This Is Us Refresher: Everything That Happened in Season 4 — and Where Things Left Off
We're looking back at the past, present and future storylines ahead of the season 5 premiere Tuesday on NBC
It's been a long seven-month hiatus for This Is Us, which means fans may need a refresher on what exactly went down last season.
Between March 24, when the season 4 finale aired, and Tuesday, when season 5 debuts, the real world drastically changed — specifically with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and the cultural reckoning over racial injustice and police brutality.
Before the Pearsons — Jack (Milo Ventimiglia), Rebecca (Mandy Moore), Kevin (Justin Hartley), Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Randall (Sterling K. Brown) — address these current-day topics during the two-hour season premiere, revisit the season 4 storylines (all past, present and future timelines) to find out what changes and conflicts each family member will be dealing with heading into season 5.
Past: Randall's panic attacks, anxiety and trouble sleeping were explored, starting from his childhood as the young boy (Lonnie Chavis) juggled schoolwork with finding his identity. Viewers saw his first panic attack in a flashback scene when he broke the dress code with his Air Jordans after trying to impress Mr. Lawrence, the new Black teacher. Years later, his anxiety issues intensified at Carnegie Mellon University, where Randall (Niles Fitch) had to deal with the aftermath of the house fire and father Jack's death. Luckily, he met future wife Beth (Rachel Hilson plays teenage Beth, and Susan Kelechi Watson plays older Beth) and their bond over losing a parent developed into the fan-favorite R&B romance.
Present: Randall's anxiety reached its breaking point, though the city councilman attempted to cope by running. However, after a trespasser invaded his home, it became too much for the overachieving Randall, who broke his hand after physically taking out his frustrations on a man who assaulted a woman. Eventually, Randall accepted the idea of seeking help and consulted therapist Dr. Leigh (Pamela Adlon), who challenged him to imagine the best-case and worst-case scenarios of his life, including his relationships with mother Rebecca and biological father William (Ron Cephas Jones).
With his plate already full, Randall brought it upon himself to research the best treatment for Rebecca's ailing cognitive health, visiting Los Angeles to be by his mother's side as she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. While Randall was adamant about her participating in a clinical trial in St. Louis for nine months, brother Kevin wanted to respect their mother's initial wish to spend quality family time while she still could. Eventually, Randall guilt-twisted Rebecca's arm into doing the trial behind the family's back, a secret that was later revealed during an explosive verbal fight with Kevin.
Meanwhile, in addition to Beth's grand opening of her dance studio and Randall and Beth's daughter Tess (Eris Baker) coming out on Instagram, season 4 also introduced viewers to Malik (Asante Blackk), a teenage father who strikes up a romance with Randall and Beth's other daughter, Deja (Lyric Ross). After a memorable first date, which was a personalized tour of Philadelphia, the young couple slowly welcomed his daughter Janelle and parents Darnell (Omar Epps) and Kelly Hodgers (Marsha Stephanie Blake) into her family.
Future: During the season 4 finale, the rift between Randall and Kevin following their fight grew as they celebrated their 40th birthdays separately. But even farther into the future, a flashforward scene previewed a sweet moment between Randall and Kevin by Rebecca's bedside, seemingly hinting that the brothers ultimately find a resolution.
In the two-hour premiere, Randall has a "really interesting come-to-Jesus moment," according to Brown, who recently spoke to reporters about his character and the Black Lives Matter movement. "It's such a unique perspective for someone like Randall, who's always sort of questioning his identity as it is, but never wavering from the fact that he knows that he is Black," he said. "But the way in which he was raised and the conversations that happened in his house are not necessarily representative of the conversations that he wants to have with his children, by virtue of what didn't happen."
Past: Season 4 explored Kevin's relationship with his first love Sophie. Viewers learned teenage Kevin (Logan Shroyer) married his high school sweetheart when Rebecca heard about their surprise union in a message on the answering machine. After they wed, Kevin asked Sophie's mother Claire for a special family ring, but Claire told him the young couple had not earned such a sentimental symbol of love yet.
