This week’s This is Us episode gave us one of the show’s better Pearson “talks” and dived deeper into the relationship between Kevin and Randall. As always, if you have not yet caught up stop reading here to avoid spoilers.
The episode begins with Kate calling everyone to let them know that the IVF worked and she and Toby are expecting a baby. The most hilarious response comes from Randall, who squeals higher than Madison at the news and begins dancing in his kitchen screaming, “I can’t believe it! My sister’s having a baby!” When he asks to congratulate Toby, however, Kate has to share the news with everyone about Toby’s depression. Kevin offers to come out and help Kate but she explains there’s nothing he would be able to do. After all of the phone calls, Kate goes into the bedroom to check on Toby. She tells him that she is going to take their dog Audio for a walk and invites Toby to go along. He declines, rolling over and staring at the wall.
12-year old Kevin and Randall are in their living room playing a video game. After Kevin wins, he begins tackling a helpless Randall to show off as Kate watches from the couch, unamused. When Jack comes home, Rebecca notices that he has a black eye. He tells her he was boxing at the gym. The kids, intrigued, want to know more but Rebecca sends them to set the table for dinner. She turns to Jack, upset that he’s not just punching a bag anymore, he’s boxing people. He explains it is nothing while Rebecca worries about the fact he could eventually get brain damage because some boxers have. “The guy that gave me this, that tagged me, his name’s Stuart,” Jack reassures her. “Okay? Guys named Stuart don’t give you brain damage.” Regardless, Rebecca makes him promise her to stop boxing other people and stick with the bag.
Beth is calling to check on resumes that she sent out as Randall is in their bedroom trying to decide on a shirt to wear to church. When Tess and Annie choose different colors for their dad, he says he’s choosing between Paul and John (a reference to The Beatles). He turns to Beth: “Ringo!” who looks at him like he is crazy and lets him know, “The hell I’m Ringo.” Annie asks why he’s going to church in Philadelphia and he tells her that because he’s running for office in Philadelphia he needs to connect with the people. After he describes how much he loves cheesesteak, Annie asks if they can talk about the girls now. Randall and Beth say of course and Tess begins explaining how they are way behind in selling their Girl Scout cookies. Their biggest sale was Beth’s office but now they don’t have that. Randall begins to offer to help but Beth tells him no, she will handle it. She begins telling the girls to get ready and make posters and tells them to ask Deja if she wants to help.
Kate is in the park with Audio. She’s on the phone with Rebecca discussing Toby as Audio is playing. He runs to a trash bag and begins eating something. Kate panics and gets off the phone and rushes over. She can’t tell what it is he ate but from what little she could see she knows it wasn’t food.
Kevin is staring at the picture of his father and the woman from Vietnam. He tells Zoe he wishes he knew more about the woman, especially because of the necklace. Zoe, who hadn’t heard him, takes off her earphones and closes her laptop. She has finally finished working on her documentary and is now at the point of waiting to hear back about showing it at festivals. Kevin tells her that everyone will want it and they need to celebrate, dropping Jimmy Kimmel’s name. She tells him thanks but no thanks, she has a tradition of relaxing in a hotel room when she finishes something. He excitedly invites himself along to which she tells him it’s a solo thing. “I can’t have your obsession with that photo raining all over my 800-thread-count sheet parade.”
12-year old Randall walks into the kitchen at night where Jack is drying dishes. Randall tells him there is a new kid at school, Dylan, who is bullying him and he wants to learn to box. He doesn’t want to fight but he wants to be able to protect himself. Jack says they need to talk to Rebecca and then Randall’s school, but Randall says he doesn’t want to be known as a snitch. He just wants to know that he can protect himself.
Randall is at Councilman Brown’s church. Brown is invited up to read scripture but before he does, he comments on Randall’s attendance. Brown puts Randall on the spot for running against him and condescendingly welcomes him as the church whispers to each other.
Beth, Deja, Tess, and Annie are carrying their cookies and supplies across a parking lot. The girls are grumpy about the parking spot and Beth tells them a packed parking lot equals more customers. When they get to the store, however, another troop has set up to sell. Tess angrily says she told Beth they needed to get there earlier and Beth says it’s okay before they leave to go find another place to sell at.
