This Is Us Recap Season 1 Episode 8

This Is Us Recap: Thanks for Nothing

Need to catch up? Check out the previous This Is Us recap. 

Well, congratulations This Is Us: You finally broke Randall.

The most earnest, tightly-strung Pearson sibling is also, as it turns out, the member of the family who’s the most excited about Thanksgiving. So it’s doubly sad when his favorite holiday of the year, and his enjoyment of the atypical family traditions that go along with it, are marred by the realization that his parents lied to him for years.

Yep, “Pilgrim Rick” is the episode in which Randall learns the truth about William and Rebecca’s relationship. And it’s ugly. Like, send-Tess-and-Annie-upstairs-while-the-grownups-fight-and-cry ugly.

On the upside: William manages to shake a little sense into yet another member of the New York theater scene, and Kate comes to a life-changing realization aboard an airplane.

Read on for the highlights of “Pilgrim Rick.”

BLESSING IN DISGUISE| In a flashback to when the kids are 8 years old or so, pretty much everyone is dreading the annual visit to Rebecca’s parents’ house for Thanksgiving. Kate hates the itchy turkey sweater her grandmother made, which Rebecca is forcing her to wear. Randall hates the fact that his grandparents are a microagression factory when it comes to their black grandkid. Rebecca hates that her cranberry sauce has to be “perfect” to earn her mother’s approval. And Jack hates that the Pearsons can’t have their own family holiday celebration at home.

The already-tense day starts to go downhill when the cranberry sauce is ruined before the gang even steps outside. Then their car blows a tire and runs off the road; everyone is shaken, but fine. When no help arrives, they’re forced to walk 3.4 miles to the nearest gas station… where they’re told they can’t get a tow until the morning. And when Rebecca gets into a shouting match with her mom while calling for a ride, she makes an on-the-fly decision that her family will not be joining the festivities that year. Jack is so psyched, his mustache practically does a touchdown dance. When they both notice a motel across the street, it’s decided: “I guess we’re having Thanksgiving at the Pinewood Lodge.”

This Is Us Recap Season 1 Episode 8THANKSGIVING WITH MAHONEY AND HIGHTOWER | That establishment is run by a creepy front-desk clerk wearing a black hat with a buckle; he likes to be referred to as “Pilgrim Rick.” And the room he assigns them is rife with taxidermy and an overzealous furnace, but scarce on television channels or anything else even resembling fun. Jack good-naturedly turns the less-than-awesome situation into an adventure by snagging Rick’s hat and returning to the room — in character — with sticks and a copy of Police Academy 3. They’ll skewer the hot dogs they bought at the gas station and heat them over the furnace’s flame (eew, a little, but whatever), then wrap them with Kraft cheese slices and roll them in crushed Saltines (also from the gas station). Then they’ll spread a blanket on the ground and watch the movie while they eat the improvised cheese dogs, picnic-style.

Later, when Kate’s sweater starts to fray, a much more relaxed Rebecca suggests that they each say what they’re thankful for as they unravel the offensive garment. It’s super cute. At bedtime, the entire family crowds into the room’s single bed. “I want every Thanksgiving to be like this for the rest of my life,” Randall tells his mom before they drift off.

THE TRADITION CONTINUES | Judging from the Pearson family’s 2016 Thanksgiving, it looks like little Randall got his wish. The adult Randall wakes up early and excited on the Thursday morning, bouncing all over the house in his efforts to wake up the rest of the family and get started making the feast. He’s bubbly and cheerful without grating, and it’s fun to watch, especially when he jumps on Kevin’s bed and scares the cornbread stuffing outta him.

But Kev can’t help his brother with the yams and such: He’s going into New York to pick up Olivia, whom he lured to the family feast by giving her a five-second recap of his relatives’ drama. “Don’t you want to see that up close?” he asks.

When Rebecca and Miguel show up, two things are clear: Kevin really doesn’t like his stepfather, and Rebecca has been dodging Beth’s calls because she knows they’re about William. Still, she balks at telling Randall that she had been in contact with his birth father during his childhood. “I’m not telling him today,” Mama Pearson I says to Mama Pearson II. “Not on Thanksgiving.” But Beth says if her mother-in-law doesn’t, she will.

The rest of the day unfolds with homages to that makeshift Thanksgiving of the past. There’s a 3.4-mile hike. There’s a viewing of Police Academy 3. And during the movie, Randall slips out to drive to Philadelphia — which is hours away from his New Jersey home — so he can grab some recordings William and some of his sober friends made during holidays past. “I think this may be his last Thanksgiving,” Randall tells Beth, who encourages him to go.

