It's a new year, which can only mean one thing: This Is Us is back on air to make us cry uncontrollably every week. Season 4 kicked off in September with a classic Big Three birthday, but, as promised, the show is expanding its world this season, introducing a slew of new characters that are connected to the Pearson family in some way or another.
And because it's This Is Us, who knows how many surprises are still to come? Below, a list of all the major, exciting, shocking, wild, emotional moments from season 4 so far. And if it's not obvious already, beware, there are spoilers ahead!
Season 4, Episode 1: "Strangers"
Kate and Toby's blind son Jack grows up to become a famous musician.
When we're first introduced to grown-up Jack (Blake Stadnik), who's lying naked on a bed and has an adorable dog, we have no idea who he is or who is parents are. But as the episode unfolds, we learn that Jack—who ends up getting married and has his own baby on the way—is an accomplished musician, playing what looks to be a sold-out stadium. In short, he's fulfilling the dreams of his mother, Kate, and grandmother, Rebecca, who always wanted to be professional singers.
Uncle Nicky gets arrested and gives Kevin's number for his bail money.
One of the new characters is Cassidy Sharp (Jennifer Morrison), a marine who was deployed in the Middle East. Cassidy is struggling with PTSD when she returns home, so she heads to a local Veterans' Affairs. During an emotional therapy session at the VA, someone smashes the window and subsequently gets arrested. That someone? Another This Is Us veteran, Uncle Nicky, who will surely continue his storyline alongside Cassidy's. Upon getting arrested, Nicky gives the police Kevin's number, prompting him to buy a plane ticket out to Pittsburgh.
Does Deja have a boyfriend coming her way??
Another new character is Malik (Asante Blackk), a caring teen dad living in Philadelphia with his parents. It's unclear at first how Malik will fit into the Pearson storyline until we see him at a barbecue flirting with Deja. And she's super smiley afterwards.
Rebecca's dad never wanted her to be with Jack.
Young Jack and Rebecca are back! After returning from their cross-country road trip, Jack goes out to dinner with Rebecca and her parents where he gives a patented Jack Pearson monologue and seems to win their respect. That is, until Rebecca's dad (Tim Matheson) pulls Jack aside and basically says he's not good enough for his daughter and that he'll do whatever he can to try and break them up.
Season 4, Episode 2: "The Pool: Part Two"
Kevin goes to be with Uncle Nicky.
This next episode of This Is Us was true to form: focusing on the Big Three while jumping through timelines. We see Jack and Rebecca take their disgruntled teenage kids to the pool; adult Randall and Beth are dealing with their own children adjusting to life in Philadelphia; and Kate and Toby are learning how to care for their blind newborn. Most scenes are filled with small dramas, the kind of moments that make up a life but aren't necessarily bombshell plot twists.
However, toward the end of the episode, we're led to believe that Kevin is heading to Chicago to work on a new Spike Jonze movie and focus on his sobriety. Instead, where does he end up? At Nicky's door, prepared to take care of his troubled uncle, who he's been trying to get in touch with after wiring him bail money.
Season 4, Episode 3: "Unhinged"
Kevin finally meets Cassidy.
Ever since the first episode, it was pretty obvious that Cassidy would be crossing paths with Kevin Pearson sooner or later. Now—in the midst of an otherwise slow episode—we finally see it happen: Kevin accompanies Nicky to a doctor assessment, so he can continue his treatments at the V.A. and potentially avoid jail time for his stunt, and ends up meeting Cassidy in the waiting room. The two cross paths again when Kevin drags Nicky to an A.A. meeting, where Cassidy also happens to be. Normally I'd say there's romance in the air, but it's This Is Us, so anything is possible.
Season 4, Episode 4: "Flip a Coin"
Malik meets Randall.
Malik, brave teenager that he is, introduces himself to Randall and Beth in the hopes that they'll approve of him and he'll get to date Deja. However, he makes the mistake of telling them he has a baby daughter (a detail Deja had conveniently left out!), and let's just say the Pearson parents aren't too thrilled with this matchup.
Kevin tells Rebecca he married Sophie.
We're jumping back to the teen timeline! When the Big Three first graduated high school, Kevin moved to New York to explore an acting career. In this episode, after we watch Rebecca and Kate sweetly dance around to Carole King, they listen to a voicemail from Kevin who reveals that, oh yeah, he got married to Sophie. Mic dropped.
Kevin moves in next to Nicky.
Now we're back in present day, and if you thought the Kevin-Helping-Nicky storyline was ending anytime soon, it's not! At the end of the episode, after Kevin fails to convince Nicky to let him buy him a new trailer, Kevin decides to do the next best thing: Buy himself a trailer and park it right next to Nicky's. Kevin is here for the long haul, so buckle up.
Season 4, Episode 5: "Storybook Love"
Tess has a panic attack.
In the present-day timeline, Randall learns that Tess had a panic attack at school and feels terrible that he passed his anxiety to his daughter. Later, when Beth tells Randall she found a therapist for Tess, Randall is supportive, but when Beth shares that she found one for him, too, he's resistant. He insists he can take care of himself, even after Beth points out that he's been displaying all his anxiety symptoms: working long hours, running 10 miles every day, and tapping his leg constantly. Though Randall tells Beth he's fine, it's clear this storyline is far from over.
Something's up with teenage Kate's new boyfriend.
A good chunk of this episode takes place back in the teen timeline, where Randall is in college and Kevin is married to Sophie. Kate is living at home with Rebecca and working at a record store, though most of her time is actually spent making out with Marc, the other record store employee. And when Marc spontaneously shows up at a dramatic Pearson family dinner, Kate is excited.
But then, jumping back to present day, Kate finds an old photo of her and Marc and shows it to Rebecca. They both remark how they "didn’t realize what was going on." We don't yet know why, but Marc is clearly no good for Kate Pearson.
