‘This Is Us’ Season 3, Episode 1 Recap: The Oprah Oath
*Warning: Spoilers ahead*
It’s been six months since Jack and his plaid wardrobe graced the small screen. And now, the Pearson clan is back for another tearjerker season.
But before we begin, please note the following: If you’re looking for answers (like who Randall is referring to when he says “go see her” in the confusing flash-forward), then prepare to be disappointed. (You’ve been warned.) Here’s what went down in season three, episode one of This Is Us, titled “Nine Bucks.”
In true This Is Us fashion, the episode kicks off with a montage of scenes that make absolutely no sense until the very end. Key takeaways: Randall (Sterling K. Brown) is trying to strengthen his father-daughter relationship with Deja (Lyric Ross), Kevin (Justin Harley) and Zoe (Melanie Liburd) are hitting it off, and Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) looks fine AF with a clean-shaven face.
Oh, and how could we forget about the brief cameo by a mystery man, who is later identified as Franco Harris. (You know, the legendary Steelers halfback known for his “Immaculate Reception,” which happened on the same night Jack and Rebecca met.)
And now, ladies and gentlemen, we resume our normal programming.
In a flashback, Jack is admiring Rebecca (Mandy Moore) as she sings “Moonshadow” to a crowded bar. (No, you’re not going crazy. We’ve seen this scene—and the next one—before.) After the show, the pair head to a diner (déjà vu, anyone?), and Rebecca rambles on and on about how she wants to move to Los Angeles and sign a record deal. Jack, on the other hand, is speechless.
“My name is Jack,” he says. A man of few words.
When Rebecca excuses herself to the ladies’ room, Jack darts outside and—whaddaya know—runs into Miguel (Jon Huertas). He explains that he met “the girl” of his dreams. The problem? He has no money and wants to show her the night of her life. Miguel, being the gentleman that he is, coughs up a cool $9.
Similar to previous seasons, it’s the Big Three’s birthday. But this time, they’re turning 38. While Tess (Eris Baker) and Annie (Faithe Herman) put the final touches on their birthday cards, Randall tells Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) that he needs to talk to Deja before adding that Kevin wants a gluten-free birthday cake. No biggie.
Right on cue, Zoe chimes in, asks if Kevin’s coming to the party and then awkwardly walks away, immediately blowing her cover. (Amateur mistake.)
“Your brother and my cousin are knocking boots,” Beth tells Randall. Is that what the kids are calling it these days?
Randall isn’t convinced and makes Beth promise that she won’t say anything at the birthday party. To seal the deal, he insists that she swear on Oprah, and she happily agrees.
Meanwhile, Kevin receives a call from Zoe, demanding that he skip the party to avoid Beth’s wrath. Of course, he refuses (it’s his birthday, after all) and assures her they can pull it off. That’s what they all say…
At the fertility doctor, Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Toby (Chris Sullivan) are nervously telling Dr. Jasper about their struggle to conceive. Kate reminds the doctor that it’s her 38th birthday, which means this appointment is fate…right?
Wrong. The doctor says that she can’t take Kate as a patient because her weight is a liability for the IVF procedure. She regretfully tells them that her colleagues will feel the same way, meaning the natural way is their only option. Tears form in Kate’s eyes as she excuses herself from the room.
Although Toby suggests they forgo the party and call in sick, Kate refuses to miss her own birthday. (Hey, it’s her party, and she’ll cry if she wants to.)
Randall somehow convinces Deja to go on a drive with him, and he takes her to the apartment building that he and Beth bought in season two. He explains it’s where he met his biological father, and it made him realize that his adoption defines his life—even when he doesn’t realize it.
Although he didn’t have a say in what happened to him, he doesn’t want Deja to feel that way. Since they can’t foster her forever, Randall wants to formally adopt her, but it needs to be her decision.
Deja thanks him for being so nice to her (here we go…) and then flips the switch. She says she won’t pretend that she’s the same as him. She gets back in the car, creating another elephant in the room: To adopt or not to adopt?
Meanwhile, Kevin arrives at the party just as Zoe is nearing the front door. What a coincidence. They awkwardly shake hands and exchange small talk while Beth, who is eavesdropping around the corner, reminds herself of the Oprah oath. (Important stuff, folks.)
When Beth greets the, er, couple, she immediately demands to know if they’re shagging. (Sorry, Oprah).
Upstairs, Beth and Zoe are really, really going at it while Kevin, Tess and Annie awkwardly listen from the top of the stairs. When Zoe storms off, Beth demands to see Kevin and then immediately dismisses him, saying, “I can’t even look at you.”
