Okay, so my head is still exploding after that crazy flash-forward, nine months from now twister of a twist!
But for the purposes of this, my last recap for two months, I will proceed with recapping the episode as we thought it was, not as it was knowing what we know now…Got it?
It was indeed a memorable Pearson Thanksgiving, past, present and future (are we sure Charles Dickens, my husband’s first cousin five times removed, is not a writer on this show?).
Late 1950’s: The episode opens with little Nicky and Jack, hiding under the stairs while their abusive dad rages at their mom upstairs. Life was not, as Nicky says later, “jolly” for those boys growing up.
2019: Please, please tell me Uncle Nicky will remain a major character in the second half of the season. I cannot bear to think of this show now without him uttering lines such as:
- “I look like I’m in a Viagra commercial” (while taking a gander at himself in the mirror, all cleaned up and in pleated pants for the Thanksgiving dinner). DYING!
- “I’m not talking about pleated pants, you nitwit!” to Kevin, who seems blissfully oblivious to his uncle’s angst at attending this family event.
2019, Philly: Uncle Nicky is not the only one with qualms about Thanksgiving. Beth and Randall are anxious about seeing Shawna, their daughter’s birth mother, for the first time in a while. And Mama Rebecca is still mad at Randall for questioning her mental acuity last week. She lights the stove and walks away, which makes Randall jump to conclusions. But according to Rebecca, she meant to do that. Irritated with her hovering son, she decides to take a walk, clear her head and maybe see a movie.
2019: Speaking of irritating, Toby is becoming unendurable with his obsession with several things, including his social media feed. Tension over Kate’s omission of the facts–that Gregory, not Toby, got Baby Jack to eat his first solid foods–remains as the little family flies from LA to Philly for Pearson Thanksgiving.
Early 1970’s: Young adult Jack and Nicky escape their dysfunctional family’s Thanksgiving and hit a bar where they watch a football game. Nicky bets on the game, wins a big wad of cash, and the two gleefully order 50 shrimp to celebrate.
2019: Thanksgiving Randall is as big a cornball as ever. “My little turkeys…My little giblets…” He’s got a cringy nickname for everything and everyone and we are so here for it!
2019: Uncle Kevin is not immune to such cornballery. When he hasn’t spotted Tess yet, he seeks her out in her bedroom and asks her to “tess-tify” about how she’s doing. Not great, as it happens. She still feels uncomfortable about not coming out as gay to her classmates.
2019: Shawna arrives, bearing Pineapple Upside Down Cake, “Deja’s favorite.” As an adoptive mom, that moment, when Beth pasted a smile on her face as she witnessed the reunion of Deja and her birth mom, was just so fraught. People, adoption is so good and so complicated. Both!
2019: Miguel is adorable. “Whisk-ey business”? I am stealing that one. But what else can we expect from a man whose “gram” handle is @BigMig45? (Does that mean Miguel is 74? I think it does.)
2019: Uncle Nicky is very uncomfortable with all of this family togetherness, and jumps at the chance to ride shotgun with Randall back to Randall’s old house to collect the box with holiday stuff in it. Little Annie joins them, and wonders why she has never heard of her great uncle before. “Because your grandfather erased me,” he says, gentle yet LOADED. Ugh. Is that fair? I can’t decide.
2019 (or is it?, wink wink): Rebecca, presumably on her way to buy a pie for Thanksgiving, buys orange roses instead. Then she leaves her phone at the cash register and goes to a Chinese restaurant to eat. Yes, we are very concerned about Rebecca at this point. What is happening?
2019: Thanks be, a lighter moment! Miguel, Toby and Shawna bond over the “damn good nut cheese” Toby brought. “100% cashew, m’lady,” Toby says proudly. (My family is on a bit of a Vegan odyssey ourselves these days, owing to the presence, for eight weeks, of a Vegan exchange student from Guatemala. I have liked many of the Vegan foods, but cashew cream is not one of them.)
2019: “You okay?” Beth asks Kate as both witness the cashew cheese craziness in the next room.
“Yeah, you okay?” Kate asks back.
As it turns out, ain’t none of them okay. In a scene I cherished, the two sisters in law escaped to the back patio to trade “evil feelings.”
Beth: “It’s hard for me that Shawna is doing well.”
(Oooh boy. But, understandable!)
“Deja already has a mom, so where does that leave me?” (Ouch, ouch, ouch)
Kate: “I hate Crossfit Toby.”
(So do we all, at this point.)
Basically, it all boils down to her feeling left out of things with Toby. “He lost the weight without me.”
