This is Us Episode 23 Recap: Who is the Mystery Pearson Brother?

Credit NBC

Credit NBC

Sweet Molasses! Are they seriously trying to give us whiplash with these didn’t-see-’em-coming twists at the end of (almost) every episode?

Whew. Deep, cleansing breath.

So there was a Nicky Pearson. I think “was” is the right word to use here, but you never know. You. Never. Know. Until you do, but we don’t. Not yet.

But we’ll get to Nicky in a minute. First, this episode was a little bit “lighter,” which was called for in a so-far heavy season. I don’t know about you, but I needed the levity.

The episode was called “Brothers,” and more layers were uncovered in Randall and Kevin’s brotherhood, as well as in a brotherhood we had no idea existed. These writers are simply masterful weavers of story, aren’t they? I can’t stop thinking about generations of Pearson brothers.


1. I love the Pearson house, which is turquoise with white trim, like my dining room! And their wood-paneled Cherokee is cool, too. Show of hands, who drove around in something wood-paneled when you were a youngster? We Reimers drove to and fro in a Mercury Montego station wagon with some seriously impressive wood accents.

2. Randall, to Kevin, re Kevin being auctioned off as someone’s date at Sophie’s fundraising gala:

“No black man has ever been jealous of being auctioned off. #American history.” (The way Randall made the sign of the hashtag with his fingers? #Dorktastic. And adorable. Also, a deft touch on the issue of race, again. These writers…!!!)

3. Deja asks to go to the gala, where she flinches, again, when Randall tries to grab a piece of shrimp out of her hand. Later, he follows her into the Ladies Room, where she finally opens up a little bit about her past: She used to be hit with rolled-up magazines by a former caregiver’s boyfriend. GRRRR! 

4. Kate is freaked into next week by her pregnancy, and goes totally over the top when Toby reacts exultingly to the news. She’s scared, and hoping “the little lima bean inside of me turns into a grape…” Later, Toby’s display of utter crazy, slap-nuts joyfulness, dancing around the cafe like a happy lunatic, was sweeter than pie. It took me awhile to like him but now I kinda love him.

5. As I said, Kate is freaked about being 37, obese, and pregnant. So she goes berserk on that weird, thin girl, Madison, who keeps popping up at her weight loss group, babbling about how she courageously eschewed various fattening foods (this week it was pear/gorgonzola mini pizzas). Kate snaps. Madison snaps. They throw down in the parking lot, actually crash into each other with their cars, and then, in that convoluted way women sometimes have, bond like crazy when Kate blurts out her secret news. My husband was like, ‘Whaaaa?” The whole thing went from Conan the Barbarian to Steel Magnolias in about 60 seconds. Hey, it could happen that way! 

6. Kevin is concerning, is he not? He runs out of Vicodin, and keeps calling his doctor to refill it. Then he drinks waaay too much at the gala, just to keep it together. Or at least he thinks the booze will keep him together, but it really unravels him at the moment of truth, when he should have been there for Sophie. When she introduces him at the gala, he’s a no-show, in the lobby, speed dialing every doctor he can think of to get his fix. Oh, Kev Bro. Your sabotage is showing. 

7. Question: Why didn’t Randall think to mention that Sophie was calling Kevin to the podium when the two brothers meet in the lobby? Ummm. what?

8. Question #2: I wonder, did Kevin have addiction issues when he and Sophie were married? If so, was it a cause of their break up? And can she, like anyone who loves an addict, see the writing on the wall?

9. Why is young Kevin so mean to Randall?  I understand that he may resent Randall on some level for being adopted, and therefore special, but I think he kinda goes too far. What do you guys think? When Kevin pulls out Randall’s little notebook, full of notes to himself on how NOT to annoy Kevin, my heart cracked a bit. Thankfully, so did Kevin’s. I can only imagine Jack’s paternal relief at seeing his mini Cain and Abel breaking bread, er, marshmallows, together. Pfew!

10. Meanwhile, Rebecca’s got big emotional fish to fry when Jack’s abusive dad’s nursing home calls and tells her that Jack’s dad is about to pass. Jack’s camping and off the grid, so she goes herself to visit a dying father in law she never knew. Lying on his deathbed, Stanley’s face speaks volumes: I want to see Jack. I failed Jack. I’m full of regrets. My time is running out. And, spoken aloud, “Is that my granddaughter?” Gut-wrenching.

Rebecca has the line of the night when she says,

“You think you screwed him up but you didn’t. You only made him stronger.”

Maybe this gave a flawed father a measure of peace in the end.

11. And finally, Nicky. We think at first that little Jack is talking to his can of worms, saying “He’ll be back. He’ll be back,” referring to Stanley who has interrupted their fishing trip with a stop at the bar. Late in the episode, we finally see a younger boy in the backseat, with glasses.

Nicky. Jack’s little brother. TAAAA_WWWISST! and all of our jaws drop collectively, again. Well done, Us writers!

“Don’t worry,” I’m not going anywhere,” he says to Nicky as they wait in vain for their drunk dad. Knowing Jack, he was probably his brother’s keeper, always. When Jack looked at the old photo of he and Nicky in Vietnam, I thought, he couldn’t keep him safe there. Not even Jack Pearson could do that.

Well, what’d you guys think?

Favorite scene? Favorite line?

Check out last week’s recap here.

How do you think the revelation about Nicky will affect Jack’s story?

How far from total meltdown is Kevin?

