This Is Us – S05E11 – One Small Step… [Transcript]

Kevin and Madison get an unexpected guest.
This Is Us - S05E11 - One Small Step

Original air date: March 23, 2021

* * *

(LAUGHS) Uncle Nicky, what are you… what are you doing here?

Well, I came to see my namesake.

And-and the girl.

Oh. Uh, yeah, of cour… Yes, come in. Come on in.


Yeah, come in.

Well… I mean, I got the invitation to the kids’ baptism, so, you know, I booked a flight.

KEVIN: Oh. Yeah.

No, I-I guess you didn’t see the Zoom link, then, on the back of the…

The what, now?

Oh, nothing, nothing. It’s, uh…

We’re glad you’re here. This is great.

And this is the first time you’re meeting Madison, right?

Oh, wow. So tiny.

You had twins… that must have done a real number on you.

(LAUGHS): Nice to meet you.

So, listen, I know everybody’s freaking out about the virus thing.

I get it. But you don’t have to worry.

I have been vaccinated… twice… and I-I… I get tested up the nose twice a week at the VA for my meetings, and I didn’t eat on the plane, I didn’t pee on the plane, I didn’t touch a damn thing on the plane.

(LAUGHS): Okay, understood.

Uncle Nicky, I cannot believe that you flew across the country to meet our kids. It’s…


It’s incredible.

It was nothing.


♪ This is for all the lonely people ♪


♪ Thinking that life has passed them by ♪

Hey, kid, can you talk?

Sure. I’m just cleaning Matty’s disgusting shoes for his soccer game.

Apparently, it’s not a good look when your kid comes to the field caked in mud.

Listen, I need your help.

Can you explain to me now, in detail, how to use, uh,

♪ All the single people ♪

And speak really slowly.

♪ Thinking that love has left them dry ♪

♪ Don’t give up until you ♪

♪ Drink from the silver cup ♪

♪ You never know until you try ♪

♪ Hit it


How are you with shots?

I was a medic in Vietnam, so cut the chitchat and jab me, Doc.


Okay, so I’m good? I’m safe?

Not for a while. And you have to come back in three weeks for a second dose.

There’s a second one?


♪ This is for all the lonely people ♪

♪ Thinking that life has passed them by ♪

It’ll be two weeks before you’re fully protected, so if you’re gonna see anyone, you need to continue testing.

Got it.

I’m going to California.

My nephew named his kid after me.

That’s nice.

♪ Never give you up ♪

♪ You never know until you try. ♪

DUKE: Hey, that’s a good view of Mr. Collins down there.

We can finally see him again.



What is it? Looks like a spider.

No, Pop, i-it’s the lunar module.

The LM. It’s the spacecraft that Buzz and Armstrong are in right now.

See, it-it’s two parts that separate… the top is the “ascent stage,” where the astronauts are, and the “descent stage” has the rocket power in it. See?

I even used pieces from my old World War II bomber model planes to build it.

Here, let me see it.

I like the ladder.


STANLEY: It’s nice.


I didn’t miss it, did I?

Jack, no, the LM hasn’t even landed yet, so the astronauts won’t walk for hours.

Hey, Pop.

“Hey” back.

What, are you hoarding your beers now?

Jacky! Oh, so glad you came.

Hi, Mom. You look great.



Nicky, the meatballs on the right don’t have olives, okay?

Oh, thanks, Mom.

Unbelievable. You got to make two of everything for this kid?

I’d make four of everything if he wanted.

STANLEY: Jack, have a seat next to your little sister… it’s starting.

BUZZ ALDRIN: Okay, engine stopped.

ACA out of detent.

Remote control both autos, descent engine command override off.

Engine arm off.

We’re home.

413 is in.

WALTER CRONKITE: Man on the Moon!

MAN: We copy you down, Eagle.

NEIL ARMSTRONG: Houston, uh…

Tranquility Base here.

The Eagle has landed.

MAN: Roger, Tranquility.

