This Is Us Recap: Magic, Madonna, and Inigo Montoya

By
This Is Us - Season 1
Milo Ventimiglia as Jack, Mandy Moore as Rebecca. Photo: Ron Batzdorff/NBC
This Is Us

This Is Us

Three Sentences Season 1 Episode 13
Editor's Rating 4 stars

It’s business as usual on This Is Us. Which means after the divisive all-flashback episode (I stand by my love for it), we’re back to multiple timelines. It also means there are story lines that will make you laugh and others that will make you cry. You guys, they will make you cry so much. I’m not just talking about Little Randall telling Rebecca about the book of mazes he’s making with his friend Andrew. But I am talking about that a little bit. A BOOK OF MAZES, YOU GUYS. That little kid is the sweetest.

Of course, the main culprits of the weepiness in “Three Sentences” are some quick glimpses of a funeral — yes, that funeral — and a very emotional POUND fitness class. I promise it’s not as weird as it sounds.

Kate’s feeling a bit spooked after the stress of Toby’s surgery. Now that they’re engaged (that bedside pseudo-proposal was official, it seems), Kate thinks it’s not really the best time to undergo her own surgery. Her doctor suggests a month-long weight-loss immersion program in upstate New York. Yes, it’s another weight-focused story line, but at least it’s not a Toby story line. You win some, you lose some, I guess.

So Kate heads north to a very lovely, possibly cultish fat camp … er, immersion program. The focus at this place is to discover underlying issues and emotions, or: what’s underneath the weight. Apparently this self-discovery happens by partaking in things like bird-watching and riding horses. Seems cool.

Speaking of the horses, meet Duke (Adam Bartley). Duke runs the stables at fat camp. On one hand, his name is Duke and he grooms horses. This is very hot. But on the other hand, he is definitely a dick — he even admits it! He comes on to Kate very fast and very strong. He knows she has a fiancé, but tells her his cabin number anyway, for “when she’s ready.” He informs her that she doesn’t see it yet, but “this,” meaning the two of them, is happening. Whenever this happens on TV, it is supposed to be sexy. In real life, you run from this type of person. You run very fast.

Kate’s not into Duke just yet, though it’s where things are headed and she does have him to thank for a big breakthrough. The two argue about people being able to change when he tells her this camp is a joke, people are who they are. Kate disagrees. Wanting to fix your life is not a joke. To prove her point, Kate marches herself back into a POUND fitness class — it’s real, and it involves drum sticks! — she walked out of earlier. This time, she doesn’t brush it off. She’s into it. As the instructor asks the class why they’re there — guilt, sadness, loneliness? — Kate begins to get emotional. She remembers pivotal moments in her life that we’ve seen already: discovering that her mother wore a smaller size than her, that mean letter her “friends” sent her at the pool. She also recalls a memory we haven’t seen: her father’s funeral. It’s just quick flashes of that day, Rebecca’s moon necklace, the kids holding hands, and Jack’s photo, but it’s enough. (Also, we discover during the final montage that the Big Three are late teens when Jack dies, which means for better or worse, we have a relative timeframe for Jack’s death.) Back in fitness class, Kate lets out a guttural scream. There is so much pain in that scream, but also, a lot of relief. Kate is finally confronting her issues. Bird-watching and horses it is!

The sequence is especially moving because back in the past, we get to see another meaningful Kate-and-Jack scene. This week, the Big Three are celebrating their 10th birthday. The birthday tradition in the Pearson house (remember, it’s Jack’s birthday, too) is a relatively small celebration involving a triple-layered cake, a banner with the words “Big Daddy” on it, and a rousing game of pin the tail on the donkey. Not this year. This year, the kids each want their own party: Kate wants a Madonna party, Kevin wants a Princess Bride party, and Randall … well, Randall doesn’t really care but if a magician could be present, he’s onboard.

