Emmys 2019: The Episodes That ‘This Is Us’ Stars Milo Ventimiglia And Mandy Moore Hope Make Them First Time Winners

This Is Us stars Milo Ventimiglia (Jack Pearson) and Mandy Moore (Rebecca Pearson) both snagged Emmy nominations this year in the Outstanding Lead Actor and Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series categories. This was the third consecutive nomination for the Gilmore Girls alum, and the first for the pop star-turned-actress, but which episodes of This Is Us did Ventimiglia and Moore submit for Emmy consideration?

This is Us Mandy Milo
‘This is Us’ stars Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia | Photo by Ron Batzdorff/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Milo Ventimiglia chose a Vietnam flashback episode

During Season 3, This Is Us dove deeper into Jack Pearson’s time in Vietnam, and it focused on that storyline in the seventh episode titled “Sometimes,” where Jack wants to transfer his younger brother Nicky (Michael Angarano) to his own unit because he is struggling and unstable. Initially, the commanding officer says “no” to Jack’s request, but he eventually changes his mind and the move ends up enraging Nicky.

In another timeline, which takes place just days after Jack and Rebecca meet, he makes it clear that he doesn’t want Vietnam to be part of their relationship. Jack also meets with the parents of a soldier from his unit who was killed during episode four, “Vietnam.” He feels responsible for the soldier’s death, but the parents of the fallen soldier forgive and comfort him.

Ventimiglia is the absolute star of this episode. And, as Gold Derby points out, it features a “clearly defined arc for Jack.” The character doesn’t wear his emotions on his sleeve, but the subtlety of Ventimiglia’s internal struggle with trauma comes to a climax at the end of the episode when it jumps forward and Jack – now suffering from PTSD – silently breaks down in tears as Rebecca sings the lyrics, “All my mistakes were forgivable.”

This is a strong submission for Ventimiglia, and this could finally be his year to take home the Emmy. There is a chance of vote-splitting in the category between Ventimiglia and his This is Us co-star Sterling K. Brown (Randall Pearson), who won the category in 2017.

Ventimiglia is also up against Kit Harington (Game of Thrones), Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul), Billy Porter (Pose), and Jason Bateman (Ozark).

Rebecca Pearson is the linchpin of ‘This Is Us

As the matriarch of the Pearson family in this time-jumping drama, fans see Mandy Moore’s character bounce back and forth between being a young bride, a happily married mom of three, a grief-stricken young widow who is a single parent, and an aging grandmother who is trying to stay connected to her adult children.

Moore’s range is really quite impressive, and she put that on display for Emmy voters this year with her submission of This is Us, “The Graduates,” which is the 14th episode of Season 3. In the episode, Rebecca is trying to deal with the fact that her late husband is missing out on his kids’ high school graduation, and she attends a grief support group to help her with the heartbreak she’s been struggling with for years.

Any Emmy voter who watches this submission will experience some serious emotional triggers, as everyone who watches This Is Us does. There is a lot to be said for emotion and empathy with Emmy submissions, and Moore’s performance in the episode is second-to-none.

However, like Ventimiglia, Moore is facing some serious competition. Most notably, Sandra Oh (Killing Eve) – who never won for her work on Grey’s Anatomy – also received a nomination for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series. And, the buzz is that this is her year.

Rounding out the category is Viola Davis (How To Get Away With Murder), Laura Linney (Ozark), Robin Wright (House of Cards), Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones), and Jodie Komer (Killing Eve).

Actors love ‘This Is Us

While the Television Academy has not given an Emmy win to Ventimiglia or Moore, it’s clear that their peers are big fans of This Is Us. The cast has won the Screen Actors Guild award for their ensemble performance two years running, but aside from Brown, none of the leads or supporting actors have snagged an Emmy yet.

Other This Is Us actors nominated for an Emmy this year include Chris Sullivan (Toby Damon) who is competing in the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series category. But, once again, this category is loaded with talent. Sullivan is up against three Game of Thrones stars – Alfie Allen, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, and Peter Dinklage, as well as Michael Kelly from House of Cards.

But, Sullivan’s biggest competition most likely comes from two long-overdue actors from Better Call Saul – Jonathan Banks and Giancarlo Esposito.

Ron Cephas Jones (William) and Michael Angarano (Nicky) received nominations for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for This is Us. However, they lost to Bradley Whitford of The Handmaid’s Tale at the Creative Arts Emmys. Phylicia Rashad (Carol Clarke) was also nominated in the Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series category, but she lost to Cherry Jones from The Handmaid’s Tale.

Even though they haven’t scored a lot of wins, the fact that so many actors from This Is Us have received Emmy nominations shows just how much fellow actors in the industry respect their work.

This is Us returns for season 4 Tuesday, September 24, on NBC.

The 71st Primetime Emmy Awards air Sunday, September 22nd on FOX.