‘This is Us’ Season 3, Episode 2 Recap: “A Philadelphia Story”
This week’s This is Us episode began with a depressed Rebecca and ended with an angry Randall, with plenty of drama and emotion in between. How did Rebecca handle her depression and what caused Randall to be so upset? Find out in this week’s This is Us recap. As always, if you have not watched yet, this article contains plenty of spoilers for episode 2.
As the episode begins, Rebecca is alone in her new kitchen. She is looking at mail that has been forwarded from their old house that burned down. Randall walks in and she hands him a letter from Howard University. He is nervous to open it but she says that rejection letters don’t usually come in envelopes that are so thick. He opens the envelope and finds out that he got into Howard, as Rebecca expected he would. She is very proud of him. Kate walks in and once she hears what happened she congratulates her brother. Rebecca tells her that she will probably hear from Berklee, the college of music that Kate applied to, soon but Kate avoids the subject and grabs a Pop Tart for breakfast. Her mother says she was going to make them veggie omelets but Kate just tells her that she is already eating and they need more Pop Tarts. Rebecca does not argue. She and Kate seem to be just going through the motions of an ordinary morning and she leaves the room to make sure Kevin is awake.
Back in the present, Randall is picking up Tess, Annie, and Deja from school. He excitedly tells them that he is taking them to eat froyo only to be disappointed after Tess and Annie explain they have after school club meetings to attend. Tess informs him she is in the TSA to which Randall makes a funny quip about Tess being too young for airport security. However, she informs him that it is the Taylor Swift Appreciation Club. Unlike the other two girls, Deja does not have a club to attend so she goes along with Randall. She tells him that she misses her old school because Tess and Annie’s school is “too white”. There is a club there for everything but not what Deja wants to do. She misses the step group from her old school. Randall tells her she could organize a club at her new school but that’s not what she wants.
We see Kevin in a theater with Kate. They are watching his new movie as Kate cries beside him. He turns to his other side and sees his dead father sitting next to him watching the movie with them. Kevin startles himself awake. He was dreaming. He wakes up in bed next to Zoe who is watching and listening to something on her laptop. After discovering that Zoe is fluent in French, they start making out but she tells him that she has to continue transcribing what the French man in the video she has been watching is saying. Kevin tells her that he was going to invite her to his movie premiere but it was probably too soon for their relationship. She says she has to go out of town to Chicago with her job anyway and he offers to drop her off at the airport. She tells him no. It becomes obvious that he really wanted her to go to his premiere and she does not seem to want to go at all. Finally she tells him that she does not want whatever they have between them to become serious. He agrees, playing it off like he has no issues being casual with her, though it’s obvious he doesn’t actually feel that way. They begin kissing again.
Randall walks in to Beth in their bedroom. She is stressed so he begins giving her a massage. She tells him she may have to work before Kevin’s premiere because she is trying to finish a very important proposal. He tells her that he is planning on taking Deja to a rec center near his father William’s old apartment building that they bought. He wants Deja to meet the daughter of one of his father’s old neighbors. The daughter is near Deja’s age and he thinks it would be good for her to hang out with someone else like her.
Kate and Toby are shown in the back of a Lyft. Toby’s knee is shaking and Kate tells him to calm down. He is experiencing withdrawal from throwing out his antidepressant medication but he can’t explain this to Kate since she doesn’t know about that. She begins to get hot and tells him she is having a fertility hot flash. Toby gets extremely flirtatious and she tells him to stop. He tells her he is just excited about the prospect of having a baby with her. The Lyft driver has been listening to everything and tells them that he hopes it works out for them. Kate tells Toby that she does not want her family finding out about what they’re doing because of all the questions and comments her mom will have. He agrees.
Back in the past, William is shown sitting outside, writing in a notebook. He watches as a young, pregnant woman steps off a bus. He tells her she looks as though she needs help but she refuses. She drops some of her things and again refuses help when he tries to pick them up. She walks into his apartment building as he tells her he did not catch her name. Years later, we see Randall meeting the same woman at the rec center. Her name is Chichi. She introduces Deja to her daughter Sky. Randall notices a mattress against the wall and inquires about it. Chichi gives him a little information but tells him she is trying to read. Randall wonders aloud why nobody has bothered to fix the building. Chichi says they have tried but no one will fix it. He says he will get it fixed. Chichi is amused and tells him he can go to City Hall and feel free to try talking to someone there. He leaves Chichi and the girls at the rec center and walks out – a man on a mission.
Young Randall is on the phone telling his friends he got into Howard University. They tell him they are going to throw him a party and he agrees to attend as long as Rebecca will allow him to go. They are thrilled he is going to join them at Howard. A little while later, Randall has joined Rebecca, Kevin, and Kate on a tour of a new home. As they discuss how many bedrooms they would need, it is revealed that Kate never finished applying at Berklee. She never sent in the video tape that Jack had made for her audition. Kevin also does not intend to attend college. This catches Rebecca off guard as Randall tries to tell Kate she could still apply to Berklee for the spring semester. Kevin angrily tells him she isn’t going to and stumbles out as the realtor comes back to show them the backyard. As Rebecca follows the realtor Randall asks Kate if Kevin is drunk but she has no idea.