SUPPER SHOWDOWN | But when Randall finds the tapes at his dad’s place, he also comes across a letter from Rebecca, written when Randall was 8ish. The missive makes it clear that the two adults have been in touch multiple times; by the time Randall is back at the house and everyone’s ready for the meal, he is quietly seething.

So when it’s his turn to pass the yarn and give thanks, he drops the ball and stares his mother down. “Why is there a photo of me in a letter you sent to William’s apartment?” he asks. He’s angry. He’s crying. “You kept him from me my entire life?” Randall says, incredulous as the rest of the table is frozen. “I can’t even look at you.” He gets up from the table in disgust. “Your family is amazing,” an entertained Olivia whispers to Kevin.

This Is Us Recap Season 1 Episode 8‘THANKS FOR THE PIE’ | So, is Kevin’s co-star his girlfriend or what? At the start of the episode, she’s definitely not. And when Olivia relates how she never got to the pie course of her own half-American family’s Thanksgiving, thanks to some drama related to her father’s extramarital affair, Kevin makes sure to snag her a piece early. It’s a sweet gesture, but she runs from it like it’s a pack of bees who’ve just downed a can of Red Bull. “I can’t be who you want me to be,” she mumbles. “I should go.”

While Olivia is waiting for an Uber outside, William tries to strike up a conversation. “How does it feel to be dying?” she says, all snarky. But he answers her honestly. “It feels like all these beautiful pieces of life are flying around me, and I’m trying to catch ’em,” he says. But it’s getting harder and harder. (Side note: Wanna know why the monologue’s not printed here in full? Because it already made me cry once, and THAT’S ALL YOU GET, THIS IS US.) “I know it feels like you have all the time in the world, but you don’t,” he adds, telling her that “when a nice boy who adores you offers you pie, say ‘Thank you.'”

So she goes inside and kisses Kevin in the kitchen and slips in a quick, “Thank you for the pie.” I’m not saying this development puts Kevin in a good enough mood to let Miguel be Pilgrim Rick when the hat-wearing part of the evening arrives, but I’m not saying it doesn’t, either.

This Is Us Recap Season 1 Episode 8BIG CHANGES | Where’s Kate in all of this? She dumps Toby during a dinner date in the lead-up to the holiday; I’m making it sound simple and easy, but it’s really tough and Chrissy Metz and Chris Sullivan both do a really great job with the split. She explains about how terrible she felt after their last meal together, and how it led to her eating sad donuts sadly in her sad car.

“You fell for me. So now, what? You’re just gonna throw me away?” he asks, hurt. She replies that he’s better than she could’ve imagined, “but I’m still not happy, Toby,” and that her need to figure out who she is and get her weight under control is what she wants more than anything. “Even more than me?” he replies. They’re both crying and she’s barely holding it together, but the answer? Yes.

So Kate is in no mood when a lame woman gives her side-eye as she sits down next to her on a plane to the East Coast. “Don’t worry, I bought both of these seats,” Kate informs her. But when the plane hits massive turbulence, the two find themselves holding hands. The bitchy woman apologizes. “I thought I was going to die,” she says, oversharing that her husband is cheating on her and she’s just now realized that life is too short to settle for that kind of nonsense.

The incident makes an impression on Kate. When she walks into Randall’s dining room mid-meal, unaware of the awfulness that has just taken place, she announces: “I’ve decided to have gastric bypass surgery!”

Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Sound off in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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50 Comments
  1. TvPeong says:

    This episode was everything. Everybody brought their A-game. Poor Randall.

    • Pedro says:

      Poor Randall? Who was adopted by a loving family that loved him dearly and kept him away from a drug addict father that abandoned him in a firehouse and would likely hurt him?

      • Jamie says:

        Poor Randall who found out that his mother, who is arguably the family member he is closest to, has been lying to him his entire life. And on his absolute favorite holiday which is all about family.
        Randall has every right to be devastated. William is dying, and he only has a tiny window to get to know him. I get why she didn’t want him around Randall when he was a kid, but she couldn’t have told him about his birth father when he was 18? Or when he became a father himself? I will wait to get more of Rebecca’s side of the story, but this is a big deal. So poor Randall.

        • Pedro says:

          Would he be any less upset then? Was William any less prone to end up disappointing him? Most drug addicts relapse.

          Certain lies are for the best.

          Randall had a father and a mother.

          • Jamie says:

            Maybe. Maybe not. But now he is a grown man whose mother still lied to him through his adulthood, which adds another layer of distrust and deception. It’s one thing to protect your child who depends on you to make decisions for them. But when he was a grown man, there really is no excuse to continue lying. It’s silly that parents of grown ups think they still have the right to make decisions for them in the name of “protecting” them. That’s needed when they are children, but it isn’t appropriate when they’re 30 years old.

