Everyone loves a good twist, whether it's a lemon twist, Painting With a Twist, or the Chubby Checker twist. But if we're all being honest, there is one twist that rules them all: the TV plot twist. A great TV plot twist is a beautiful thing because it's just so hard to pull off well. It needs to genuinely surprise, it needs to be executed seamlessly, and it needs to push the story in an unexpected direction. For every "We have to go back, Kate!", there's a Bobby Ewing in the shower.
What makes the plot twists on This Is Us so unique, though, is the very premise of the show itself. It's not about survivors on a mysterious island or sexy cowboy robots realizing they are sexy cowboy robots; it's a feel-good cryfest of a family drama. Thanks to handy-dandy timeline jumps, This Is Us follows the Pearson family through their early years, as Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca (Mandy Moore) raise their three kids — and then it leaps ahead to follow the adult lives of Randall (Sterling K. Brown), Kate (Chrissy Metz), and Kevin Pearson (Justin Hartley). (In season two, it even jumps into the future to reveal what's happened to Randall's children, but we'll get to that.) Plot twists are par for the course on this show, which means some surprises work better than others. So, let's do what Americans are wont to do and rank some stuff.
One note before we get started: This is a ranking of the plot twists in This Is Us. Randall's biological father, William (Ron Cephas Jones), having a great love affair with a man is more of a character reveal than a twist, while Kate's boyfriend Toby (Chris Sullivan) having a heart attack is … well, it's just plot. To land a spot on this list, a moment needed to turn something we previously believed to be true on its head or reveal information that takes the story in a bold new direction. Make sense? Let's get to the twisting.
The payoff of this reveal is yet to be seen, but needless to say, it's coming. Up until season two's aptly titled "Brothers," we were led to believe Jack was an only child. Any time we saw him in flashbacks to his youth, it was just him and his parents and there was never any mention otherwise. But after Jack's father died and we flashed back to a memory of a fishing trip gone sour when Jack was a child, Jack looked in the back seat of his dad's truck and up popped Nicky, his bespectacled younger brother. We don't know much about Nicky, but we do know that he and Jack served in the Vietnam War together and Nicky died over there. Since the season-two finale all but confirmed we'll be exploring Jack's time in Vietnam soon — because we see Kevin traveling there in the near future — we'll surely get some answers as to what happened to Jack and Nicky and why the show kept it all a secret. The mystery continues!
The death of Pearson patriarch and top-notch facial-hair wearer Jack had the potential to be the show's most emotionally resonant plot twist of all. Thanks to overhype, predictability, and clunky execution via urn, it mostly failed. Or maybe I'm just angry about the loss. Grief works in mysterious ways — it can even affect internet rankings!
While Rebecca's present-day whereabouts are confirmed early in season one (a flawlessly executed plot twist we'll discuss later in this list), we were left in the dark about Jack's current location until "The Game Plan," when Kate introduces Toby to her roommate, Jack's Urn. That left quite a few weeks of pondering, mostly fueled by NBC's promo department yelling, "WHERE IS JACK?" at us through our televisions. With only two basic answers to that question, plenty of viewers guessed Jack's deceased status well before it was revealed. Of course, there were little clues left along the way: Although she's married to another man, Rebecca still wears the moon necklace Jack gave her when he promised to be a better man, which would seem way harsh if Jack were still breathing. If nothing else, the conclusion was painfully obvious because killing Jack off was the more dramatic route to go — and it gave our ensemble of actors some meaty material to work with. Yes, it was still emotional to have our suspicions confirmed, but there was no real surprise in what was meant to be a Very Big Reveal. The real twist would've been keeping Jack alive and taking the story in a less obvious direction.
From the moment Randall told Rebecca that his biological father was sitting upstairs, it was clear that something was up. She didn't flip a table, she didn't seem shocked, she didn't slide down the wall while ugly-crying. She had almost no reaction to the news at all. Instead, she very calmly, if not a bit brusquely, asked to meet the guy. Once alone, Rebecca told William he "looks well" because (1) this is Ron Cephas Jones and he is very cute, and (2) the show needed to tell the audience that Rebecca already met William. Dun dun dun.