We copy you on the ground. You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We’re breathing again.


Thanks a lot.

CRONKITE: Oh, boy!

Thank you.


Want one?


No, I got to go home soon.

Have you… you thought about moving out of Mom and Dad’s house at any point?


Unlike you, I-I like having hot water.

Yeah, but, Nick, come on, you don’t want to be Dad’s lapdog, fetching him beers the rest of his life, huh?

I mean, you got to leave the nest at some point.

Yeah, well, I may be forcibly removed from the nest if I get drafted to Vietnam this year.

You’re not getting drafted.

I could.

You’re not getting drafted.

And also, it’s really not that bad

living at Mom and Dad’s right now.

I mean…

(WHISPERS): he’s a lot better with her when I’m around.

You wouldn’t know, trust me.


Could you at least just… Do me a favor.

Get yourself a girlfriend or something.

(SCOFFS) Yeah, sure, you got Raquel Welch’s number?

Oh, come on, there’s got to be a nice girl

works the vet clinic with you, right?

Oh, there is.




Sally. Nick…

there is a guy… walking on the Moon, right now.

Ask Sally out on a date. Get the hell out of the house.

Come on, if he can do it, you can do it. Okay?



Whoa. Wait.

Aren’t you supposed to fold the corners into little triangles?

Would you like to take over?

I’m just saying, I think you could be a little neater.

You know? It took me weeks to build this gift, and I suck at wrapping, not that… babies are gonna know the difference, but, you know, still.

I’m very curious about these mystery gifts.

I’ll mail you a photo.

I was an intelligence officer.

I could get this out of you if I wanted to.

Yeah, good luck with that.


All right.

All right.

Is this up to your standards?


I am proud of you.

You know? Getting out of your routine and getting out of this trailer, it’s a…

it’s all a big deal.

Thank you.

No, kid, really, thank you.

I haven’t been able to count on many people since I got back from the war.







Don’t hang up, Pearson.

It’s Townie.


Alpha Company Third Squad?

Yeah, yeah.

No, I know who you are. What the hell do you want?

I’m doing okay. Thanks for asking.

God, you try to do a guy a favor.

I’m calling because some of the guys from the area are getting together to have a few drinks and celebrate Lieutenant Sheehan’s engagement.

I drove all the way from Chicago.

I know you don’t go to these things, but…

it’s in your neck of the woods.



I heard Jack’ll be there.


I haven’t seen Jack in years.

At least write down the address.

Fine. Just go slow, ’cause I-I got a splitting headache right now.

777 Lake Pleasant Road, Erie, PA.




Ready, old man?


Ready as I’ll ever be.


Pumpkin, you are a landlord to an entire colony of fleas.


You need a bath.

Okay? You have to work with me here.


Bath time. (MUTTERS)

You got to work with me, baby.


Bath time for Pumpkin! No?

Aah. Okay. Okay, Pumpkin.

Do you need some help?


Sally. Hi.


Yeah, Pumpkin needs a bath, but I don’t think we can lift her, even if we both tried.


She’s very stubborn.


She’s a willful lady, all right.

You can’t force a willful lady to do anything.

There’s only one thing to do.






Oh, the water’s so warm and refreshing.

This feels great.

Come on, Pumpkin! Come on.

Pumpkin, come on.


Come on. Oh, good boy.

Good boy. Come on. Come here, baby. Come here.

Good girl.

You’re so good.

Cover up your eyes, ’cause I’m gonna put it on your head.

Good girl. Where’d your…? (LAUGHS)

There is slobber all over.




Water’s so healing, no?

Yeah, yeah, totally. So healing.

(GASPS) Did you see the men on the Moon last night?

I thought it was poetic, and it was sort of surreal.

Yeah, it was.

And if you thought that was exciting, in two days, the module’s gonna come zooming back to Earth with the astronauts and it going 25,000 miles per hour, and everybody’s hoping that it doesn’t, um, disintegrate or bounce back into space.

