This Is Us Recap: The Perfect Husband

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

This Is Us

I Call Marriage Season 1 Episode 14
Editor's Rating 4 stars

Randall is really having a rough go of things. This is distressing because I think we’ve all come to the agreement that Randall is the light of our lives and we would all very much like to be wrapped up in his strong arms, which I am 78 percent sure have magical powers. Or maybe that’s just me?

Whatever level your feelings are toward Randall, I’d be willing to bet you’re a fan. So when he’s getting stressed or being short with his family or deciding to wear shirts that Beth perfectly describes as “not cool on Sisqo in 2001,” it’s cause for serious concern. And that’s exactly what goes down in “I Call Marriage.” Maybe we should be the ones holding Randall instead?

Randall is carrying a lot on his (very strong, very buff) shoulders. He’s dealing with his dying father and his family’s grief over said dying father, and, on top of the craziness at home, he’s in a constant battle to out-work Sanjay at the office. Doesn’t Sanjay know this is Randall’s house?

As we know, Randall is a perfectionist — so when things start to spiral, so does he. When he catches Tess up on a school night playing chess with William, he’s angry. Tess needs lessons for a tournament that everyone was too busy to notice is happening, and she wanted to spend time with William. Randall snaps back that there’s plenty of time. When he and Beth meet with a counselor to assist them as William’s health deteriorates, Randall doesn’t want to talk about death or grieving; instead, he leaves early. He even gets snippy at Beth when he sees her showing Tess and Annie the memory box she made after her own father died. She reminds him that neither she nor Randall were prepared when their fathers died, and she doesn’t want that kind of awful surprise for Tess and Annie with William.

When Randall tells Beth that he has to miss the chess tournament to meet a client with Sanjay (ugh, Sanjay), Beth finally puts her foot down. Tonight, she calls marriage. He needs to be there for his kids. Also, he needs to take off that ugly shirt.

There’s a version of this story where a husband feeling stressed about increasing pressure from both the office and home would decide that success at work is the priority. That husband would skip the chess tournament and go to meet his client. That husband is not Randall, and I’m so glad that This Is Us doesn’t go in that direction. Randall is a perfectionist, but his family always comes first. That’s why Randall changes his shirt and watches his daughter win her first chess tournament. That’s why, when he sees how much Tess and Annie are bonding with William, he asks Beth if Randall bringing a dying man into their house is going to break his daughters. She tells him it’s the opposite, of course, but she knows something is off with her man. BE CONCERNED, BETH. Be very concerned.

Randall goes to work the next day and gets some semi-bad news. His boss is giving half of Randall’s clients to Sanjay. He swears it isn’t a demotion, but knowing Randall, that’s the only way he sees it. The guy is trying his best to be at the top of his game in all aspects of his life, but some things are just out of his control. This isn’t good. Not too long ago, Beth told William about the last time Randall got overzealous in his quest to solve all the problems — and how it caused temporary blindness. Well, Randall comes home from work and can’t hold a glass of water because his hand begins to shake. Is this another symptom of extreme stress or is there something else going on? DID YOU BREAK RANDALL, THIS IS US?

Randall isn’t the only Pearson striving to be perfect. Back in the past, Jack seems like he’s in a race with himself to be the best husband and father on the planet. He’s continually trying to outdo himself. I love Jack, but this is exhausting.

On the current Perfect Husband Checklist: Reminding Rebecca how they felt as newlyweds. You see, Rebecca and Jack (sporting his ‘90s goatee, for those of you keeping track of the timeline) discover that Miguel and Shelley are getting a divorce. By the look on Mandy Moore’s face, she may projectile vomit across the table. Girl is bugging out. Back at the homestead, Rebecca assures her husband that they aren’t Miguel and Shelley, and that sometimes people drift apart. Jack can’t wrap his perfect husband brain around anyone’s relationship not following his formula: Find your soulmate, get married, stay together until you die. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

When Jack presses Miguel for more deets, he hears exactly what he needs to in order to take action. Miguel confirms Rebecca’s theory: They simply drifted apart. He gives Jack a long speech about how he and Shelley stopped noticing each other, and how they stopped caring that they stopped noticing each other. There’s also some stuff in there about not getting Shelley coffee, but why anyone besides Jack and Randall try to give speeches, I’ll never know. Regardless, Jack gets the gist: You fight for your marriage or your marriage dies. Jack’s a fighter.

Rebecca comes home from band practice, where she has just schooled her flirty bandmate Ben in how wonderful her husband is — how dare you, Ben? — and finds Jack ready to whisk her away to a surprise location. That surprise location is … their first apartment. It’s vacant, so Jack rented it for the night (is this a thing?) and it’s all done up with twinkle lights and candles and some bubbly. He is noticing her, you guys. And she is noticing him. And then they are noticing the shower where they used to have hot, passionate shower sex.

In true Jack Pearson fashion, there’s much more. He also brought along their wedding vows. They read them to one another there in the old apartment — intercut with scenes from their actual wedding day — and as you may have guessed, they are lovely. This is Jack and Rebecca we’re talking about here. We don’t yet know how they ended up, but we do know that they started out very, very in love. The vows are all about building a life and sharing dreams and pledging themselves to one another. The biggest gut-punch of a line comes from Rebecca: “You are my great love story and, Jack Pearson, our story is just getting started.”

But nothing is ever truly perfect for the Pearsons, and so Rebecca decides this is the moment to tell Jack that her band booked a five-state tour, and she wants to go. Way to pick your moment, Rebecca.

This Is the Rest

• Anyone else had enough of Kate’s suitors? Toby shows up at fat camp and does exactly what he promises not to do, which is derail Kate’s progress. He goofs around in a class and makes her feel guilty for choosing herself; I get that he’s recovering and lonely, but not the time and place, Toby. Duke is even worse, and makes sure Kate knows his offer for a hot hookup still stands. I wish she would just stay on that evil exercise machine, but the last we see of her, she’s making a beeline for Cabin 13.

• I am so ready for some flashbacks to Kevin and Sophie’s romance. Their first meeting doesn’t go as well as Kevin probably hoped, but ever the Pearson male, he chases her down and tells her that marrying her was the best thing to ever happen to him — and it wins him a second meeting.

• Of course Kevin invented a fake Facebook profile to stalk his ex. OF COURSE.

• That was the least convincing New York City subway car on television, right?

• I can usually spot a dream sequence a mile away, but Randall coming home to find William dead at the piano honestly got me. I’m just very attached to these two, okay?

• Sure, sure, Jack and Rebecca rereading their vows to one another was meant to get us all misty-eyed, but you know what really did the trick? Seeing how happy and proud William is when Tess wins her tournament. I TOLD YOU I’M ATTACHED.

• It would be wrong not to dwell on those quick glimpses of Jack and Rebecca’s wedding day. They are so in love and also Mandy Moore looks like a bohemian goddess in her dress and flower crown. The best part? No one loves Miguel’s jokes like Jack loves Miguel’s jokes. If he only knew.

This Is Us Recap: The Perfect Husband