Kevin fans, rejoice.
After a week's absence, Kevin returned to the canvas on This Is Us Season 4 Episode 8, and his storyline was worth the wait.
He struggled with his demons only as Kevin can, and he and Nicky came to a new understanding of what they mean to each other.
Throughout the hour, Kevin kept hearing Jack talking to him when Nicky was talking.
That solidified what I've thought all along: Kevin is looking for a connection with his late father through Nicky. That's why Kevin took Nicky's words so harshly and why he's been so determined to help him.
Nicky: You slept with her, didn't you? That's why Cassidy hasn't been at AA all week.
Kevin: I'm not gonna discuss that with you.
Nicky: Let me ask you something, just out of curiosity here. What's wrong with you? I mean, I thought you were trying to fix the kid's marriage, not destroy it. You're like a wrecking ball.
Nicky said exactly what viewers were thinking after Kevin and Cassidy's one-night-stand, too.
Whether fans love or hate the idea of a Kevin/Cassidy hookup, most agree that random sex, while Cassidy was at her lowest point, wasn't the way to go.
Kevin took what Nicky said as hard as he would have if Jack had said it.
Of course, no one is as hard on Kevin as Kevin is, and that's why he managed to get himself into trouble even though he didn't drink while he was at the bar.
All of Kevin's negative feelings about who he is and what he's accomplished so far in his adult life came to a head after Nicky lectured him about the one-night stand.
No wonder he felt a need to pick a fight with some idiot in the bar. He didn't have to get drunk to get self-destructive.
Of course, that misadventure was the perfect set-up for him to reconnect with Cassidy. In the hands of lesser writers, this would have led to a second one-night-stand and even more self-hatred and self-pity.
Fortunately, This Is Us has more talented writers than that, so instead Nicky' inspired Kevin to make amends with Cassidy and help her go back to her family.
More about that in a second. But first:
Was there anyone in the world who didn't cry at least a little at Nicky's speech in court?
Nicky started off sounding blunt and unremorseful, then turned it all around, and it was beautiful.
For 40 years, I pushed people away, not because I thought they would hurt me, but because I thought I would hurt them. I told myself that it was for their own good, that I was broken. But I was wrong. I wasn't broken. I was sick. And when you're sick, you've got to let the people who care about you help you.Nicky
He was the poster child for using a negative experience as a catalyst to finally begin to get the help he needed, and it was a PSA for Kevin as well as for those in the viewing audience who might need to hear that it's okay to ask for help when you're struggling.
Nicky seemed so happy when Cassidy reunited with her family, too. It was almost as if Cassidy was making the re-connection with family that Nicky hoped.
No wonder he accepted Kevin's offer to go to Thanksgiving at Randall's.
I doubt this is the last we've seen of Cassidy, though.
Maybe she and Kevin are meant to be friends rather than lovers, but she's sure to be in his life in some capacity or another.
After all, one dinner with her family doesn't mean she is going to go back to the way things were before her deployment.
And Kevin is going to need a friend if Randall is right about something being wrong with Rebecca.
That confrontation between Rebecca and Randall was almost as emotional as Nicky's admitting that he wants and needs his family's support.
I have to admit that I didn't think anything was all that weird about Rebecca misplacing her phone, though her freak-out about it was more like Randall than her.
But we know from the flashforward at the end of This Is Us Season 3 Episode 18 that Rebecca eventually succumbs to advanced dementia, so this very well could be the beginning of her cognitive decline.
Randall: Mom, all I want to say is that I love you and I'm concerned. And you getting so defensive over absolutely nothing is making me more concerned. And for you to say that you're the mother and I'm the son after 20 years -
Rebecca: What, Randall?
Randall: Never mind. I don't want to say anything.
Rebecca: But you did. You said something very clearly and it was cruel and it was beneath you.
If so, we're in for a bumpy ride. Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia are heartbreaking diseases, especially for the people who are forced to watch what's happening to their loved one.
Rebecca moved to LA to help Kate and Toby with baby Jack, too, and it's going to be rough for them to deal with her illness on top of Jack's disabilities.
The parallel between Rebecca angrily insisting she was fine and younger Rebecca being grateful for Randall's help with her job search added to the emotionality of these scenes.
Younger Rebecca was concerned that Randall was focusing too much on her, while the older Rebecca pulled the parent card to get him to back off and was hurt by his insinuation that she was ungrateful for the years of help he'd given her.
Raw, painful stuff, and if it is dementia, it's only going to get worse from here.
Thanksgiving certainly is going to be interesting at the Pearsons!
Nicky's visit and Rebecca's potential dementia would have been dramatic enough, but now that Deja is inviting her birth mom, it's anyone's guess what might happen.
Okay, you two, just pretend I'm not here, but know that I will be here.Beth
Deja and Malik's fight being about whether Deja should bring her birth mother up to Beth was a great fakeout.
All that talk about Malik pushing hard could easily have been about sex, and undoubtedly that's what Beth thought was going on.
Not all teenagers would have been willing to spill no matter what Beth said about having a right to know.
Some might have prioritized keeping their girlfriend's confidence over her mom's desire to be involved. Hopefully, Beth realizes that and Malik's reaction helped him score points with her.
Finally, what was that with Kate, Toby, and Gregory?
It seemed like a nothing storyline compared to everything else going on. Sure, Kate now has another secret from Toby, and she and Gregory bonded a little more, but where is this going?
I want to know more about Marc instead.
Randall picked up on something being off, while Rebecca thought Kate was happy. And why was Kate not eating anything but bananas?
Was she trying to lose weight because Marc said so? Or was something else going on?
And will Marc show up at the already potentially volatile Thanksgiving dinner?
This Is Us Season 4 Episode 9 will be the fall finale, and it will focus on that drama-filled Thanksgiving.
But what did you think about Kevin's struggle with self-doubt, Deja's desire to see her birth mother, or Randall's concerns about Rebecca on This Is Us Season 4 Episode 8?
Share your thoughts below, and don't forget you can watch This Is Us online if you missed anything.
This Is Us continues to air on NBC on Tuesdays at 9 PM EST/PST. Its fall finale episode will air on November 19, 2019.
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