11 This Is Us Tissue Moments as Beth Reclaims Her Passion, Kate Gives Kevin Hard Truth

Why Kate and Sophie's friendship collapsed and the first hints at the romance between Rebecca and Miguel highlight this week's flashbacks.

One of the things that is so powerful about how “This Is Us” is structured is the fact that the show chooses these powerful themes about life and manages to infuse them across multiple characters and timelines.

This week’s theme was things unsaid. Everyone has regrets about what they didn’t say, whether it’s something they wanted to say but didn’t have the courage to, or something they chose not to say, maybe thinking it was the right decision at the time. There are consequences to these decisions, both internal and external, that can haunt us for years.

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As Beth took center stage, so to speak, this week, we again explored how she wound up abandoning her passion for dance because she felt abandoned by the dance instructor who’d given her so much of his time and commitment only to dump her in the wake of her father’s death when she felt short.

The other main storyline might have appeared to be about Kevin fighting with Madison over their Thanksgiving plans, but it wasn’t really about them. It was about Kate across the years, enabling her brother and failing to use her voice.

We also got a glimpse of the earliest steps in the eventual romance between Rebecca and Miguel, a story that’s been a long time coming. Even if the kids have a hard time respecting him, Miguel has been a solid and stabilizing force for the whole family and we’ve really grown to appreciate his quiet reserve — and terrible dad jokes.

As we do every week, we’re going to single out the show’s most powerful moments, scoring them by how many tissues we tore through just to watch them. Believe us, these are happy tears of anguish.

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“You’re Gonna Be Waiting a Long Time”

After an episode where he geeked out on the set of “The Manny” reboot, we can’t even imagine the nerve it took for Elijah to step out of Madison’s house and actually confront Kevin face-to-face about his relationship with the mother of Kevin’s kids. But it was also an empowering moment, with Kevin seeing someone stepping outside of their comfort to say what they felt needs to be said. Elijah may have been uncertain of the outcome, but he still spoke his truth. It’s jarring when people set those clear boundaries so directly as we tend to react in defense, but to Kevin’s credit, he took it for what it was. “Point taken,” he said after Elijah made it clear he’s not going anywhere and he really cares for Madison.

1 tissue (facing fears to speak truth to power)

“You Just Tossed Me Aside”

We have to give props to the writers that they didn’t have Vincent cave or back down from who he’s been his whole life and career when Beth finally — after nearly two decades — took her moment to speak truth to power. We saw in a flashback when she failed to say how much Vincent had destroyed her self-confidence and her love of dance, so it was empowering that after reclaiming that passion in her new job she made that phone call. But she wasn’t going to change Vincent, and that’s not what this call was about. This was about putting a ghost to rest in her own mind, knowing that she stood up for herself. Vincent could have gotten angry or hung up on her but he didn’t. He simply told her that it wasn’t his job to coddle her. He is who he is and Beth sees things differently. Both are successful at what they do, as evidenced by a beautiful flash-forward featuring the student she stands by this week, so it is what it is. But it was a moment for Beth that she needed so she could leave that chapter in peace and move on.

2 tissues (it’s never too late to speak truth to power)

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“You Have a Good Night”

We’re starting to see the edges fray more and more in the relationship between Toby and Kate, but it’s a slow-moving storm. Most moments with Toby were very sweet and his usual self, but it was when he was on his business calls that we saw this clipped, short and somewhat darker side to him. In the closing moments of the show, knowing that Kate is struggling in her marriage, Kevin tries to offer his brother-in-law some friendly advice about the phone calls, but Toby clips back. This is the defensive response to someone speaking truth. Toby knows things are tough between him and Kate, but he’s not about to hear it from Kevin, of all people, so he snaps at him. This simmering pot is going to boil over real soon between all three of the people living in that house.

2 tissues (it’s hard to watch the end of something you love)

“You’re Basically My Best Friend”

We’ve really grown to love and appreciate the relationship between Rebecca and Miguel in the present day, and we know this season promises to finally delve into that. It looks like the green-eyed monster plays a role, as Miguel is definitely jealous of Rebecca’s burgeoning relationship with Matt based on the little digs he gives. Again, this is a defense mechanism people tend to do rather than speak their truth, though it’s possible Miguel may no fully know that he’s jealous or how he feels about Rebecca. A closing shot of her after he invites a woman to their Thanksgiving shows that she’s feeling some kind of way, too, and it looked like jealousy. They know how much they mean to each other, but haven’t yet realized that crossing that line from friendship to more is even on the table. It’s certainly complicated enough, but will require honest conversation to get there.

2 tissues (it’s sweet to watch the start of something you love)

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“Do You Want Me To?”

Just like Kevin and Toby now, trading the same line in lieu of a real conversation about what’s really going on, we saw the genesis of the dysfunction that punctuates the Pearson family when Kevin and Sophie came home from L.A. for Thanksgiving. Now adults, Kate asked Kevin if he was going to say anything about her weight and he asked if she was going to say anything about their drinking. Their responses spoke volumes. They can acknowledge privately that something is going on with the other, but better just bury it and not talk about it. That becomes a running theme in their relationship, as neither is willing to speak that truth the other needs to hear, even though they may know it and feel it inside. Not talking for so many years did a number on this family, and it started early.

