The flashbacks in this week’s episode — titled “Jack Pearson’s Son” — centered on a rocky time in the duo’s marriage. As last week’s hour set up, Rebecca (Mandy Moore) was prepping for a five-state tour and Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) was struggling to come to terms with the upcoming change but putting on a supportive face for his wife.
His hesitations bubbled to the surface when he learned that Rebecca had previously been in a relationship with one of her bandmates.
This led to a Valentine’s Day fight between the two, in which Rebecca accused Jack of “getting in the way” of her dream.
At the end of the episode, Jack decided to go to their pre-planned date alone and console himself with a burger and a stiff drink.
“I don’t think going to the restaurant was a protest. Maybe the drink was,” Ventimiglia said in a post-episode interview
posted to the show’s Facebook page. “‘You’re gonna go do this for you? I’m gonna go do this for me'”
Fans will recall that Jack has had problems with drinking in the past and had been sober up until this episode.
Moore called the move as “self-destructive.”
“This is a couple I feel like can normally talk through everything, but they’ve never been here before,” Moore said of their fight.
The blow-up wasn’t the only challenge the couple faced this week.
The flashbacks revealed more about Randall’s history with panic attacks.
At one point, young Randall began stressing about an essay that would determine his graduation ranking, and needed Jack to calm him down during a spiral.
“Although this is the first time you’re seeing it on camera, these sorts of episodes with Randall have been fairly frequent and we have our own way of dealing with it,” Moore said. “In that particular moment, Jack steps up to the plate.”
In the episode, Randall (Sterling K. Brown) also struggled with them in the present-day, a result of being overwhelmed by his biological father William’s deteriorating condition, troubles at work, stress at home, and perpetual desire to please everyone.
That, however, led to one of the night’s most touching moments.
Moments before heading on stage to make his big debut as a “serious actor,” Kevin (Justin Hartley) got a distressing call from Randall and immediately took note of his brother’s condition.
Earlier in the episode, nervous Kevin had gone to stepdad Miguel and sought advice ahead of his opening night. In a sweet moment, Miguel told Kevin that he need only remember his father.
“You are Jack Pearson’s son. You have him inside of you. When you’re nervous or at your most nervous-wracking moment, the curtain’s about to go up, all you have to do is remind yourself of that,” Miguel said. “Think about what he’d do and you’ll be fine.”
That’s exactly what Kevin did.
Instead of walking on stage, he ditched his own opening night and rushed to his brother’s side.
It’s what his dad would have done.
“This Is Us” airs Tuesdays on NBC.