Whoa. That’s so intense.



I’m driving up to Mount Washington tonight to go look at the Moon.

Do you ever do that kind of a thing?

Um… I’m a Cancer, so, uh, I’ve always felt very close to the Moon.

Far out. (LAUGHS)


Yeah, uh…

Well, I… You should have a great night, but I-I…

My brother’s probably waiting for me, so…





Hey. Hi.

Hi. Uh, Sally, I’m Jack.

I’m Nicky’s brother.

Jack. You have a very proud, determined energy. Cancer?

Uh… no. I’m… fine.

Uh, listen, I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but I overheard you say that you’re gonna be, um, checking out the Moon tonight.


Um, there is no better person to do that with than my brother Nick. I mean, this guy… he knows…

Jack… I’m perfectly capable of asking your brother out all on my own.


SALLY: Nicky…


…how would you like to come meet Pearl and gaze at the Moon with us tonight?


Yeah, I… I would love that.


Here’s my address.

Okay, um…

Oh. Yeah, bye.

JACK: Thank you.

I’ll see ya.

Who’s Pearl?

Who cares?


Just remember, you got to take your shoes off at security now.

Oh. What an idiotic country.

You sure you don’t want to call Kevin?

He’s got two newborns.

I mean, a heads-up might be nice.


Someone should know you’re traveling across the country.

You know.

Someone in your family should know.

Cassidy, come on. Give me a break.

I haven’t been on an airplane since I got medevaced out of Vietnam. Yeah.

(SIGHS): Oh.

You know, in case I don’t make it, I don’t want to disappoint him. Can’t do that to him.

Just remember to breathe, okay?









Arms up, please.



WOMAN: Uh, sir, is-is this your box?

Yeah. Why?

Wait! Okay, it’s very, very fragile, so please be careful.

I’m sorry.

I’m gonna have to unwrap it.

What?! No!

Come on, don’t… Aah!


Ah. Oh, come on.


I’m sorry, sir, but you can’t take these on the flight.

No more than 3.4 ounces of liquid.

If you give us an address, we can mail them.

I can’t go there emptyhanded.

Look, what if I just dump the liquid, okay?

Yeah, look, I’m gonna do that, it’ll take two seconds.

Sir, what are you doing?


(GRUNTS) Oh, God!

Oh, no, no!




Okay. Sorry.




Hi. Sally? Hi.

(SHRIEKS) You found us!

NICKY: Oh, yeah.

Oh. Sorry if I freaked you out with the honking.

It’s just Pearl’s got to make her presence known.

Oh, Pearl’s your van?



Do you want to get inside her?

Come on!



Come on, come on, come on!

Ah. Oh, boy.

Come on in.



Make yourself at home, man.

♪ And talk about the things you did today… ♪

Oh. These are great.

SALLY: Oh, these are my photographs.

Pearl and I have been all over together.

Yeah, we started in Kansas and got to Pittsburgh and have gone pretty much everywhere in between.


It’s like I can see a little bit of you in each one.

♪ I couldn’t bear to wait… ♪

It’s like I can… see how you see the world.

♪ My darling, be home soon… ♪


(LAUGHS) Um… well, that… that’s it.

You… pretty much nailed it.


♪ Of having you to talk to ♪


♪ And now… ♪

(EXHALES) Look at that beauty.


♪ A quarter of my life ♪

♪ Is almost past… ♪

All right, Nicholas Pearson, tell me your best Moon fact.

Oh, I know a million facts.

Do you want to know about its gravitational pull?

Tell me why you love her.

♪ Was the time that I spent without you… ♪


Why I love the Moon?


Well, I love the Moon because… it’s… Earth’s personal satellite.

♪ I couldn’t bear to wait an extra minute… ♪

It’s like the nightlight we can all count on.


It’s always there…

♪ It’s not just these few hours… ♪

…but different every night.

And no matter where you are in the world, we’re all looking up at that same Moon.

