The This Is Us Season 4 premiere was confusing at first. Main characters Kevin, Randall, and Kate all seemed to have been given the night off. For the majority of the extra-long episode, fans were instead watching the lives of three strangers, utterly unconnected from the Pearson family. But by the end of the hour, all three turned out to be far more critical than anyone realized. The first character looks to be especially important, as Cassidy may be the key to a hard reunion. So who is Cassidy Sharp on This Is Us? Warning: Spoilers for This Is Us Season 4 follow.
Cassidy is the first of the three strangers This Is Us introduces, in between scenes of Jack and Rebecca's dinner with her parents. When viewers first meet her, she's making a long-distance call home to talk to her husband and son.
It turns out she's a soldier, stationed in the Middle East. The early scenes are unclear if this is past or present. The war, after all, has been going on so long, this could be 2003, though the video chat home suggests it's at least within the last 10 years. Sharp's job in the army is as a liaison, working with informants to gain classified intelligence.
But it turns out the show is less concerned about her time away than her return. Much like the young Jack, who her scenes contrast against, her return to civilian life is not easy. Like Jack, she struggles to get a job back home. She drinks to suppress her feeling, and she attempts to be stoic in the face of a country that doesn't seem to understand the war was real.
But unlike Jack, she has a husband, who is nearly at the end of his rope, and a son, who she no longer connects with. Worse, during an intense flashback to the warzone, her son runs up to her, and she unthinkingly hits him.
By the end of the hour, viewers find Cassidy attempting group therapy, trying to reassemble the pieces of her life. She's lost her husband. She drives an Uber. She has so many questions about what happened over there, and what she lived through.
But before she can finish her story, the window shatters. Is it a bomb or a protester? No, it's another former soldier with PTSD who is acting out in frustration, throwing a chair from the garden through the window. That soldier is Nicky Pearson.
It is not a meet-cute, not by any stretch. The two characters barely even interact. Cassidy finds herself staring out the window, face to face with a freaked-out Nicky, but they never speak to each other. After taking the chair back outside he threw through the window, she watches as Nicky is arrested and hauled away by the police.
And yet, fans already know that whatever is about to happen, this is the first step towards the future. The Season 3 finale promised Nicky would find his way back to the Pearson clan. It looks like it will be Cassidy who helps that happen.