A Family Dinner
Following last week’s drama, This Is Us returns for one of its best episodes, one that combines some smart editing and clever time-jumps with a heartfelt message oozing from its core. With the familial bonds of the past and present dancing harmoniously together, This Is Us delivers another impressive slice of drama here.
We begin in the past with Kate working and growing closer to her boyfriend. These moments in the past are interspersed throughout the episode too, with two separate meals acting as the anchor to which everything gravitates around – one before Jack died and the other after Kevin’s marriage.
Randall tries in vain to make amends with Deja following his outburst last episode but she’s having none of it. Kate then phones Randall and questions him over the gift he has planned for his sister before the conversation turns to Kevin himself. Their brother’s extravagant trailer reveal last episode comes to light as Nicky’s peacefulness is shattered by his arrival.
Meanwhile Randall’s meeting with the councilman at the office ends abruptly when he learns Tess suffered a panic attack at school. This prompts him to head home and talk to her about it but ashamed, she tells him to stop – she doesn’t want to be anything like him. This reveal hits hard for Randall and it’s something that Beth eventually sits them both down and talks to them about. As it happens, William also had issues with anxiety and under her roof, she won’t have Tess besmirch his memory. This eventually leads her to open up and tell them what’s really been getting her down.
Kevin continues to have issues of his own too as he tries in vain to connect Cassidy and her husband. At the planned ice hockey game, Nicky struggles to deal with the number of people present and heads off alone while Kevin fails to inspire Cassidy’s husband to see his wife in a positive light. After driving her home, he talks to him about the ceremony at the game where he tells Kevin to stay away from his wife. It’s enough for him to realize Cassidy’s husband is still in love and he heads home after revealing these thoughts to Cassidy herself.
Back at the trailer, he talks to Nicky who opens up and tells him he doesn’t like people. It also turns out the ice-cream trick Kevin spoke about earlier in the episode was passed down through the generations. It’s here we see flashes of Jack and Nicky as kids with their Father making an effort and cutting them ice-cream, just like Jack did for Kevin as a kid.
As the episode closes out, the dinner parties finish on a high after some initial issues early on, Randall and Beth find a therapist for Tess while Kate’s present happens to be their old piano from the family house. However, she also has Polaroids from that night including one of her boyfriend. Something happened that year, which is about as much as we can piece together by the cryptic conversation that follows between Kate and Rebecca, but quite what it was, remains a mystery for now.
What happened to Kate in the past? Was her ex-boyfriend the catalyst for her binge-eating and depression? Is another panic attack lurking in the shadows for Randall? And what does Toby’s gym obsession have in store for the Pearson family? There’s so many questions left unanswered here and given what we’ve seen in the past, I’d imagine the series will continue to deliver answers to these questions slowly but surely over the numerous episodes to come.
As it stands though, This Is Us delivers one of its best here, with an episode chock full of drama and smart writing. The door is left wide open for the season to follow and quite what will befall the Pearson family next remains to be seen!