This Is Us explored Beth’s backstory, from her past experience with dance to her relationship with her mother to how she met Randall, during the Tuesday, February 19, episode, titled “Our Little Island Girl.”
In flashbacks, a scout offered a young Beth the chance to attend a prestigious ballet academy. Her mother, Carol (Phylicia Rashad), was reluctant to accept since it was expensive and time-consuming, but her father, Abe (Carl Lumbly), encouraged his wife to let Beth pursue dance.
Beth worked hard for four years, but her instructor (Goran Visnjic) pulled her aside to tell her she would have to put even more effort in if she wanted to make it as a dancer. So she began staying late to practice extra. At the same time, Beth discovered that her father had lung cancer. She blamed herself because he had to work overtime to pay for her ballet classes, but her mother wanted her to stick to her craft while her father started chemo.
Abe eventually died, but Beth did not take any time off from dancing — just as Carol did not let herself mourn. Beth then found out that she did not receive the solo role in her senior showcase. Her mother pushed her to find another path — specifically college — because she did not believe she could succeed as a dancer.
Beth went to a freshman college mixer at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. There, she bumped into Randall (Niles Fitch) for the first time, and it was clear he was smitten with her immediately.
A New Path
Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) and Zoe (Melanie Liburd) traveled to Washington, D.C. in the present after Carol bruised her hip. The “sister cousins” encouraged their matriarch to retire from being a school principal, but she would not hear of it. She even went so far as to insult Zoe’s career because she did not stick to a set path as a documentarian. So Beth admitted that she was laid off months ago.
Carol offered to help Beth find a job, but Beth did not want her mother’s assistance. Beth criticized her mom for being so hard on her and her older siblings (Yes, Beth has two sisters, Lisa and Renee, and a brother, Isaiah). She said there was no air around her mom, so her other children never came around anymore.
Carol later apologized for pushing Beth to give up on dance. She reasoned that her husband was her air, and she struggled with worry after his death. Beth explained that she did not regret her path because it led her to Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and their daughters as well as a job that she loved for years.
When she returned home, Beth told Randall about her next move and headed to a ballet school to ask about a teaching position.
This Is Us airs on NBC Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET.