I would first like to start this recap with a naive and hopeful excerpt from my last: “Well it’s been a very enjoyable couple of days post this week’s episode of ‘This Is Us’ hasn’t it? I guess that we have the writer’s to thank for not giving us some new heart-wrenching twist like they did in the first three episodes. Let’s hope they can keep that pattern going for a few more…I’m not sure I can handle the reveal of Jack’s future fate any time soon. For now I will continue to enjoy his studly ways of the past where and him and Rebecca are happily and adorably married. “
Well, those words were surely short lived. This week’s episode of This Is Us was beautifully done yet still managed to pack in not one but two heartbreaking revelations.
Let’s dig into our Pearson 5 this week, shall we? Final Thoughts at the end!
JACK AND REBECCA
This week we jump back to Jack and Rebecca before The Big Three.
We start with a very young Rebecca watching her mother wait on her father as he watches the football game, being told to let him watch in peace and quiet. It then pans to Rebecca staring at Jack at a bar while he ignores her to watch the Steelers game.
“I refuse to be my mother staring at my father as he stares at the television,” she tells him when he finally gets his attention. “Teach me.” So, Jack teaches Rebecca the game of football so they can enjoy it together. I think men everywhere would pay big money for Jack Pearson (but really Milo Ventimiglia) to teach their girlfriends football if it came with the enthusiasm that Rebecca’s lesson did. She becomes a huge Steelers fan, yelling at the TV, specifically Terry Bradshaw, in crowded bars and being an all around super-fan.
So here we are the morning of the Superbowl and Rebecca wakes Jack up with some coffee in bed (just kidding…they’re shots). She’s going to be singing at a local bar Froggy’s before the game where they are supposed to be meeting Miguel (yes, future homewrecker Miguel) and his wife Shelly if the two are able find a babysitter.
“Why do people have kids?” She asks Jack as they cheers. He replies with a quiet “I don’t know.”
Did all of you Mandy Moore fans have “Candy” flashbacks hearing Rebecca sing at the bar? I will admit that I totally owned one or two of her albums and I’m so happy they are going to incorporate music into her story. Jack looks on with pride while some of the other patrons just want to get back to football.
Shelly and Miguel eventually show up later with horror stories about what they went through with their kids this morning before finally getting out of the house. Rebecca once again makes a statement about not wanting to have children. This time the comment visibly makes Jack upset and he is sullen the rest of the afternoon. He decides to confront her right there in the booth in the middle of the Superbowl with quite an audience.
He knew when he married Rebecca that she didn’t want kids and he wasn’t sure that he wanted kids either due to his rough upbringing (more on this please writers!). So you can imagine why Rebecca is upset now that he has made this HUGE decision to want kids. Jack just believes that they are destined to something more than just the two of them.
A rowdy guy starts heckling them to take their drama elsewhere so he can watch the game, which pushes an emotional Jack over the edge. He punches the man and Rebecca takes off outside.Jack finds himself again at the bar with Miguel receiving the same advice we saw in an earlier episode. He asks Jack if he is willing to give up Rebecca if she doesn’t want kids? Is it going to be a make it or break it decision for him? He has to decide what means more to him.
After the Steelers win the Superbowl Jack finds Rebecca on a bench outside the bar. He lets her know that it’s always been him and her and it always will be him and her.
“If it’s between you and having kids. You win. Every time. No question,” he says as she wonders what’s wrong with her that makes her not want something that everyone her age would want. She’s confused because while she loves the life the have now and is worried that having kids will ruin it, when she thinks about their future she has kids. She is just confused and afraid of making the same mistakes her parents did.
Jack tells her that when he thinks about their future he sees kids as well. He sees them all sitting around the TV on Sunday for their weekly family tradition of watching football. Except, this time they’re allowed to talk and have fun and all be together. This puts a smile on Rebecca’s face because she wants the same thing at some point. They kiss and make up…then make up again in the bathroom…then 9 months later have three children.
- This was absolutely my favorite story of the week. There is no denying the amazing chemistry these two create with each other. I can only hope that we get more of them before the kids were born and how they were navigating their relationship in comparison to those around them.
- It’s very clear that music is something that Rebecca wanted to pursue, but since she gets pregnant it’s probably safe to say that this will be a point of contention for them moving forward.
- I also found Jack’s conversation with Miguel to be interesting. At no point in his advice did I see Miguel having any other motive than being Jack’s friend. This is the second time that he has sat with Jack at a bar and told him to pick Rebecca. I wonder if or when in the future he doesn’t give Jack this advice anymore.