Present: Kevin's acting career was finding success with a perfume campaign and M. Night Shyamalan-directed film. Meanwhile, he bonded with Uncle Nicky (Griffin Dunne), the younger brother of Jack, who drunkenly vandalized the Veteran Affairs room by throwing a chair at a window and called his nephew for bail money. Kevin took Nicky to an AA meeting where they officially met Cassidy Sharp (Jennifer Morrison), who, like Nicky, was a veteran dealing with PTSD. As a recovering addict, Cassidy relied on the Pearson duo for support after her husband Ryan kicked her out of their home for striking their son. Though the trio's shared issues with alcoholism bonded them, Kevin and Cassidy's friendship turned romantic and they had sex in his trailer home. The status of Kevin and Cassidy's future remains unknown, but Kevin and Nicky are closer than ever, especially after the actor took Nicky to Philadelphia for Thanksgiving with the rest of the Pearson family. Then, while filming reshoots for his movie, Kevin received a call from ex Sophie, who is now engaged to another man, about her mother's death. He attended the funeral, which brought back memories of the exes' early romance. With no chance at love with either Sophie or Cassidy, Kevin returned to Los Angeles and unexpectedly slept with his sister Kate's best friend Madison (Caitlin Thompson), who later shocked him with the news that she was expecting his twins.
If his complicated romances weren't enough, Kevin was also dealing with tense conflict with Randall, who called Kevin out for belatedly worrying about their mother's health and only focusing on himself. In response, Kevin unleashed his pent-up childhood irritations about Randall. "You know, I used to think the worst thing that happened to me was the day that Dad died. Hand to God, Randall, the worst thing that ever happened to me was the day they brought you home," Kevin said.
Future: Madison's OBGYN Eli (Josh Hamilton) made a brief cameo at the end of the season 4 finale, reassuring the mom-to-be that Kevin could be a present father. A flashforward scene previously saw a much older Kevin doting over their daughter and son when the Pearson family gathered by Rebecca's bedside.
Discussing the fight between Kevin and Randall, creator Dan Fogelman recently told reporters that the sibling conflict "will be in the front and center of our show for quite a bit." Hartley added: "When you have fights like that, sometimes it takes an event to bring people back together."
Past: Kate (Hannah Zeile) also had a defining relationship in her teenage years, but it was not as loving as her twin brother Kevin and Sophie's marriage. Following her father's death, Kate put off college and found her first job at a record store, where she was hired by future boyfriend Marc (Austin Abrams). Marc, who was older than Kate, was not well-liked by Rebecca and Kevin — and even less so after Kate called her mother when the young couple was on their way to the family cabin for a getaway. A worried Rebecca, accompanied by her sons, braved snowy conditions to rescue her daughter, who suffered a hand injury after Marc purposefully locked her out of the cabin. Ultimately, the Pearson matriarch banished Marc from the cabin and Kate's life.
Present: Fans learned Kate's son Jack Damon was prematurely born with an eye condition that will leave him nearly blind for the rest of his life. While Kate was committed to raising their son to live a life without limits, husband Toby (Chris Sullivan) was dealing with his stresses of parenting a special needs child by secretly exercising at the gym. Instead of uniting them, Jack's diagnosis brought on problems in Kate and Toby's marriage, with her seeking support in new neighbor Gregory (Timothy Omundson) and him finding comfort in his gym buddies. In one instance, Toby withdrew from attending a retreat for families with blind children, and Rebecca went in his place. Fed up with her husband's lack of participation, Kate confronted Toby, who confessed their son's blindness made him sad. After Kate demanded he step up and be the father Jack deserved and needed, Toby eventually found his groove and created his own bond with their infant son, even converting the garage into a studio.
And on Jack's first birthday, Kate and Toby visited the NICU where their baby boy had spent the first few weeks of his life. After looking back on the obstacles their family of three overcame, Kate proposed the idea of expanding their family and considering adoption.
Future: In the season 4 premiere, viewers were taken far into the future, revealing that Kate and Toby's son Jack is a successful singer. Fast forward to a few months later, the season 4 finale saw Jack and his wife Lucy (Auden Thornton) welcome a baby girl named Hope. In that same episode, audiences were introduced to Hailey (Adelaide Kane), who later was revealed to be Jack's sister.
