In this Halloween themed episode, “The 20’s” takes us back and forth from 1990 to 2008, when all the Pearson’s were in their 20’s. There are a few revelations in this episode and excellent acting by Mandy Moore. So let’s begin!
Halloween, 1990 begins with Rebecca rushing to finish hand-made costumes for the kids. As Rebecca hands Kate her costume (and I can relate to this), Kate says she’s decided she wants to be Sandy from Grease. Not the bad ass Sandy, the squeaking clean Sandy. Randall is frantically working on a map he’s created in an effort to make trick or treating more efficient. Kevin wants no part of this map which freaks out Randall. Rebecca knows that Randall NEEDS to have a plan and promises him they will use the map. Kevin’s costume is the same as last year – a cigar smoking bum. No drama there. Rebecca is explaining to Kate that she needs to wear the original costume when Jack comes home and lets Kate her have her way. A frustrated Rebecca follows Jack upstairs and they have a discussion about Jack’s coddling of Kate and Rebecca’s doting on Randall. The discussion ends with some snuggling and a little later Rebecca and Jack emerge as Sonny and Cher.
It's Halloween 2008, 10 years since Jack died. 20ish Beth and Randall are preparing for the birth of their first child. In a flashback to a conversation between Beth and William, we learn that Randall had a nervous breakdown two weeks before Tess was born. Back to 2008, Beth’s due date is the next day, and she is preparing for Rebecca’s arrival. She is coming to help with the baby because Beth is concerned that, after only two after his a breakdown, Randall is too fragile to handle all that's coming. Upstairs in the nursery, Randall is trying to install a ceiling fan. It’s not going well and Randall's getting frustrated. He tells Beth that he’s fine, but he is clearly struggling to keep it together. He knows it, and she knows it. Rebecca arrives, and Randall is off to exchange the ceiling fan.
What’s happening with Kate and Kevin in 2008? This Halloween night, Kate is waitressing at a diner and has a night class. Kate’s regular customer arrives, and there is definitely a mutual attraction there. He asks Kate out after work, but unfortunately, she has class tonight. As fate would have it, classes are canceled, Kate sits in her car eating fast food contemplating whether or not to meet the new guy. She goes for it and surprises her friend when she shows up. His reaction is hard to read. I thought that he was embarrassed for his friends to see Kate, especially when he asks if they can go somewhere more private. They head to Kate's place and sleep together. Afterwards, Kate asks him if he's married. He confirms. Kate knew it but slept with him anyway hoping it would feel "right" after. It didn't. It's a turning point moment for Kate and as we will see, tonight will be a turning point for Kevin as well.
Now in his 20’s, Kevin is still a struggling actor who is working as a shampoo guy at a salon. That evening Kev comes home to the news that his roommate just landed a major role as a major director. Kevin tries to act happy for his friend but is clearly jealous. Friend invites Kevin to attend the cast party that night with the hope that Kevin will make some introductions. Kevin agrees to go. But what a desperate Kevin does at this party, will ruin a friendship and jeopardize his career. The character for the movie was a guy like Kevin, handsome and charming. Instead, they cast his roommate who is not, in Kevin’s mind, leading man material. When Kevin has a moment alone with the director, he tries to steal the part from his friend. The director is appalled and tells Kevin that he will never, ever work on one of his pictures. When Kevin returns home, he discovers that his friend knows what he did and has moved out. Just then he gets a phone call from Kate.
Back to 1990, Kevin and Randall are bickering back and forth about the map. Rebecca and Jack can see that Randall is getting anxious so Jack suggests he take Kate and Kevin and Rebecca take Randall trick or treating. Kate, Kevin and Jack head to a neighborhood haunted house. Kate is looking for a boy dressed as Spiderman to see if he will go through a haunted house with her. Jack sees that Kevin is concerned and Kevin tells Jack that the boy she has a crush on is super popular and that there is no way he will go through the haunted house with Kate. Jack is worried that his little girl will get hurt and is relieved to see Kate and Spiderman leaving the haunted house holding hands with her crush! Jack is elated and Kate is beaming! But, Jack turns around to see Kevin giving Superman all his candy and realizes that Kevin bribed the boy to hold hands with Kate. Kevin didn’t want to see his sister hurt.
