This Is Us Season 6, Episode 14
“The Night Before the Wedding”
Posted by Shannon
This is why I swore off predictions.
And this should have been an easy one! But right up until it became completely undeniable, I still did not think Kevin and Sophie were a lock. Joke’s on me, folks. Even though it took me most of the hour to get on board, there was no other possible resolution here. (Although, for one beautiful, fleeting moment, I thought we may actually have a single Pearson. I stand by the fact that it would have been great, even though most of the NBC audience probably would have papered the offices.)
The promotional gimmick of Kevin’s three possible romantic outcomes comes crashing down almost instantly, which frees us up to spend an hour settling into the people Kevin and Sophie are NOW, before building to the obvious conclusion that was so over the top romantic it even got to my cold, cynical self.
In case we forgot the set up, which absolutely no one did, Beth and Madison start us off by running through their wedding based detective work and each possible outcome. Cassidy, looking fantastic in a black and white tuxedo-esque dress. (“I’m wearing makeup and I can’t wait to wash my face.”) The wedding singer Ariel (… no comment) who’s “Pearson kryptonite, hot singers on stage singing rock classics!” And of course, Sophie, who Kevin kept watch for during all the pre-wedding events until finally setting eyes on her and promptly kicking off an hour of some of the most intense eye sex I ever did see.
Again, this is why I swore off predictions.
Before we settle into the end game everyone but me knew was inevitable, let’s spend a little bit of time on Ariel and Cassidy. Ariel is a sweetheart, and the meet cute of her running to hug Kevin in an attempt to escape Phillip’s cousin Oliver (“Hugh Grant’s opposite”) was very sweet. Even though she’s not a Manny fan, she’s clearly into him, and when they meet up later in the hotel bar she shares the minorly embarrassing song he’s inspired her to write. She knows his drink, she’s observant and smart and pretty, and seasons one through three Kevin would have been all about drowning his sorrows with someone who’s relatively removed and generally harmless.
But this is season four through six Kevin, who’s worked deeply on himself, and who’s spent the better part of five years in our newly re-set modern timeline showing up honestly and openly to a variety of relationships that just won’t stick. He’s not willing to screw around like that anymore, and he hasn’t been for a long time, and thus ends the chances of Ariel the Wedding Singer.
Then there’s Cassidy. One of my personal favorite minor characters the show has given us, played by one of my personal favorite people. Given all that, you’d be forgiven if you assumed, dear reader, that I was pulling hard for Cassidy and Kevin. But I really haven’t, because 1) all of these people need more friends and 2) Cassidy is a GREAT friend to Kevin. And Kevin is to Cassidy. They just haven’t had that vibe to their relationship, not since the first go round. The spark never really came back. Or, in her own words, “You’re not my person and I’m not yours and you know that.”
Which leaves us with Sophie.
First and foremost, I have to say that I’m so glad she and Kate rekindled their friendship five years prior to the wedding. It’s beautiful that they were able to be there for each other, and that Sophie was in attendance at the engagement party with her then-husband Grant. The five year time jump is doing a lot of great last-season work, and it gives us the space to see Kevin meeting Grant and laying the character groundwork that while yes, he’s still doing nipple ads, he’s also doing it for his kids.
And honestly, while we’re at it, Grant IS kind of a dick! The whole fake-fast-forwarding through Kevin whenever he shows up on TV is tacky and annoying, and his roku noises when actually meeting Kevin face to face smack of insecurity. It can’t be easy to be the second husband to a woman who used to be married to a literal movie star, but also if you can’t handle it, my man, then move along!
(He did, he did move along.)
Sophie losing her luggage is a convenient excuse for these two to spend some time together, though honestly I think they would have found a way no matter what. Still, under the plot guise of her needing to go find some actual clothes, Kevin and Sophie wander around some beatific California wine country town looking gorgeous and being generally infatuated with each other. (Also, the whole trick of going to the dry cleaner and asking for unclaimed clothes is GENIUS.)
It’s an intimate afternoon from the jump, and these two fall right back into their old levels of open hearted honesty. Kevin doesn’t shy away from talking about the mission he’s found himself with the nonprofit, or the balancing act of that work as compared to his acting career and GQ profiles. Sophie has fallen into a version of nonprofit work too, shifting gears from a local hospital to a life as a traveling nurse, flying across the world and visiting all the places she always wanted to see in honor of her mother.