Kevin calls Randall to talk. Randall explains he’s in Philly and Kevin immediately offers to go. Randall begs him not to, worried about his movie star presence and its effect on the campaign, but Kevin tells him that Randall knows he doesn’t respect boundaries. Giving up, Randall agrees to text him a place that they can meet.
Kate is trying to get Audio to eat. Toby walks in and wonders what’s wrong with the dog. He sees that he’s not eating the bacon that Kate is feeding him and she explains what happened at the park. He asks why she wasn’t watching him and she explains that she shouldn’t have been on the phone but she was. She apologizes and walks out. Toby sighs: “I didn’t meant to make you feel bad.”
Jack is showing 12-year old Randall how to box in their living room. They are having a good time finding out that Randall is a southpaw until Rebecca walks in on them. They know they are in trouble.
Randall walks into a Korean restaurant where Kevin is meeting and greeting the customers. Randall is amazed. They sit down and Kevin shows him the picture of Jack and the Vietnamese woman. Randall wonders why Kevin wants to know all of this now. Kevin makes an analogy using old wallpaper peeling off. He says it never occurred to them that there was more behind the wallpaper until it began peeling off and that it was the same with him. “I started peeling,” he explains. Randall says he’s also curious but Jack didn’t want them to know about Vietnam. As they talk, the waiter brings them free drinks. It turns out that Kevin’s show The Manny was very popular in South Korea. Randall, suddenly realizing an opportunity, brings Kevin to his campaign headquarters. He discovers that the Koreans in the area are not all registered to vote, and if they can get them to register and vote for Randall by using Kevin’s fame he can win against Brown.
Kate is at the vet talking on the phone with Rebecca. The vet has discovered that Audio ate a rock and the options are surgery or waiting for him to poop it out. Kate is very worried and asks Rebecca’s advice. She tells her to take him home so that she will feel better and if anything happens she would be able to get him back to the vet. Kate tells her she will need her to move into their building if their “maybe baby” turns out to be a real baby. Rebecca tells her that as much as she appreciates it, it’s now Kate’s turn to make the decisions for her family and hope they’re the right ones.
In the past, Rebecca is upset with Jack for teaching Randall to box. He tells her about Randall being bullied and how he didn’t want to make it worse. She tells him they are going to call Randall’s principal and get it taken care of.
Beth and the girls have set up a display at an empty mall. Tess tells Annie that no one is there because everything is closed. When a customer finally walks up it turns out that Beth does not have the “swiper” to take the man’s credit card payment. Beth offers to take his information down but the man tells her no. Tess complains that they’re not doing as good as her friend Riley, telling Beth that she sucks and Riley’s mom is better than her. Beth loses her temper and screams at Tess to shut up. The girls stare at her in silence as she tells them they’re leaving.
Getting off the phone with the principal, Rebecca tells Jack that there is no new kid in Randall’s class and no one is bullying him. She wants to talk to him to find out what’s going on but Jack asks her to let him since he is the one that Randall lied to. He wants to know why. Before leaving, Jack explains that boxing helps him deal with things that he can’t explain to her.
Toby is on the couch when he gets a text from Kate. He gets up, takes a shower and gets dressed. He is trying his best to function normally.
Beth walks out of her bathroom to find Deja waiting to speak to her. Deja tells her that her mom lost a lot of jobs and it was really hard on her too. Beth tries to reassure her that she’s fine as Deja listens, clearly knowing that Beth is far from fine. Deja tells her that Randall loves Beth “like he’s in a Disney movie or something, like he hears tiny forest animals singing or playing kazoos or something whenever you walk into a room. But if you’re sad, then you should talk to him. He’ll tell you you’re exceptional and he’ll say it so easy that you’ll believe it.” Beth tells her she’s really good at the talks and Deja answers that it comes easy after living with the Pearsons for a while. Tess and Annie come in and Beth hugs and apologizes to them. Tess apologizes as well.
Randall and Kevin are campaigning in the Korean neighborhood, attempting to register voters. A young man comes up and accuses Randall of using his brother to get Koreans to vote for him even though he knows nothing about the Koreans and probably won’t have anything to do with them after the election. The man tries to get his grandmother to leave but Randall follows him. He explains that no, he doesn’t know the neighborhood but he knows what he saw on his way in and he will help them if they will let him know what they want and need.