Randall’s got a lot going on right now. He’s has his father and his brother both staying with him. His father is terminally ill with cancer and he has stepped up emotionally and financially for that cause. His wife hasn’t been herself lately. He’s working full time and trying to still be a great father to his two daughters. He even almost accidentally put a chemo pill in his morning shake. So, when Kevin starts telling him about the beautiful hotel suite he has in the city, Randall wastes no time scooping it up for the night for some R&R time with Beth.
Leaving the kids behind with William and Kevin, the two are ready for their night away. Out of the two of them though it’s Randall who is clearly on cloud nine. As he runs around the suite making plans of grandeur for the couple, which includes shower sex, room service, and a movie, it’s very evident that Beth is not on the same page.
She’s a week late, worried she might be pregnant, and just needs Randall to help her not completely freak out. The two postpone their plans in lieu for a trip to the drug store. Things seem to be going okay until Randall starts to lose it a little wondering how this even happened (apparently Beth has been on the pill but switched prescriptions a month prior). He had all of these plans for the two of them after the girls moved out…they were going to move to Charleston and get a vacation home! Beth shuts him down real fast saying that she wanted to go back to work and find herself again, but now that may not even be possible.
The duo later find themselves on the bathroom floor waiting for the results that could possibly change their lives forever. Randall tells Beth that he will work less if and when she decides to go back to her career and that he really doesn’t want to move to Charleston. The continue to talk things out until they are both ready to look at the test. Not pregnant. A sigh of relief is given by both Randall and Beth.
- I adore Beth and Randall. I think they’re hilarious, have great chemistry, and are truly the backbone of the present day story line. However, a pregnancy scare in episode 5? The whole thing seemed a little unnecessary to me. They already have such a rich story going on with William as well as Randall’s relationship with Kevin. Was it really the best time to throw this potential curve ball into the mix?
- On a family show such as this, it’s almost a given that pregnancy is going to come up, but to throw it in as a one-off in the first half of the first season seems like a waste. These two could have had the same conversation about their future dreams without the use of this plot device. I understand that the writers are constantly trying to tie the present day stories in with what their parents are going through in the past but that only works if it’s done organically and naturally, which in this case I did not think it did.
Oh Kate. I’m not even sure I want to recap Kate’s story for it’s her that reveals where Jack is in our present day timeline, but alas I will.
After waking Toby up with breakfast in bed she reveals to him that she won’t be able to hang out after their weekly weight-loss meeting because she has a ritual of watching the Sunday football by herself. Toby takes offense to this and continues to push to her let him be included in her tradition until she finally relents. He invites her over for a football party that is really just him and his buddy talking though the game, pausing the game, and all around ignoring Kate’s desire to just watch some football. She gets agitated and leaves to go home and watch by herself. Toby, of course, finds her there later and we finally get our answer as to why football is so important to her.
Growing up and until the day she moved to Los Angeles she watched football on Sunday’s with her dad. Then one day in 2006 when she was in LA the Steelers were playing and she wanted to watch it with her dad. So she made it happen and they won. She speaks so highly of him that Toby tells her that he sounds like a remarkable guy and he hopes he gets the chance to meet him someday.
Kate turns around and walks to her fireplace where she picks an urn up off the mantle. So #WheresJack? Jack is no longer with us in our present day story. He died between what I am assuming is now and 2006 when he and Kate last watched a game together. So Kate tells Toby that she continues to watch Sunday football at home alone with her Dad and we all weep on our couches at the thought of never seeing Jack/Milo in our present day story with his kids.
- Thoughts on Jack will be in the Final Thoughts portion of the recap
- Can we please talk about Toby for a second? Have you ever heard of the movie term “manic pixie dream girl?” It was penned by a film critic after Kristen Dunst’s role in Elizabethtown. The term is described as a character that “exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.” Well, Toby is Manic Pixie Dream Guy, or at least he used to be. His sole purpose is to be lovable goofball who constantly pushes Kate out of her comfort zone and shows her all of the things that she is missing. However, lately Toby has become somewhat disrespectful, pushy, and a little manipulative to me. He doesn’t give her her space when she asks, he rarely takes no for an answer, and he often disregards her feelings on certain things. Sometimes it works in his favor, such as when he pushed her to sing, but in this case he bullies her until she agrees to come watch football with him and then completely ignores the importance she put on wanting to watch the game. I don’t know maybe it’s just me but I hope this behavior changes soon.
