ALERT – If you’re reading this – I’m assuming that you’ve watched the episode and love this show as much as me. If you haven’t watched, this will contain spoilers. You’ve been warned.
Episode synopsis: As Jack, Rebecca and the three kids make their way to Rebecca’s parents’ house for their traditional Thanksgiving holiday, an unforeseen detour occurs. Kate makes two drastic life-changing decisions. Kevin brings Olivia to Randall’s house for Thanksgiving. Randall’s heart is broken when he learns about a lifelong secret his mother has kept from him.
We all knew this was going to be a powerful episode, but what it turned into was something even more than I could have expected.
Due to the way the story is told this week, I have to tell it in order. I’m going to focus on Randall, Rebecca and Jack for most of this, but will cover Kate and Kevin later.
It’s 1988 or 1989, and Jack and Rebecca are preparing for Thanksgiving at Rebecca’s parents house. Rebecca is trying to make the perfect cranberry sauce, because her sister makes the perfect pie and her mother makes the perfect dinner.
The boys end up ruining her cranberry sauce, and they had to stop at several stores to buy more. As they are going to the grandma’s house, the blow out a tire in the middle of nowhere. There’s a sign that states 3.4 miles to a gas station, and the family has no choice but to walk to the gas station.
Present Day – It’s Thanksgiving morning, and nobody is more excited than Randall. He wakes he whole family up at 6:30 am to help prepare for dinner. Once everyone arrives (Kevin, Olivia [we’ll get to that later], Rebecca and Miguel), Randall tells everyone it’s time for the annual Pearson family hike. How long is the hike? 3.4 miles.
Back to the past – once the family reaches the gas station, Rebecca calls her mother and gets chewed out for not showing up. On the way to the gas station, Randall noted that he hated going to her parents house because they always made him feel like an outsider. There happens to be a lodge across the street and the family gets a room for the night. Unfortunately, the only food the gas station had was hot dogs, cheese and crackers.
Once they get to the lodge, they are greeted by a strange man who calls himself “Pilgrim Rick”. The family goes to their room, which is eclectic to say the least, and Jack goes out in search of food. A while later, there is a knock on the door and it’s “Pilgrim Rick”. It’s really Jack, who has food and the movie “Police Academy 3”. They cook their hot dogs covered in crackers and cheese in the heater in the room.
Back to the present, everyone comes back from the hike in time to watch the traditional movie (Police Academy 3). While on the hike, William tells Randall about his music tapes that he would listen to every Thanksgiving. Randall, fearing that this may be William’s last Thanksgiving, drives to William’s house to get his music tapes for him.
While at William’s apartment, Randall finds a letter written to William and recognizes the handwriting. At this point, he realizes that Rebecca has known about William his entire life. To say he’s angry would be an understatement.
Back to the past, The Pearson’s are in their hotel, just finished the movie and Rebecca suggests that each member of the family say something they are thankful for. They do this while unraveling a sweater that Rebecca’s mom made for Kate.
Back to the present, Randall returns home and is clearly pissed off. They start the family tradition of saying what they are thankful for with a ball of twine. Rebecca says her thanks and one of the girls comments that “grandma always says the same thing.” Randall agrees and then tells Rebecca what he found at William’s house. A letter, with a photo of Randall, telling him it was great to see him looking so well after “all these years”. Randall loses his mind. Rebecca tries to explain, but Randall screams at her to stop and tells her he can’t even look at her. He then storms out of the house.
In the past, Randall tells Kate that he wants all his Thanksgiving’s to be just like the one that year. He has carried all the traditions from that year forward; the hike, Pilgrim Rick, the movie, the twine. Clearly family is the most important thing to Randall, and this news that Rebecca has known about William his whole life is devastating for him.
It was a very realistic scene, and I hope that Sterling K. Brown uses it for his Emmy nomination (which he should totally get). The pain on both Randall and Rebecca’s face was heartbreaking. While I understand Randall’s anger, William was an addict back then and I can understand why Rebecca wouldn’t want her son around an addict.
The Present – Kate and Kevin
Kate and Toby go to dinner, where Toby devours a plate of spaghetti; while Kate eats a salad. She tells Toby that she thinks they should take a break. She’s very serious about her weight loss and being with Toby, who is not taking his diet seriously, is not helping her. She cries when telling him this, and Toby is none to happy. Kate tells him she doesn’t want him to accompany him to New Jersey for Thanksgiving.
Kevin’s play wraps for Thanksgiving weekend, and Olivia tells him she has no plans for the holiday. Kevin invites her to Randall’s house. Olivia goes on the hike with the family, where she tells Kevin about her sob story; absent father, drunk mother. She gets to the point where she can’t take it anymore, and she leaves. She’s in the front, waiting for her Uber, and William is outside, getting some fresh air. Olivia asks William what it’s like to die. William explains what he’s going to miss; stroking his granddaughters hair, making Randall laugh. William tells Olivia that she should stop pushing Kevin, someone who is clearly smitten with her, away. Olivia goes back in the house and kisses Kevin. She and Kevin then go and watch Police Academy 3.
Kate is on an airplane to New Jersey when she hits some severe turbulence. She makes a big decision after that – to have gastric bypass surgery. Which she announces to the family right after Randall storms out. Olivia then tells Kevin that her family is amazing.
On a side note, Miguel asked Kevin if he could wear “the hat”. Kevin told him no. That only he and Randall wear it. Kevin clearly has an issue with Miguel (his dead father’s best friend who is married to his mother, as he told Olivia). Kevin decides to let Miguel do the honors. Watching Kevin blossom during this show has been one of my favorite storylines. When the show started, he was a spoiled brat and now he’s a man you can respect. A man who learns from his mistakes. A man who wants to right his wrongs. I’m enjoying watching the man he is becoming.
Kate’s storyline, however, is annoying to me. You finally meet a great guy, and you push him away because he doesn’t want to diet. That doesn’t make any sense to me. I hope she quickly realizes her mistake and she and Toby reconcile soon.
I’m very curious to see how things are going to play out with Randall and Rebecca. I don’t think that Randall is going to forgive her anytime soon. It appears Rebecca has fractured relationships with Kevin and Kate, which is interesting to me. I hope that William tells Randall about how his life was back then.
Another fantastic episode. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.