'This Is Us' recap: The twists continue

For The Baltimore Sun
"This Is Us" recap: Another episode, another twist.

After last week’s premiere episode of "This is Us," one may have been fooled into thinking that everything was going to be perfect growing up as a member of Jack and Rebecca’s family of five. But we quickly learn that this definitely isn’t the case. 

Eight years on from the end of the last episode, Jack isn’t home as much as Rebecca wants and is developing a drinking problem, causing friction in their marriage. To make matters worse, the boys aren’t getting along — kids are making fun of Kevin because Randall was adopted by a white family. Kids can be pretty mean, so Jack and Rebecca had to expect this.

Kate isn’t as skinny as the other two, so Rebecca has taken to giving her the old stalwart of weight loss: the fruit breakfast because, you know, carbs. Despite all of this, Jack is able to bring the kids together through their family cheer, which they still do in the present day portion of the episode (titled “The Big Three”).   

Flash forward to 2016, and Kate and Kevin are dealing with the aftermath of Kevin’s mental breakdown on the set of "The Manny." Peg Bundy/Gemma Teller (Katey Sagal) convinces Kevin to grovel at the studio boss’ feet at a big Hollywood party, but Kevin can’t do it. His film and television career is effectively over. He’s giving up millions of dollars and heading to Broadway. What a waste of abs.  

Meanwhile, Kate is struggling with her weight loss, while Toby is easily outpacing her. Clearly, telling jokes burns a lot of calories. At the aforementioned big Hollywood party, Kate gets awkwardly drunk on 10 shots of tequila (10!) and confesses her body issues to Toby. She’ll never be able to be OK with her weight like he is. To his credit, he listens, comforts her, and is generally an awesome guy. Good catch, Kate.

Across the country, Randall and family are dealing with the new addition of Randall’s biological dad, William, to the family, though the kids don’t know his identity yet. Beth, Randall’s wife, is understandably not so trusting of the former drug addict who’s now residing in her house.   One night, concerned for her husband’s welfare, she asks the important questions: “Are you really sick?” and “Do you actually use the money Randall gives you for bus fare?” No drama here as William confesses he’s been heading all the way home to care for his cat. As a cat dad myself, I sympathize. (I won’t divulge here how far I’ve gone to care for a feline companion.)

As the episode comes to a close, there’s a knock at Randall’s door.  Who could this be?! It’s grandpa and grandma!  Well, actually, it’s Rebecca, looking incredibly young but that’s not Jack at her side — it’s Miguel, assumedly Jack's former best friend. Come on man, bro code.   Will every episode of the show end with a twist?! 

Overall, it was a surprisingly tear-free episode that fleshed out the characters and gave them some depth and some vices — to borrow a word from the episode — but was relatively uneventful. Next week we get to see Rebecca’s postpartum troubles after bringing the three kids home and, of course, Randall is pulling out all the stops to save his dad.

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