Rebecca and Kate are in Kate and Toby’s kitchen, discussing Kate’s wardrobe for the premiere. Toby is in the bedroom, still shaking. He researches symptoms of antidepressant withdrawal on his phone, then attempts to put on his normal attitude as he and Miguel walk in and show off their suits to Kate and Rebecca. Miguel is hungry and goes to grab a snack from the fridge. Kate looks at Toby to stop him but it’s too late. They both watch with dread as their IVF supplies fall to the floor. Toby makes a lame, joking attempt to cover it up by saying he is addicted to heroin but Rebecca and Miguel are too shocked to care.
William is in his apartment cooking and listening to jazz music. He can hear a baby crying through the walls. He carries his pot of food down the hall and knocks on the door. Chichi answers and explains that she can’t stop the baby from crying. He offers her some of the food he’s cooked, saying he made too much for just one person. She accepts, though she does not appear to like the food as she eats and he jokes that he never said he was a good cook. She tells him it is fine. They talk about how she came to America. She met her husband when she was nine. They watched cowboy shows together like Walker, Texas Ranger and had plans to move to Texas. They wanted to see the real cowboys. However, he died before they could go anywhere so when she came to America she could not go to Texas. It was too special to the two of them and she refused to go without him. William tells her that they are having a celebration for him because he is five years sober. There will be families with young children there that she should come and meet. She tells him she is okay and offers to let him hold the baby. She introduces the baby as Sky.
Randall calls Beth while he’s driving. She is still extremely busy and tells him that she might have to meet him at the premiere. Randall tells her the rec center is a mess and she jokingly asks if he has decided to buy it. He tells her he went to City Hall but the councilman he needed to speak to was out getting a hair cut at a barbershop, so he is driving to the barbershop to speak with him.
Rebecca is outside the house she and the kids are touring. She is flashing back to a conversation she had with Jack. Randall walks up behind her and asks, “Where are you at right now?” Rebecca insists she is there and he asks if she has noticed how Kate is eating and that Kevin is drunk all the time. He is frustrated and claims she doesn’t seem to care. Kevin reminds her she told him she would take care of everything but it is obvious to him that she lied. He seems to be more concerned with Kevin and Kate than she is at the moment. He keeps telling her that she lied about being able to take care of things after Jack died and she responds by telling him that they need to leave.
Miguel, Rebecca, Kate, and Toby are riding in Miguel’s car on the way to the premiere in awkward silence. Miguel finally mentions that he and Rebecca know people who went through IVF and were successful. Kate asks her mom what is wrong. Rebecca asks if Kate and Toby have considered the risk that they are taking. Toby, clearly uncomfortable, asks if they could not argue about it. He seems like he is working very hard to hold something back. Rebecca tells Kate the procedure is dangerous for someone Kate’s size, which is exactly the reaction Kate seems to have expected.
Randall has arrived at the barber shop to meet with Councilman Brown about the rec center. He introduces himself as a landlord and the councilman says it is nice to have a black landlord in the area. Randall tells him why he and Beth bought William’s building; it was a personal mission of theirs because of his father. He explains that he wants to talk to the councilman about the rec center. The councilman talks about how the area isn’t what it once was. His father rallied to keep another place open when he was younger and was successful. Randall comments that Brown’s father was a good man. The councilman says that he cast the vote to shut the same place down that his father had worked so hard to keep open. He observes that he became a politician only to make decisions that would constantly disappoint his father. Randall tells him that he was adopted and he is constantly trying to make sure that both his fathers would be proud of him.
Kevin is at his apartment waiting on his family. A care package is delivered. As he goes through the contents he finds a bottle of wine and flashes back to a memory of being young and drunk on his high school football field. Young Kevin is drinking and thinking about his dad cheering for him as he played. There is a knock on the door and Kevin is brought back to the present. He opens the door as Toby and the rest of the family walk in. Rebecca is still going on about the dangers of IVF and Kevin wants to know what is going on. Rebecca does not understand why Kate would take such a risk. Kate tells her because she wants to see herself, Toby and even Jack in someone new because Kate is the only person who is able to carry on a piece of their father. Kevin immediately takes offense and Kate minimizes his feelings. This angers him because she does not take him seriously. Rebecca and Kate continue to argue and finally, Toby snaps. He yells at Rebecca and tells her that this is between him and Kate. They know the dangers and that it probably will not be successful but they wanted to start a family and it is their choice, not Rebecca’s. He storms out of the apartment after angrily telling Rebecca to “save the asinine commentary from the cheap seats.” Kate is shocked and dumbfounded at his explosion.
