Everyone loves a Thanksgiving episode of a show. And the This Is Us Thanksgiving episode is a good one. In “Pilgrim Rick,” Randall and Kevin try to keep the Pearson tradition alive, though some obstacles stand in the way. Kate struggles with a big decision. And in the past, we learn how the Pearson Thanksgiving tradition starts as they get stranded at a Connecticut lodge after a tire blowout.

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Starting a New Tradition

Things are tense in the Pearson household. Rebecca is working hard to create the perfect cranberry sauce for her mother’s house. The boys are arguing, Kate is complaining about her itchy sweater and Jack is full of life. Jack does make a comment about how he’d like to start his own Thanksgiving tradition with his family, but Kate doesn’t really give him a choice. Just as they are about to make the six-hour drive, the boys tumble into the kitchen and knock the sauce out of Kate’s hands, destroying it.

Once on the road after multiple stops at stores for cranberry sauce, the kids get rowdy. A tire on the car blows out, and they get stranded. Jack says they will have to walk to the nearest gas station, which is 3.4 miles away. Along the way, Rebecca plays a game with the kids and asks them how they’d like to spend Thanksgiving when they grow up. Eventually they all reveal that they hate Thanksgiving because of the way Rebecca gets around her parents.

Finally, the family makes it to the gas station after dark. Of course, the station can’t get a tow truck to the car until morning. Rebecca is forced to call her mother and proceeds to get into an argument with her. She tells her mother not to send her father to get them and informs her that they won’t be at future Thanksgivings either. Then she tells Jack that they’ll stay at the Pinewood Lodge across the street.

At the lodge, they are greeted by a very enthusiastic owner, Pilgrim Rick. In the room, the furnace is broken, so it’s extremely hot, not to mention that the hot dogs Jack picked up are now cold. So much for a happy Thanksgiving. But Jack isn’t having it. He heads out of the room and comes back as Pilgrim Rick. He’s also armed with a movie, Police Academy 3, and says they will have a picnic on the floor. They also roast the hot dogs on the furnace, melt cheese on them and sprinkle crackers over them. Later on, before bed, Rebecca starts one more tradition. They unravel Kate’s sweater, and as they do, they each say what they are thankful for.

Taking a Break

At one of her meetings, which she attends alone now, Kate and the group discuss the dangers of Thanksgiving foods. Later on that night, she watches as Toby eats a pile of pasta. He goes on and on about how he’s excited for their holiday trip to New York and meeting her family. However, she stops him and tells him they should take a break. She tells him that she needs to focus on herself and that, while he’s better than perfect, she’s still not happy with her life. He’s clearly upset but accepts her decision.

On the plane to New York, Kate can feel the looks of other passengers as she sits in two seats and needs a seat belt extender. During the flight, there’s terrible turbulence, and the woman who gave Kate a weird look is now squeezing her hand, thinking she’ll die. The woman randomly tells Kate a brief story of her life and how she’s going to get a divorce now because life is too short. This brings Kate to think about her life even more.

Honoring Tradition

On the East Coast, Randall is super pumped about Thanksgiving. He wakes everyone up at 6:30am and prepares the turkey by himself. Eventually, everyone makes it down to the kitchen. Kevin is first, but he can’t help because he’s headed to pick up his co-star Olivia to bring her home. Randall reminds him to pick up the hot dogs, cheese and crackers.

The rest of the family prepare for the Pearson tradition by getting the blankets and the movie ready. When Rebecca and Miguel arrive, Beth confronts Rebecca about knowing William. She strongly urges Rebecca to tell Randall or else she will. There are several instances where Rebecca tries to tell Randall, but she never does.

During the first part of the day, the group goes on a 3.4-mile hike. Olivia opens up to Kevin about her past Thanksgivings with her family and how they never made it to dessert because everyone was either fighting or drunk.

And William takes it slow. As he stops for a break, he tells Randall about his past Thanksgivings playing in a band and how he wishes he could listen to the tapes of the band’s shows. Of course, back at the house, Randall wants to save the day for his father and heads to his apartment to get the tapes.

Meanwhile, the family gets ready to start the movie, Police Academy 3, of course. Kevin, trying to be cute, hands Olivia a piece of pie, saying now she can make it to dessert. She freaks out and leaves. While the exchange is going on, Miguel asks Kevin if he can wear the hat. Kevin, who has been cold to Miguel the whole time, tells him absolutely not. Only he and Randall can wear the hat. Miguel walks away, defeated.

Outside on the porch, Olivia has a heart-to-heart with William, who once again talks some sense into the people around him. She heads back inside and kisses Kevin. They all gather to watch the movie. When it’s over, Kevin comes in as Pilgrim Rick, with the original hat. As he performs for his nieces, he stops and passes the hat to Miguel.

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Breaking Tradition

At William’s apartment, Randall goes through a few drawers until he finds the tapes. Just as he’s about to shut the drawer, he notices an envelope addressed to William in his mother’s handwriting. He opens it and finds a letter to William from his mother, as well as a picture of himself as a boy.

He arrives back home in time for Pilgrim Rick and is in shock. The family then gets ready for dinner, complete with cracker-encrusted cheesy hot dogs. As Rebecca starts the yard tradition, Randall is still in shock. She tosses the yarn to Randall, who doesn’t speak for a minute. Beth sends the girls upstairs, and Randall unleashes on his mother. He tells her he found the letter in William’s drawer and then reads it aloud to the table. He doesn’t let Rebecca speak when she tries to explain several times and then storms off.

And just as he storms off and there’s awkward silence at the table, Kate walks in and announces that she’s going to have gastric bypass surgery.

The Truth is Out

The truth is out there now about Rebecca and William’s relationship. And just as expected, Randall is in disbelief, not even able to look at his mother. And rightfully so. As a child, he says that he asked over and over again about his biological family, and she lied every time. And now he only has a few short weeks left with William. Randall is devastated. I am curious if Beth will reveal that she knew before him or if she’ll keep that information to herself. It will only hurt Randall even more, but at the same time, she doesn’t keep secrets from him. So this should be pretty interesting.

The Kevin and Olivia story on This Is Us has just as much of the tension as the Kevin and Miguel story. It’s very clear that Kevin doesn’t like Miguel, and I want to know why!

And poor Kate. She makes a life-changing decision and walks into drama, so no one will be able to celebrate. I feel bad that she and Toby are on a break, but knowing Toby, I can only hope he’ll make some grand gesture to win her back.

I really liked the streamline of This Is Us in this episode. I liked how the past flashbacks were interspersed throughout “Pilgrim Rick” based on what was happening in the present. In fact, I think this is my favorite episode this season.

What did you think of “Pilgrim Rick”? Do you think Toby and Kate should stay on a break? Do you think Randall will ever forgive his mother? And just how often should Rebecca stay in touch with William in the past? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

This Is Us season 1 airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on NBC. Want more news? Like BuddyTV’s This Is Us Facebook page.

(Image courtesy of NBC)


Contributing Writer, BuddyTV