This Is Us Season 4 Midseason Report Card: Best Story, Best New Character, and More!

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The first half of This Is Us Season 4 went by way too fast.

The confusing-at-first season premiere soon led to compelling stories that once again blended past and present seamlessly and introduced new mysteries, all without sacrificing viewers' interest one bit.

Randall and Beth's renewed relationship, Toby and Kate's struggles as they raise a special needs baby, Nicky's return, and Rebecca's cognitive decline are some of the many high points of This Is Us Season 4.

This Is Us Midseason Report Card

We've put together our thoughts on what This Is Us does well and one or two things they could improve on. Check out our thoughts below.

Continuing to Date - This Is Us Season 4 Episode 8

Best new storyline: Deja and Malik's relationship

This Is Us is everything a relationship drama should be, and Deja and Malik's newfound love is a perfect example.

Once the series established how teen father Malik was relevant, the story captured viewers' interest by slowly building the relationship and Randall and Beth's opposition to it.

One of the best things about this storyline so far is that it isn't the typical parents hating their teenagers' otherwise-perfect relationship. Deja has had her own doubts both about Malik's sincerity and whether she wants to date a kid who has a kid.

Single-story episodes are risky for an ensemble show like This Is Us, but Deja and Malik's illicit date in Philly was a satisfying culmination to Phase 1 of their relationship.

And now that Beth and Randall have allowed dates with supervision, it'll be exciting to see where the relationship goes next.

NIcky Holds His Own - This Is Us Season 4 Episode 8

Best character arc: Nicky's transformation

After the odd, soap-opera-like reveal that Nicky was alive back on This Is Us Season 3 Episode 9, it wasn't clear whether we needed any more of Nicky.

But the Season 4 version of Nicky has become one of the most compelling characters on canvas.

Kevin moved into the trailer park next to Nicky to try to straighten out his alcoholic uncle, but Nicky sobered up and became a voice of reason in Kevin's life instead.

Who didn't shed a tear at Nicky's speech in court about what he'd learned after his arrest for breaking a window at the VA center?  Plus, his presence gives viewers a glimpse into Jack and Nicky's childhood from a different, fresh perspective.

Randall Worries - This Is Us

Most emotional storyline: Rebecca's cognitive decline

We knew this one was coming.

This Is Us Season 3 Episode 18 revealed that Rebecca apparently suffers from advanced dementia near the end of her life, so the beginning of the end had to come eventually.

Nevertheless, Rebecca's decline was heartbreaking for anyone who has ever seen a loved one succumb to dementia.

So far she's in the early stages of whatever this is, but it was painful to watch her struggle with everyday tasks like buying groceries or visiting Randall at work.

Plus, that epic twist at the end left viewers shocked...and eager for more when This Is Us continues.

Celebrating Their Move - This is Us Season 4 Episode 2

Most improved relationship: Randall and Beth

Thank goodness that Randall and Beth are back on track.

Things were way too rocky during This Is Us Season 3, and viewers couldn't take much more of that.

Fortunately, Randall and Beth are mostly on the same page again and are back to trying to balance their careers and their kids' needs.

Let's hope that's the end of the threats to their marriage.

Randall Visits the Pool - This is Us Season 4 Episode 2

Best flashback story: Visiting the pool

The flashback story where Rebecca and Jack took the 12-year-old Big Three to the pool was one of the best arcs of the first half of the season.

Rebecca's longing for a time when the kids were younger and more interested in hanging with her and Jack were so poignant.

And little Kevin's wondering if he was a good person was doubly impactful considering adult Kevin's problems.

Plus, this bittersweet family outing was made even more emotional because we know what happens to both Rebecca and Jack as the years go by.

Kate in the CD Store - This is Us Season 4 Episode 4

Best mystery #1: Kate and Marc

There's a tie for best mystery in the first half of This Is Us Season 4, but Kate's relationship with Marc is definitely among the best.

When Kate first met Marc in the record store, it seemed like a meet-cute that was going to go in a positive direction, only for viewers to learn that something very bad had happened between them.

Many viewers think that Marc abused Kate. He has shown up uninvited more than once and seems controlling.

But could it be something else altogether? We'll have to tune into the second half of This Is Us Season 4 to see.

Hanging out in the Kitchen - This Is Us Season 4 Episode 9

Best mystery #2: What happened between Kevin and Randall?

