Light Bulb Bugs
After an agonizing week’s break, This Is Us returns for the third and final part to A Hell Of A Week – and what a week it’s been. With Kate now taking centre stage, her possessive relationship with Marc is shown in all its ugly glory. However, with no definitive resolution to this story we’ll have to wait for the next episode to find out if anything traumatic has happened with Kate beyond being left alone by the side of the road.
Before we get there, it’s Kate’s turn to be put to bed by an ever-positive Jack in the past. Together, they start telling a story. They weave a fantastical tale of princesses and flowers together with the prince showing the way (Of course, that Prince being Jack himself.) Between “light bulb bugs” and a dark cave, the metaphorical significance of Kate entering the bleak darkness without her Father and venturing out the other side into the arms of her Mother, is something that certainly echoes the struggles she’s going through in life.
In the present, we see Kate pleading with Toby to get some sleep and not get his hopes up surrounding a story online about a girl getting her sight back. After his outburst last episode, this is a difficult time for the couple and it’s made worse by Toby less-than-enthused with traveling to the retreat. Giving in, Kate allows him to stay behind while inviting Rebecca to go instead. Once there, they see a whole world of possibilities but without Toby, it’s not the same for Kate.
Kate and Rebecca talk about Toby and after discussing her weight and their marriage, Rebecca defiantly stands up and tells Kate to get her bathing suit – they’re going swimming. In the tranquility of the pool, they talk about her nickname Bug, including its origin, before Rebecca tells her she needs to put her foot down and tell Toby to step up as a Father. After drying off, Rebecca sits with Kate and tells her about her ongoing memory issues.
In the past, Marc tells Kate he’s in love with her and after saying it back, they agree to visit her Mum’s house for dinner. However, the first signs of cracks appearing in their relationship form when Kate tries talking to a customer about music and Marc takes offence to her confidence. This seemingly insignificant issue causes him to lash out and ignore her, which is what the phone call in the morning was about. Eventually, he tells her things are okay.
They go out for coffee the next day with Rebecca and he makes a really poor first impression. He’s late, brash and proudly admits to quitting his job thanks to a fight with the manager. He steers the conversation onto the topic of music and wants Kate to write with him, in particular heading up to the family cabin to practice, much to Rebecca’s visible discomfort at the idea.
Rebecca and Kate fall out later that evening, prompting her to storm out. As she and Marc drive down the road singing, he tries to control Kate again and tells her to quit her job. When she refuses, Mark flies off the handle and as Kate steps out the car, he drives off and leaves her all alone. She makes it to a payphone, shivering, and rings her mum to apologize for their earlier fight. However, she hangs up when Marc returns with a blanket. As they head up to the cabin together, Rebecca senses something is seriously wrong and as the kids are collected, this story is left ominously open as Kate and Marc make it to the cabin.
Back in the present, Rebecca and Kate return home but midway through talking to Toby about their marriage, Kevin phones through and this is where the phone call from before gets us up to scratch. Exasperated, Kate gives Toby an ultimatum but he agrees to look after Baby Jack for the weekend while the Big Three head up to the cabin for some much needed clarity and reflection, which is where the episode ends.
It’s always hard to keep a series feeling fresh and exciting while juggling so many characters. This Is Us isn’t a perfect show but it is one that’s managed to reinvent itself slightly this year after an uneven, but still utterly compelling, third season. The flashbacks are thought provoking, the new characters slot in nicely to the story, and the show consistently manages to twist and turn through its story this year, with this latest arc looking like it’ll continue for a while through to the end of the season.
Given what we know about Rebecca, seeing her so full of life and vibrant is such a heartwarming sight but with a dark cloud over her future to come, it’s one that’s more than a little bittersweet. Next week’s episode looks like it may be a significant one but for now, we’ll have to wait and see what happens.