This Is Us Season 3, Episode 2 Recap: Things Are Tense

Last night’s episode of This Is Us is what I like to call a “Speed Limit Episode.” When you drive the speed limit, things are steady. There are no peaks and valleys, no surprise turns, and your emotions remain the same. That was my first reaction after watching episode 2. It was a steady episode. Nothing moved the needle for me. There were no huge twists or turns. I watched, reacted, and kept moving along. I’m not trying to discredit the episode because there were some important takeaways, but as a whole, this episode was a placeholder for something bigger to come.

Let’s get into the recap.

This Is Us Season 3, Episode 2 Recap: “A Philadelphia Story”

– The Teenage Big Three was back last night. I’m not positive about the exact time, but it’s safe to assume that it’s a few weeks / months after Jack’s death. After Jack’s death, the only one who is trying to move on with his life is Randall. Rebecca is a walking zombie that hears Jack’s voice in her head all day. Kate is depressed and turns to food for comfort. Kevin is drinking and failing to connect with Rebecca. All of these issues translate to their present day lives.

  • Rebecca: Struggle to connect with Kevin and Kate
  • Kevin: Substance abuse issues
  • Kate: Weight management and tough relationship with Rebecca
  • Randall: Internal battle to make his fathers’ proud / spur of the moment decision-making

The Big Three lost their rock when Jack died and now they are struggling to overcome this loss. Can you blame them? Super Dads don’t grow on trees. The spotlight in this timeline was on Randall, who believes he needs to hold the family together, which is why he turned down his admission to Howard University. Somehow, his decision will lead into meeting his eventual wife, Beth. Stay tuned.

– Toby…SMASH. Toby became the Hulk for just a few minutes when he lashed out on Rebecca in regards to the IVF treatment. We also saw that Toby is experiencing serious withdrawl from his anti-depressants, which is why the outburst was triggered. As we saw in the flash forward in the Season 2 finale, Toby’s depression is only going to get worse. Also, I still believe that complications are going to occur with Kate and the eventual baby. Check out my theory in last week’s recap.

– Oh, Miguel.

– It’s as if the creators read my review from this season’s first episode because William was back! I miss William and his interactions with Randall so I’m always tuned in when he’s onscreen. William’s scenes displayed the importance of the community center and introduced us to Chichi, a widowed Nigerian immigrant, and her daughter, Sky. More on this at the end of the recap.

– Kate and Rebecca fought? No way, really? Once Rebecca found out that Kate was trying IVF, that was a wrap. The ring bell went off and the fight began. This lead to Toby’s freakout. However, in true This Is Us fashion, they managed to overcome their differences and find a mutual appreciation for each other. Rebecca even went so far to share the blame for Kate’s weight gain before injecting her with an IVF shot. The scene where teenage Kate stated she gained 25 pounds and Rebecca responded by silently eating a cookie was heartbreaking.

– Is it me or has Kevin’s movie been in production for years? Anyways, it was premiere night and the family was out in full effect except Kevin’s “girlfriend,” Zoe. Kevin wants to take the relationship to the next level and Zoe was against that until the end of the episode when she asked him to pick her up at the airport. It’s worth noting that Zoe is going to accompany Kevin to Vietnam so expect the duo to grow closer in the coming episodes. Also, Kate flat out said Kevin was not going to have kids. You don’t bring that up in a television show about family and not address it later. Kevin having a child before this show ends is the lock of the century.

– Finally, I want to end with Randall, the man who has to fix everything. Present day Randall decided to bring Deja to the community center (where William frequented) to meet Sky. While there, Randall noticed the building was in bad shape so he took it upon himself to fix the problem. When the maintenance crew that a city councilman promised to send never shows up, Randall takes matters into his own hands.

Randall has a rough final minutes in the episode and it’s all over his acceptance in society. Ever since he was a kid, Randall felt like he never belonged. Randall didn’t meet William until he was 36 before dying of cancer and his adopted father, Jack, died when he was a teenager. Chichi said that despite his generous work at the community center, Randall still gets to go home to a comfortable house and lifestyle. He does not relate personally with the people that go there and struggle to survive. Then, at the premiere, Kevin mentions to Randall that Kate said she was the “only one” who could pass on Jack in the form of their children. Randall has no idea where he fits in and it is going to tear him apart.

Kevin’s trip to Vietnam is on the horizon so I’m expecting next week’s episode to at least go 10 mph over the speed limit.

What did you think about this episode?

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