At the party, Kate is staring at her birthday cake with the gloomiest look on her face and, um, can someone give this girl a hug? After blowing out the candles, she says that her wish is to have a baby.
Cue Madison (Caitlin Thompson) telling her that it won’t come true. Kate agrees and blurts out that she and Toby will never have a baby. Although she’s trying to be positive, she admits she blames herself for the miscarriage.
“When is the universe going to give me a damn break,” Kate says before Madison makes a dumbass comment about carrot cake.
When Randall and Deja return home, he wastes no time admitting blame and calling her “exceptional.” Deja apologizes for ruining his birthday and heads upstairs.
Just then, Beth storms into the kitchen, saying, “Zoe and Kevin are doing it.” After confessing to breaking the oath, she reveals that she already donated to the Oprah foundation to make up for it. (God, we love this woman.)
Upstairs, Deja grabs her backpack and climbs out the window. She wanders down the street until she comes face-to-face with—drumroll, please—her dad. She tells him that he may not know who she is, but she’s going to do something great with her life, and he’s going to miss it. She explains that she met a family who genuinely cares about her and needs one last favor before disappearing from his life…for good.
When Beth sits down with Kevin, she reminds him of his relationship history and says she’s only looking out for him. She doesn’t like to admit it, but she adores him, and she doesn’t want Zoe to treat him poorly. Awww.
Deja returns home just in time for the final birthday celebrations. Although Randall is pissed that she snuck out, he does a complete 180 when she pulls out a pristinely wrapped gift.
Later on, Toby reminds Kate there are other ways to have children. He admits that he wasn’t thrilled about doing IVF and wants to cut back on his antidepressant medication to increase his sperm count. (TMI.) Kate objects before receiving a call from Dr. Jasper, asking them to come back in. Uh-oh.
At the appointment, the doctor explains that she hated seeing Kate’s reaction. After talking to her colleagues, she wants to move forward with Kate despite the low success rate.
Flash back to the dreaded first date. Jack uses the $9 to take Rebecca to a carnival and finds himself with barely enough cash when she requests a candy apple and a hot chocolate.
Trying to get to know him better, Rebecca (aka Chatty Cathy) suggests he tell her something about himself. He admits that he’s currently in between jobs because he recently returned from Vietnam. She asks if he has any siblings, and he says he had a brother who died in the war. Rebecca tries to break the silence with a rapid-fire round of questions, but she finds herself in an awkward position upon realizing they are very different. (Think cats over dogs and no mushrooms on pizza.)
Right on cue, it starts to rain, and Rebecca suggests they purchase an umbrella for $2. Jack tries to play it cool and says it’s not raining that hard.
Cut to the couple standing under eaves to avoid the rain. Right when Jack suggests they play a game, Rebecca says she needs to go home. Womp, womp.
When they arrive at Rebecca’s house, she thanks him for the date. They sit in silence for what seems like forever before Jack admits that he couldn’t afford the umbrella. You see, he had only $2 remaining and wanted to have enough money for games. He apologizes for the lousy first date, and she agrees that it was “pretty bad.”
Before leaving, Rebecca confesses that her friends told her if a date goes well, she should “forget” something in his car, so he has to return it the next day. She regretfully tells him this “wasn’t that kind of date.” After staring into Jack’s eyes for far too long, she leans in, gives him a kiss and exits the car. Shortly after, Jack realizes that she left her coat in the passenger seat. (Touché, Rebecca.)
After recapping Harris’s game-winning touchdown (aka “the miracle of all miracles”), the episode concludes with a brief—yet important—montage. Here are some key takeaways:
#1 Toby reviews his notes from the appointment in the bathroom: “90% chance of failure.” He walks over to the medicine cabinet, grabs his antidepressant pills and dumps them down the toilet.
#2 While Beth eyes Kevin and Zoe from across the table, Randall opens Deja’s gift: new running sneakers. When he asks how she paid for them, Deja casually says she “has a connection” before suggesting he sign the adoption papers.
#3 Jack returns to Rebecca’s house (with her coat and a bouquet of flowers) only to find her with another man.
#4 Déjà vu: Randall (as an old man) is talking to adult Tess (Iantha Richardson). “It’s time to go see her,” he says. Full disclosure, we still don’t know who the mystery woman is. However, we did get another piece of the puzzle. When Tess excuses herself to go to the bathroom, Randall calls older Toby (!) and asks if he’s coming down, saying, “She really wants you to be there.”
We feel a sudden urge to give Kate a hug. This Is Us returns next Tuesday, October 2, on NBC.