This week’s episode of This Is Us (titled: The Best Washing Machine in the Whole World) gave us a better understanding of the obvious rift in Kevin and Randall’s relationship. We see the Big Three as teenagers while the strain between Rebecca and Jack presses on their relationship.
Kate & Toby
Kate and Toby had their own challenges this week. Toby met his goal weight while Kate was sorely disappointed with her results after exercising and eating right for some time. She tries to be a supportive girlfriend while it’s apparent that she’s distraught. Her mood doesn’t improve when she catches Toby binge-eating at home and hiding it from her. He admits that he doesn’t want to diet anymore, even when Kate insists she needs support in that respect. Toby tells Kate he will eat the way she wants them to eat when they’re together. This is tested when they go out to dinner and Toby refuses to get dessert. Kate urges him to get dessert if he wants since she doesn’t want him to go home and hide his eating from her. The desperation and want on her face while he’s eating propels Kate to buy some powdered donuts when she stops for gas on the way home.
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Randall & Kevin
Teenage Randall and Kevin are still living in the same room. They get into a heated argument because Randall is studying until two in the morning while Kevin wants to get sleep for his big game the next day. We learn they are both on the football teams in rival schools. Rebecca breaks up the argument, but Kevin decides to move out of his room and into the basement. Randall attempts to make up with Kevin, but Kevin refuses. Both of their anger is bottled up until they hit the football field and end up in a fistfight in front of both of their schools.
In the present, it’s obvious that their past is still fresh in their mind. They are competitors, even during their morning run. Beth and Randall talk about his relationship with Kevin, and Randall tells her everything is fine between them. He informs her that he and Kevin will be having dinner with Rebecca that night.
Kevin visits Randall at work, and all his co-workers are in a titter when they see the Manny in their office. Randall gets a phone call from Rebecca, who cancels dinner on account of Miguel’s gout. Neither want to go to dinner without their mother as a buffer, but neither wants to be the one to back out.
Kevin takes Randall to a very loud but hip restaurant. Kevin is asked to take selfies with fans and even meets a previous co-star. When it’s apparent that Randall has no idea who the co-star is, Kevin realizes his own brother never watched his show. Kevin is upset and leaves.
When Randall catches up with Kevin on the street, he asks if Kevin knows what he does for a living. Kevin has a vague idea, which evens out the argument. Then the kicker, they see a billboard for a new Manny, who happens to be black. Kevin comments that another black man has replaced him. Here we get to the meat of the argument that has spanned for most of their lives. Randall wants Kevin to clarify his statement, and Kevin tells him that Randall always got special treatment because he was black and adopted. They get into a physical fight, and then it’s interrupted by Seth Myers, who recognizes Kevin as the Manny. Kevin explains to Seth that the man he’s on top of is his brother. When police sirens are heard in the distance, the two of them take off together.
On the ride home, Randall admits to Kevin that their mother did favor him and he loved it and accepted it. What he really wanted was Kevin’s love. Randall tells Kevin that night was the first time he ever claimed him as his brother. And we see that Kevin is now realizing his past mistakes.
Beth & William
We learn that William had chemo the day before and hasn’t been feeling well. When Beth offers him dinner that night, he refuses. Beth confides in William that her father died of lung cancer and that marijuana helped with his appetite. She offers to make William some special brownies, and he agrees. Later, they are in the basement, both flying high, when Tess comes downstairs and wants a brownie too. Beth steps into mommy-mode and tells Tess that they are special adult brownies and she can’t have one. Tess knows something fishy is going on but goes back to bed.
Beth and William relocate to the backyard and talk about their lives. Growing up, Beth lived with fourteen other people and always dreamed of having her own place and never having kids; that is until she met Randall. William quotes a poem they both know, and he mentions that he got it from a book of poems Rebecca gave to him back in the day. He immediately backpedals, and Beth is furious. She wants to tell Randall this new revelation. When Kevin and Randall come home, they know she and William are high. Just as Beth is about to tell Randall, she bids everyone good night. Upstairs, she leaves a voice mail for Rebecca to call her back immediately. Downstairs, Kevin learns Beth has relocated him to the basement, which is a fitting location and a call-back to their past. Though this time, Randall and Kevin’s relationship is on the mend.
Jack & Rebecca
In their timeline, we’ve jumped into the 90s. Rebecca is excited that she’s going to a band rehearsal, and Jack’s mind is preoccupied with a deal. She reminds him of the rival football game with Kevin and Randall, and Jack tells her he will try to make it. He is about to leave when he needs to be reminded to kiss his wife. At work, Jack discusses this screw-up with Miguel, but the conversation is interrupted by the secretary, who shamelessly flirts with the guys.
Rebecca has an awesome rehearsal with an old friend. It’s apparent that this is what she feels she’s been missing. At the football game, Rebecca is thrilled to see that Jack has made it. He asks about the rehearsal, and when she starts to talk about it, they are interrupted. Rebecca is disappointed when Jack delays the conversation for later. In bed that night, Jack is almost asleep when he asks her about the rehearsal. This time she pushes the conversation and goes downstairs to eat something, since they skipped dinner. Kevin calls for her from the basement, saying that he can’t figure out how to turn off the new washing machine. She turns it off and starts to fold clothes while reminiscing about all the memories surrounding their old washing machine. We go as far back as to when she and Jack were dating. They are in a laundromat, and he vows to buy her the best washing machine in the world.
This show always packs some emotional surprises. The main story between Kevin and Randall was very engaging. We knew they didn’t get along, but seeing two brothers fight that passionately was heartbreaking. I liked how everything came to a head in this episode, and I look forward to seeing how their relationship heals.
I rooted for Kate this entire episode. The struggle with her weight is so real, and when she finally has motivation to get healthy, her own boyfriend betrays her! I hated to see her relapse, but I am anxious to see where this little hiccup takes her next, especially with her relationship with Toby.
There was a little tidbit of foreshadowing when we see the flirty secretary with Miguel and Jack. I know I’m not the only one who wanted to push her away from Jack when she fixed his collar. And when she said, “Your wife should have got that,” I wanted to scream. How dare she!
And how awesome was it to see Mandy Moore singing again? I want more!
Join me next week for the recap/review of the next new episode of This Is Us, which airs Tuesday, Nov. 22, on NBC at 9/8c.