Spoiler alert: This article contains key plot points of This Is Us Season 4, Episode 12, titled “A Hell of a Week: Part Two.”
If you thought we might get an emotional reprieve after last week’s super-intense Randall-centric episode of This Is Us, well, you were obviously off-base. Because this week’s episode, which shifted the focus to Kevin, was heavy. Sure, there were moments of humor and lightheartedness in there — it is Kevin, after all. But a whole lot went down that we need to discuss, fandom.
So, we know that This Is Us is known for its Big Three trilogies and the first one of season four’s second half kicked off last week with an episode that saw Randall’s anxiety experience a catastrophic surge. Of course, it presented as a frame story: as the series showed us Randall’s present-day issues, it darted in and out of the past to show where some of those issues were rooted in his childhood.
This week’s episode picked up right where Randall’s left off, with a young Kevin waking up in the middle of the night (after Jack had finally gotten young Randall settled) and seeking comfort from his dad. Fast forward to the present, and Kevin gets a call while on the set of his latest movie. Or, rather he gets numerous calls, all from Sophie. Her mom has died, and Kevin hops a flight to Pittsburgh to go see her.
Now, let’s get into some of the more intriguing nuances of this episode, shall we? Here are seven things that went down this week that merit further attention.
Night Shyamalan’s Pep Talk
First of all, how much fun is it that M. Night Shyamalan plays Kevin’s director in his new movie? But also, Shyamalan is the master of surprise endings — this we know. It’s actually something Kevin wants to talk to him about before he unloads on the director about his love life problems. We aren’t privy to all of the advice Shyamalan gives Kevin, which is why it’s interesting what we do hear him say: “Trust me, Kevin, this is the ending everyone wants, and they’ll still never see it coming.” Hmm, are we walking about the movie here… ’cause it sounds like that’s some coded language for what’s to come with Kev’s love life.
Kevin’s Biggest Fan
Once Sophie calls to tell Kevin her mom died, we immediately start to see Kevin’s memories of Sophie’s mom, Claire (played by Jennifer Westfeldt). And what we see is touching. In the chaotic Pearson household in the years after Jack’s death, Becca sometimes inadvertently overlooked Kevin’s acting accomplishments. In those moments, Claire was always there cheering him on. Telling him he was going to make it big someday. It’s sort of a heartbreaking reminder just how intertwined Sophie and Kevin’s lives are.
The “Endings” Game
Throughout the episode, Sophie and Kevin come up with seemingly random scenarios. “He starts a cider brewing company and he calls it, ‘How do you like them apples?'” Kevin tells Sophie to make her laugh. But who is he? Well, we soon find out that when they were teens, they went to the movies to watch Good Will Hunting. It cut out before the ending, and they left (this would ultimately end up being the night Jack died, FWIW).
So, why is this important? Because something Kevin says about it seems rife with foreshadowing. “Until it blacked out, wasn’t it the perfect movie? The real ending would have never been good enough. Now we can imagine the perfect ending for the rest of our lives. Let’s never watch the real ending,” he says, and they apparently both honored that vow. However, they watch it together. Sophie admits it was better than she ever could have imagined. They lock eyes, Kev’s start tearing up — and she says it’s time for her to go home.
But all that talk of endings and how the one in the movie was better than they could have imagined? C’mon. Something tells us Sophie and Kevin’s ending hasn’t been written yet.
The Importance of the Emerald Ring
In one of Kevin’s flashbacks, he tells Claire that he wanted to give Sophie the one thing she always wanted when she got married: her grandmother’s emerald ring. He asks for it, so Claire shares it’s history — how her mom wouldn’t accept it the first time her dad tried to give it to her, because he had been drafted to Korea. He took it with him and looking at it gave him the determination to come back and marry her. Which he did! And they were happy for 50 years. Claire didn’t think Kevin was ready for it yet.
Fast forward to Kevin and Sophie in the car after Claire’s funeral, and he notices the ring on her finger. But, as it turns out, it isn’t her grandmother’s ring. Hmm, why not? Did Claire perhaps sell it, since the episode earlier alluded to her impulsivity issues? Nope! At the episode’s end, Sophie can be seen looking at the ring. To us, this says she never wanted anyone to give her the ring but Kevin… and that says a lot.
Kevin literally pours one out for Claire at her grave (a Fresca in honor of her signature Frosecco mix of Fresco and Prosecco). He also pours out his heart, revealing his true feelings for Sophie. “Man, I really messed things up with Sophie, though… a couple times, actually. And I have a feeling you knew I would do that, too. And the sad part about it now is I’m ready now. I’m sober, and I’m steady. I never earned that ring. God, I wish I had another crack at it. It’s too late.”
Um, is it? Is it really? In the words of Claire: Never settle, Kev.
The Mystery Blonde in Kevin’s Bed
In last week’s preview of tonight’s episode, it sure seemed as though Sophie ended up in Kevin’s bed. Alas, This Is Us producers were up to their usual shenanigans. In a surprise twist, Kevin goes to see Kate and Jack and ends up hanging out with Kate’s BFF Madison instead. Although these two haven’t exactly been friendly in the past, she opens up to him about being dumped and something clicks.
“I don’t think you should look at yourself as the person who always gets left. I think you should look at yourself as the person who’s willing to stay and fight. I wish I had more of that in me,” he tells her. The next thing we see, he’s waking up next to her. Is this the mother of Kevin’s kid? It has been theorized before. There have been clues.
A final flashback seems to lean into this idea. As Jack comforts young Kevin over his lost mobile, he tells his son, “Sometimes we lose the things we love, and it makes us feel sad. Really sad. And I know right now it feels like the worst thing in the world, but I promise you, you’re going to find something else to love.”
Hello! Cue Madison. Is Sophie really out of Kevin’s system, though?
The Sad Three
The episode ends by setting things up for Kate’s episode of the Big Three trilogy. With Randall’s anxiety at an all-time high and Kevin having an existential crisis of the romantic kind, they decide to escape to the family cabin. They call Kate to clue her in, and she drops a bomb: “I’m about two seconds away from my marriage imploding.” The final scene? A young Kate waking up Jack to tell him, “Dad, we have a problem.”
Whew. See, we told you — a lot went down. And from the looks of it, next week will be just as full of emotional landmines and Pearson family revelations.