This Is Us Recap: The Head and the Heart

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Photo: Ron Batzdorff/NBC
This Is Us

This Is Us

Vegas, Baby Season 2 Episode 16
Editor's Rating 3 stars

Raise your hand if you are thankful that the return of This Is Us wasn’t some weepfest like the trio of episodes detailing Jack’s death and funeral that we were left with last month. Wasn’t it a relief to see Jack alive and well and making us all feel inadequate? Don’t get me wrong, lighter fare for This Is Us is still emotionally exhausting, but, like, in a fun and hopeful way!

It is a given that when the Big Three roll into Las Vegas for Kate’s and Toby’s bachelorette and bachelor parties that, sure, there will be glitz and glam and Magic Mike Live, but there will also drama and tears. Have you ever met the Pearsons? That’s kind of their thing. Surprisingly, Toby and Kate are not really pumped for their separate parties — doesn’t a Vegas bachelor party seem very on brand for him? — and they’d rather just hang out with each other. Fortunately for them, this weekend in Vegas has very little to do with their impending nuptials. (I am not ready for this wedding, whenever it is — just thinking about Kate being walked down the aisle by Kevin and Randall makes me tear up. And I think about it a lot.) Instead, this weekend is about a whole slew of other drama.

Let’s start with Kate. First of all, Madison is planning the entire bachelorette party, so who knows how it is going to go down. (Madison has been spending a lot of time at Kate and Toby’s place and Toby dislikes her very, very much. In turn, this makes me like Madison all the more. Also, calling Toby “Toblerone” is hilarious.) But mostly, Kate is worried about having her sister-in-law Beth as one of her party guests. According to Kate, she barely knows Beth and it’ll be super awkward. This is not the impression I had of Kate and Beth’s relationship up until this point, but okay, show.

As it turns out, Kate was right to worry about Beth, but not because of their relationship — because of Beth and Randall’s. America’s favorite married couple is having a tough time. When Deja showed up at their door, it was because she needed $89.34 in cash to pay the gas bill so that she could get her and her mother’s heat back on. Since then, Randall has been obsessed with making sure Deja is okay. He waits by the phone just in case she calls. He wants to cancel the Vegas trip just in case she shows up at their house in need of help. But Beth will have none of it. She needs a weekend off — a night, even. Ya girl needs to let loose.

While heading into Vegas, the tension devolves into a big argument about how Beth is always the head and Randall is always the heart in the relationship. Randall is all emotion and passion. Beth is rational and, as Randall regrettably puts it, she is able to detach herself from emotional things, like Deja. He says he means it as a compliment, but it doesn’t look like Beth is taking it as one. Especially when she meets up with the girls and starts chugging liquor out of the bottle and getting up onstage at Magic Mike Live.

When Randall gets an off-putting call from Deja during dinner — she’s cagey and Randall can tell something is just not right — he walks into Magic Mike Live just in time to see Beth surrounded by “greasy man meat.” The head and the heart argument begins again, but this time Kate is there to try and talk Randall and Beth down. It goes about as well as one would expect an attempt by an outsider to defuse a marital spat while wearing sequins and surrounded by bare-chested men would go — so, not well.

Beth tells Kate to mind her own business because this isn’t a “Big Three Moment,” and then reminds Kate that Randall is her husband. Kate doesn’t need to be reminded, because Randall has made it perfectly clear that Beth is more important than Kate. The sentiment seemingly comes out of nowhere. Again, were we ever led to believe that Kate and Beth were anything but friendly?

Although it isn’t completely earned, the whole idea of Kate missing her brother does give us an excellent Kate and Randall scene. You guys, the present timeline always, always works best when it focuses on some configuration of the Big Three’s relationship. Keep them together forever, please and thank you.

Anyway, Kate’s feelings are news to Randall (and all of us), so he tracks down his sister to hash things out. It is wonderful! They talk about how, after Jack died, it was the year of Kate and Randall. They ate Hot Pockets and binged on Sex and the City. And then, so quickly, Kate lost her brother and her friend to Beth. Randall explains that Kate never lost him, and that obviously he was never into Sex and the City and only watched it because Kate loved it. This is all a very weird way to spend your bachelorette, but I am very much here for it.

The whole situation also leads to Kate and Beth bonding. Kate confesses that she’s always been intimidated by Beth and her flawlessness (same). And Beth opens up to her sister-in-law about the Deja situation. She confesses that Randall may think Beth has detached herself from it, but in reality, it is all she thinks about. She loves Deja and she misses her. Can we all group hug now? How about after Kate leaves Beth a heart-shaped box of chocolate to stress-eat with a note that says to Kate, “Beth is all heart”? CAN WE HUG NOW?

While the ladies have figured things out, there’s still Toby to worry about. When Kate hears that Randall bailed on the bachelor party, she informs her brother that all Toby really wanted was to spend time with Randall and Kevin. All of his bespectacled nerd friends were just rando fill-ins. So Randall and Kevin do the right thing and take Toby out for a stroll around Vegas to take in the sights and talk about their emotions. You know, Bachelor Party 101–type stuff.

Toby admits that he has a younger brother who wants nothing to do with him and he was hopeful that Randall and Kevin would be his second chance at that type of relationship. He doles out some brotherly advice to both Pearson boys, which is nice, but really all they need to know is if he’s going to treat their sister right. He’s part of the club now.

Bachelor parties are weird, you guys.

Thankfully, by the end of the weekend, Beth and Randall have cooled off and can be honest with each other. Which basically means that Beth decides they need to make sure Deja is okay. But they discover Deja and her mom asleep in their car, so things are most definitely not okay.

This Is the Rest

• Never in my wildest dreams did I think we’d be talking about Ron Howard so much here: Kevin discovers that his big movie had some major changes and several roles were completely cut out. After a pep talk from Toby, Kevin calls up Mr. Howard to say that cutting the role is his loss. Only, that’s not the case at all! Kevin is brilliant in the film and Ron thinks it is going to be huge.

• What is Kevin’s deal with hotel maids? First, there’s the maid pre-breakdown, and now this poor woman that Kevin has count the bottles of alcohol in the mini-bar to bear witness to his defeat of temptation. Leave these women alone, they are working!

• “Randy … can I call you Randy?” “No.”

• I love that This Is Us owns the fact that Jack’s grand romantic gestures are ridiculous. We visit Mom and Dad on several wedding anniversaries, including one when Rebecca gets Jack his very own hammer engraved with his name and Jack gets Rebecca her very own piano.

• The main anniversary we’re privy to takes place during the early ’90s, when after years of Jack outdoing Rebecca and thus making her feel terrible, they’ve agreed to not exchange gifts. Hearing this, the kids decide to make the evening special for their parents with Cornish hens and twinkle lights and watching a meteor shower out on the roof. TWIST: Of course, the whole thing was orchestrated by Jack, who used Kevin as his accomplice. Oh, that Jack!

• Anyone else find it tough to watch Jack and Rebecca talk about how much they love each other out on the roof, knowing the tragedy that goes down there years later?

• RANDALL IS SO THE MIRANDA.

This Is Us Recap: The Head and the Heart