            And this isn’t about Randall already having a mother and father – it’s about his searching for a part of himself that he has always wanted to find. It was always important to him, and you can’t say that continuing to lie to her adult son who clearly needed to find William for himself was for the best. Again, I will wait to get more of Rebecca’s side of the story, but it’s insanely naive to think that her keeping this from her adult son wasn’t for her own good rather than his.

  2. GuessWhat says:

    Great show. Great episode.

  3. Jodi says:

    My favorite episode to date. Love the significance of each tradition – the hike, the saltine hot dogs, the hat, Police Academy, yarn…
    William and Jack are perfect.
    Randall’s realization and reaction when he got home …

    Tonight’s episode made me realize that this might be the only show where I genuinely care for each of these characters. Yes, I know it’s just a show. But I want to hug each of them.

  4. ” In a flashback to when the kids are 8 years old or so, pretty much everyone is dreading the annual visit to Rebecca’s parents’ house for Thanksgiving. Kate hates the itchy turkey sweater her grandmother made, which Rebecca is forcing her to wear. Randall hates the fact that his grandparents are a microagression factory when it comes to their black grandkid. Rebecca hates that her cranberry sauce has to be “perfect” to earn her mother’s approval. And Jack hates that the Pearsons can’t have their own family holiday celebration at home.”

    And WHERE’S KEVIN in this recap?! Oh yeah, he’s DEAD! (Sorry, I just had to channel my inner Kevin here). Kevin’s not really dead if you watched the show….

  5. msm19 says:

    Seriously, I’m not a crier but that scene between William and Olivia had me close to tears. For that monologue alone, Ron Cephas Jones deserves an Honorable Mention come Saturday.

  6. Amy B says:

    This show has catapulted into my Top 5 shows of all-time

  7. GraceM says:

    Well Kate’s announcement wasn’t a surprise. I guessed it and so did a few other people.

    • kevstar69 says:

      I wondered when that was going to come up. The fact that Kevin is a successful sitcom star means that he is financially able to provide the surgery for his sister. Why it didn’t come up was weird to me.

  8. flowerduh says:

    I hate sappy holiday episodes. Because it always turns out hokey but this show made Thanksgiving so real! OMG!! I love Sterling K. Brown as an actor! The emotions he exudes on the screen are….WOW. I have always been a fan of his work. But now I’m a bigger fan.

  9. kevstar69 says:

    I usually get the first seasons of a show each year. Last year it was Mr. Robot. Two years ago it was Empire and HTGAWM. This year it will definitely be this show.

  10. queensgirl says:

    Ohh. Too. Painful. Also, I can’t stand Olivia.

  11. Joey Padron says:

    Episode was really good. The cast did great in the episode. Sad about the ending. Poor Randall. Good to see how the family’s thanksgiving tradition started that the kids continue to do as adults.

    • Pedro says:

      Poor Randall? Who was adopted by a loving family that loved him dearly and kept him away from a drug addict father that abandoned him in a firehouse and would likely hurt him?

      • lollybstarr says:

        Drug addict recover. And yes his adopted parents loved him. But no amount of love can fill in the deep hole of not knowing where you come from. The loss of one biology. Ones ancestral history. Ones family health history. Not having all these things takes away someone identity. Yes poor Randall. It’s understandable that Rebecca kept it from him while he was a young child. For fear of losing her son who she has come to love as her own. (Though I don’t agree it is right. But I do understand) But once Randall turned 18 and she knew he had all these questions and this longing to know. She was no longer acting out of love. She was being selfish and doing nothing but lying and betraying to the son she loved so much. Adoption is so complex and if you haven’t live the life of an adoptee(yes I’m an adoptee) Love doesn’t fix and make everything ok. It can’t fill in a part that is missing. I had amazing folks who adopted me . They will always be the ones I call and see as mom and dad. But they no matter how much they wished they could have could give me a part of me that was missing. My DNA I never saw one family member that looked like me till just last year when I found my birth moms family. I didnt need to find them because I want to replace my adopted parents or that I wasn’t loved enough or they were not good enough. They were and are amazing and have given me all the humanly can. But I have been lost my whole life not know the history of who and what lead to me being created. I have felt lose my whole life not understanding why. It’s so complicated to try to explain it to some one who’s not adopted. Because it’s hard to understand the complexity of emotions and feelings vs Science and the biological human need.

  12. Mitsotakis says:

    Show is becoming more and more ordinary with every episode.

  13. Chelsey says:

    Great Episode. Yay, Toby’s goneeee, yayyyy.
    Now Kate can concentrate of making herself happy.
    Was disappointed Kevin passed Miguel the hat. It’s ok to hold on to something that just was Jack’s.
    Eww, Miguel, don’t like him at all. Worst best friend ever.
    Jack and adult Randall are so much alike. Family is everything to them.

