This Is Us Recap: This Old House

This Is Us

The Right Thing to Do
Season 1 Episode 11
Editor’s Rating *****
This Is Us - Season 1
Milo Ventimiglia as Jack. Photo: Ron Batzdorff/NBC

For those This Is Us fans who’ve been sweating it out over the past month, wondering if anything bad happens on Christmas Eve or if Rebecca was just a big lying liar, you can rest easy: Nothing bad happens on Christmas Eve! Well, nothing horrible, anyway.

Toby lives, you guys. He lives, but he does have a heart condition, which, after some hemming and hawing and pushing from Kate, sends him back into the operating room. He’s pretty terrified to go under the knife again, but he is not the least bit scared to tell Kate how he feels about her. He’s a man in love. To be honest with you all — we’re friends here, right? — I assumed they had already said the big L-word to one another. Wasn’t it at least implied when Toby showed up on Christmas Eve and told Kate he couldn’t live without her? I mean, that seems like a profession of love if ever there were one.

But I digress. Toby drops “love” into the equation and then he’s whisked away. Kate doesn’t get a chance to reciprocate until Toby comes out of surgery. Assuming Toby’s still asleep, Kate spills her heart out — she wants to spend the rest of her life with the guy. Not so surprisingly, he hears the whole thing. Kate doesn’t have to worry about freaking out Toby, though — he’s wanted to marry her since he met her. Excuse me, his exact words are: “I’d marry the hell out of you, Kate Pearson.” It’s very endearing. If Kate is happy, I guess I can be happy, too, although I am admittedly very lukewarm on this relationship at the moment. I know, I hate me too.

Let’s blame it on the fact that I only have room in my tiny heart for one man’s romantic gesture, and I choose the guy making real, heartbreaking sacrifices for his family. I’m talking about Jack, of course. Jack!

In tonight’s installment of Why Jack Pearson Is the Best Human, we get a closer look at his upbringing. In summary, it wasn’t great. We meet Jack as a very handsome, clean-shaven teen, who stands up to his abusive father when the man goes after Jack’s mom. His dad skips out on them, and Jack’s mom makes her son promise to never be like his father.

Jack goes on to show us just how well he’s kept that promise. First, he and Rebecca find out they’re having triplets — you know, a super-fun thing to learn when you’re barely making ends meet as it is. They are the appropriate level of terrified. Which is to say, very. It doesn’t help that Rebecca is having lunch with her demon mother, who decides the best thing for Rebecca and her babies will be to move back home.

In a very lovely scene where Jack overhears Rebecca crying, but realizes she doesn’t want her husband to know how upset she is, Jack decides it’s time to step it up a notch. He does the unthinkable: He shows up at his dad’s door and asks for money. Of course Jack knows his dad is a total dick, and he doesn’t want him involved in his life at all. (He even makes an effort to keep his marriage a secret.) Instead of telling him what’s going on, Jack tells his dad that he has a gambling problem. He panders even further: Jack’s dad was right, Jack is no good. It’s tough to watch, but the ploy works, and Jack leaves with a check. Will this deal with the devil come back to haunt our poor guy? Probably.

With the money from his dad, plus money made by selling his precious car, Jack has scraped enough together to buy his family a proper home. It’s kind of a hellhole at the moment, but as he walks Rebecca through it, we see the bones of the Pearson house we’ve come to know and love. Should Jack maybe have included his wife in such a big life decision? Sure! But let’s not unpack that just yet. Focus on the romance of it all. Look! There’s the hallway floor where Jack tells Rebecca he’ll be a better man for her! If that doesn’t get the waterworks flowing, just wait until Rebecca steps into the nursery for the first time, finally able to see her future in their home, and that freaking magic song from the pilot starts playing. We are all puddles.

Hey, speaking of puddles: How about that final scene between Randall and William? Suffice it to say, I am very concerned for America’s well-being when William finally passes. After the Christmas Eve revelation that William is bisexual and very in love with a fellow addict, Randall spends most of the episode worried that his uneasy reaction means he might be homophobic. He’s not. He’s just hurt that his father is suddenly spending all of his time with his boyfriend; he’s hurt that it is apparently easy for William to brush Randall and his family aside.

Randall finally confronts William about it, only to discover that he’s got it all wrong. William is only getting sicker. He’s been looking at nursing homes and, at this point, the chemo is only making him feel worse. He doesn’t want Randall or Randall’s family to have to deal with everything that comes with the fact that he’s dying. Randall doesn’t hesitate to correct his father: This is William’s family, too. And this is his home. He also makes sure William knows it’s okay for him to say he wants to stop chemo — they’ll face what that means together. Then there’s single tears and hand-holding and it is all just so sad. But sad in the loveliest way.

When Randall assures William that everything’s going to be okay, I’m almost positive he’s really talking to all of us.

This Is the Rest:

  • Just when you thought Olivia Maine couldn’t get any worse, she shows up, sporting a questionable blonde bob, claiming that she’s found herself among the Salt Flats of Utah. She’s wants back in the play and Kevin’s life. Kevin eventually shoos her away, explaining that sticking with Sloane both professionally and personally is the right thing to do. Unfortunately, Sloane overhears that less-than-romantic sentiment and bolts. Back to the Salt Flats with you, Olivia Maine!
  • I’m always a sucker for a Big Three scene, so Kate, Randall, and Kevin hanging out in the hospital waiting room was wonderful. Chrissy Metz, Sterling K. Brown, and Justin Hartley have such an easy, palpable chemistry. I wanted more of Kate deciding which brother’s distraction story was worth her time. Spoiler alert: It was not Randall’s muffin story.
  • Between “No soup dumplings for you!” and the Japanese whisky awkwardness, Randall is just the biggest, most charming dork I’ve ever come across.
  • Let’s get some more Beth-and-Randall-centric story lines. Their scenes together are the highlight of any episode — and their short scene in which Beth has no time for Randall’s nonsense over his weird feelings toward Jessie since she wants them to hop in the bath is no different.
  • A round of applause for Beth’s excellent display of eye-rolling while Kevin explains the term “artnership.”
  • Does Milo Ventimiglia’s laugh have healing powers? I mean, COME ON. He was stellar in this episode, dirty hair be damned.
  • It was a nice touch to have Dr. K show up in a quick scene with Jack and Rebecca’s doctor. It’s a nice setup for the next episode, where it looks like we’ll be learning a lot more about our beloved doctor. I fear for our collective tear ducts.

This Is Us Recap: This Old House