This Is Us Gets Us High On Life
Before everything comes out in the wash.
Even with no big reveals and no major twists, This Is Us brings the tears. In what feels like a bridge episode between Randall not knowing about Rebecca's choice to hide his history and Randall knowing and being angry about it, there are still big moments, spanning the spectrum of hilarity to gut-punch, poignant to painful. Let's count them down.
- High Mom
Before William's regrettable snafu, Beth and William eating "medicinal brownies" together, made from Beth's private stash...is the greatest thing of all time? To ever happen on TV? Beth's weird high laugh! Her insta-sobriety when her daughter comes down the stairs! "Was she walkin' or was she floatin'?" I was cry-laughing, for once. Florida, along with several other states, just passed its medical marijuana law (some states even passed laws in the recreational category), and NBC is missing some cross-marketing opportunities by not posting "Beth's 'Dope' Brownies" recipe on every possible platform.
- Teen Randall v. Teen Kevin
We all hate Teen Kevin, I know. But feel his perfect, blonde, hair-swooped pain! Waaaait, wait -- don't feel it, because he sucks. You know what I can't listen to right now? White boys complaining about anything. In fact, I will never listen to that again. I'm sorry your mom was too busy providing an example of how to live instead of catering to your Every. Single. Need. every second of the day! Somehow, I think you had it okay, Kevin. How could Teen Swoop have looked into the eyes of Teen Randall in his perfect cardigan and denied him the bond of brotherhood?
So, Kevin sucked as a teenager and he pretty much sucks, now, and it's good that their Grown-Ass Man Fight on the streets of New York seems to have knocked some sense into him. Thank you, Seth Meyers, for your drive-by humanity. (Randall jumping up when he hears sirens, urging Kevin to run because Randall's "still black" is a laugh I needed and appreciated.)
I question whether it's actually possible suddenly to create a relationship where none existed, but if it is possible, Randall (of any age) could achieve it, no question. He's already done it with William! But -- and, I hate to say this -- I feel like this jump to forgiveness and resolution is a little quick. To get to it now denies us the look back at, say, Randall and Kevin in the college years, in their twenties, at Randall's wedding, etc. That's a lot of life. There's no point in showing any of those things in future episodes if we're learning here that Kevin and Randall are going to go forward with a close relationship, all snuggled up on the couch. Also: are we to assume they've been politely (if that) co-existing at all family gatherings since high school graduation? I guess it sometimes happens in real life this way, but that only makes the pretty bow on it now seem kind of cheap for a show with longevity as a goal.
- Rebecca's Cool Band Of Cool Guys
Their creepy vests are only outdone by the creepy looks they give each other when Rebecca starts singing the straightest arrangement of "Straighten Up And Fly Right" ever set to music. Girl, I feel you. In fact, I am you. But, you can do better than these squares! You're Mandy Moore!
I don't know if they're expecting us to glean "they're growing apart" from the broken conversations about Rebecca's rehearsal, but...Jack and Rebecca are two working adults with three teenaged children attending two schools. They're busy. It seems normal to me. Plus, the little scene with the Detestable Miguel and the saucy admin: do I really need another reason to hate Miguel? What happened to his wife? I'm glad this joker ended up with gout!
- Kate's Food Addiction
I wish this wasn't real. I wish it wasn't exactly this. So much about this show makes me cry, but Kate's sixty seconds of silent negotiation with herself in the car at the gas station before eating the cookie caused a black hole to open in my heart and fill itself with cheese. I can't say enough how much I related, and I know I am among millions to do so.
While I'm on the subject: time for Toby to go. He's nice, and he's funny and cute, but two junkies trying to get sober together never works, and at this point I question his motivation for being in this relationship at all.
- Late-'90s Jack
So, Jack's still alive when the Big Three are in high school. That was high school, right? I actually couldn't tell, with Randall busting on Kate about makeup and none of them driving? Rebecca said someone was "scouting" Kevin, and I know that does happen in junior high, but they looked too old. In any case, if we assume Jack made it to see them graduate, that would mean he lived at least until around 1998. Which goes a little against the Kevin storyline from the funeral episode where I had the impression he died in their youngish childhoods. Don't let this show go to a Lost place! I need the connections to line up, at least in Season 1.
- The Washing Machine Montage
There are some words I never thought I'd type. I was touched by the final washing machine sequence showing the family's changes through the years via the different machines they used to clean their dirty laundry, but was I the only one who felt like, as a construct, it didn't quite hang on the line? (Can I possibly make any more laundry puns?) Anyway, it felt to me like something essential was edited out of the metaphor. I mean, it was sweet, but for it to have worked -- and I can't believe I'm saying this -- I needed more...washing machine? Or, less? Maybe something about laundry at Kate's house and between Beth and Randall? I don't even know what I'm asking for, but because the episode was named after the washing machine(s), I was waiting for some big reveal about how Jack died going out in the middle of the night to fix that skank secretary's euphemized Whirlpool. Not that I didn't cry about the historical washing machines: y'all know I cried. I just felt like, in a show that gets it right so often, the failed concept was a slight stain on an otherwise sparkling episode.