Photo: Courtesy of NBC.
This felt like one of the first This Is Us episodes in a while where the flashback portion really mattered. We meet Teen Kevin (Logan Shroyer) on the couch following his knee injury. He’s moping, and says he and Sophie aren’t going to the dance because he “can’t dance, can’t play football…” When the whole fam is taking a trip to the mall, though, Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) forces him to come along and get a suit. While they’re there, they run into Miguel (Jon Huertas), who is also moping because his ex-wife got engaged to her new boyfriend last night. After Jack tries to give a pep talk and Kevin mocks him, the three of them head to the food court for some comfort food. It’s there where Kevin and Randall (Lonnie Chavis), who joins them later, learn about their dad’s dreams of owning his own company that he’d given up when the triplets were born. Later, Kevin tells his dad he should start the company now and thanks him (so cute, so unlike Kevin I feel) for doing that for them. Their talk actually makes a big difference, because in the final scene we see Jack tell Rebecca (Mandy Moore) that he’s going to go for it!
In Adult Kevin’s (Justin Hartley) world, he’s just getting out of rehab and moving back home with his mom. His counselor thinks it’ll be best for him to stay out of Hollywood, and Kevin thinks he can bond with her following the therapy session. Awkwardly, he calls Miguel a “small problem” with the plan.
Rebecca is adorable and so excited for her son to be moving home. She’s bought all of his favorite foods, but they head to the grocery store when Kevin tells her he has the okay to eat a ton of sugar right now. Much to Kevin’s dismay, Miguel tags along. After Miguel interrupts a mom/son moment (Kevin confesses he lost Jack’s necklace), Kevin confronts him in the La Croix aisle. Miguel says that Rebecca has been “a wreck” since Kevin’s arrest, and especially since he “laid into her” at therapy. Kevin comes back with a harsh “my father was her husband,” which is pretty brutal.
Later on that night, Kevin apologizes to Miguel about the grocery store tiff. He asks Miguel a question I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about before: Was he in love with Rebecca when Jack was still alive? Miguel says “that would’ve been impossible;” that Rebecca and Jack “were one...it was just Jack and Rebecca”. After professing his current love for Rebecca, he assures Kevin “I’m not going anywhere.”
In the present day, Randall (Sterling K. Brown) is going on a job interview and not feeling it. Later, when he stops by Beth’s (Susan Kelechi Watson) office, she lets him know that that’s not totally cool with her. She says he’s been “in outer space or something” for the past couple of months, and she thinks going back to work would be good for him and for their relationship.
During this job interview fiasco, Randall heads to William’s (Ron Cephas Jones) old apartment because a neighbor has a box of his father’s things. The box has a variety of stuff — books, a sweater, a cassette player — but, most importantly, it has a notebook of poems. One poem, titled “Lady”, is accompanied by a sketch of a woman. Randall thinks that William had a “lover” who lived in the building and goes on the hunt to find her. All of the women are sure it wasn’t them. When the super (who William’s friend suggests it could be) takes Randall to an old unit, Randall realizes that the poem and sketch are actually of a Billie Holiday mural outside the window of William’s old favorite spot.
At the end, we see Randall propose the idea to Beth that they should buy the apartment building that William used to live in. Randall feels a connection to the building and to the people, and Beth has been not loving her job at the moment. We don’t get a firm yes or no, but I’m excited for the prospect of them doing this!
Teen Kate’s (Hannah Zeile) flashback tells us about a part of Kate’s history that we’ve never known before, yet is super intertwined with her current self. Kate asks her mom to go shopping for a winter formal dress with her, and Rebecca is so excited. At the mall, we see that Kate has a seven written on her wrist. When she goes into the dressing room, that’s the size of dress she tries on. Suddenly, we see her storm out of the store.
When they get there, the place is nice AF. They’re having a swell time, but Kate becomes concerned that something bigger is going on with Madison after she “goes to town” on the provided desserts then excuses herself to the bathroom. When Kate brings it up to her on the way out, Madison storms off, telling Kate to find her own way home. Later that night, though, Kate receives a distressing call from Madison and rushes over to her house. She finds her new friend on the bathroom floor with a gash on her forehead. She says she must have fainted.
When Madison shares that this is “new” but explains that she had a similar eating disorder back in middle school. This is when Kate’s flashback sequence really ties together. In modern day, Kate tells Madison that ”Right before my dad died, I got really skinny. I pretty much stopped eating everything except baby carrots. I was so sure that being skinny would make me happy. Listening to that voice my whole life, without it I felt empty. I was more comfortable being fat because I actually liked being mad at myself all the time, I liked the voice.” During this, we join Teen Kate back in the dressing room. She tries on the size 7, which fits like a glove. She then moves on to the size 5. When that’s too small, she storms out.
The two really open up to each other here, and Madison even calls Kate her best friend. Their emotional scene ends on a fun note though — Kate said yes to a wedding dress!
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Photo: Courtesy of NBC.