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'This Is Us' recap: Brotherly love

For The Baltimore Sun
"This Is Us" recap: Kevin and Randall hash out their relationship.

After a week off for the election (don’t spoil it for me, I DVR’d the whole thing and I’m planning on watching it tonight), "This is Us" returned Tuesday night to give us the details on one of the most puzzling relationships in the show: the not-so-loving relationship between Kevin and Randall.

In between, we get to see some cracks forming in both Jack and Rebecca’s and Toby and Kate’s relationships. And that big moment where Randall tells Rebecca off is also on the way! Without further ado…

The focus of this episode is definitely Kevin and Randall. There have always been hints at problems in their relationship, not the least of which was young Randall’s confession to his father in the last episode that Kevin and Kate would hate him if he continued to succeed. Randall was trying his best for his brother’s love, and no matter what he did he could not get it.

As the story fast-forwards in time to their teenage years, we start to see where it really went wrong. While Randall is working diligently on his schoolwork, burning that midnight oil, Kevin throws a hissy fit. He can’t live with Randall anymore and he’s moving to the basement. Randall tries to appease Kevin, but he’s not having it. The divide between them is growing. It all comes to a head on the football field, where the two are playing for opposing teams. After a few crunching tackles, the boys get into a fight on the football field, shocking the on-looking Jack and Rebecca.

In present day, Kevin and Randall still have a rocky relationship. From competing for the fastest time in the mile to the still all-consuming competition for their mother’s love, they have not grown past the angst of their teenage years.

When Rebecca bails on their family dinner, Kevin and Randall are left to have dinner on their own. They each take turns giving the other an excuse to get out of it, but they go through with it. It goes pretty much as terribly as could be expected. Kevin takes Randall to the trendiest place ever, where he knows he’ll be recognized by countless people. Eventually, it comes out that Randall never watched Kevin’s magnum opus, “The Manny.” Kevin feels betrayed by Randall and storms out of the restaurant. What a drama king.

On the streets of New York, where people fighting is about as normal as a hot dog vendor slinging dirty water dogs, Kevin and Randall have it out. Both men have had it with the other. Randall always felt abandoned and hated by Kevin. Kevin always felt like Randall was the golden child and got all their mother’s love.

Eventually, things become physical and the fight gets broken up by Seth Meyers, who I can only assume was walking past the set on his way to write another scathing assessment of Donald Trump’s hairstyle. After telling Seth Myers that everything is OK because they're brothers, Kevin and Randall run away and head back to Randall’s house. There, Randall tells Kevin that this was the first time he had ever called him his brother. Maybe this physical confrontation was just the catharsis that the two men needed to get their relationship on track. Let it be known — if you have anything to hash out with a sibling, make sure to do it in front of Seth Myers. The guy is a miracle worker.

With the night off from Randall and Kevin, Beth decides to take it easy with William. After putting the kids to bed, they decide to ease William’s growing pain with some special brownies. Of course, this scene is pretty painful because the two indulge in pretty much every marijuana stereotype possible.

However, in his pot-induced stupor, William accidentally lets the cat out of the bag: He had met Rebecca before, and he gave her the book of poetry that Randall kept to this day. William begs Beth to keep the secret, but she can’t. She rushes upstairs to call Rebecca, but she doesn’t answer. We predicted this a few weeks ago, and it looks the drama is about to hit just in time for Thanksgiving, or as I call it, the most dramatic holiday of the entire year because you’re surrounded with people going from states of hanger to food coma for the entire day.

On the other side of the country, Kate and Toby are having trouble because of, you guessed it, weight and food issues. After a weigh-in where Kate loses less than she hoped and Toby is the star, Toby falls off the grid. When her calls go unanswered, Kate does the thing that she does where she escalates everything immediately by showing up at his apartment.

At first, we think maybe there’s another woman inside. Did he reconcile with the ex-wife? Nope, he reconciled with his other mistress: food. Toby is on a binge and he confesses to Kate he can’t keep this weight loss up. He doesn’t want to deprive himself anymore. He’ll support her however she wants with her weight loss, but he can’t do it with her.

Kate agrees that honesty is the best policy and they make a dinner date where they will eat healthy and then he’ll leave to stuff his face with Cool Ranch Doritos. At the dinner, however, Kate tells Toby to order dessert, and we get that shot of Kate staring longingly at a mountain of ice cream. OK, "This is Us" has officially covered the part where Kate is an obese woman trying to get a hold on her weight. It’s time to move on from this and time to show some of the other aspects of Kate’s life. How’s that job going? What does Toby do for a living? It doesn’t have to be about food all the time. End rant.

Back in the '80s, Jack and Rebecca are beginning to show the cracks in their relationship. Jack is pushing himself at work to take care of the kids while Rebecca is now the singer in a band. It’s her dream and she can’t wait to share it with Jack, but he’s either too tired or too focused on the kids to focus on her. They’re moving around so much to take care of the kids that they’re forgetting their relationship and the love that spawned the children they care for so much.

We’re shown this love through the progression of washing machines throughout the couple’s past, and the promise that Jack told her he would buy her the “best washing machine in the whole world.” He would do anything to make her happy and now he would do anything to make his children happy. Despite all its faults, the show leaves us with such genuine moments. I never thought that a montage of people staring at different washing machines through time could make me well up, but it did. The metaphor works perfectly and we’re for the first time seeing what led to the downfall of the marriage. Hopefully they will stick with this falling out of love story arc and avoid the tried and true “Jack bangs his assistant” story that is basically done in EVERY SOAP OPERA EVER.

Next week, we get the drama. Randall confronts Rebecca at the Thanksgiving table. Is Kate making the journey cross-country to be with the family? Will she bring Jack’s urn? OK — too far. But it’s going to be a fun episode!

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