Unlike last week’s positive-slant on proceedings, This Is Us returns for a much more melodramatic episode, one that looks at Kate and Toby’s baby woes while examining the relationship between Beth and Randall through the years.
In the past we begin by seeing Kate starting her downward spiral of binge eating, declining an invitation to visit Randall in college and instead deciding to watch TV. In the present, Kate walks with Gregory and intends to take baby Jack to music class. As they arrive, Jack doesn’t take kindly to the noise as we flash back to see Kate months after Jack’s death talking to a boy in a record store who offers her a job.
In the present, Kate and Toby have a heated discussion about Jack in the car and after some back and forth, decide to visit the beach to blow off some steam.
Meanwhile Kevin learns that The Manny has been cancelled and tries to decide what to do next. As they arrive at the vet centre, Kevin finds Cassidy freaking out over her imminent divorce, prompting him to take her and Nicky out on a road trip. This trip leads them to the local dealership where they go looking for a new caravan. Despite the salesman agreeing to hook them up with a deal, in his office he delays proceedings, prompting Cassidy and Kevin to begin talking about their lives before driving home after a fruitless search. Nicky opens up about the history of his trailer, which happens to have some significance for him too.
Beth’s big day arrives and the family prepare for her Mum arriving to see the studio. When they get there disaster strikes; a putrid smell from inside happens to be a dead possum stuck in the vents. In the past, we see Randall and Beth’s awkward encounter in school, with her Mum disapproving of him immediately. This ties in with the present where we see Randall acting awkwardly around Malik, even more so when he admits that he has a child.
In the past, Rebecca and Beth’s Mum Carol discuss their past where we learn they have more in common than they first thought. While they bond, in the present Randall falls out with Carol over the best way of dealing with the possum situation. This actually acts as a turning point for her, who finally sees Randall in a position of strength as he takes control and relocates the school outside, allowing Beth to finally sees her dream come to fruition while Randall and Carol find themselves on the same page.
As the episode closes out, Kevin’s touching moment with the baby on the Manny pilot is enough to sway his opinion to stay in Hollywood. Randall’s kind gesture toward Beth is enough for them to hook up again while baby Jack enjoys his time at the beach. Impulsive as ever, the episode closes out with Rebecca receiving a message from Kevin in the past telling her he’s married to Sophie and to transfer him some money to help pay for it while he buys a caravan and moves in next door to Nicky.
With plenty to digest and some rifts opening up in our trio of storylines, This Is Us looks set for a dramatic set of episodes to follow. Quite how Nicky will react to Kevin’s wild gesture of moving in next to him remains to be seen, along with what happened in the past with Sophie too. Kate and Toby’s baby woes continue to feel like the dominating narrative this season, with Randall and Beth managing to juggle both their ambitions nicely so far. Given what we know about the future though, how long this stays, remains to be seen.
These tiny glimpses of the future really help add some anchors in place this season and prevent the show from stagnating, given we know dramatic moments are coming. For now though, This Is Us continues to deliver decent drama with another well written, well-paced episode.