I really want to kiss you now.



♪ So darling ♪


♪ My darling, be home soon ♪


♪ I couldn’t beato wait ♪

♪ An extra minute if you dawdled ♪

♪ My darling, be home soon ♪

♪ It’s not just these few hours ♪


♪ But I’ve been waiting ♪

♪ Since I toddled ♪


♪ For the great relief of having you to talk to… ♪

I think I’m falling in love with you.

(WHISPERING): You think or you know?

I know.

♪ And see beyond the houses and your eyes ♪

♪ It’s okay to shoot the moon… ♪

Mrs. Pearson, I consider myself to be a Salisbury steak devotee, but this may… this may be…

Yeah, I mean, that’s the bite that did it.

This is the best Salisbury steak I’ve ever had.

(LAUGHS) Oh, thank you, Sally. Thank you.

It was good, Mom.

♪ Of having you to talk to. ♪

I mean, that went better than I could have ever imagined.


It’s like she hypnotized him.

I’m pinching myself, man.


Girl lights a fire in you.

I’m happy for you, little brother.

Honestly, I have no idea how it happened, but I know it’s all thanks to you.

No, come on.

(LAUGHING): It is.

SALLY: You two must be up to no good.

Can I take a picture of the famous Pittsburgh Pearson brothers?




Sure. Yeah.






Oh. Here.


50 years from now, you guys will look back at this photo, and you will remember the taste of your mom’s Salisbury Steak, and you’ll be taken back to this exact moment, this… exact… feeling.



Hey, Jack, um…

I’m better now.

I’m not the monster that you think I am.





I, uh, noticed that you don’t have headphones.

(CHUCKLES) Remember when people used to talk on planes?

(WEAKLY): Uh-huh.



Is this your first time flying since COVID?

Uh, no, uh… since 1971.


I just can’t believe the Moon’s a destination now.


Like Chicago or Toledo.


Okay, I have something mind-blowing to show you, but you have to close your eyes.

Close my eyes?




Open them.


Three days of peace, love and music.


Jimi Hendrix and Richie Havens are playing?

I want to hear Janis sing the blues.

I want to see Janis sing the blues.

I… I… it sounds amazing.

So, you’ll come?


Yeah, I’ll come.

And then… after Woodstock… I think that you and I should just pack up Pearl and hit the road.

I think we should just leave Pittsburgh behind and go to California.

My cousin has this farm there outside of San Francisco, and, well, he said that we could come, and we could help out with the animals, and…

And anytime we get bored, we could just pack up Pearl and hit the road.

So, y-you want to drive to California and move there for-for good.

“For good.” What does that mean, “for good”? (SCOFFS)

My Grandma Pearl used to say, “Sweetie, you can do anything you want with your life, or you can do nothing.”


Yeah? Okay, so, we have to leave Wednesday night, because the festival starts on Friday, and we want to get a good spot.


Okay, I’ll meet you here at 11:00 right after my parents… go to sleep.

JACK: Look at these guys.



Is that you?

How many years it been?

Oh, too many.

JACK: Hey.

Sheehan’s gonna be over the moon to see you.

You think?

You know, you were his favorite.

(SCOFFS) Go take a walk.


See you inside?


I’ll see you guys in there.

All right.

So, tell me about her.

Oh, Carolina’s, uh… smart, beautiful.

She loves bicycles, of all things.

Wants to ride bikes in every city we travel to.

That’s funny. Can’t picture you on a bike.

(CHUCKLES SOFTLY) It’s not so bad.


Hurts your balls, but not so bad.


I need to ask your advice on something.


There’s this girl that I’ve been seeing.

I’ve wanted to propose to her for a while now.


You that afraid she’ll say no?

You’re not that bad-looking, Pearson.

♪ Best not look at everything you start… ♪

On our first date, she asked me about my time in Nam, and I lied to her.

I told her I was just a mechanic.

I mean, to this day, I-I still don’t think she thinks I ever fired a weapon.