Season 4, Episode 6: "The Club"
Kevin and Cassidy finally hook up.
Truth be told, this episode is mostly about golf. In the present timeline, we see Randall hustle a bunch of councilmen during a game in order to win their friendship. And in a past timeline, where Randall is still in high school, Jack takes Randall to the course after he expresses an interest in Tiger Woods. There, Randall tells Jack that he'll be the first black student on the school debate team. Jack, threatened by Randall's teacher and new black role model, tells Randall he doesn't "see color" when he looks at him; Randall shoots back that Jack doesn't see him.
In a completely different timeline, where Jack and Rebecca are still dating, Jack agrees to play golf with Rebecca's dad, though it ends in disaster. Rebecca's dad gets patronizing, Jack gets drunk, and when her dad makes it clear he doesn't want Jack marrying his daughter, Jack makes it clear that's for sure going to happen.
All right, we're done with golf. Back to the present timeline. Toward the end of the episode, Kevin takes a date back to his trailer only to find Cassidy there, upset and looking to talk after a fight with her ex. The two finally hook up, and I can't wait for Uncle Nicky to find out.
Season 4, Episode 7: "The Dinner and the Date"
Malik and Deja skip school—and kiss!
When Malik first asks Deja to skip school so he can show her the best parts of Philadelphia, Deja doesn't seem too sure. But once they're eating cheesesteaks and wandering around the Magic Gardens, it's all pretty clear: These two really like each other. Of course, their day doesn't come without consequence, and not only does Deja get grounded, but Randall and Beth decide to invite Malik's parents over for dinner. The whole event is painfully awkward, but in the end, Deja gives an emotional speech about how it was the best day of her life, and Randall and Beth decide the two can keep seeing each other. Oh, and Malik and Deja kiss! Near Boathouse Row! That's some true Philadelphia romance.
Season 4, Episode 8: "Sorry"
Randall is worried about Rebecca's health.
We're gearing up for Thanksgiving on This Is Us, which means Rebecca is in Philadelphia staying with Randall and his family. After a day of R&R time (aka what Randall calls Randall and Rebecca time), he starts to get worried about his mom. She mistakenly calls him a congressman instead of a councilman, she's yoked to her phone and gets upset when she momentarily loses it, and she's taking photos of everything in sight. It's enough for Randall to suggest she see a doctor, and Rebecca gets even more upset. We all know that Future Rebecca has dementia, making this initial scuff between mother and son just a preview of what's to come.
Things to look forward to in next week's episode? Not only are Rebecca and Randall probably going to have it out, but Uncle Nicky and Deja's birth mother, Shauna, are coming to dinner. Sounds like a recipe for drama.
Season 4, Episode 9: "So Long, Marianne"
That Rebecca timeline twist.
If there's anything the This Is Us writers love, it's a twist, and what better time to use one than during the midseason finale? In this episode, Randall tries again to talk to Rebecca about her health, but she decides she needs some air and leaves the house hours before Thanksgiving dinner. We then see Rebecca getting increasingly confused as she walks around town: She mistakenly thinks she sees a younger William; she goes to a grocery store to buy a cake and promptly forgets, buying flowers instead; she ultimately has a meltdown at a Chinese restaurant when she realizes she lost her phone and is unable to call her son. Police end up driving her home, except home is actually the family's cabin where Kevin and Kate are having their 40th birthday party. Surprise! That whole sequence of Rebecca? That was actually taking place nine months into the future, where it seems her health has only gotten worse.
In the present timeline, Rebecca makes it home just fine, but after Randall apologizes for overreacting, she tells him she went to the movies, and midway through a trailer for Cats, she forgot what she went to see. She agrees she needs to see a doctor.
Future Kevin has a pregnant fiancée.
That nine-month flash forward provides even more clues about what's to come in future episodes. Kevin, who told Randall in the present timeline that he wanted a family by his 40th birthday, mentions that his fiancée is lying down since she's dealing with morning sickness.
Future Kevin and Randall aren't speaking.
After Rebecca returns to the cabin, she asks Kevin if Randall has arrived yet. Kevin reminds her that no, Randall isn't coming, because the two aren't speaking at the moment. How could so much happen in nine months, you ask??? We'll have to wait until the show comes back on January 14 to find out.
Season 4, Episode 10: "Lights and Shadows"
We get a clue about Kevin's future wife… maybe?
Remember how Kevin wanted to have a family by his 40th birthday? Well, he seems to be determined to make that happen, even going so far as to hire a matchmaker. Then, naturally, he bumps into a beautiful woman named Lizzie (Sophia Bush) at a coffee shop and is immediately smitten. While she lives in Chicago and is only visiting Los Angeles for one more day, Kevin takes her on an epic date, complete with a private John Legend concert at the Hollywood Bowl. But when Kevin tries to kiss Lizzie, she reveals the truth: She's actually married, and Kevin is her "hall pass," aka the one celebrity you can sleep with without it being considered cheating. She leaves the date, and Kevin is clearly upset. But later on, as Kevin leaves his phone and steps on set for some movie reshoots, Kevin's ex and first love Sophie calls.
There is something wrong with Rebecca.
Randall sets up an appointment for Rebecca to meet with a neurologist—and literally flies across the country for the visit. After some tests, the doctor reveals what we all suspected: Rebecca has "mild cognitive impairment," and while it's in the early stages, her memory could start to deteriorate, something we've already seen in the show's flashforwards.
Someone has broken into Randall's home.
This is where the episode leaves us, with Randall returning home to Philadelphia and going downstairs to get a drink of water, only to find a man holding a weapon. The This Is Us punches just keep on coming.
This post will be updated.
Madison Feller Madison is a staff writer at ELLE.com, covering news, politics, and culture.