This Is Us Season 4 Episode 9 left viewers with the reveal that Kevin and Randall will no longer be on speaking terms by their 40th birthday.

This was intertwined with the mystery of who, exactly, Kevin is marrying and having a baby with, though many viewers assume the answer to that question is Cassidy.

In any case, this is how to do a mid-season cliffhanger! The mystery has kept viewers talking throughout the long hiatus, with many believing that the rift has to do with Randall keeping Rebecca's condition secret.

Sister-in-Laws Bond - This Is Us Season 4 Episode 9

Most annoying conflict: Kate and Toby

Ever since baby Jack was revealed to have severely limited vision, Kate and Toby's relationship seems destined for the trash heap.

Many viewers blame Kate, but the truth is that neither one of these two is communicating particularly well.

They're both stressed out about Jack's disability, and Toby is dealing with it by going to the gym and apparently by talking to people other than Kate about his dilemma.

And Kate is overeating, turning to her new neighbor Gregory for support, and making stupid decisions like telling Toby that Gregory fed Jack solid food first.

Enough already! These two need to either get back on track or separate.

Kevin Meets Baby Jack - This Is Us Season 4 Episode 2

Most compelling character: Kevin Pearson

Kevin is a fan favorite who is sometimes tragically underused, often taking a back seat to Randall and Beth.

His scenes with Nicky have been nothing short of amazing and he's a fantastic uncle both to Randall's kids and to baby Jack.

Let's hope we see a lot more of him on the second half of This Is Us Season 4 and that is character gets to continue to develop beyond being the problem child of the Big Three.

Supporting Veterans - This Is Us Season 4 Episode 5

Best mental health storyline #1: Nicky and Cassidy both suffer from PTSD

This Is Us always does exceptional work when it comes to mental health stories.

The writers outdid themselves when it came to both Nicky and Cassidy dealing with PTSD after their military service ended.

These two characters were exposed to different horrors during two different wars, and they both struggle in unique ways.

Their stories are especially refreshing because TV so often gets mental illness wrong, especially PTSD.

Kudos to the writers!

Randall Concentrates - This Is Us Season 4 Episode 6

Best mental health storyline #2: Randall's reactivated anxiety

This Is Us already did stellar work with Randall's anxiety disorder, but they outdid themselves with his difficulties adjusting to his new job.

Throughout the first half of This Is Us Season 4, Randall has dealt with the pressure in what initially seemed like healthier ways. He was exercising a lot and spending his time at the office doing the things that were important to him.

But once Tess suffered panic attacks of her own, it became clear that Randall was not okay.

His refusal to get help was made even scarier by his willingness to do what it took to make sure his daughter didn't have a breakdown too.

Having Doubts - This Is Us

Stupidest decision: Kevin sleeping with Cassidy

Kevin's decision to sleep with Cassidy when she found out her husband wanted to finalize their divorce was one of the dumbest moves he's made in a while.

Nicky was right when he called the two of them morons. Sex borne out of grief never results in anything good.

This particular decision was disappointing for viewers who were rooting for Kevin and Cassidy to find their way toward each other.

Viewers were hoping for a true love story, not random sex that was going to cause more problems down the road.

(TALL) Deja Looks Happy - This is Us Season 4 Episode 1

Most confusing plot twist: the season opener

In retrospect, This Is Us Season 4 Episode 1 was brilliant.

Once it became clear who was who, everything made sense.

But devoting 90 percent of the season premiere to new characters made the hour feel like a pilot for a spin-off, and some viewers were so confused they gave up.

Your turn, This Is Us fanatics.

What do you love and hate now that This Is Us Season 4 is half over?

Share your thoughts in the comments, and don't forget you can watch This Is Us online if you want to see anything again.

This Is Us continues to air on NBC on Tuesdays at 9 PM EST/PST.  It returns on January 14, 2020.

Jack Ori is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. His debut young adult novel, Reinventing Hannah, is available on Amazon. Follow him on Twitter.

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This Is Us Quotes

Miguel: When I think of your mom and me, I think of the phrase 'written in the stars'. I used to love that expression, the way it meant that the universe had plans for two people. That was your mom and dad, but it wasn't like that for her and me. It was strange. And I was filled with doubt on our wedding day and on a lot of days after that. But as the years went by, I realized that was okay. Some love stories are written in the stars and other love stories are written together: two people the universe had no plans for writing their story in the stars together.

If you ever feel like you can't handle something, maybe think about what you've already done.