Then, um, she asked me about my family.

I lied to her, too.

Uh… told her my brother died in the war.

♪ Getting ready on 30 now ♪

♪ And you just want to say… ♪

I’ve had a million opportunities to tell her the truth, and I just… never did.

Couldn’t find the words. Never came out.

Any excuse.

Now it’s just…

Too much time has gone by.

Carolina always knows when I’m thinking about the war.

I guess there’s a certain look I get on my face when it happens.

Sometimes, she asks to hear about it.

♪ And I love her with… ♪

So, I tell her about the biggest waterfall I ever saw in Cao Bang Province.

And how they always served us that chipped beef that tasted like old pennies.

♪ It’s the same good behavior… ♪

The rest, I keep to myself.

♪ Yes, I will ♪

♪ Go one day… ♪

Lot of these guys, their bodies are here, but their minds are still over there.

The trick is to not let yourself get lost in it.

Not to relive the same horror show over and over.

You owe this girl of yours the future, not the past.

Are you sure? Because I… I’m sure. Yeah.

Want my advice?

Take every memory you have, photos, whatever, and lock it away.

Visit it when you have one too many.

But keep it separate from the life you’re building.

Go propose to that girl, Pearson.



Hey. I got you a Samsonite.



I don’t, I don’t know much about suitcases, but I-I feel like this thing’s gonna last forever.

I had to sneak it past Mom and Dad.



This is great, man. Thank you.




They know yet?

No. I was just gonna watch the astronauts’ coming home parade, and then I was gonna wait for them to fall asleep and then go meet Sally.

Truth is I-I didn’t really want to tell them unless I got there just in case I got cold feet.

Hey, come on. You’re gonna have the time of your life, kid.

Open road, nice girl. I…


Just remember to write me a postcard every now and again, okay?


Am I gonna stick out like a sore thumb out in California?

I-I… I don’t surf. I don’t… I don’t know any hippie lingo. I… I feel like Sally’s probably just gonna dump me and then dump me somewhere along Route 66.

Like, I’m not…

Nicky, stop.

I don’t feel like it’s a realistic…

Stop. Just stop, man, stop. Come on. You’re gonna be fine.

I’m telling you, a… a girl like that, she asks me to go to California, I’m gone in a heartbeat.

Thanks, Jack.

JOHN LINDSAY: …great moments.

We have honored many voyagers before.

Men who sailed around the world, men who flew alone across the ocean.

But today, we honor three men who forged the first link between Earth and the stars.

Today, we honor three men who have affirmed the best we have within us.

And all that New York has given today… its cheers, its praise…


…its glory…

No, nothing.

I just… I can’t believe I was your age sitting with my old man, listening to the radio when Roosevelt come on, told us that Pearl Harbor got bombed.


Everything changed.

(CHUCKLES): Now, I’m the old man sitting here with my son, watching three Americans fly home from the Moon.

Yeah. Life’s wild.

Hon, come. Sit.

Thanks, Mom.

Look how many people are at this parade.


…for your support, support that made our mission possible.



You’re gonna have to move your van to a new spot tomorrow.

Okay? You’ve been parked here too long.

Sure. I was about to leave anyway.






It was nothing.


It’s just… tiny fancy fish.


So, you-you just… you just went online and you booked a plane ticket to Los Angeles, just…?

Hey, you named your son after me, kid.

I had to come.


I am gonna say good night.


Mm-hmm. I’m gonna feed the twins, and then pass out from exhaustion.

Uh, I’m sorry that I just showed up unannounced.

I recognize it’s kind of weird.

No. No, Kevin was just saying he missed having family around, and then you showed up, so that’s a good weird in my book.


I’ll let you guys catch up.

ALL: Good night.

Well, a lot’s happened since I saw you in the flesh.


Yeah. Yeah, a lot has happened.

And I-I can’t wait for you to meet Nick and Franny.

I mean, oh, they’re perfect.