At this point, Kevin – and the audience, technically – still thinks Sophie’s married. Despite the fact that her husband is nowhere to be found, and that Sophie’s told him she’s bouncing all over the world, Kevin holds the line. It’s notable and honestly impressive that, even though he’s visibly in love with her, Kevin never goes too far. He means it when he says he’s glad she’s happy. And he DIDN’T call when Nicky fell off a trampoline and cut his chin a few years back. Kevin is clearly and repeatedly respecting the boundaries that they’ve set up, and it’s probably thanks to that respect that Sophie ends up telling him the truth.
Sophie can tell Kevin’s changed, even before he refuses to prod about her divorce. She can tell that he’s not even close to the man he was five years ago, much less the eight-ish years since they last gave this relationship a go. And Sophie has changed, too – though I have to take her word for the fact that it took her 45 years to grow up, because from her prior appearances on the show, she’s always had it pretty much together. But that aside, it’s all building to the fact that these are two people who really feel that they finally know themselves. They’re steady in who they are, and what they want, and their shared history only adds to the comfort they feel with each other.
During the previous episode, we saw Sophie in that gorgeous dry cleaner green dress, coming upon Kevin and Rebecca when they were walking. Now, we know for sure that Sophie understood where Rebecca’s mind was before that interaction. The whole time she’s been at the wedding, Rebecca has thought Sophie was her 20 year old self, still married to Kevin, still trying to make it work. It’s a misery and a mind fuck and absolutely heartbreaking, but it also must have added to Sophie’s breakdown later that evening. Because even though the campfire eye-sex was honestly breathtaking, and even though neither of them even have to say a word to each other before they know to fall into bed together, there’s still a final wall of fear that needs to be broken down.
Kevin cannot understand why thinking he smells the same shampoo on Sophie that she used when they were teens would be a bad thing. For Kevin, this is all a benefit. It’s beautiful and comforting that they’ve known each other all their lives. It’s exactly what he’s been looking for. She’s home, and she’s family, and even though the idea of a grown woman using the same Herbal Essences shampoo she used when she was a kid is patently ridiculous, for Kevin it’s a sign of their life together. But for Sophie, combined with the fact that a woman she’s known all her life thinks she’s still 20, it’s too much. It all implies falling backwards, not moving forward, and she’s come too far and learned too much to find herself stuck back in the past.
But the flip side to the pain caused by Rebecca’s misunderstanding is this.
Again, I have to remind us that Sophie’s own mother has been dead for years at this point. And that she’s known Rebecca all her life. Sophie is a sentimental and emotionally intelligent woman, and as painful as it was for her to continually be thought of as her 20 year old self by Rebecca, I think she’s also the type to take this kind of message in the spirit in which it was given. That it’s bizarrely beautiful, and a blessing, for Rebecca to be able to give her this insight now. Not when Sophie was 20, and couldn’t have heard it for a million reasons. But now. Now, when she can really, truly understand what Rebecca is saying – and now that she would never, in a million years, take it for granted.
I’ve been saying all season that I love the pivot we’ve seen to the Pearson women. That this season has belonged to Rebecca and Kate, and that so many of the big important speeches have come not from Randall or Jack but from THEM. I’m proud to add Sophie to that list here. Randall’s speech to Kevin is nice enough, and perfectly weirdly pitched considering he had already given his best and biggest possible speech just hours before at the wedding reception. But life lessons from misprinted Buffalo Bills merchandise just isn’t it.
This? This is it.
This has always been it.
Colors of the Painting
- I know I will never get a resolution on this, but I want to know how and why Philip’s family is made up of 1) an older Scottish dude and 2) a Londoner named Oliver who positively will not stop hitting on everyone. What’s happening on this man’s family tree??
- IDK what weird ice-sex stuff Nicky and Edie were getting up to in their hotel room, but I hope they had a fantastic time.
- “Karma. It’s a five year old running with scissors.”
- Only Nicky Pearson can get away with saying things like “You look about 50 shades of hangdog!” and have it be both extremely sweet and extremely in character.
- “Is that the German Berlin? Because I know there’s a Paris Texas.”
- Mandy Moore didn’t get a ton to do this episode, but her scene with Sophie alone is enough for me to come back here and continue to yell about how this woman deserves an Emmy. THIS WOMAN DESERVES AN EMMY!!!!
- The entire wedding reception dance hall breaking out into applause at Kevin and Sophie’s kiss is beautiful and romantic and gorgeous and ridiculous and could only be pulled off by this program.
- This is the hottest Kevin Pearson has ever been and that is saying something.
Are you thrilled that Kevin and Sophie are endgame? Let us know in the comments.