This Is Us
Oh, hey guys. Just getting back from dry heaving over Kevin and Sophie calling each other Husband and Wife instead of their actual names and still, over a month later, walking through doors by way of Kevin carrying Sophie over the threshold. Truth be told, this seems exactly how two dumb 18-year-olds who decided to get married on a whim due to “signs” that were definitely not “signs” would act. That doesn’t make it any less nauseating.
Kevin and Sophie have returned home, very much married, for a celebratory dinner with the family, plus Beth and Miguel, in Rebecca’s new house. To set the scene: Randall’s anxiety is raging while he’s both making a list of what needs to be fixed around the house and trying to calm tempers for his mother. Kevin’s not helping anyone by being so obtuse to the fact that his family might be hurt that he didn’t include them in his wedding. Kate’s sarcasm is out in full force as she’s increasingly annoyed with Miguel hovering over her mother and angry with Kevin for not telling her that he was getting married. And then there’s Rebecca, trying to smile through a truly torturous evening in an attempt to show she is moving forward! Just a true witches’ brew of family melodrama waiting to happen.
It all comes to a head in the kitchen, as Kevin informs Kate that he doesn’t approve of her boyfriend Marc, the guy he just met, like, 15 minutes ago. I get where Kate is coming from with her outrage, but honestly, Kevin’s not wrong to dislike the guy. He shows up uninvited and tells Kate he got her address off her job application. And although they are living in Makeout City during work hours, Kate introduces Marc as her friend, but he follows up with “boyfriend.” These are some red flags, and honestly I’m proud of ol’ Kev for picking up on them. Regardless, the Big Three start to argue until Rebecca has to come in and tell everyone to shut the hell up. I love when Rebecca gets tough with her kids, at any age. Someone has to rein those dinks in! Those kids will eat those Cornish game hens that are definitely burnt on the top and raw on the bottom and they will like it! They are all moving forward whether they want to or not, and it starts with choking down raw meat.
The outburst leaves Rebecca a little shaken, and she has a heart-to-heart with Miguel about trying too hard to force healing. Miguel gives her a lovely Jack-esque speech about being patient and believing that better years are to come, you know, like a Tuscan wine or something. It’s actually a kind of dumb speech when you start to type it out, but Miguel is dreamy!
Rebecca returns to the table and says what she should’ve said all along: She knows this dinner is a disaster, but she wants them to move forward, they need to be able to talk about Jack without feeling sad all the time. And then she proceeds to tell a delightful story about their first dinner in their home, a story we’ve been watching in flashbacks. Er, flash-flashbacks. Flashback-backs? It’s a delightful tale in which after Rebecca burns their lasagna, Jack opens a window to let the smoke out, and a bird comes flying in. Apparently Jack is terrified of birds, which is news to me. (We also learn he puts hot sauce on everything, which we have never once seen him do before, but sure.) Jack runs around the house trying to protect his pregnant wife and capture a bird with a towel and tennis racket, generally just giving us all the Milo Ventimiglia Yelps While Chasing a Bird content we could ever need.
The story (and some pizza) saves the evening. The night ends with Rebecca giving Kevin and Sophie their gift: She hops on the piano and sings “Storybook Love” from The Princess Bride, which is a terrible gift but honestly the one those two deserve. There is dancing! There is picture-taking! There is no crying!
Things do honestly seem hopeful for the Pearsons in this moment. One item that might have to do with keeping the Pearsons off course, though, begins to reveal itself in the end: In the present day, Kate and Rebecca and Baby Jack are waiting at home for some grand-gesture gift Kevin and Randall have gotten for their sister and nephew, which turns out to be the old family piano. Kate finds old sheet music in the bench, as well as photos from that dinner party we just watched. When she gets to a photo of her and Marc, there is a dramatic pause. She shows the photo to Rebecca, who sees it and begins to talk about how she was trying so hard to hold it all together after Jack died, that she “didn’t realize what was going on.” Neither did Kate. You guys, the joke’s on us: Kevin Pearson might be the smartest of them all. It seems like Marc is going to be trouble.
There is one other foreboding moment in “Storybook Love” that has me stressed. Tess has a panic attack at school, and we learn that Randall’s greatest fear — that he would pass on his anxiety to his kids — has come true. Tess is understandably upset after her first attack and wants nothing to do with Randall trying to help her deal with it. It’s Beth, with an assist from William, who brings them together.
In a flashback to the time when Randall had his huge breakdown in his office, William tells Beth that he, too, suffers from anxiety and is upset that he passed this trait on to his son. He also tells her that to help him cope, his mother used to pour a glass of seltzer water and they would watch the bubbles settle, which in turn would settle him as well. It seems like you’re just wasting perfectly good seltzer there, but it’s always nice to see William so I will let it slide. Beth does this with Tess and Randall, and eventually it calms Tess down enough to let her open up to her parents about the anxiety she’s been feeling since she missed her chance to come out right away at school.
While Tess suffering from panic attacks is alarming, it is not the thing we should be worried about. We should all be worried about Randall. When Beth tells him that she’s found a therapist for Tess, he’s glad. When she tells him she’s found one for him, too, he’s annoyed. Randall can manage on his own, just like he’s been doing his entire life. But Beth has noticed the signs: He’s working extra-long hours, he’s running ten miles a day, and his knee is tapping up a storm. These are his tells. But Randall refuses, he doesn’t need help. Something tells me (and Beth) that he very much might need some help. So we have that to look forward to, which should be great.
This Is the Rest
• Kevin finally has a breakthrough with Uncle Nicky! Kevin talks about how Jack would always come home with a carton of ice cream that he’d then slice like a cake, which turns out to be a tradition from Jack and Nicky’s childhood — one of the few fun things their dad ever did with them. Although Nicky isn’t particularly down to bond with his nephew, they do end the episode eating slices of ice cream together. Progress!
• Kevin also makes a minor breakthrough in his mission to save Cassidy and Ryan Sharp’s marriage: Kevin confronts Ryan about being on his phone during a ceremony honoring Cassidy during a hockey game, and while Ryan explains that he was on his phone only to stop him from crying he also tells Kevin to “stay the hell away from my wife.” Kevin takes this threat as a sign that Ryan still has feelings for his wife. I mean, this marriage is doomed, but we can all play along.
• Could the Pearsons quit it with trying to make Cornish game hens happen? It’s not going to happen.
• So now we know that in the fall of 1998, Miguel is still very much a daily fixture in Rebecca’s life. We also know that in the fall of 2008, Rebecca and Miguel reconnect on Facebook after about eight years without seeing one another. What happens that separates them? INQUIRING MINDS WANT TO KNOW.
• Okay, I was lying before: There can never be enough Milo Ventimiglia Yelps While Chasing a Bird content. Never.