Was this twist melodramatic in execution? Sure. But all things considered, it wound up serving several important functions. First and foremost, it gave us a great flashback scene between Mandy Moore and Jermel Nakia (who plays Young William), in which Moore rocked a stellar beret. All twists should have their own signature headwear. In addition, the scene was moving and accomplishes a lot of character work: It allowed This Is Us to simultaneously build Rebecca's relationship with her adopted son and to dismantle it, because obviously this secret couldn't stay a secret for long. Which leads me to its second purpose: It built suspense. When and how would Randall discover this betrayal? Would he be the one who slides down a wall while ugly-crying? See? Suspense!
Of course, it also threw us off the scent of the real twist …
It's a twist within a twist! While us schlubs were waiting for Randall to discover that Rebecca met William when he was first born, This Is Us had loftier plans. The confrontation was bound to happen during a big holiday dinner — that is, after all, the best time for Damaging Family Secrets to come to light — but nobody guessed that Randall would discover evidence of a second meeting between Rebecca and William. A second meeting that took place eight or nine years after the first, when Randall started asking about his biological parents. A meeting in which Rebecca realized that William had turned his life around and could possibly have some interest in being a father to Randall, yet made the decision to keep William's existence a secret out of fear that she could lose her son. I KNOW, YOU GUYS. Shocking.
It was shocking because, yes, it was an unexpected turn of events, but also because it wasn't just the audience learning something new. This time, the characters were stunned too. The emotions surrounding the discovery were much more raw. Not to mention, it was a big move creatively: This reveal set fire to one of the show's strongest relationships. Randall forgiving Rebecca for keeping William a secret when she knew he was using drugs is one thing, but lying about his existence after she learned that they could have had a real relationship? That's next level. This Is Us tried to explain Rebecca's actions by having Randall meet a drug-induced hallucination of Jack (isn't this show the best?!), who explained that Rebecca will always do everything in her power to protect her family. If pressed, though, I bet even Hallucination Jack would admit that this level of betrayal went beyond a mother's love. It saddled the Rebecca character — and the show's writers — with a big ol' hurdle to find their way around.
As all that timeline jumping and interconnected stories chugged along, most probably assumed that, eventually, the show would look toward the future. It fits in with the big themes, after all: Kevin's painting speech in season one was all about how life and our stories have no real beginning or end, because they stretch on in all directions. One of those directions has to be forward. So the idea that This Is Us would hop into the future wasn't in itself a revelation of epic proportions, but it was executed in a genuinely surprising way.
In season two, while Randall and Beth deal with the loss of Deja and the hope of trying for another foster kid down the line, we jump to a scene with a very cute boy sitting with a social worker who tells him not to worry, because they'll find a family for him soon. This editing suggests that this little boy is the child of Randall and Beth's dreams.
It's not until episodes later that we see the boy and his social worker again. "Super Bowl Sunday" cuts back and forth between Beth getting a phone call that sounds like it's from a social worker and Randall talking to Tess about how when she's older, he'll force her into weekly dinners at her fancy office. Again, the editing is suggestive enough that we assume Randall and Beth are about to adopt this little boy. But we are so wrong. Instead, a different couple walks in to meet their new foster son and they are followed by … Old Randall, there to meet his adult daughter Tess for a weekly dinner. We've been watching a future timeline all along!
Now that the future has been breached, This Is Us can use it as a tool for some narrative drama. In the season-two finale, we flash forward roughly a year and catch glimpses of what our Pearsons are up to and who they are with. It gives the next season a destination to reach and the audience something to watch out for, to hope for. And in the case of Old Randall and Adult Tess, who have a very sad conversation about not being ready to go and visit an unnamed "her," the show offers up its next big question: "What the hell are Old Randall and Adult Tess talking about?" It doesn't have the same ring as "Where is Jack?" but the mystery surrounding it is still the same.
How dare she? The second episode of season one reveals that our swoon-worthy soul mates didn't make it to 2016. The twist that Rebecca is now married to Jack's one-time best bud, Miguel, wins a whole gaggle of points simply for shock value. (I'm not just talking about Mandy Moore in old-lady makeup, but I could be.)
Sure, by the time season two ends, we know a little more about Rebecca and Miguel's relationship. (It started years after Jack's death and there wasn't anything shady going on.) But at the time of its initial reveal, we had just spent an episode watching Jack rely on his best buddy to keep him on the straight and narrow when it came to Rebecca and his drinking problem. Miguel's dose of reality led Jack to promise his wife that he'd be a better husband. Just when we thought Jack's impassioned heart-to-heart solved all of his marital problems — it was a really, really good speech — This Is Us ripped the rug out from under us. And with his best friend, no less. The reveal was worthy of an audible gasp or two.
