'This Is Us' recap: Randall's backstory becomes more clear

For The Baltimore Sun
"This Is Us" recap: No huge twist this week, but we find out more about Randall's backstory.

After a week off because of to the vice presidential debate, "This Is Us" was back on NBC last night at its new time of 9 p.m. (Set those DVRs if you missed it!) Where we last left off, Randall had moved in his dying biological father, Kate was falling in love with Toby, and Kevin’s career was imploding. Oh, and Jack and Rebecca aren’t together anymore! 

Will this episode end with a twist, too? On to Episode 3, titled “Kyle.” 

The episode opens with the backstory of William, or Shakespeare as he was known back then. Over a slow folk tune, which will become a motif in the episode, we see his slow descent into drugs and how it zapped his creative brain. Finally, we see William holding a baby as the bus slowly rolls past a firehouse. We all know what happens next.  

Fast-forward a few days and Jack and Rebecca are ready to take the twins and Randall home from the hospital.  After a few words of encouragement and warning from Dr. K, the couple take their babies home, christened Kate, Kevin and Kyle, after the good doctor. No Randall here. Now I understand the title! 

Next, we’re in present-day, where now Jack-less Rebecca asks Randall to meet William, after he tells her that he’s met his biological father.  Once they meet, she wants some time alone. “You look well,” William says. What? They know each other? 

Rebecca tells William that he simply cannot tell Randall that they knew each other because it will kill Randall. Something tells me William’s going to tell Randall, and it’s probably going to be during sweeps week.

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, Toby, Kate and Kevin are coming down from their night of drunken debauchery and life-changing decision-making.  Don’t those two just go together so nicely? After Toby overhears Kate singing in the shower, he asks her to sing for him over a breakfast of what looks like cardboard with a side of more cardboard. She refuses, but Toby’s not taking that for an answer. 

He plans a day (incredibly quickly I might add) that makes Kate the star. He whisks her off to the local senior center, where she sings “Time after Time” by Cyndi Lauper. That’s my jam, Kate! Of course, she starts off shy then builds to a crescendo — and she’s AMAZING. Duh. She’s so excited that she and Toby run off to the most awkward place for people to have sex, the broom closet. This probably isn’t the safest place in the senior center with all the work that janitorial staff is getting.

Right as they’re about to get it on, Kyle calls, and, of course, Kate answers. He needs her, she goes. Toby is, of course, upset and Kate tells him that her brother will always come first. Ouch.

Later, at Kevin’s place, Kate tells this story to Kevin, who — for the FIRST time in the show — focuses on someone else. He fires Kate as his assistant/manager/whatever (SO that’s how she lives in that nice house despite apparently not having a job) and sets her off to get to know herself. She decides to get to know herself by bringing a condom to Toby’s house and by not answering the phone when Kevin called to tell her that he had booked the next flight to New York to become a stage actor.

Back in the 1970s, we find out that Rebecca was having trouble bonding with Randall/Kyle. She decided to seek out William/Shakespeare and ensure that he would never come for his baby. William promised he wouldn’t, but suggested that Rebecca change his name, and that’s how Kyle became Randall. As she returns home to Jack, dutifully caring for all three children, she confesses her thoughts are with the baby they lost. Jack confesses the same. They embrace and she out of nowhere tells Jack they should change Kyle’s name to Randall.  Jack’s cool with it, and all is well for now.  

Finally, back at Randall’s house in present day, William is overcome by guilt and sneaks out the back door to get away from Randall before he can take him to the oncologist. After Randall catches up with him and gives him some good reverse guilt, they go to the doctor and find out that the diagnosis was correct — William is dying and it’s going to happen soon. Randall needs to get to know his father and he starts in the best place he knows, “How did you meet my mother?”

No twist this week! Unless you’re counting the Kyle/Randall naming thing, but I’m not. Next week, we find out that it wasn’t all roses being the black child in a white family, this Broadway thing maybe isn’t so easy for Kevin, and Toby’s ex-wife is super hot. Should be fun!

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