‘This Is Us’ Season 3, Episode 16 Recap: Final Answer?

Last week, the Pearson family grappled with more than a few crises. There was the fallout of Kevin’s (Justin Hartley) relapse, Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and Beth’s (Susan Kelechi Watson) fight and—most importantly—Kate (Chrissy Metz) almost losing baby Jack during labor.

Now, in season three, episode 16, the Pearsons will learn to cope with their new normal.

rebecca and jack pearson dancing
Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Rebecca & Jack

Rebecca (Mandy Moore) prepares the children for their first dance. But awkward slow dancing won’t be the only first that evening. Kevin is gunning for his first kiss and Rebecca and Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) are preparing to chaperone a dance for the first time ever. The kids beg them not to be embarrassing and then Randall is off to ask his date if she knows anything about mitochondria and Kevin snags his first slow dance. Meanwhile, Rebecca learns that Jack never got to attend a dance, so she devises a plan.

She takes Jack to the stacks to make out…until Randall, who’s taking a quick break from the dance to study mitochondria, asks them what the heck they’re doing.

By the end of the night, Kevin succeeds in getting his first kiss from Sophie, Rebecca requests some Frankie Valli for Jack and they share their first middle school slow dance together. It’s awkward for the kids but it’s romantic and sweet—just like them. Jack reminisces about what it would have been like if they’d met in middle school and proclaims that it would have been happily ever right then and there. She asks him what their kids’ happily ever afters will look like. Shall we find out?

kate and toby at nicu this is us
Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Katoby & Baby Jack

Jack is still in the NICU, and Kate and Toby (Chris Sullivan) are doing their best to deal. While Kate is coping by singing to their baby, Toby is fretting over every blood and urine test. Thankfully, he meets a man in the waiting room with a similar dark sense of humor and they bond over the hell they’re going through. They commiserate, until his new friend tells him one family’s baby isn’t coming home and Toby realizes he needs to stop complaining and be there for his family.

kate pearson at nicu this is us
Ron Batzdorff/NBC

So, he apologizes to Kate, who tells him she feels like she’s been doing this whole parenting thing alone. He opens up about how scared he is, and Kate admits that she is too, but that when she looks at Jack all she sees is love. After their heart-to-heart, she tells Toby she needs to shower and leaves him in charge and alone with Jack for the first time.

Later, they get to hold Jack’s tiny body for the first time. It’s possibly the most poignant moment of the season (don’t at me) and our tear ducts were not prepared.

randall pearson going a mile a minute
Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Randall & Beth

Randall and Beth are doing their best to balance two jobs and three kids with zero help. It’s working(ish), but there’s a look in Randall’s eyes that makes us question how long that will last.

Meanwhile, Beth is excelling in her new capacity as a dance teacher and it shows. When her company’s dance recital arrives, the owner gives her a major shout-out. Unfortunately, Randall misses the speech, but he’s there to see her students perform and is more than happy to congratulate his wife.

He asks if she can do him a solid and attend a dinner at a councilman’s house with him the next evening. She agrees, but the next day the owner of the studio invites her to drinks and she tries to get out of dinner. Randall tells her he’s been firing on all cylinders and needs her help, and while she says she’ll come, she’s not pleased.

beth pearson looking content
Ron Batzdorff/NBC

The next day, dinner time rolls around and Beth is a no-show. Randall calls her several times, then leaves her a particularly sassy message telling her to “grow up.” She ultimately shows up and tells the dinner party that her phone died after there was an accident on the freeway. Beth asks the hosts for a charger and Randall knows he’s going to get in big trouble when she gets some battery life.

Over dinner, Beth is as charming and humble as ever, which makes it even more awkward when Randall tells her about the voicemail. But she already listened to it and tells Randall to go use that cot in his office (called it).

By the time Beth gets home and pulls her rings off, Randall is right behind her. He’s not staying on the couch and he wants to hash it all out right then and there.

kevin pearson and zoe in couple s counciling
Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Kevin & Zoe

Meanwhile, Kevin and Zoe (Melanie Liburd) are starting couple’s counseling because Kevin wants to do the “relationship right.” He begins the session by insulting a piece of art made by the therapist’s daughter, but soon charms her like everyone else he comes across. But when he talks about how he wants to have kids and move to the burbs (“well, maybe not the burbs”), Zoe’s face drops.

Later that evening, when Kevin returns from an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, Zoe confronts him about what he said in therapy. She tells him she loves him, but she doesn’t want children. Specifically, she explains, “Kids have never been part of my plan, and they will never be.” He asks if it’s because her dad sexually abused her, but she says it’s more about her freedom. Kevin is caught off guard and Zoe encourages him to think more deeply about his desire to have children. If he doesn’t want to have kids, then she’s all in. If he does, she doesn’t want to waste their time.

So Kevin does his thinking…until he suddenly finds himself at Sophie’s (Alexandra Breckenridge) door. Unfortunately, she comes home just as he’s “lurking” and asks him what he’s doing. He apologizes for standing in front of her place and just as he’s leaving, she asks if he’s OK. He sees a comfortable in and asks her to grab a cup of coffee. And that’s when she tells him she’s engaged.

kevin pearson brooding
Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Since coffee is “safe,” they grab a cup of joe and Kevin asks about her fiance, Grant. She recounts the story of their romantic meet cute, and he awkwardly asks if they’ll have kids together. She looks at him strangely (obviously), so he opens up about what he’s going through with Zoe. Her advice? “Decide what you want. You always get it.”

In the end, Kevin returns home and tells Zoe he chooses her. He’s so sure of it he even calls it his “final answer.” But is it really final? Maybe…but when he emails Sophie free Billy Joel tickets for her and her fiance, something in our gut tells us that might not be the case.

Will Kevin really give up kids for Zoe? Will Randall and Beth make it through this fight? And will Kate be able to stay strong for herself, Jack and Toby? All will be revealed when This Is Us season three returns with episode 17 next Tuesday, March 26, at 9 p.m. PT/ET on NBC.


Cat mom, yogi, brunch enthusiast

Lex is an LA native who's deeply obsessed with picnics, Slim Aarons, rosé, Hollywood history and Joan Didion. She joined PureWow in early 2017.