Kevin is overstaying his welcome at Randall’s. His usual diva behavior is starting to rub off on his nieces who decide they don’t want blueberries in their cereals anymore now that Kevin doesn’t. So in order to get back in the good graces of his brother and sister-in-law he agrees to watch the girls with William for the night while Beth and Randall go on their little getaway. He’s up for the challenge, he did play a nanny on TV after all (or an Au-Pair depending on who you ask).
Later that evening he’s struggling to learn his lines for his new play for rehearsal the following day. The only issue is that when you’re a celebrity babysitting two young girls you have to be the celebrity judge in their Barbie fashion show. Kevin doesn’t really have time for this though, so he convinces everyone to run lines with him, including William who Kevin is convinced sounds like a “wise owl from a Pixar movie.”
Things don’t go as well as he’d hoped though. The subject matter of the play leads the girls to start asking Kevin questions about death, what happens when people die, and if William is going to die because he is always taking medicine. If you haven’t learned by now that Kevin is kind of a clueless doofus (with a big heart) you will now. He stumbles through a semblance of an answer in which he probably emotionally scars the girls by bluntly telling that that yes William will die, he will die, they will die, and even their parents will die someday. Realizing his blunder he sends the girls to bed.
“I am clearly not the man that needs to be talking to them about the intricacies of life and death,” kevin says.
“You do that a lot… doubt yourself,” Wise Owl William says to him.
William sees Kevin struggling to not only be the best actor that he can but to also be as good as the people he is working with. William tells Kevin that he loved watching him in The Man-Ny, that he was really good in it He should be proud of the work that he did. Kevin should’t be so hard on himself or continue trying to be something that he is not, he is already good and can do whatever he sets his mind too. He can be a successful theater actor and he can be a good Uncle to the girls. He just has to have faith in himself. Wise Owl mic dropped.
This leads Kevin to go upstairs and talk to the girls. He tells them that he likes to paint, it’s a secret that no one else in the family knows about, not even Kate. Before every role he likes to paint what he thinks the purpose of the story is. He shows them his painting for the play he is in now. It’s a mess of colors and lines and its point is to show the meaning of life and death to him.
He tells the girls how even though some people will die and leave their lives physically (like his father) they are still a part of the painting and a part of life. There’s no end as everyone continues to live on in their lessons and memories.
During this scene we see a montage of all of our characters (we even flashback all the way to Jack’s Grandfather) and one of which is Randall packing a box of William’s stuff and sobbing when he picks up his hat. Is this our first flash forward of the series? Is William dead? When will this happen? It’s one of the many questions we will continue to have each week as this story progresses.
Check out Kevin’s painting monologue and montage below:
On Jack: I think we all had a feeling that Jack was no longer alive in the present day story. Whether it was Kate saying “remember what dad used to say about the lemons” or Rebecca being remarried yet still wearing the moon necklace that Jack gave her, but I did not expect the revelation to come this early in the season. It’s almost heartbreaking to know that the flashbacks are the only scenes that we will get with Jack and that we will never be able to see him with his kids today or root for him and Rebecca to get back together.
In a way it feels like a dark cloud hanging over the flashback scenes, but I don’t think that it will be in the long run. If you think about it we don’t know how Jack died, when he died, or even if he and Rebecca were together at the time that he did…she very well may have been with Miguel when he passed away. That could explain why Kate had his ashes. We know that he at least makes it to 2006, which is quite a long time considering our flashbacks are still in the 70’s and 80’s.
Jack is an amazing father. We see that in his moments with The Big Three. His story in the past is about the lessons that he is teaching his kids and his present day story is how those lessons are still with them today. I believe that it will work, but it certainly will take some adjusting knowing that we will not be able to see the Pearson 5 all together now, which was one of my favorite things about Parenthood and Modern Family.
On Pace: My biggest fear after the first couple of episodes of This Is Us was the pace of the show. Huge twists are bring dropped each week and we are only on the 5th episode. I am okay with the twists such as Rebecca and Miguel being together, Jack being dead, William dying, Rebecca already knowing William happening on a weekly basis. They’re fun, they get you thinking and wanting more. What I do not want is the answers any time soon. I want the show to find a good pace where things are revealed over time and they feel natural getting there. This show has so much potential and so much room to grow, but if they get too excited and throw everything in the beginning, eventually there won’t be much left. They have to find a flow so that there isn’t too much going on with the twists that we lose the purpose of the show to begin with.