By Isabel Jones
Nov 28, 2018 @ 2:30 pm
NBC

After a sort of sleepy season (by This Is Us standards, at least), the series’ mid-season finale pulled out all the stops — ALL. OF. THEM. — giving us a final three-minutes we never saw coming.

NBC

Allow us to break down every WTF moment in “The Beginning Is the End Is the Beginning,” one by one.

First off, we had that illuminating future sequence that finally revealed the identity of the mysterious “her” that Tess, Randall, and Toby are all reluctant to see.

We were first introduced to this new timeline during the season 2 finale when Randall gives a touching wedding toast to Kate and Toby. Tellingly (maybe), the flash-forward begins when he says the phrase “10 years from now.” Cut to a graying Randall telling a grown-up Tess “it’s time to go see her.”

In the next flash-forward, which we see in the season 3 premiere, an older Toby (sans Kate and sans wedding ring) receives a call from Randall, asking if he’s “coming down,” presumably to see “her.”

The latest glimpse at Us’s future gives a delightfully natural-haired Beth, who’s teaching ballet now (?) and planning to bring Pin the Tail on the Donkey to “her,” who we can now identify as Randall’s mother, Rebecca.

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With one major mystery down (“her”), we still have a billion other questions:

1) Are Randall and Beth divorced in the future?
Old man Randall tells Tess to “let your mom know we’re on the way,” bearing the question, um, why don’t you do it yourself? He had no issue calling Toby, so what’s stopping him from getting on the phone with Beth? Further cementing this theory, the clip cuts in just as an angry present-day Beth lays Randall’s pillows out so he can sleep on the couch.

2) Why is Beth bringing Pin the Tail on the Donkey?
A children’s game implies the presence of, uh, children. So perhaps, somehow, Rebecca has custody of Kate and Toby’s child? Maybe something bad happened — hence the overall tone of doom and gloom, Kate’s absence, and Toby’s comment that he doesn’t know if he should go to see “her” — and it led to a major rift between Rebecca and the rest of the family. Follow up Q: why does Beth own a game of Pin the Tail on the Donkey? Her two children are grown and it’s not 1910, so we’re drawing a blank. 

3) Is this really 10 years in the future?
Randall looks a little too gray to be 48. Iantha Richardson (who plays adult Tess) is 28, while present-day Tess is around 13, but Richardson could certainly pass as younger.

4) Where’s Annie?
Is this outing Tess-specific for some reason, or does Annie’s absence speak to a bigger issue?

Aside from the flash-forward that truly sent us reeling, there was another pretty major reveal in the mid-season finale: Jack’s brother Nick, who we’ve long been told died in Vietnam, is ALIVE — or so it seems …

NBC

The final moments of the episode show a middle-aged man tossing his mail atop a counter, a glimpse at which reveals it’s addressed to a Nicholas Pearson in Bradford, Pennsylvania. So it looks like he faked his own death, but did Jack help him? Is that why he refuses to discuss the war??

We’ll be stewing over this hot vat of DRAMA until Jan. 15. Happy holidays!