks somewhat upset about the news. Could she be regretting her decision in not being with Kevin?
This episode faced a lot of important issues, such as the treatment of (authentic!) autistic children in school, queer relationships and minority whitewashed complexes from being in communities without people who are the same as them. As far as progressiveness, this might be the best of This Is Us yet.
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.