Randall returns to the rec center and watches as the group of kids are doing step and sees that Deja has joined in. We flash back to William at his sobriety celebration. He tells the group it is more special a day than his birthday. He talks about how he began using when his mother died and it was not until he moved into his apartment building that he was able to change. His neighbors helped him. He mentions Chichi allowing him to hold Sky and says it might as well have been his birthday. They may not be a family but they all have each other. Back in the present time, Randall walks outside and goes to fix the light on the basketball court outside the rec center.
Rebecca is cleaning up as Randall prepares to leave for the party his friends are throwing him for getting into Howard. He apologizes to Rebecca about being angry with her before. She admits to him that she has been struggling to even get out of bed in the morning. She tells him that just the act of waking up and getting going in the morning takes everything she has. She has no energy left for the rest of the day once she wakes up and even though she knows it isn’t fair to the kids, she can’t control it. Rebecca asks if Randall knew that Jack had shown her a new house a few months before the fire. She tells him she wonders where they would be if they had bought the house and if Jack would still be alive. She thinks back to touring the house with Jack and then shakes it off and tells Randall to go and enjoy his party. After he leaves she thinks again about the other house and how she told Jack that she loves the house they have because it is theirs. They agree that they both want to stay where they are because they love their house.
After leaving the rec center, Randall offers Chichi and Sky a ride home. She refuses. He shows her that he fixed the light on the basketball court but she tells him there are many more to fix. He tells her the community deserves better. Chichi calls Randall out for only seeing the problems in the area and not the people. He has not tried to get to know anyone before trying to fix all of their issues and insists the people are more than the problems he sees. He is caught off guard but has to leave for Kevin’s premiere.
Next we see Rebecca and Miguel followed by Kevin and Kate walking down the red carpet. Kate is nervous because Toby has not answered his phone. She apologizes to Kevin about what she said earlier regarding Jack and he tells her it’s fine. He mentions that their dad never got to see him act. Jack was the only person who ever took him seriously. He remembers high school Kevin stumbling drunkenly into the school auditorium and climbing on stage. Kevin tells Kate he is worried that no one will ever take him seriously. He leaves her to go do an interview for the movie with Mario Lopez. Zoe is working and watches the interview on her phone. She is smiling until Kevin insinuates that he has no special woman in his life. Her facial expression very clearly says that she is not happy about this.
Kate and Rebecca talk. Kate is worried about Toby’s absence, both because of his behavior and because he is supposed to give her IVF shot. Rebecca offers to do it for her. When they go to a restroom to give Kate her shot, Rebecca talks about how depressed she was after Jack died. She says that she cannot handle thinking that anything could happen to Kate or the boys after losing Jack. She apologizes for not doing more when Kate first started gaining weight but Kate says that she was 18 and she should have been making better decisions for herself.
Kevin is being photographed on the red carpet. He gets a text from Zoe who tells him he can pick her up from the airport after all. Randall, Beth, and finally Toby arrive for the premiere. Toby apologizes for overreacting and makes sure that Kate has had her shot. She wants to know what is going on but he blames it on jet lag and apologizes to Rebecca. Randall asks Beth about work and she asks about his day. He tells her that he is never right. No matter what he does, he is either trying too hard for some people or not hard enough for others. We see young Randall at his friend’s house. He watches a couple dancing and thinks about his parents. When he gets home he calls Howard and informs them that he can’t attend. He has to take care of his family.
Kevin arrives in the movie theater and sits next to Randall. Randall asks if the movie is going to make him cry. Kevin tells him about Rebecca and Kate arguing and how Kate told them that she was the only one who was able to pass on a part of Jack. Randall is clearly hurt by this. He looks down toward Kate who is sitting on the other end of their row. Kate sees him, and ignorant of Randall’s current feelings, happily waves. Randall is visibly upset by Kate’s words as Kevin’s movie begins to play.
It was interesting this week seeing not only how Jack’s death affected the children but Rebecca as well. Showing her grieving as she continued to try to live life shows us just how difficult his loss was. She was not able to magically wake up one day and move on. His loss also continues to affect the Pearson triplets as adults, as each is trying to find a way to make their father proud. It is upsetting that Kate would be so oblivious as to think that the Kevin and Randall would not also want to honor their father by making sure a part of him survived. I can’t wait to see how the revelation of Kate’s words plays into the relationship between Kate and Randall especially. Randall seems to try too hard to make sure people like him and as he stated to the councilman, part of that is trying to make sure that he is making Jack proud. Kate assuming he couldn’t pass on anything of Jack’s undermines a huge part of who he is. Kevin’s constant need to be taken seriously by anyone else after losing his father is heartbreaking and I can only hope that Zoe will not live up to Beth’s expectations and hurt him.
Don’t miss next week’s episode! This is Us airs Tuesdays on NBC at 9/8 central.