Spoiler alert: This article includes mild spoilers from the ‘This Is Us’ episode ‘The Car.’
This Is Us viewers got a taste of the sweetest lemonade ever when Dr. K stopped by Jack Pearson’s funeral on the most recent episode of the NBC drama. In the episode, “The Car,” guest star Gerald McRaney made a return appearance as the Pearson family’s longtime friend, Dr. Nathan Katowski. And if viewers weren’t bawling before his scene, they were by the time it was done.
In an interview with Deadline, This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman teased the “cathartic” episode, which was set on the Pearson patriarch’s funeral day with multiple flashback scenes involving the family’s Jeep Grand Wagoneer.
“The ending is one of my favorite things we’ve done — it’s cathartic and it’s decent and it’s wildly hopeful after a very hard two episodes,” Fogelman told Deadline.
“And Dr. K is back. Gerald McRaney can make anything better.”
Dr. Nathan Katowksi holds a very special place in the Pearson family’s hearts—and in those of the show’s fans’. In the pilot episode of This Is Us, Dr. K. helped Jack and Rebecca (Milo Ventimiglia, Mandy Moore) deal with the loss of their third triplet by delivering an empowering speech about taking “the sourest of lemons” and making “something that resembles lemonade.”
Seventeen years later in “The Car” episode, Dr. K dropped a bombshell on Rebecca, telling her that Jack had stayed in touch with him regularly over the years, often stopping by unannounced to get advice from him. Dr. K also told Rebecca that she and Jack made “one of the sweetest pitchers of lemonade” he has ever seen.
This Is Us fans took to social media to post reaction to the return of Gerald McRaney’s beloved Dr. K character.
The Dr. K. character was seen in flashback scenes in five This Is Us episodes last season, including a Christmas episode, where he was shown as a hospital patient, and “The Big Day,” which was a retelling of the Big Three’s birth. Viewers also got to see the lonely doc at home, still mourning the death of his beloved wife, in an episode that earned him his first-ever Emmy nomination and win. At the time, McRaney said he wasn’t sure if Dr. K would return for season 2 of This Is Us.
“I have no idea,” the actor told Deadline last fall. “I hope Dr. K makes another appearance, but if he doesn’t I’m fine with that, because it was such a joy to have been on this show and to have been a part of it. But I am not going to try and persuade Dan to write something for me. You don’t mess with perfection.”
In “The Car” episode, viewers found out that Dr. K found love once again with family friend Anne (played by Susan Blakely). This Is Us fans know Rebecca eventually marries her own family friend, Miguel (John Huertas).
You can see the return of Gerald McRaney as Dr. K in the This Is Us scene below.
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.