3 tissues (setting the stage for so much struggle and pain to come)

“I Wanna Be the Best Dad to My Kids”

He may not always be going about it the right way, which is on brand for Kevin, but he really does care about being a good father to his kids and he really does want to get it right. He’s just so good at getting it wrong, getting in his own way and trying to control everything — another Pearson trait. That rears its head and is a driving force of conflict this week, but there was this moment. This sweet moment that came on the set of his “Manny” reboot sitcom with him now the father where you could tell he was speaking from the heart. It is this piece of Kevin that keeps you rooting for him, even as he takes “16 steps back,” as Kate tells him later.

3 tissues (a good heart can be overruled by bad ideas)

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“You Didn’t Fall in Love”

What Kate couldn’t do in the past, she was able to finally do in the present. As Kevin is trying to force Madison into coming to the cabin for Thanksgiving, Kate was there to tell him the hard truths. He’s the one who left her at the altar. He’s the one who couldn’t say he loved her. She doesn’t owe him anything. This is the reality that was created as a result of his actions and he has to stop trying to control it. He needs to respect Madison as the mother of his children and a woman deserving of love and happiness and just knock it off. It’s the kind of talk they should have been having back when he was with Sophie, and probably even before, but neither were in a healthy enough space to either have or receive those kinds of talks. The good news is finding out it’s never too late to become a better version of yourself … and tough love is not a bad thing. It’s just tough to hear.

4 tissues (for being willing to push back at the ones you love, with love)

“I Will Sit with You on This Stage”

Vincent abandoned Beth when she faltered. Beth’s prize student, who reminded her of herself at that age, literally faltered and fell during the showcase on stage in front of an audience of people. And she froze. So Beth walked out, got down with her and told her that they could either sit there until everyone leaves or the girl could get up and try again. Either way, she could never disappoint Beth and either way, Beth would be there for her. She chose compassion and love, rather than cold discipline and expectations. And the girl got up and did it again. A flash-forward showed her sending a letter back to Beth after she landed the lead role in The Nutcracker. Vincent’s way may work to create stars, but it’s not the only way. Rather than try and follow anyone else’s path, Beth forged her own and it was the best choice she could have made. She chose Beth.

4 tissues (always choose yourself)

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“That’s Not Even Our Problem Right Now”

After chastising Kevin for his behavior toward Madison, Kate opened up a bit about what’s going on between her and Toby. We didn’t stick with the conversation, but we know Kevin tries to talk to Toby about it toward the end. It’s likely, as that wasn’t really the time for Kate to make it about her problems, that they didn’t really get into it. And it’s probably something Kate is still hesitant to talk about. Did Kevin have enough in him at that moment to press and ask her? Will he soon? He’s done a lot of growing himself, but he hasn’t grown as much into his power as Kate has, so we’re not sure. But it’s another hint that she’s going to need him and soon as things continue to unravel. We have mixed feelings about Kevin telling both Kate and Toby that he’ll leave if they want him to because he knows things aren’t great there, and Kate as much as said he’s not helping the situation. Should he just take the initiative and leave? It’s not like he can’t afford to live in his own place. Or is this his selfish streak leaving him blind to the right thing to do. Or maybe him being there is keeping it from blowing up sooner. There’s a lot of moving parts there, and they’re all moving toward disaster.

4 tissues (this one is going to break our hearts)

“Look at Your Mother”

This week was Beth’s story, pushing Randall into the role of supportive spouse. But we have to give credit where it’s due, because it was a beautifully powerful moment when he told his daughters to look up on that stage. It was when Beth was kneeling down with Stacey, her dancer who fell. “Don’t you ever forget how incredible that woman is,” he told his girls. For all that daughters struggle with their mothers — Kate and Rebecca were at war for years — Randall probably gave at least a sliver of help in that by having them see their mother in her element, being strong and compassionate, being there with love for another human being. It is a beautiful moment, but we love that he made it a teachable moment to remind his daughters to love and respect their mother for who she is.

4 tissues (sharing his love and admiration for his wife)

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“I Should’ve Gone Over the Cliff with You”

Life is full of regrets. Beth faced hers with Vincent and got the closure she needed. By the close of this episode, Kate found herself seeking her own. She and Sophie had once been as close as sisters, but when Kevin told Kate that he’d cheated on Sophie and swore her to secrecy, Kate chose to honor that. She then stayed quiet only for Kevin to admit it himself, while accidentally revealing that Kate already knew. This cost Kate her friendship with Sophie. That’s probably, at least in part, why she pushed back so hard against Kevin this time. She already chose him and lost a best friend once, and Madison was her best friend before she was the mother to Kevin’s child. But what Kate wasn’t old enough or mature enough to handle differently back then, she could own up to now. Referencing their love of “Thelma & Louise,” she reached out to Sophie with an apology for what happened all those years ago. And Sophie shot back that she understood because Kevin was her brother. The situation was tense and ugly and complicated, but because neither had the nerve to revisit it or face uncomfortable conversations, they may well have cost themselves years of friendship. Could they reconcile now? Who knows. Maybe this will bring Sophie back into the story, and she and Kevin will have their fairy tale ending. Or maybe this brief exchange serves only to soothe the guilt and ache of years for both Kate and Sophie. That’s just as important.

5 tissues (lost friendships can hurt as much as lost loves)

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