It’s, like, you stare into their eyes, and it’s like there’s nothing wrong in the world, you know?


Yeah. Yeah.

Yeah, it’s really something.

Oh, and I want to take you to this dog park.

It’s right around the corner. We’ll go tomorrow.

We take the twins there every morning, and we just, we go there and we watch the dogs just kind of run amok.

You know? It’s like a Pixar film, it’s great.

You like dogs, right? Didn’t you say you worked at a vet clinic before the war?

Yeah, I did.

Yeah. Yeah.

Oh. And-and we got to figure out what it is that you want them to call you.

It’s not “Grandpa,” obviously, but, uh, it could be… it could be “Chief,” it could be “Toot” or-or, um… it could… “Pops.”

You must be exhausted.

You’re probably dead tired from the traveling, I would imagine.

You want me to go make up your bed, get that ready for you?

Good idea.

How about… Yeah, I’ll do that for you.





It’s 4:00 a.m. here, old man.

Ah, you suck at sleeping just like I do.

I knew you’d be up.

It’s true.

What’s going on?


I’m thinking that this whole thing was a mistake.

You know, I thought that the plane ride would be the hard part, but now I’m thinking I might just sneak out of here while everybody’s asleep, and I’ll just, you know, I’ll call Kevin once I land…

Are you certifiably insane?

It’s just different now that I’m here.

I mean, Jack’s kid named his kid after me.

I mean… (EXHALES) God, Jack must be rolling in his grave around that one.

Now the kid wants me to go to the park and take pictures and be “Grandpa.”

Ugh, it’s too much.



You’ve hated yourself for so long, and now you have all this love coming at you, and it feels weird, and you want to go AWOL.

And then what, go back to your trailer alone and stare at the same plot of land until you die?

I… I didn’t know this brother of yours, but I do know two pretty decent men who have spent their lives wondering if he would be proud of them.

Deep down… don’t you think he’d be proud of you, Nicky?

Took a while, but you made it.

You made it all the way to California.

Hey there, babies.

Don’t worry, I won’t get too close.

FYI, I’ve been vaccinated, twice.

Um, I-I… I made these really special gifts for you, but, um, this country is kind of idiotic about its rules sometimes, so I got you… I got you these instead.

Well, my favorite John Grisham novels.

That’s The Firm.


And, uh… and The Rainmaker.

Uh, I’m sorry they’re in paperback.

It’s the only thing they had at the airport gift shop.


I-I jotted some things down in… in the book.

Uh, no great words of wisdom.

But… when you’re an old man and you’re looking out a plane window…


…you think about all the mistakes you make in life.

I lived alone.

Every day, the same routine for 50 years.

But then… I got an invitation to meet you two.

And you know, you know what it got me thinking about?

It got me thinking about the Moon.

July 20, 1969… I watched a man walk on the Moon.

One day, we’d never been to the Moon.

It was impossible to even fathom walking on it.

And the next day, we’re walking on it.

The impossible became possible, just like that.


For 50 years, I lived in a trailer.

A trailer that went nowhere.

Whatever the opposite is of an astronaut, that-that’s… (SCOFFS)

That’s what I became.

And then I got that invitation in the mail… for a Zoom… (LAUGHS)

…apparently, whatever the hell that is.

But an invitation to meet my great-nephew and my great-niece.


My big brother’s grandchildren.

I’ve lived alone a really long time, and I’ve been… I’ve been stuck.

And… anything… anything good that would ever happen to me, it just seemed… it just seemed impossible.

But here I am. I made it.

You two…

You two were my Moon.


Okay, that’s it. (EXHALES)

You just call me “Uncle Nicky,” okay?

No stupid nicknames.






♪ This is for all the lonely people ♪

♪ Thinking that life has passed them by ♪

♪ Don’t give up until you ♪

♪ Drink from the silver cup ♪

♪ And ride that highway in the sky ♪

♪ Well, I’m on my way back home ♪

♪ Hit it ♪


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