The Emmy-winning series “This is Us” returned in a big way to kick off Season 2. While Jack’s ultimate fate wasn’t yet revealed, the pieces were put in place for the big reveal to come later.
[Spoiler Alert: The remainder of this article will discuss Season 2, Episode 1 of "This is Us."]
The episode opens with Rebecca picking the kids up to have a talk about her and their father’s relationship. They’re nervous, but she tries to keep them calm. They arrive at a restaurant where Jack reveals what happened at the concert with Rebecca’s ex boyfriend. He tells them that they’re going to take a little time for themselves. Kate is upset, but there’s nothing they can do about it.
Meanwhile, in the present day, Randall is getting used to life as a stay-at-home dad and prepping vigorously for he and Beth to adopt a young boy. However, she makes it clear that she’s not thrilled about the idea because he’s clearly trying to repeat the same pattern in which he was adopted in the wake of his biological father’s death. They fight outside the adoption center and she storms off.
Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, Kevin is wrapping production on his movie with Ron Howard. The director surprises him on set with a cake for his birthday, but the day isn’t all good news. He gets a call from Sophie informing him that she can’t make it to L.A. for his big day. He pretends he’s OK, but he’s clearly disappointed that he won’t be able to show her where the Kardashians get their smoothies. He decides to bury himself in giving his sister a happy birthday, much to the chagrin of her fiance, Toby. Kate is preparing for a big singing audition, and he’s giving her lots of encouragement when Kevin enters and undercuts him. She leaves for the audition, but panics when she notices all the other girls there are small and pretty.
Later that night, she and Toby arrive at the restaurant Kevin has rented out for their birthday. When Toby proposes a toast to her to explain how proud he is, she confesses she left the audition. However, what really upsets Toby is learning that Kevin knew before him. The two argue outside and he accuses Kevin of coddling her when she needs to be pushed. Kate overhears and scolds them both. She regains her confidence by realizing that she’s 37 and no one should need to coddle or push her. With that, she returns to the audition.
Meanwhile, Randall pays a visit to Rebecca and asks for the real story of how she and Jack decided to adopt him. It turns out she wasn’t sold on the idea, being exhausted from the tragedy of her triplet’s birth. However, she says Jack pushed her and she’s grateful for it. Randall, though, does not want to push Beth, and makes it clear that if she’s not on board, they won’t adopt. She confesses that the spectre of William has been weighing on her, and suggests they adopt an older child, one that only they would care about. With that, it seems as though their future is sealed and they browse the Internet for potential matches for them.
Back at the audition, Kate insists that they let her perform. However, she quickly realizes that her issue is not her looks or her weight, it’s the fact that her vocals simply aren't good enough. She emerges to tell Kevin and Toby what happened, but is sanguine about the whole thing. She knows now that she just has to work hard to get what she wants, and that her weight and age aren't what’s holding her back.
The episode ends with a bit more clues as to Jack’s ultimate fate. He’s reluctantly staying at Miguel’s, hoping for a chance to win Rebecca back. However, when she shows up to tell him that she loves him, he takes the opportunity to confess that he’s been drinking again for weeks. He tells her that he refuses to come home until he can fix his drinking problem and shuts the door. The screen cut to black, but abruptly returned when Rebecca knocked again. This time, she demanded he come home so that they can fix him together.
It feels like a positive moment, until it cuts to some time later, on the night of Jack’s death. She’s driving home alone with a bag filled with his belongings. She’s wearing a Steelers jersey and pulls up to the Pearson house, which is revealed to be burned down. Finally, she breaks down and cries.