1970/2019: Nicky and Jack, having feasted on Thanksgiving Shrimp, sit on the back on Jack’s truck and watch the stars, talking about the song “So Long, Marianne,” by Leonard Cohen. “He’s a poet,” Nicky insists. A half-century later, Uncle Nicky is in the car with Jack’s son, Randall, discovering that maybe he was not erased after all. Nicky is overcome with emotion as he listens to Randall explain the song exactly the way he once explained it to Jack. Someone give Griffin Dunne an Emmy right now! Powerful.
2019: Rebecca panics when she realizes she has lost her phone and can’t remember Randall’s number without it.
2019: Kate, in a lovely black and white dress with feathers, tries to approach Toby and talk to him about her feelings of alienation. But he’s just so cute, feeding the baby sweet potatoes–“Like the sassy aunt of regular potatoes.” She’s can’t do it–yet.
Beth is not the only one with confusing feelings about Shawna’s healthy state of being. For an adopted child, it’s hard not to wonder and be sad about the fact that your birth parents could not pull it together for you when you needed them to. Only after. Deja said it perfectly: “Why couldn’t she be like this for me?”
Honestly, Beth should get Mother of the Year. She nailed it when she sought out her big girl, knowing Deja needed her. Beth listens, comforts, and then at the right moment, she takes the conversation to a lighter place, inviting Deja to remember some good times with Shawna. “Don’t forget all the time with her when she was absolutely perfect.” A master class for adoptive parents in how to navigate the whole birth parent thing ( a big, big thing).
2019: Randall and Kevin agree: Uncle Nicky is dang “cute.” I submit that they are cute saying Uncle Nicky is cute. So much cute!
2019: Uncle Nicky, who started the episode in discomfort and angst, finishes strong. He clears his throat and makes an announcement about him and Jack’s old Thanksgiving feast of 50 shrimp. Though it never became the tradition they wanted (Vietnam got in the way, as war does), starting now it can be part of their celebration going forward. I love how he is enfolded into the family, and later, how he expresses his love for Kevin by laying a tender, fatherly hand on his face.
2050(?): Baby Jack is all grown up and about to host his own Thanksgiving meal with his pregnant wife. “Have some shrimp– there are five pounds of it,” he says. (And then his wife says “Everyone will be here soon…,” and I am DYING to know who exactly will be there!)
2019: Here’s where I wanted to dunk Toby’s head in a vat of cashew dip: Kate grabs Toby’s phone to take a shot of the baby in the Pilgrim hat, and inadvertently sees a text from “Lady Kryptonite”–“Don’t let her bring you down. Here for you.” Nice, Lady Kryptonite-Homewrecker-Cashew-Cheese-Eater. Real nice.
2019, 2020: Here’s where things got real heart-palpitating in a series of zigzaggy flashes forward and back:
2019: Kevin to Randall–“By the time I am 40 I will have a wife and kids.”
Randall: “That’s 9 months from now!”
2020: Rebecca is being driven back to where she belongs in the back of a police car. We all think she will be driven to Randall’s house in Philly, but no, she is driven to the Pearson family cabin, which we haven’t seen in a while. There, bearing those orange roses, she is greeted by Kevin, Kate, and Miguel. We realize there has been a time slip.
2019: Rebecca shows up at Randall’s with pie, as she was supposed to do. Randall is relieved until she admits that she needs to see a doctor.
2020: We get a preview of how things stand at the beginning of next season (nice trick, Us writers!). It’s the triplets’ 40th birthday. Rebecca is worsening. Miguel is still her stalwart husband. Kate is thinner…and without Toby or the baby (who could also be napping). Kevin has an off-camera “fiance” who is pregnant and ailing from Morning Sickness. And Randall and Beth are nowhere to be found. “Randall’s not coming,” Kevin says, testily. “We are not speaking, remember?”
Now THAT bugs the dilly out of me. I adore Kevin and Randall’s relationship and I abhor the thought of something huge coming in between them. Sibling estrangement, I can say with excruciating honesty, is simply the worst.
Well, we have about 8 weeks to mull all these things over. What bombshell are you obsessed about? Do you think Kevin’s fiance is Cassidy or someone new? (I think someone new.) What is wrong with Rebecca? Is it Alzheimer’s or maybe something else, like MS or a brain tumor? What on earth could have come between those brothers? And why is Toby acting like such a JACKHAT? I’d like a wee word with Lady Kryptonite, wouldn’t you?
Tell me all your thoughts, hopes, and fears!