What could be more unexpected and bold than announcing that the Pearsons don't get their happy ending? At the time, it left us with a whole slew of dramatically interesting questions: mostly when and how, but also why, God, why? Those questions are still slowly being answered, seasons later. Another important function of this twist: This is the twist that set off the WHERE IS JACK? pandemonium, which, for as much as I dumped on it earlier in this list, was initially an intense and emotional question. Most importantly, this twist taught us that This Is Us wasn't finished with the surprises. It screamed: Grab your tissues and strap in! This roller coaster of emotions has only just begun.
Ah yes, the twist that begat all other This Is Us twists. The dual-timeline reveal doesn't just top this list because it came first, though. A great plot twist doesn't come out of nowhere; it's a surprise that's been hiding in plain sight. If you go back and watch the pilot episode, this Original Twist is set up from the very beginning: Jack and Rebecca have a box of photos labeled '75–'79; there's an outdated vacuum in the background during the Pregnant Cupcake Dance (what a time to be alive!); while Randall checks his email, there's a message from Kevin with the subject "It's Our Birthday Bro"; the hospital equipment looks questionable at best; and so on. The tracks for this twist were clearly and deliberately laid.
The setup was great, but the payoff was even better. That final sequence all the way up until that hits-you-in-the-face moment when a firefighter offered Jack a cigarette in the hospital was weaved together so beautifully that it still gives me chills. It unfolded so wonderfully that you can't even be mad at the show for pulling one over on you. Instead, you thank it and ask it for more. It was the first twist, but it was also the best.
*Washington Township is a township in Burlington County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the township's population was 687 reflecting an increase of 66 (+10.6%) from the 621 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn declined by 184 (-22.9%) from the 805 counted in the 1990 Census. Washington was incorporated as a township by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on November 19, 1802, from portions of Evesham Township, Little Egg Harbor Township and Northampton Township (now known as Mount Holly Township, New Jersey). Portions of the township were taken to form Shamong Township (February 19, 1852), Bass River Township (March 30, 1864), Woodland Township (March 7, 1866) and Randolph Township (March 17, 1870, reannexed to Washington Township on March 28, 1893). The township was named for George Washington, one of more than ten communities statewide named for the first president. It is one of five municipalities in the state of New Jersey with the name "Washington Township". Another municipality, Washington Borough, is completely surrounded by Washington Township, Warren County. Contents 1 Geography 2 Demographics 2.1 Census 2010 2.2 Census 2000 3 Government 3.1 Local government 3.2 Federal, state and county representation 3.3 Politics 4 Education 5 Transportation 6 References 7 External links Geography According to the United States Census Bureau, the township had a total area of 102.706 square miles (266.006 km2), including 99.522 square miles (257.761 km2) of land and 3.184 square miles (8.245 km2) of water (3.10%). The township borders Bass River Township, Shamong Township, Tabernacle Township and Woodland Township in Burlington County; and Egg Harbor City, Hammonton and Port Republic in Atlantic County. Unincorporated communities, localities and place names located partially or completely within the township include Batsto, Bear Swamp Hill, Bridgeport, Bulltown, Crowleytown, Friendship Bogs, Green Bank, Hermon, Hog Islands, Jemima Mount, Jenkins, Jenkins Neck, Lower Bank, Mount, Penn Place, Pleasant Mills, Quaker Bridge, Tylertown and Washington. The township is one of 56 South Jersey municipalities that are included within the New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve, a protected natural area of unique ecology covering 1,100,000 acres (450,000 ha), that has been classified as a United States Biosphere Reserve and established by Congress in 1978 as the nation's first National Reserve. All of the township is included in the state-designated Pinelands Area, which includes portions of Burlington County, along with areas in Atlantic, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester and Ocean counties. Demographics Historical population Census Pop. %± 1810 1,273 — 1820 1,225 -3.8% 1830 1,315 7.3% 1840 1,630 24.0% 1850 2,010 23.3% 1860 1,723 * -14.3% 1870 609 * -64.7% 1880 389 * -36.1% 1890 310 -20.3% 1900 617 99.0% 1910 597 -3.2% 1920 500 -16.2% 1930 478 -4.4% 1940 518 8.4% 1950 566 9.3% 1960 541 -4.4% 1970 673 24.4% 1980 808 20.1% 1990 805 -0.4% 2000 621 -22.9% 2010 687 10.6% Est. 2014 673  -2.0% Population sources:1810-2000 1810-1920 1840 1850-1870 1850 1870 1880-1890 1890-1910 1910-1930 1930-1990 2000 2010 * = Lost territory in previous decade. Census 2010 At the 2010 United States Census, there were 687 people, 256 households, and 177.9 families residing in the township. The population density was 6.9 per square mile (2.7/km2). There were 284 housing units at an average density of 2.9 per square mile (1.1/km2). The racial makeup of the township was 93.89% (645) White, 1.89% (13) Black or African American, 0.00% (0) Native American, 0.15% (1) Asian, 0.00% (0) Pacific Islander, 3.64% (25) from other races, and 0.44% (3) from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 9.02% (62) of the population. There were 256 households, of which 25.