As the Pearson family welcomed three new babies to the family in this week's episode, viewers were also introduced to a brand new couple we had never seen before. They met in 1963 and got married, but grew a little distant as the husband's work kept him in the office late at night. The wife was furious that he had missed the meal their son had helped prepare for him and the husband promised he was on the verge of something big.
She then sat him down and made him explain what he was working on, and as we saw a montage of Rebecca (Mandy Moore) and Miguel (Jon Huertas) meeting their new grandkids via Facetime, we learned that the mysterious husband was actually Nasir Ahmed, the man who helped invent the ability to transfer images and videos via a computer via the "Discrete Cosine Transform."
We spent the whole episode thinking these were the parents of one of the delivery doctors or perhaps the distant relative of one of the airport employees who helped Kevin (Justin Hartley) get to the birth of his twins on time, but nope. Just the man responsible for 90 percent of the things we do in a day.
It's certainly not the first time we've spent a This Is Us episode going, "Who is this?" It's one of the show's favorite things to do, even if it doesn't always get the same response when the reveal finally comes.
Tonight, we were a tad underwhelmed, though appreciative of the spotlight being put on someone whose name we had never heard before. It certainly did not compare to the times we've been totally shocked by the show's stranger reveals.
Let's take a look back at the other times This Is Us has thrown us for a loop.
We will never ever forget watching the This Is Us pilot for the first time. We thought we were just in for a show about a bunch of unrelated people who share a birthday, but it turned out that one of the storylines was actually taking place in the '70s, and the babies born to Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia grew up to be Justin Hartley, Chrissy Metz and Sterling K. Brown. We were simply in awe, and we've been chasing that high ever since, to be honest.
The Slow Cooker Neighbors
In the episode before Jack died in season two, we met an elderly couple cleaning out their house to sell it. When the house finally sells, they offer their neighbor, Jack, a parting gift: an old slow cooker. They warn him that the switch is messed up, but they could have had no idea how messed up that switch was.
The slow cooker ended up catching the Pearson house on fire, and Jack died of smoke inhalation from that fire. We hope to never see those neighbors again.
In mid-season two, we met a social worker (Iantha Richardson) who appeared to be accompanying the little boy who was about to be Beth and Randall's adopted child. Then, at the end of the episode, it turned out Beth and Randall's adopted child was a teenage girl named Deja and the little boy was actually in the future. His social worker was actually adult Tess, which we learned when older Randall arrived to join her for an ominous future family reunion.
Jack's Living Brother
Once upon a time, Uncle Nicky (Griffin Dunne) was just an old man checking his mail in the woods, and then surprise! He's Jack's younger brother and he didn't die in Vietnam. A pretty good reveal, we'd say!
The Grown-Up Son and other Strangers
The season four premiere was literally called "Strangers," and it was perhaps the show's biggest swing in terms of "here are a bunch of random people to suddenly care about." We met Cassidy (Jennifer Morrison), an Army vet whose husband kicked her out, and she ended up meeting Nicky at a support group. We met Malik (Asante Blackk), a teen dad who turned out to be a new friend for Deja (Lyric Ross).
But the biggest reveal of all was a blind musician named Jack. We watched him meet a girl at a diner and fall in love with her before the end of the episode dropped a bomb: His name is Jack Damon, and he's the grown-up son of Kate and Toby.
The Adopted Daughter and the Not-So-Significant Doctor
The season four finale introduced us to multiple randos, including Hailey, played by Adelaide Kane. She turned out to be the grown-up version of Kate and Toby's soon-to-be-adopted daughter, and she was on her way to meet her brother Jack's new baby.
We also met Dr. Eli Mason (Josh Hamilton), a man whose daughter really liked horses. Dr. Mason turned out to be Madison's OB/GYN and creator Dan Fogelman told Deadline at the time that "the doctor becomes an important character next season to Kevin." He even compared him to the beloved Dr. K, who delivered Kevin and Kate. That did not turn out to be true as Dr. Mason did not return to be Madison's doctor. We will just assume that was pandemic-related.
Season five introduced Hai (Vien Hong), an older Vietnamese man who first made us think he might be connected to Jack's time in Vietnam. By the end of the first episode we knew he was connected to Randall's birth mother, Laurel, and when Randall's strip tease video went viral, Hai got in touch. He revealed to Randall that Laurel had gone to prison after her overdose and then lived out the rest of her life in New Orleans until 2015, and she was his first love, and Randall had inherited her house.
It was a lot to process, and Randall has barely even begun.
The Car That Wasn't Kevin's
This isn't quite like the others, but it still really threw us off. The season five episode "There" began with shots of a car accident accompanied by Kevin's lost drivers license, naturally making us all believe Kevin had gotten into an accident on his way home to see the birth of his children. In reality, Kevin happened upon an accident and stopped to help get its lone victim (Josh Malina) to the hospital.
It was rude, but an interesting new twist that the show hadn't tried before.
Congratulations to Kevin and Madison (Caitlin Thompson) and to Kate and Toby (Chris Sullivan) upon the birth of their children (Hailey, Nicholas and Francis, the new big three, perhaps?). May This Is Us continue to confuse and delight us forever.
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.
(E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)