Nobody does midseason cliffhangers like This Is Us.
The surprise time jump was enough of a cliffhanger, but viewers also learned that Kevin is going to be a father...and that he is NOT going to be speaking to Randall.
Our TV Fanatics Christine Orlando, Mariha Morales, Lauren Busser, and Jack Ori debate these surprises on This Is Us Season 4 Episode 9 as well as what we hope to see when the drama returns after the winter hiatus.
It turned out that Rebecca's memory issues weren't during Thanksgiving, but at the birthday party nine months later. React to this twist.
Christine: I didn’t see that coming but it makes a little more sense.
Even with the nine-month time jump, that seems like a quick progression of her issues.
But it's better than no one catching on to anything being wrong and her not even being able to take a walk without getting into serious trouble.
That said, this is obviously going to be a difficult year for the Pearsons…or yet another difficult year.
Mariha: Like Christine, I was thrown.
It felt too soon, but I didn't consider that there was a time jump involved.
I was pleasantly surprised to see Rebecca at the door. The true magic of This is Us was in full flight this episode and I loved it.
Lauren: I didn't see it coming either, but there were subtle things that made me think, "Wait, what? The writers are usually more consistent than this."
There was one part where I think she mentions getting a cake instead of a pie, and then what really tipped me off was the line she said in the police car, "We always get together for special occasions."
My exact line of thinking was "Why didn't she say holidays?" Plus, the cops didn't seem too concerned that Rebecca ended up halfway across the country.
It all made sense when revealed, but for a minute I thought someone was really lax in the continuity department.
Jack: Like everyone else, I didn’t see it coming.
It made perfect sense in retrospect, but the time jump blended perfectly with Randall’s secret worries about Rebecca being missing. And when Rebecca was freaking out about needing to call her son, it never occurred to me that she could be talking about Kevin rather than Randall.
Well done, This Is Us! This is not the first time they’ve used the multiple timelines to misdirect us, but this one was extraordinarily well-done.
Why do you think Kevin and Randall are not talking by the time the birthday party rolls around?
Christine: My only guess is that Randall keeps Rebecca’s issues a secret far longer than he should.
Kevin could feel as though his mother’s illness wouldn’t have progressed as quickly if the whole family were aware and making decisions.
I love Randall, but he frequently believes he’s the smartest person in the room and, when it comes to caring for their mother, that belief could cause a lot of hurt feelings.
Mariha: Agreed. Randall probably keeps Rebecca's condition a secret from his siblings far too long.
I had expected him to speak up during Thanksgiving or at least ask questions to decipher whether he should reveal his worries.
I know he doesn't want to break his mother's trust, but anyone can see she was being weird.
Lauren: I am with Christine. It seemed like a lot of the fallout would be regarding Randall's involvement with Rebecca's health.
Randall has a history of wanting to help and protect his mother after his father's death. We saw as much earlier this season and I think that pattern will continue.
It might be even worse if Randall gets overwhelmed and has another breakdown.
I could see Kevin and Kate having to say, "We could have helped. We're her kids too."
Especially, given that Kevin has been so involved with Uncle Nicky. I think that's really changed his perspective on family and where his priorities lie.
Jack: I also think it’s likely that the fallout has something to do with Randall’s decisions on Rebecca’s behalf.
However, with Kevin being engaged to a mystery woman who is pregnant, I have to wonder if his problem with Randall has something to do with who this woman is and how that came about.
What was the most heartwarming part of the Pearsons' Thanksgiving for you?
Christine: I loved Nicky doing his best to join into the Pearson family Thanksgiving by bringing his and Jack’s one good tradition.
I was also envious because I’d prefer cocktail shrimp to turkey!
I also appreciate Beth admitting that having Deja’s mother there was difficult for her.
In her head, she knows that it’s best for Deja if Shauna is doing well, but her heart wants to be Deja’s only mom.
I think admitting that to herself is half the battle to dealing with it appropriately.
Mariha: I loved Jack and Nicky having a solo Thanksgiving.
So much of their story is negative, it was a treat to see them laughing and eating shrimp.
Second would have to be when Nicky found out that Jack did pass on a piece of him to the kids. When he cried hearing Randall talk about the song, I teared up too.
Lauren: Uncle Nicky's shrimp!
The way that Uncle Nicky came into dinner and was worried that it was too much and then turned it around and found a way to bring his own version of Jack into it was perfect.
Plus, honestly that's the best off-beat tradition that is so Pearson to fold into the holiday.
Jack: OMG, yes. I loved Nicky’s arc in this episode so much.
It was great to see him go from feeling awkward and overwhelmed to contributing a new tradition that is going to become part of the Pearson Thanksgiving from now on.
Rate how well Kevin handled Tess' coming out dilemma.
Christine: He got her talking about it, which was a huge step in the right direction.
As much as I thought telling the drive-thru clown was silly, it seems to have helped.