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.5% were married couples living together, 7.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.5% were non-families. 25.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.63 and the average family size was 3.16. In the township, 18.3% of the population were under the age of 18, 11.5% from 18 to 24, 21.7% from 25 to 44, 33.5% from 45 to 64, and 15.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43.9 years. For every 100 females there were 106.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 102.5 males. The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $96,250 (with a margin of error of +/- $21,869) and the median family income was $108,239 (+/- $9,762). Males had a median income of $19,946 (+/- $15,879) versus $41,250 (+/- $4,961) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $24,808 (+/- $10,822). About 0.0% of families and 21.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 0.0% of those under age 18 and 0.0% of those age 65 or over. Census 2000 As of the 2000 United States Census there were 621 people, 160 households, and 112 families residing in the township. The population density was 6.2 people per square mile (2.4/km²). There were 171 housing units at an average density of 1.7 per square mile (0.7/km²). The racial makeup of the township was 83.57% White, 2.90% African American, 0.32% Asian, 12.08% from other races, and 1.13% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 17.07% of the population. There were 160 households out of which 35.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.3% were married couples living together, 6.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.4% were non-families. 24.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.76 and the average family size was 3.27. In the township the population was spread out with 29.3% under the age of 18, 3.5% from 18 to 24, 23.8% from 25 to 44, 19.0% from 45 to 64, and 24.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 92.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.8 males. The median income for a household in the township was $41,250, and the median income for a family was $42,188. Males had a median income of $32,000 versus $31,719 for females. The per capita income for the township was $13,977. About 8.0% of families and 16.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.4% of those under age 18 and 13.9% of those age 65 or over. Government Local government Washington Township is governed under the Township form of government. The governing body is a three-member Township Committee, whose members are elected directly by the voters at-large in partisan elections to serve three-year terms of office on a staggered basis, with one seat coming up for election each year as part of the November general election in a three-year cycle. At an annual reorganization meeting, the Township Committee selects one of its members to serve as Mayor. As of 2015, the members of the Washington Township Council are Mayor Dudley Lewis (R, term on committee ends December 31, 2016; term as mayor ends 2015), Barry F. Cavileer (R, 2015) and Daniel L. James (R, 2017). Federal, state and county representation Washington Township is located in the 2nd Congressional District and is part of New Jersey's 9th state legislative district. New Jersey's Second Congressional District is represented by Frank LoBiondo (R, Ventnor City). New Jersey is represented in the United States Senate by Cory Booker (D, Newark, term ends 2021) and Bob Menendez (D, Paramus, 2019). For the 2014-15 Session, the 9th District of the New Jersey Legislature is represented in the State Senate by Christopher J. Connors (R, Lacey Township) and in the General Assembly by DiAnne Gove (R, Long Beach Township) and Brian E. Rumpf (R, Little Egg Harbor Township). The Governor of New Jersey is Chris Christie (R, Mendham Township). The Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey is Kim Guadagno (R, Monmouth Beach). Burlington County is governed by a Board of chosen freeholders, whose five members are elected at-large in partisan elections to three-year terms of office on a staggered basis, with either one or two seats coming up for election each year. The board chooses a director and deputy director from among its members at an annual reorganization meeting held in January. As of 2015, Burlington County's Freeholders are Director Mary Ann O'Brien (R, Medford Township, 2017; Director of Administration and Human Services), Deputy Director Bruce Garganio (R, Florence Township, 2017; Director of Public Works and Health), Aimee Belgard (D, Edgewater Park Township, 2015; Director of Hospital, Medical Services and Education) Joseph Donnelly (R, Cinnaminson