This week’s THIS IS US, “The Big Three,” tries to establish familial relationships, while still keeping the audience on its toes. The former makes for some interesting drama, and the latter seems to be trying just a tad too hard. It’s all too likely that This Is Us may start to abandon its smaller character moments for a “big twist” every episode, which would truly be a shame.
After last weeks revelation that Jack and Rebecca are the parents of Kate, Kevin, and Randall, we can now just basically continue where we left up. The 80’s plot jumps ahead a few years to when the triplets are about eight and Jack and Rebecca deal with the perils of parenting. It’s a pretty typical story: Rebecca tries so hard to be there for her kids and Jack stays out late drinking. It’s a little boring really, considering how excited Jack was in the previous episode. Though that was eight years ago, it would be interesting to see the slow impact that triplets have on a young father, as opposed to just flashing forward to him being disillusioned. He complains to his buddy Miguel at the bar about his hard hard life, and Miguel rightfully calls him on it, as does Rebecca later on. Of course, he learns the error of his ways, and there is a sweet and touching reunion, where Jack pledges to do better by his family.
Another thing that the 80’s plot confirms is that Kate’s plot is always, and will always be about her weight. 2016 Kate confirms that for us too. Her relationship with Toby is progressing, but Toby is wants to focus on something other than just their weight. By the end of the episode, Kate reveals that that just isn’t possible for her. This dynamic between the two of them raises an interesting point when it comes to issues of gender. It confirms the fact that there are much more societal pressures on women to lose weight than men, and it makes a lot of sense that it would weigh more heavily on Kate than Toby. On the other hand, though, the trope is seen over and over again that men are generally allowed to have more fun than women. Of course Toby is the one who can make Kate let loose, a thing we’ve seen repeated in rom-com after rom-com. The two of them have great chemistry, and their relationship is believable, but hopefully it grows beyond him simply loosening her up.
Kate is also trying to be there for Kevin, who has fallen into contract issues after forcibly quitting his job, and doesn’t want to be lured back in by agents and network heads. For a show airing on NBC, there sure is a lot of network bashing, which can only be a good time. The far more interesting part of Kevin’s story is when he calls up Randall. We learn that Kevin was never the best brother to Randall growing up, due in part to children in the 80’s being pretty racist and Kevin never standing up for his brother. Their conversation in the present is a little awkward and apologetic, but could lead to a fascinating dynamic between the two brothers. Luckily, we will see more of that relationship, because at the end of the episode, Kevin makes the decision to move to New York to pursue theater, and hopefully get closer with his brother.
Randall is by far the most compelling of the three siblings at this point in the series. Perhaps is is Sterling K. Brown’s phenomenal performance, or the fact that his marriage is the most stable one seen on the show, or maybe it’s because he deals with his issues with nuance and humanity. Either way, Randall’s screen time is always the most interesting. Besides everything with Kevin, Randall is still processing the fact that William, his birth father is now living with them, and it’s a little weird. His wife, Beth, is both supportive and confirming that it might be time for William to leave. The best scene in the whole episode is actually between Beth and William, where she explains to him that her husband’s biggest flaw is that he tries to hard to be perfect. It provides insight into the character of Randall, while also giving sympathy to Beth and William themselves, in their shared love of Randall.
Leaving the episode on an odd family portrait of Randall, Beth, their children, and the awkwardly placed William would be an excellent way to end the episode, but those pesky twist had to keep coming. Grandma and Grandpa are coming! As the kids open the door, we are expecting Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia to come out with just terrible old person make-up one, but alas! It is only Mandy Moore with terrible old person make-up, and Miguel, Jack’s old friend who is now with Rebecca. Whatever could have gone on here? Did Jack and Rebecca get divorced? Did Jack die? Will This Is Us finally move on from ending episodes with a twist? Let’s hope so, because the smaller moments are truly the best parts of this show.
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