Did you hear that? That was the sound of the Internet letting out a collective sigh. This Is Us (Tuesdays, 9 p.m. ET, CTV) returned after months of being off the air, and even though we were prepared for the worst we’re proud to say the premiere produced minimal tears.
That’s not to say we didn’t experience a slew of emotions though. This is This Is Us that we’re talking about, after all.
The episode opened with a flashback to the day Franco Harris helped the Steelers win their first ever playoff game, despite the situation looking pretty dire. In a move the media dubbed the Immaculate Reception, Harris picked up a missed pass and ran it out for the biggest play in the franchise’s history, making the man a true comeback kid.
It was a huge moment in Steelers history — and it was a big moment in Jack and Rebecca’s history too, because it turns out that was the day they met. The romantic in Jack knew right away that Rebecca was THE girl, and despite only having nine bucks in his pocket, he vowed to take her on the best first date at the carnival. Sadly he was already down to two bucks after admission, a candied apple and a hot chocolate, so when it started to pour he didn’t want to waste the remaining cash on an umbrella. Because who goes to the carnival and doesn’t play a game? It was the beginning of the end to the most awkward date ever, something we didn’t exactly see coming in terms of the overall fairy tale that is Jack and Rebecca’s love story.
But that’s where the comeback kids come into play. Jack fessed up to Rebecca in the car before dropping her off, and the two of them were able to get over themselves (and their disagreements over dogs, cats and pizza toppings) in order to create something of a spark. It was a high they were both riding until the next day when Jack went to return the jacket Rebecca “forgot” in the car, only to see another man kiss her on the doorstep.
Yes: in case you were wondering it’s perfectly acceptable to really, really hate that guy right now. Because that’s where we left the courtship of Jack and Rebecca, and to say it wasn’t in a happy place would be an understatement.
Luckily there were some comeback stories in the present day to celebrate though. In a way, Kevin and Zoe came back from the wrath that was Beth, who clearly knew her brother-in-law and cousin were “knocking boots.” She defied her promise to Oprah and voiced concern that Zoe is a man-eater, that people were pooping where they ate, and a whole bunch of other rant-ey things, but despite all of that Kevin and Zoe still seem to be solid. And at the end of the day we love and admire Beth, but it’s not technically her business. So now that she’s said what’s on her mind it’s up to Kevin and Zoe to do what they will, and we have to say that after seeing them together in the premiere we kind of dig it.
In a bigger comeback story we had the troublesome Deja, who was dealt a huge blow last season when her mother abandoned her. Randall had prepared a whole speech about how he wanted to adopt her if she was down with it, but that pushed Deja right into the arms of the guy we assume is her father. But while we were bracing ourselves for some more pre-teen angst (deserved, mind you), it turns out that something Randall said must have clicked, and Deja asked the guy to help her buy her new adoptive father a kick-ass pair of kicks for his birthday. All together now: awwwwww.
And that brings us to the last comeback story of the night: Kate and Toby. Infertility is one of the hardest things a couple can go through, and of course in this specific circumstance it ties into Kate’s weight too. Kate was devastated when the IVF doctor refused to take them on as patients because of her BMI and all the risks associated with performing the procedure, which led Toby to begin talking about going off his anti-depressants.
In the end the doctor changed her mind though, and despite the odds of failure being at 90 per cent, she agreed to work with Kate and Toby. Toby, who was obviously super stressed about the whole thing from the start but stayed in it to support Kate, was actually quite sombre throughout the whole episode. He quietly observed Kate go through that pain and didn’t make any of his usually quippy remarks, which is how you know he wasn’t in a good space. That’s probably why he flushed his pills down the toilet towards the end of the episode, which is a pretty dire thing to do — even if you are looking to up your sperm count. Going cold turkey with any kind of medication like that can have bad consequences, so it looks as though the flash-forward we had of a super depressed Toby in bed during last year’s finale could come to fruition sooner than we originally thought.
At least we know he ends up okay enough in the distant future, we suppose. Thanks to the small snippet towards the end of the episode we learned that the “her” Randall and Tess were referring to is someone who would want to see Toby too thanks to that phone conversation, but that’s about as much of a hint as we’re going to get for now.
After all, what is a season of This Is Us without some kind of mystery driving us through? It may be frustrating, but it’s also why we love it.