Kate and Audio arrive home. Toby, waiting on the couch, gets up and asks how he’s doing. Kate tells him what’s going on. She is surprised but impressed that Toby felt good enough to get dressed. He tells her he doesn’t, he thought getting ready would boost his mood but it didn’t. He tells her he’s worried that she’ll leave him eventually since he can’t take care of her. He tells her he tried and then heads back to bed. Audio jumps up, wanting to go outside, and Kate gets excited. She asks Toby to come on a walk with them but he seems set on going to lay down. She asks him, hopeful, and when that doesn’t work she tells him, “I think you should go on a walk with us.” That change, from a questionable and hopeful request to an instruction, gets Toby’s attention and he agrees to go.
Randall and Kevin arrive back at the campaign headquarters. Kevin talks about how Randall found William, which led to buying his building and then his campaign. He says when Randall has something inside him he wants to do he just goes for it no matter what anyone thinks. Kevin explains that the situation is the same for him in regards to Jack. “You need to peel the wallpaper,” says Randall, telling him that he hopes he finds what he needs.
Jack walks into Randall’s room. He tells him that he and Rebecca are confused about why Randall lied. Randall explains that he wanted Jack to show him how to box but he knew without a good reason he wouldn’t. He tells him he wanted to learn because he wanted to be more like Jack. Kevin, Randall says, got his toughness from Jack but he didn’t. Even though he knows he’s Jack’s son, something like this makes it obvious to him that Kevin is his “son-son” and inherited things that Randall couldn’t. Jack tells him “you are my ‘son-son’” and that Randall has something better than knowing how to punch people. He is smart and his brain will be his secret weapon.
Randall is at his campaign headquarters when the young Korean man from earlier in the day walks in. He asks how many voters they registered. He tells Randall about how impressed his grandmother was with him. She had never voted before, initially because she was not allowed in Korea and then because none of the politicians cared about her when she came to America. It was Randall who convinced her to register to vote for the first time. He tells Randall that he has a lot of experience with campaigning and wants to be his campaign manager. Randall asks his name. He tells him his name is Jae-won although most people who aren’t Korean call him John. Randall tells him he’s happy to have him and calls him Jae-won.
Jack tells Rebecca that he is amazed at how he went in to Randall’s room wanting to ground him but when he left he wanted to hug him as tight as he could. Rebecca gives him a gift, headgear. She tells him that if boxing is that important to him she wants him to be safe about it. He begins telling her a story about boxing with his brother when they were younger, and it’s apparent from her expression that this is not something he talks about often. Pleased, she tells him to teach her how to box since everybody else knows, which he does.
Randall walks into Councilman Brown’s office. He tells him that he made it very clear how he feels about Randall at church but, getting the last word in, Randall tells him that he has a campaign manager and he’ll win the Koreans.
Kate and Toby are walking in the park. She tells Toby she’s never going to leave him because she is there for better or worse. She explains how everyone has always taken care of her and gotten her through things and now it’s her turn to take care of him. She is not leaving him, ever. As they share their special moment, Audio finally poops and they happily celebrate.
Kevin shows up at Zoe’s hotel. He apologizes for interrupting her private time. He explains he never knew how to talk to Jack and gives her an application for a visa to Vietnam because he needs to know more and he wants her to go with him. She says yes.
Beth is waiting for Randall as he comes home. He is happy and excited about Jae-won but he can tell something’s wrong. Beth finally tells him that she has not been okay since she got fired. He wonders why she didn’t say anything and she explains she didn’t want to hear him tell her how great she is because she didn’t feel like she was. A light bulb goes off in his head and he asks her to join his campaign. He gives her examples of how, as a team, they accomplished seemingly impossible things. She makes him promise that he’s not offering her a pity job, and he assures her that he’s not. “You really do hear forest animals with kazoos when you see me, don’t you?” she asks him. Randall doesn’t know what she’s talking about but Beth ultimately agrees, telling him, “Let’s win you an election.”
All in all, this was one of my favorite episodes so far this season. From Deja’s speech to Beth to Toby’s attempts to deal with his depression to young Randall explaining how he feels since he’s not Jack’s biological son, every moment was real and heartfelt. This was one of those episodes that reminds me why I love this show so much.
This is Us airs Tuesdays at 9/8 central on NBC.