Tuesday, October 18, 2016

This Is Us 1.04: “The Pool”

“Three weeks I’ve known you and I still haven’t said the words. I’m sorry. I’m so deeply sorry. I did everything wrong by you and you’ve done everything right. You are doing everything right, son.”
- William

This episode is all about thee undertones of race that are facing our family both in the 1980s and in the present. It’s not surprising that we’ve gotten to this place this early in the season as it really needed to be addressed, especially with Jack and Rebecca. It’s a hot summer day and the air conditioning in the house isn’t working so Jack’s solution is to take the family to the local pool. He has to talk Rebecca into it but she seems okay with going out with the kids but I suspect things aren’t going to go all that well. As we’ve seen, Kate was heavier-set, even as a young girl but Jack’s bought her a bikini to wear to the pool and Rebecca is fretting that people will make fun of her. Jack isn’t concerned. He’s also not worried about whether Randall needs sunscreen or not. He should be worried about whatever is going on with Kevin. He’s got an attitude and is just being generally a jerk to Randall all the time. The pool gets pretty crowded and Rebecca and Jack keep losing track of the kids. Randall wanders off and Kate gets a mean note from some of the girls from school (poor thing) while Kevin just wants his dad to pay attention to him. The more Kevin tries to get Jack’s attention, the less Jack is noticing him and because of that, Kevin nearly drowns in the deep end of the pool because he’s not a strong swimmer. And we see Rebecca clash a bit with the black families at the pool. Randall ended up playing with some of their kids and things got awkward. But it all works out in the end. Randall gets to hang out with black kids and Jack promises to pay more attention to Kevin.

In the present, Kevin is now on the East Coast and he’s going to audition for a play in New York. It also seems like he and Randall are trying to improve their relationship as he video chats his little brother once he’s settled in a hotel. I have to admit I haven’t cringed yet during this show until Kevin’s audition for this play. It is beyond awkward and uncomfortable. I just kept shaking my head. It’s like he’d never read a script before or understood stage directions. Part of me hopes he doesn’t get the part just so he can realize that maybe he isn’t ready for this step. That he just can’t go from one media to another just because he’s an actor. Film and stage are drastically different. After the world’s worst audition, he runs into his scene partner who invites him for a drink so she can tell him all the things he did wrong. She basically points out all the things running through my head but just as she tells him to go back to LA and take some classes, she gets the notification that he got the part (thanks to his Man-ny fame).

Randall is having his own issues related to William. We learn that William was involved in civil rights work in the 80s (integrating school systems) which is really very cool and I can totally see young William getting involved in that. But as soon as William goes out for his morning walk, Randall sees the neighborhood security guard questioning William (the people across the street reported someone loitering). This is not going to sit well with Randall and as he takes William shopping for some new clothes, Randall kind of loses it a little bit. He explains that because he grew up in a house with a white family he had to learn to just let things go related to race and profiling or else he would be angry all the time. He has a point and I can sort of understand his perspective (from a disability standpoint) but holding all that anger inside (even if he says he lets it go) isn’t healthy. In fact during Tess’s play of Snow White (in which she is Snow White) the audience is laughing at some of the dialogue (specifically about her being fair) and Randall clearly is upset by this reaction to his little girl. William ends up apologizing for not being there for Randall and assures him that Randall is doing everything right. Randall doesn’t have a lot of time to ponder his father’s words because Kevin shows up looking for a place to crash. That is going to be interesting to say the least.

On the West Coast, Kate and Toby are trying to move forward with their relationship now that she’s not so dependent on Kevin. But she’s going to question their relationship when Toby runs into his ex-wife. Kate kind of gets obsessed with Toby’s ex, convinced she is what he wants (honey, she’s an ex for a reason) and so she ends up finding where the woman works. She goes to confront her and sort of falls into a job interview. It looks like things are going to go horrible when Kate starts rattling off things she saw online about Toby’s ex but it lands her the job. Now she just has to break the news to Toby! He is really upset by this and my heart broke when he explained what happened between him and his ex. She cheated on him, lied and took half his money in the divorce. He gained nearly 100 pounds in the year after she left and he seriously contemplated suicide before he started to get his life back on track. I am really glad we finally got to see a little bit of a serious side of Toby. His funny stuff is great and always makes me laugh but he did need some more depth and I’m excited to see him and Kate work through their issues together.

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