‘This Is Us’ Season 3, Episode 17 Recap: Nachos
Last week on This Is Us, Kevin (Justin Hartley) and Zoe (Melanie Liburd) discussed not having children, Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Toby (Chris Sullivan) adapted to parenting little Jack, and the fight building between Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) finally erupted.
In season three, episode 17, titled “R&B,” we pick up where we left off and watch Beth and Randall’s relationship from beginning to what’s hopefully not the end.
After the way harsh, Tai, message Randall left Beth last week, she suggested he sleep on the cot in his office. But he insisted on coming home and hashing it out. So, Beth kicks things off, saying she “doesn’t recognize him” because her husband would have never said the things he said to her on that voicemail. Randall admits he was purposely trying to hurt her feelings.
As their argument progresses, they both admit their “rhythm” is off. But their reasoning differs. Randall thinks it’s because they’re both being pulled in different directions, and Beth thinks it’s because Randall isn’t getting everything he wants for once in his life.
He says he wants her to have her own life and her own interests, but Beth says that’s not the case. She’s the one who has made sacrifices in their relationship and bent to Randall’s needs. Now that she isn’t, their dynamic is shifting.
The Meet Cute
As their fight nears its apex, we flash back to Beth (Rachel Hilson) and Randall’s (Niles Finch) freshman year of college. The moment Randall sets eyes on Beth at a mixer, he’s in love. After holding the door open for everyone in his class just so he could hold it open for Beth, Randall finally calls Kevin and asks for advice on how to ask her out. So, they try a classic comedy move: Randall calls Beth, and Kevin tells him what to say on the other line.
Despite Randall’s faux forwardness, Beth says yes. So, the following evening, he picks her up in a suit and tie, gives her a bouquet of flowers and takes her to an expensive restaurant. He’s eager to get to know her and tells her he’s asked around about her. He starts opening up about his family life and his father’s death almost immediately and, for a moment, Beth lets her guard down to tell him her father passed away, too.
When a waiter approaches, Randall tells him they’re ready to order and, in a blatant act of racism, he insists they pay for their meal before ordering. Randall recognizes the slight but pulls out his checkbook anyway because he’s eager to make it a perfect date. But Beth isn’t having it and storms out.
Randall follows her and asks what happened. Beth bluntly tells him, “You’re a lot and this date was a lot.” She explains that she’s the type of girl who loves ginger beer and nachos and calls him out for wearing a suit to their date and opening up too quickly. He doesn’t give up and tells her he’s not wearing the suit because he’s “a lot.” He dressed up because he thought she deserved “a great first date.” In fact, he goes on to say, “I think you deserve everything.”
She asks him not to call again. And yet, when he gets back to his dorm and his roommate asks how it went, he says, “Good. I’m going to marry her.”
Seven years later, they’re living together. Randall puts on “Let’s Get Married” by Jagged Edge and does a little dance for Beth. As the lyrics “Let’s get married” play, he asks Beth to marry him. But it quickly becomes clear this isn’t the first time he’s proposed. She answers, “Not yet,” which is progress.
And just as they’re about to celebrate their progress toward a “yes” with a little romp, Randall suddenly remembers it’s time to go to their regular Sunday dinner at Rebecca’s (Mandy Moore) house. Beth is agitated and suggests they go mini-golfing instead (alone). Randall assumes it’s an invitation for a family outing, so off they go.
There, Rebecca subtly makes a dig at the fact that Beth keeps turning Randall down and it’s the last straw. Right then and there, Beth tells them that she’s not ready to get married yet because she doesn’t want her life to be consumed by her husband’s. Randall is so hurt he tells her he won’t ask again.
They all take some space, but Rebecca soon finds Beth to smooth things over. She tells Beth Randall won’t consume her because she’s his everything. Rebecca tells Beth about a time when Randall was 11 years old and cried because he was unsure of his place in the universe. “Seven years ago, after he met you, he no longer had that fear,” she explains.
This shifts something in Beth, so she finds Randall, tells him to hop in the car and they drive to a deli where she orders nachos and a ginger beer. He’s extremely confused until she tells him, “This is my favorite meal, you’re my favorite person, this is how I want it,” and invites him to propose. So he pulls out the ring and pops the question. Her only request? That they don’t “Lose ourselves in each other. We’re gonna be full people. Equals. We’re a team.”
On the day of their wedding, Beth rushes to finish her vows while Kate tries to delay things. Randall, on the other hand, has been working on his vows for a week, and he’s confident in them. Until he reads them to Kevin and they’re essentially a “dissertation on marriage.” They even include the Webster’s Dictionary definition of marriage. Kevin suggests he just speak about how much he loves Beth.
When Beth learns he’s now not ready yet, she storms into the room where he’s getting ready (but tells him to close his eyes first). They decide to write their vows together because they’re better together. Needless to say, the vows are absolutely perfect. Maybe better than perfect.
Then, they do the damn thing—they get married.
It’s 3 a.m. and Beth and Randall are up fighting over how to change baby Tess’s diaper. They’re exhausted but as they begin to argue, they realize they’re fighting over nothing. So, Randall offers to make Beth’s comfort food—nachos—and they chat about their parenting fears.
One of Beth’s fears is that when she goes back to work after her maternity leave is over, Tess is going to forget her. Randall says he thought she was excited to go back to work and she says she was and still is, but she just doesn’t know how it’s going to work. He assures her they’ll figure it out, and whether it’s her desire to be honest or her exhaustion, Beth tells him that usually means she has to bend to his needs.
When Randall asks what she means, she relates their relationship to nachos. She says both of them are “the whole chip with a lotta cheese” person, but Randall’s the one who always gets the perfect chip. Beth gets the crumbs. He’s insulted and wants to talk about it, but before they can, she pulls them off to bed to try and get some rest.
The William & Kevin Era
We jump forward to the point in their lives when William (Ron Cephas Jones), Randall’s birth dad, comes to live with them. Kevin also happened to be staying at Chez Pearson at the time and Beth reaches a point where she just needs some alone time. She tells a little white lie about an urban development conference she’s attending and says she’ll be staying the night out. But when Randall and William hit up the grocery store later to get more syrup, they find Beth there.
Randall sees the Swedish fish and wine in her cart and immediately knows what she’s doing. She’s going to check into a hotel room to watch movies alone. He’s not upset that she lied, but he’s frustrated she didn’t try and talk to him about it first. Beth points out that she tried to tell him once before that she needed “24 hours to not be a wife and a mother and a housekeeper” but he didn’t get it.
He tells her he understands and that she should take the alone time she needs, but seeing how accommodating he is in the moment, Beth says she’s coming back home.
Back to the Present
In the middle of their fight, Beth tells him he’s turning her into his mother. While he denies it, he knows she’s right. Randall thinks back to the fight Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca had in the season one finale where he diminished her dreams of becoming a singer while Randall secretly watched.
Beth reminds him of the sacrifices she’s made—putting aside her career to care for children, buying William’s building, and standing by him while he ran for office—and asks him when it’ll ever be enough. She points out, “Our lives don’t work unless I’m doing the bending,” and demands that he admit that he thinks her job isn’t as important as his.
Randall is set off and tells Beth it isn’t his fault she realized her passion 20 years too late. And that’s when she pulls out the big guns and asks, “Between which of your anxiety attacks.” It strikes a deep nerve and Randall leaves to sleep on the cot in his office.
The This Is Us season three finale drops next Tuesday at 9 p.m. PT/ET on NBC.