This Is Us – Season 5 Episode 3 Recap & Review

Changes

Episode 3 of This Is Us Season 5 begins in the past as the Big Three prepare for puberty, as Jack and Rebecca know that this is going to be a trying time. Kevin’s football career continues to take off while study group in the living room sees Randall and Kate both with fellow students of the opposite sex.

Tellingly, Randall’s date happens to be white and at the end of their study session, she asks him for a kiss saying “I’ve never kissed someone like you.”

In the present, Randall’s desire to find a black therapist sees him searching through several different candidates online. Eventually he settles on one that he believes will help him and his transracial identity. The most important thing for Randall though, is that this man is black.

As they have their first zoom session, Randall notices a painting behind him drawn by Kadir Nelson. For those unaware, this painter is black and it’s enough for Randall to feel like he needs to prove himself. “My wife is black,” He nervously says.

Before they can dive into Randall’s problems, this therapist tells him to write a story about his past that evening. That story, as we soon see, is that of the girl at school curious about kissing him.

However, there’s more pressing matters to deal with before Randall can do this. Tess decides to post a video online with a fellow student referring to themselves as “they.”

Randall confronts his daughter about her video and reminds her there’s a right and wrong way to go about instigating changes. As a consequence of her actions, Tess has her phone taken away for 6 weeks.

Meanwhile, Madison does her best to support Kevin as he receives good news about his movie role. Both of them are on different wave lengths and worse, his constant phone calls mean they aren’t able to eat breakfast together. When Madison finds out Kevin has to do sex scenes on-air, it’s the final straw.

This is only exacerbated by their conversation interrupted by a fan arriving. Kevin, of course, tells her to social distance as they all wear their masks.

Towsrd the end of the episode though, the truth is revealed surrounding Madison’s behaviour. It turns out she has an eating disorder and has been suffering with this for a long time.

She’s not the only one though, it turns out Kevin too has a bit of a disorder himself. His comes from counting calories and doing weights – something he and Jack used to do together when he was younger.

Kate and Toby head out together to meet the parent of their potential adoptive child, Willow. Before that though they contemplate which face mask to wear.

Eventually they all reconvene in the park and talk about common interests. Toby steers them back on track though as they talk about her reasons for adoption.

Afterward, Toby and Kate head back to their car and discuss not buying diapers in bulk (a nod toward panic buying during the pandemic.) After their heated debate, the pair say goodbye but it looks like things could work out for the future.

Interspersed around these stories of the past and present are snippets of a girl called Linh and her Father discussing their Mother. At the end of the episode, we pan across to a photograph that shows Randall’s Mother.


The Episode Review

There’s subtle messaging and then there’s knocking a sledgehammer down across your face. If Korean and Asian content during this pandemic has proven anything, there’s a right and wrong way to tackle this subject and Western shows are once again miles behind what the East is currently producing.

The age old adage of “show don’t tell” comes to mind here and while many screenwriters do well with this, everything’s gone out the window in order to reinforce how damaging our current situation is.

I can’t help but feel this show is not going to age well in the future. The beauty with the early seasons is that they could occur any time (but still some way in the future of the Vietnam War.)

Given how good the previous seasons have been, this year feels like it’s taken a step-back, at least for now. There’s an abundance of exposition, forced themes and characters that were likable have done a complete 180.

Kevin seems to be the one exception here though and his story is easily the most complex and interesting here. How Justin Hartley hasn’t won an award yet is beyond me.

Still, we’ve got a long way to go in this season and it’s still early days yet. Let’s hope the series steps it up a gear going forward.

 

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  • Episode Rating
2.5

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