When will the rest of her family finds out about Kate’s pregnancy? Early baby name predictions? How about Jack Tobias?

Comment below for your chance to win a This is Us Season #1 soundtrack! I’ll pick a random winner when This is Us goes on hiatus in November!

Us soundtrack



  1. Amanda says

    Also… the scene outside the ladies room when Kevin and Randall are in typical K&R conversation style–almost having a moment. I loved when Kevin was telling Randall about how he loved people too much in such an admirable way without being complimentary–very brotherly. And, too, when Randall admitted he shouldn’t go in after Deja (ode to Beth’s plea that he not be weird…) and then Kevin’s stoic agreement that they both new he was going in. Those moments show how much the two truly do connect when it matters. Thanks for bringing the recaps, BTW–it’s a treat to revisit the show through another fan’s eyes!

  2. says

    Hands down, Toby dancing to his happy song at the coffee shop and doing a Flashdance throwback scene. Brilliant writing and how cool of Kate to find a way for Toby to tell someone and yet keep her secret from the family.

    • Lorilee says

      Yes, I loved it. I do wonder why Kate would keep this from Kevin, though…Maybe her boundaries with him are improving? :)

  3. Me says

    Such an amazing, well-written show! There is so much to talk about, while still leaving us on the edge our seats for next week’s episode. I need to watch this week’s episode again with music in mind. Usually I’m aware of the music, played during flashbacks or showing some sort of time sequence. This time though, I wasn’t really aware of it, save for Toby’s happy song, which was hysterical.

    Also, I loved loved loved how Kate and Madison wind up hugging each other after their fender-bender. Just goes to show, you don’t know someone, you know? Here they hated each other other and then you blink, and Madison is happy for Kate’s happiness.

    Kevin. Oh Kevin. Is it a semi-predictable storyline? Absolutely. But the writers knew that going this direction. They know what they’re doing. Trust them. I do. Maybe Sophie finds out and she helps Kevin before this gets out of control. Or maybe Randall finds out and being there for Kevin actually helps the two of them bond more.

    Deja. I did not like that Randall followed her into the bathroom. Too far. I know he meant well. I realize that. But I viewed it as an infringement on Deja’s little privacy. I’m glad they had a talk and I’m glad Deja was able to open up to him. I hope that he gives her space to come to him, like Jack had once told him about Kevin.

    On that note, let’s not forget that kid Kevin and Randall still have issues to work out. We know that when they’re teens and on opposing football teams, Kevin attacks Randall. And when they’re teens, they were sharing a bedroom until Kevin chooses to move to the basement. I think that’s when they’re about 15 or 16. So the camp fire was wonderful. So glad they came together. But let’s not forget the issues they still need to unpack.

  4. Lesley says

    I so love this show! There were so many moments in this episode that I wouldn’t know how to handle in real life, but the writers always seem to come up with smart ideas. Today in that diner? BRILLIANT! Loved the “Flashdamce” moment, lol.

  5. Linda Mikesell says

    I like the levity of the Toby and Kate scenes this time the best. When she comes to his work, which I was wondering what he did for a living, and he shoves everything off his desk. Funny. And then the restaurant scene when he announces their pregnancy. Perfect.He’s completely devoted to Kate and I believe him.

  6. Christy Dam says

    Enjoying your recaps. :) We have mixed feelings on the show, feel it hits us over the head a little too hard and doesn’t know subtlety (Brother! Man with glasses! PEARSON!), but much the story, themes, and humor are too good anyway. But I mainly had to reply on the brother relationship. My two dear boys, the older is truly awful to the younger. All the time. It’s like they recorded our conversations with him and put it into a TV show. We don’t understand it and it’s one of the most disappointing and difficult things we’ve faced in parenting. So… maybe a writer had a relationship like that, because it’s actually so realistic for us that it was hard to watch.

    • Lorilee says

      Christy, thanks for your insight here. It would be tempting to make Kevin’s feelings for Randall all about Randall’s adoption (ie: he gets special treatment), but as you point out, sometimes siblings don’t treat each other as we would want them to, no matter if they are adopted or biological or what. Love this: “It’s like they recorded our conversations with him and put it into a TV show.” YES.

  7. Jean says

    Okay, finally commenting on this! I’m sorry to say but I’m not really crazy about Toby, not sure why; but there is something that irritates me about him. Maybe because everything seems to be a joke with him or maybe because he thinks about sex all the time. I don’t know! But sorry, :-(

    But I was happy that Kevin is thrilled about Kate being pregnant and Kate’s explanation of her being scared until the baby is actually out of her body made me sad.

    I was so happy that Deja opened up to Randall even though it was in the ladies room. Loved the banter between Randall and Kevin in front of the restroom. Randall asking Kevin if he is okay and of course Kevin lying, I know Randall would have Kevin’s back and he would help him. your question about why didn’t Randall tell Kevin about Sophie calling is name: was Randall still sitting at the table? I may have to watch that scene again!

    So very sad Kevin is falling into the addiction trap…and Sophie, will she stay with him?

    Rebecca visiting her father-in-law, I wish the writers would have made him say more besides Is that my granddaughter? Oh well!

    Poor little Jack sitting in the car waiting for his dad, up pops another little boy! Wow, Jack has a brother?! He must of died in Vietnam?! I only say that because we don’t see him in earlier episodes of Jack and his dad. Can’t wait to hear about his story!

    The writers are using Nicky now to get the viewers to forget how Jack died. But I’m still waiting!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>