It was easier for Tess to talk about this with someone other than her parents and that’s okay.
I think Kevin did a great job of making her feel secure enough in herself that she was able to come out to the world.
Mariha: Kevin is so good with kids. He handled Tess with ease and endless support.
I have always loved his relationship with the girls. He can get on their level yet still be their uncle.
He is going to be a great father.
Tess coming out on social media is perfect and I cannot wait to see her first girlfriend.
Lauren: Kevin's done really well with creating safe spaces for people this season, and Tess was another extension of that.
It might have seemed silly to talk to a drive-through clown but it did what was intended.
This scene also solidified for me, how much Kevin has grown as a character. I'm honestly seeing him becoming more and more like the Jack Pearson we've seen each day.
Jack: I loved this.
I thought the drive-through clown idea was silly, but Tess seemed so much happier and more relaxed after she did it. So it was a great idea after all.
I’m more worried about what the fallout with Randall will do to Kevin’s relationship with Tess than anything else. That’s how much I love their bond after this.
Who is more at fault for Kate and Toby's problems: Kate or Toby?
Christine: What is the matter with Kate?
Telling Toby he wasn’t really there for Jack’s first solid food was selfish and mean, and her justification that he needed to know the truth doesn't fly.
He didn’t. This was a little white lie that made her husband feel good and it harmed no one.
That Kate resents Toby’s weight loss is normal but the fact that she passive-aggressively takes these digs at him over it will ruin their marriage.
Beth was right in that Kate needs to start sharing her feelings with Toby and she needs to be willing to work on making this better.
If she continues to hide behind baby Jack’s blindness to rationalize her feeling angry and resentful, their marriage won’t last.
Mariha: Kate has been annoying me for some time, but this episode was the cake.
Why in the world would she tell Toby the baby had solid food without him? Why cause him that pain of missing a first?
I understand her losing the weight without her is hard, but she had plenty of time to accomplish this with him before the baby was born.
I have a feeling these two won't make it.
They are doing something similar with Randall and Beth, only to have them happily married.
I don't think it will play out the same for Toby and Kate.
Lauren: They're both at fault in different ways
Kate really could have kept the secret about Jack's first solid food from him and it would have been fine.
I feel like her actions are really just to prove a point when it comes to keeping secrets, and a bit out of resentment.
The fact is that Toby isn't just losing weight in isolation. He's found a community that supports him, and Kate doesn't really have that kind of enthusiastic support in her life.
This is really a narrow way of looking at it because she has a family and friends who are willing to help, but I am not sure she's willing to accept it.
Jack: I agree that it was unnecessary to tell Toby the truth about Jack’s first solid food.
But from Kate’s point of view, it’s understandable. Gregory’s brain problems could conceivably cause him to tell Toby the truth, and it would be a LOT worse if Toby heard it from him.
I think the whole solid food secret was indicative of a deeper problem.
It’s not the weight loss that’s the real issue here. Toby seems to leave Kate alone with the baby quite a bit so he can go to the gym.
And now he’s talking to his gym buddies about Kate instead of talking to her, while Kate is venting to Beth instead of talking to him.
Bottom line: Kate and Toby don’t seem to be in this together anymore, and if they don’t start communicating with each other, the marriage will implode. And that’s on both of them.
What do you hope to see in the second half of the season?
Christine: Will the Pearson family please give Miguel more respect?
He’s been a rock for Rebecca and loves her dearly, yet this clan treats him like an outsider or the invisible man.
I can’t wait to have flashbacks to how Rebecca and Miguel became a couple. I'm sure her kids didn't make it easy.
I'm also extremely curious about Kevin's fiancee. Who is she and how did they get together?
Mariha: I need to know who is the mother of Kevin's children and if my gut is right.
Kevin spent three scenes talking about whether Zoe was dating an artist and Nicky accidentally liked one of her photos. There is no way that isn't going to come back into play.
I felt like she was one of his healthiest relationships. I can't help but still hold a candle for her.
Lauren: Like Christine, I want to see more of Rebecca and Miguel. I've come to really love Miguel and I really hope that we get to see more of them as a couple.
I also want to see more of Deja and Shawna cultivating a more adult relationship now.
I am also really curious about Kevin's future, because he's grown leaps and bounds so I cannot wait to see where this ends up for him.
Finally, I want to see more of blind Jack's future with his fiance and kid.
Jack: All of the above!
Everyone said what I was thinking, so I will just add that I hope we see a lot more of Nicky.
I love the way he’s slowly allowed Kevin in and is now part of the Pearson family again.
Your turn, This Is Us fanatics.
Hit SHOW COMMENTS and then tell us what you thought of the surprise twist, what you think happens between Kevin and Randall, and what you hope happens during the second half of This Is Us Season 4.
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This Is Us airs on NBC on Tuesdays at 9 PM EST/PST. It will return on January 14, 2020.
Jack Ori is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.