Township, 2016; Director of Public Safety, Natural Resources, and Education) and Joanne Schwartz (D, Southampton Township, 2015; Director of Health and Corrections). Constitutional officers are County Clerk Tim Tyler, Sheriff Jean E. Stanfield and Surrogate George T. Kotch. Politics As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 536 registered voters in Washington Township, of which 85 (15.9% vs. 33.3% countywide) were registered as Democrats, 271 (50.6% vs. 23.9%) were registered as Republicans and 180 (33.6% vs. 42.8%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were no voters registered to other parties. Among the township's 2010 Census population, 78.0% (vs. 61.7% in Burlington County) were registered to vote, including 95.5% of those ages 18 and over (vs. 80.3% countywide). In the 2012 presidential election, Republican Mitt Romney received 221 votes (59.2% vs. 40.2% countywide), ahead of Democrat Barack Obama with 142 votes (38.1% vs. 58.1%) and other candidates with 7 votes (1.9% vs. 1.0%), among the 373 ballots cast by the township's 533 registered voters, for a turnout of 70.0% (vs. 74.5% in Burlington County). In the 2008 presidential election, Republican John McCain received 250 votes (57.9% vs. 39.9% countywide), ahead of Democrat Barack Obama with 168 votes (38.9% vs. 58.4%) and other candidates with 11 votes (2.5% vs. 1.0%), among the 432 ballots cast by the township's 545 registered voters, for a turnout of 79.3% (vs. 80.0% in Burlington County). In the 2004 presidential election, Republican George W. Bush received 272 votes (62.1% vs. 46.0% countywide), ahead of Democrat John Kerry with 160 votes (36.5% vs. 52.9%) and other candidates with 4 votes (0.9% vs. 0.8%), among the 438 ballots cast by the township's 558 registered voters, for a turnout of 78.5% (vs. 78.8% in the whole county). In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 156 votes (66.4% vs. 61.4% countywide), ahead of Democrat Barbara Buono with 61 votes (26.0% vs. 35.8%) and other candidates with 10 votes (4.3% vs. 1.2%), among the 235 ballots cast by the township's 509 registered voters, yielding a 46.2% turnout (vs. 44.5% in the county). In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 186 votes (62.4% vs. 47.7% countywide), ahead of Democrat Jon Corzine with 91 votes (30.5% vs. 44.5%), Independent Chris Daggett with 17 votes (5.7% vs. 4.8%) and other candidates with 2 votes (0.7% vs. 1.2%), among the 298 ballots cast by the township's 552 registered voters, yielding a 54.0% turnout (vs. 44.9% in the county). Education The Washington Township School District serves students in public school for pre-Kindergarten through eighth grade at Green Bank Elementary School. As of the 2012-13 school year, the district's one school had an enrollment of 37 students and 4.7 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 7.81:1. The school's $5.4 million building opened in September 2006. Since the 2007-08 school year, as part of an agreement with the Mullica Township Schools, Washington Township receives teaching support from the Mullica district and shares its superintendent, business administrator and other support staff. Washington Township students in grades five through eight attend Mullica Township Middle School as part of a program that has expanded since it was initiated in the 2007-08 school year. Students in ninth through twelfth grades attend Cedar Creek High School, which is located in the northern section of Egg Harbor City and opened to students in September 2010. The school is one of three high schools operated as part of the Greater Egg Harbor Regional High School District, which also includes the constituent municipalities of Egg Harbor City, Galloway Township, Hamilton Township, and Mullica Township, and participates in sending/receiving relationships with Port Republic and Washington Township. Cedar Creek High School is zoned to serve students from Egg Harbor City, Mullica Township, Port Republic and Washington Township, while students in portions of Galloway and Hamilton townships have the can attend Cedar Creek as an option or to participate in magnet programs at the school. Prior to the opening of Cedar Creek, students from Washington Township had attended Oakcrest High School, together with students from Hamilton Township, Mullica Township and Port Republic. Students from Washington Township, and from all of Burlington County, are eligible to attend the Burlington County Institute of Technology, a countywide public school district that serves the vocational and technical education needs of students at the high school and post-secondary level at its campuses in Medford and Westampton Township. Transportation As of May 2010, the township had a total of 54.31 miles (87.40 km) of roadways, of which 29.32 miles (47.19 km) were maintained by the municipality and 24.99 miles (40.22 km) by Burlington County. The only major roads that pass through are County Road 542 and County Road 563. Limited access roads are accessible in neighboring communities, including the Atlantic City Expressway in Hammonton and the Garden State Parkway in Galloway Township, Port Republic and Bass River Township.
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