  14. Kevin says:

    Poor Randall. Don’t know what he’s thankful for. One of the best episodes so far this season.

  15. This show just keeps getting better. Bravo to the cast on their amazing work!

  16. Shru says:

    The acting on this show is unreal. So good.

  17. grazelled says:

    Loved this episode but why did they have to ruin Thanksgiving for Randall, poor guy. He was so happy!

  18. Catt says:

    A Thanksgiving “marred by the realization that his parents lied to him for years.” From what we have seen so far, we only know that Randall’s mom lied to him about knowing his biological father. She apparently kept the truth from Jack also.
    Love this show! So many layers … sweet and funny and sad at the same time.

    • Carlos says:

      I’m a little worried that they are making Jack too perfect as a father. I love Rebecca (seems more realistic in her choices) and I’m eager to hear her explanation to Randall.

  19. Did anyone pickup that the woman next to Kate on the flight could’ve been Olivia’s mom?

  20. Otis says:

    To me, Randall, Kevin, and Jack are what make the show. ALL of the actors (including the kids) in this show are well cast and have had great moments but, those 3 really bring it together and make it great.

  21. katedfw says:

    This dang show makes me cry every week but I love it! Next week’s show looks to be a massive tear-jerker!

  22. Gerald says:

    Love this show.
    Love it.
    But, two things.
    1. Miguel should never have even asked to wear the hat. That was their father’s roll and he should never attempt to replace him especially in that way. FIND your own thing Miguel.
    2. Wondering if it was a little sexist that only Randal and Kevin took turns wearing the hat after Jack passed away. Could Kate now have a chance to wear it too?

    Otherwise, Great episode. I hope next week is a direct continuation. We finally got the whole family together under one roof for all of 2 seconds.

    • Pedro says:

      It’s not sexist that she is not a Father figure or a man named Rick.

    • Jamie says:

      Agreed, especially given how clear it is that Kevin doesn’t like him. Why would you want to agitate those feelings even more by replacing his dad’s Thanksgiving day role? And yeah, why doesn’t Kate get to wear the hat?

  23. Tina Lovell says:

    William’s monologue on the front porch wrecked me. That man continues to floor me with his subtle performances.

  24. Loving this show, and as ‘very special episodes’ go, this was a keeper. The only thing I don’t understand is why Beth is so intent on telling Randall about his mother, especially on Thanksgiving, clearly his favorite time of the year and mostly like his last and only one with his bio-dad. I get that there shouldn’t be secrets between couples, but there is such a thing as keeping something to yourself for your loved-one’s own good. There was no harm being done to anyone by him not knowing about a past that can’t be changed. All it did was drive a big wedge in between him and his mother. Why did she want that so badly?

    I wonder if he will place any of the blame on William (for not insisting he be allowed to be part of Randall’s life as a child).

    • kevstar69 says:

      He was bound to find out on his own, which he did.

    • ericka says:

      i just found it odd she was adamant on telling him on thanksgiving. i am sure that secret could have kept until december 2nd.

    • I think it was less about Thanksgiving and more about Rebecca being there. Beth couldn’t get Rebecca on the phone and Rebecca made it clear she didn’t want to tell Randall. Instead of letting Rebecca go back home and continue avoiding her phone calls, Beth decided she had ONE chance to get Rebecca to tell the truth: when Rebecca was in their house, for Thanksgiving, the one place she couldn’t hide.
      .
      I understand why Beth did it. Beth protects Randall fiercely, and she doesn’t lie to him. The integrity of their marriage is important to her and she isn’t going to let other people turn her into a liar who hides huge secrets from her husband. She could have told Randall herself, but she wanted to give Rebecca a chance to explain, mother to son. Rebecca was dodging her and Beth had to put her foot down.

  25. Kelly says:

    The whole Jack and William are perfect and bad Rebecca angle is getting annoying.

  26. Deandre says:

    I agree with what others have said…Miguel you need to get your own thing that you can do on Thanksgiving instead of taking over Jack’s role.It was so nice to see their traditions come to life! I love the 8 yr old kids so much. Like the actors they chose to play them…amazing! and Sterling K Brown….man!!! I have always been a fan of his but boy to see him go on an emotional rollercoaster like that….great!

  27. Jamie says:

    I found little Randall lying in his mother’s arms and telling her how much he loves their new family Thanksgivings after big devastated Randall storms out on his mother during Thanksgiving to be heartbreaking. That broke me.

  28. s says:

    Love the detail shown at the end when whole family in same bed–Kate next to Jack, Randall next to Rebecca and Kevin in the middle. Had wondered if William had tried to make contact when he got sober. Previews make look like Milo and Sterling share a scene. I hope so.

  29. Lisa says:

    Who played the karate instructor in the trip episode?