Past: The very early years of Rebecca Malone's great love story with Jack Pearson were explored, including the impact of their upper and lower class upbringings. Rebecca's feelings for Jack, who was barely making ends meet by working as a mechanic, quickly grew and she asked him to join her and her parents for dinner at the country club. But after the meal, her father Dave (Tim Matheson) told Jack that he wasn't good enough for Rebecca, and too blue-collar to give her the life he thought his daughter deserved. Meanwhile, Rebecca, who was not privy to that conversation, attempted to get the men on friendly terms over a game of golf. However, a nervous Jack drank heavily at the golf course. As a reaction to Dave's disapproval, Jack broke up with Rebecca. The reason for their split was shortly revealed to her by her mother, Janet, and Rebecca defied her father by driving to Jack's auto shop and telling him she loved him.
Present: A day before Thanksgiving in Philadelphia, Randall noticed how his mother would often misplace her cell phone. When Randall voiced his concerns, Rebecca got defensive and left to go to a movie theater before dinner. But when she lost track of time, she wasn't able to recognize her location and had to be escorted back by the police. After the incident, she agreed to see a specialist in Los Angeles and took a series of memory tests, which determined that she had a mild cognitive impairment.
Later, after a great day spent visiting Joni Mitchell's old house with son Kevin, Rebecca received the MRI results confirming she was in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. In reaction to her diagnosis, Rebecca discovered a renewed purpose to live her life to the fullest, including going to New York City to attend Kevin's movie premiere, where Randall met up with them to persuade her to participate in the nine-month clinical trial in St. Louis. While in the Big Apple, Rebecca told her sons that she wanted to fill her remaining time with memorable experiences. At the Met, while admiring her favorite "Madame X" portrait by John Singer Sargent, the matriarch decided she would not take part in the clinical trial. However, Rebecca's stance changed after she was guilted into it by Randall. At her grandson Jack's first birthday party, she informed the family that she would indeed relocate to St. Louis for the trial.
Future: A flashforward scene showed Rebecca on her deathbed at Kevin's house, with Nicky by her side. When Randall approached her bed, she forgot her son's name, a sad marker of the progression of her memory loss. Family members, including Beth and Toby, gathered at Kevin's house to be by Rebecca — but Miguel and Kate had yet to appear.
Fogelman and Moore, who is pregnant with her first child, told reporters that she will continue filming all three timelines. "We haven't really adjusted our plan. We're just going to work Mandy right 'til go time. Amongst the many challenges of this season of production, that's not a big one. We are so far ahead in scripts that we can compensate for things as need be," Fogelman said. "Because our timelines are so split and because we live in so many timelines, there may be a brief period and window where you don't see a lot of old Rebecca on the show because she would have some really complicated explaining to do. But other than that, we're going to be sticking with the plan, and we couldn't be happier for Mandy."
Sadly with Jack, there are no present and future timelines. However, new details about his life were shared through his marriage, children and friendships.
On Thanksgiving 1969, Jack and brother Nicky ditched their parents' fighting to spend the day together. After Nicky won a load of cash on a lucky bet, the brothers celebrated with a fancy dinner, including a five-pound shrimp tower. They agreed to spend every Thanksgiving that way, but a week later, Nicky was drafted into the military.
In addition, fans learned of Jack's meet-cute with Miguel when the latter was a store clerk who let Jack borrow a sports coat to wear for the country club dinner with Rebecca's parents. The two would eventually become best friends and coworkers at a construction company. After Jack made a costly mistake at work, Miguel, who was bringing in tons of business, saved Jack's job by threatening to quit himself.
Another standout moment involving Jack was when the young Big Three put in items for a family time capsule in 1993. Jack put in a tape recording about how Rebecca took a sketch of his dream house out of the trash can and included it into the capsule because she believed in his vision. In a flashforward scene, Jack's dream was realized by his son Kevin, who built the house overlooking the family cabin and framed Jack's original sketch.
Season 5 of This Is Us premieres Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.