“The Best Washing Machine in the Whole World” tries so hard to be the best episode in the whole world, bookended with this device of Jack and Rebecca trying to find a new washing machine throughout the years. Unlike the previous couple episodes, it falls a little flat in doing so, with not every plot holding that much weight. The main focus of the episode is the not so brotherly relationship between Randall and Kevin and, as with most Randall plots, this one holds the most emotional weight. However, the surrounding elements pale in comparison, for not the worst, but not the best episode of THIS IS US.
In the last episode, it was thrilling to see Kate focus on something besides her weight and her boyfriend, but we are right back to where we started from in terms of both. Kate discovers that Toby doesn’t want to diet anymore. He lost a decent amount of weight, and wants to return to being able to eat what he wants, and who can blame him? Kate can, apparently. He convinces her that he will diet when he is with her, and she will barely even notice. They go out to dinner, and she insists he get a dessert. That dessert is filmed beautifully, to capture Kate’s desire for it, and boy does it work. It looks delicious. If I was going through an intensely regimented diet, I would definitely give it up for that ice cream cookie thing. That’s what Kate does. Not then and there, but she goes to a gas station and bites into a powdered donut. That’s it, she did it, she finally caved. This means that any hope we had of a not fat related story for Kate is out the window. Remember last week when she got a job and was good at stuff? Nope, that’s gone. Chrissy Metz is great at showing her complex emotions regarding food, but there is so much more she could use that talent on. However, we are just going to be stuck with more of the same for at least the next few episodes.
The much more interesting part of the episode is about Kevin and Randall’s unhealthy relationship over time. In the present, it’s presented as a stilted awkwardness, but in the past these two brothers straight up don’t like each other. First of all, the casting for them as teenagers is insanely good. Teenage Kevin has the exact same inflection as Justin Hartley, so much that it’s almost disconcerting. Kevin wants to stop sharing a room with Randall, and though Randall tries to get along with his brother, it is to no avail. They even end up beating each other up at a football game.
In the present, things finally come to a head when the two brothers have an awkward dinner which turns into Randall admitting he’s never seen Kevin’s show. A long argument follows, where Kevin says he felt neglected and Randal says he felt bullied, both of which are true. They fistfight in Times square which is weirdly empty, except for a stellar Seth Meyer cameo. Their argument would seem almost formulaic were it not for Hartley and Brown carrying the weight of their character’s pain. They eventually make up, of course as this is This Is Us, and an almost Full House-ian ending is required. Kevin and Randall watch The Manny in the basement, and it seems that old wound maybe can heal.
Of course, there is a whole crop of other stuff that’s a little lessy cheesy going on. While Kevin and Randall are out for their brother dinner, Beth and William eat some pot brownies because he has cancer, but mostly for plot reasons. When he’s high, William lets it slip that he’d been talking to Rebecca when Randall was a kid. Beth, like it or not, is now in on the secret that’s been dormant for a few episodes. William begs Beth not to tell her husband, as it will destroy his relationship with his mom, but Beth doesn’t cave to him. It’s unclear whether or not she will actually tell him, but signs point to yes. Beth and Randall are the most solid couple on the show, and even though it would mess with elements of Randall’s life, her keeping that big a secret from him would be worse.
A couple that’s becoming less solid over the years is ol’ Mom and Dad. Jack and Rebecca seem distant from each other as their kids grow up, as is shown when he forgets to kiss her goodbye, or she finds more pleasure in singing than in spending time with him. (Who can blame her?) This distance is shown at the tail end of the episode when they flash back through all the washing machines the family has owned. As the washing machines get nice, the love starts to fade, it would seem for the this couple. It was an odd device to tack onto the end of this episode, as well as making it the title of the episode. The question remains, will they explore this rift between husband and wife, or patch it up smoothly next episode? It’s always unclear, but hopefully in the future, more grounded stories can be given to these characters and boost the quality level above a washing machine metaphor.
Season 1, Episode 7 (S01E07)
This Is Us airs Tuesday at 10PM on NBC
Raina spends most of her time watching television and trying to find the perfect bagel and lox, because she likes being emotionally distraught.
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Raina Deerwater | Contributor