With map in hand, Rebecca and Randall are trick or treating. There is a certain house that Randall doesn’t want to go to. In fact, he gets quite agitated when Rebecca tries to force him. Seeing that Randall is starting to lose control, she takes him aside and asks him what’s up. Randall finally opens up to Rebecca that this neighbor told him about the baby that they lost and that he is a part of the family only because their real baby died. Rebecca has no choice but to tell Randall the whole story – without Jack. They had always planned to tell Randall the truth, but certainly not this way. Randall takes it all in and seems to be ok. At home, when all the Pearson kids return, Rebecca tells Jack who feels terrible that he wasn’t there.
Returning to 2008, Randall is at the store exchanging the ceiling fan. When the salesman approaches Randall, he gives him his own recommendation. Out of the blue, Randall tells the salesman EVERYTHING from his breakdown to his fear of being a father. The man is taken aback at first but when he sees that Randall is crying, he tells Randall that he is the father of 5 kids and that he doesn’t need to worry, the baby will tell him what he/she needs. The man's words get through to Randall and actually help. Moments later, Randall’s phone rings. It’s Rebecca telling him that the baby is coming. Pushing through his initial panic that this was not according to the plan, Randall bolts from the store.
He arrives home to find Beth in hard labor and already crowning! Rebecca says the ambulance is not going to get there in time and that they will be delivering the baby, now!
All of Beth's fears about Randall's stability can be read on her face as she realizes that she is not going to make it to the hospital in time. Randall sees this and his love for Beth and their baby has given him the strength to push through his fear.
When Kevin’s phone rings, it’s Kate announcing the birth of their first niece! Kevin and Kate both head to the hospital. Everyone is so excited to meet the baby. It’s a joyous occasion but everyone is thinking about Jack. Kate and Kevin head to Randall’s house and see that he is the only one whose life is moving forward. Kevin and Kate are not. Kevin tells Kate that she has to let their dad go and stop visiting the neighborhood where their house used to be (which is where Kate was when she was eating in the car earlier). Kevin decides to go back to the basics and learn his craft. Putting their plan in motion, Kate moves in with Kevin and Kevin joins an improv group. Kate happily sits through his performance and it seems that both siblings are now moving in the right direction.
Back at the hospital, Rebecca is having a chat with her new granddaughter. As she tells the baby about Jack and about life in general, we are taken back to the moment when Rebecca visits baby Randall in the nursery alone for the first time. As she bears her soul to her new son, Jack watches from behind. It is a tear-jerker moment beautifully done by Mandy Moore.
Randall returns home and finds Rebecca cleaning up the glass from a mug she broke, and she is in tears. She tells Randall that this is one of the happiest moments of her life, but it’s also the saddest because Jack isn’t here. She asks Randall what names they’ve picked out. Randall says, Jack, if it were a boy and Jasmine for a girl. But he doesn’t like Jasmine and Rebecca say that it doesn’t have to be a J name. Just then, Randall spies the card from the store. He sees the brand name on the fan, and that’s how Tess got her name.
Now about that big reveal! Earlier in the episode, when Beth and Rebecca were alone in the house, Beth was telling Rebecca about Randall’s breakdown and how terrifying it was. Rebecca tries to reason it away, but Beth keeps saying that “you didn’t see it.” To break up a tense moment, Rebecca shifts the conversation to a safer topic, Facebook. Rebecca’s friends want her to join, and Beth offers to help Rebecca set up her account. This is an important moment because this leads up to the big reveal!
Without further ado, the reveal! Rebecca sits at the computer. The house is quiet. Rebecca is posting a photo of her new grandbaby on her new Facebook page. Suddenly a direct message appears. It’s Miguel! He says “Hi from Houston” and asks Rebecca how she’s been for the past 8 years. She responds. In an episode that dealt with letting go and moving on, I think it’s fitting that the episode ends with the beginning of Rebecca and Miguel.