And thus, Jack and Rebecca scramble to get ready for a three-in-one party in just 24 hours. It all seems very implausible, but if it means we get to watch Milo Ventimiglia bedazzle Madonna gloves, I am game. Chaos descends upon the Pearson house in the form of 10-year-olds, which leaves Jack and Rebecca, who’ve been contemplating adding to their brood (Jack misses the babies, you see), to handle several big issues.

First, they notice Randall’s magician party has about three attendees. When they question Randall as to the whereabouts of his classmates, he matter-of-factly tells them that they aren’t coming because he’s not really friends with them. His parents are much more upset than he is (their “I’m not emotional, you’re emotional” exchange is one of several laugh-out-loud moments in the episode). Randall has three good friends and that’s all he really needs. Let it be known that Little Randall makes me tear up with pride and joy almost every time I see him. This kid!

Jack and Rebecca move on to the next party. Jack happens upon Kate, once surrounded by her Madonna-clad friends, now sitting alone in the back room. All of her friends, including her latest BFF Sophie, have abandoned her to join Kevin’s Princess Bride party. It’s mainly just Kevin reenacting Inigo Montoya’s scenes, so I get it to some extent — but Kate knows how to vogue, kids! Jack can’t stand a sad Kate, so he does his Jack thing and asks her to teach him how to vogue. Let that sink in for a moment. It works momentarily, but then Kate tells her dad she just wants to be alone. Later, Jack laments that his talks don’t work with Kate anymore. He knows that he shares a special relationship with his daughter.

Perhaps the sweetest of all the birthday stories is Kevin’s. While Jack is still trying to fix Kate’s problem, he sees Kevin sitting on the couch with Kate’s BFF Sophie and asks Kevin to politely tell her to return to Kate’s party. But Little Kevin can’t do that, Jack. Little Kevin is in love with Sophie. You guys, I know. You know who also knows? Jack. As a romantic, he can barely stand the cuteness. Of course, all of this is made even sweeter by what we just learned in the present day.

Adult Kevin spends the day with Toby, King of Romantic Gestures, trying to decide what to do about his Olivia and Sloane problem. Finally, Toby tells Kevin to close his eyes, imagine the love of his life and the three sentences he would say to her if he had the chance. It works. Kevin knows exactly who the love of his life is. Before long, he’s standing at a door. The woman who opens it, however, is not Olivia (praise!) or Sloane (okay, I guess), but someone else entirely. The woman is Sophie (Alexandra Breckenridge).

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE. Sophie isn’t just a childhood sweetheart. After Kevin lays on an endearing, “I’ve never stopped loving you” speech, we learn that Sophie is Kevin’s ex-wife and she hasn’t seen him in 12 years. He wants to make things up to her. This is a very exciting development, people!

This Is the Rest:

  • All of that and I haven’t even gotten to William’s Big Day Out. A chemo-free William visits Randall at work and forces him on an adventure. On this day, William reveals that he’d like to drive a fancy car, wear cool sunglasses, and sip on his favorite drink (it’s an egg cream, FYI), while listening to his favorite song. There is one catch, though: William doesn’t know how to drive. So Randall, who begrudgingly left work in the middle of the day, spends the afternoon teaching his father how to drive. It is lovely and bittersweet and Randall is still the best in any timeline.
  • I loved Toby’s assessment that if Julia Roberts hadn’t been the love of Hugh Grant’s life, the ending of Notting Hill would really just be him annoying her at a press conference.
  • We knew Jack and Rebecca weren’t going to decide to have another baby, but that doesn’t make their banter any less charming. Their conversation about missing the kids being little felt so authentic. Milo and Mandy are just so great together. I know, it’s old news.
  • “What happened to Grace?” “We drifted.”
  • Hey, remember when Kate got that cool job back in Los Angeles with Jami Gertz and her surly teenage daughter? Does she just not do that now? Or does she not know how jobs work? I’m confused.
  • “I got a hot minute for some yogurt.” Oh, Beth. We need more of you, always.

This Is Us Recap: Magic, Madonna, and Montoya