Tuesday, November 1, 2016

This Is Us 1.06: "Career Days"

“I want you to stand out. I want all of you to stand out in the best possible ways.”
- Jack

This week is all about jobs and the sacrifices we make for the ones we love. We get a montage of Jack staring out in construction when the Big Three are infants and by the time they are toddlers he has to take an office gig with Miguel just to make sure they have enough money for food (three growing kids eat a lot!). And by the time they are eight, he’s settled in his career, although he longs to make a move and go out on his own. But he may not be able to do that. While they’ve been treating the kids all the same for eight years, it turns out Randall has tested as gifted. Jack is highly confused by this, given his grades are average just like Kevin and Kate, but as the teacher explains, gifted kids often don’t feel challenged in the environment they are in. Jack still isn’t convinced, even when they go look at the school. He floats the idea of starting his own company after Rebecca picks up that he’s not happy at work. She thinks he should go for it and that they’ll figure out how to afford it later. She wants him to be happy. We also see that Kate is really beginning to question her weight and what constitutes beauty. Sure her parents tell her she’s beautiful and Rebecca even says that they look alike but eight-year-old Kate realizes that she wears bigger sizes than her mom. Jack ends up getting to the heart of the issue with Randall when he takes Randall to work and realizes that Randall doesn’t want to be different from his siblings because he worries they’ll hate him if he does better than them. But Jack also realizes that they need to be different and allowed to shine in their own ways. They may be all the same age but they are their own people. And while Jack doesn’t end up striking out on his own, we do see that Randall gets to go to the gifted school and we know he thrives.

In the present, we learn that William used to be a musician and plays piano and some trumpet (in addition to being a poet). It doesn’t seem like Randall has inherited any of his music genes and he’s rather upset when the girls would rather have Grandpa Musician or Uncle Actor go to their career day. Randall does commodities trading and I have to agree with Kevin on this one, it sounds boring as all get out. Heck, even Beth doesn’t understand what he does when he tries to give his presentation to her. He wonders if he has an artistic side no one knew the nurture in him (I suspect this may turn out kind of awkward). Randall ends up playing the piano and singing (poorly) about his job. It’s pretty painful actually. But William points out afterwards that when Randall first told him about his job, his face lit up like musicians do when they talk about their craft. So they next morning, Randall announces that he puts on a tie every day because he wants to and that he’s going to take piano lessons. Glad you’ve had your mid-life crisis Randall.

Speaking of Kevin, he seems to really be struggling in a pivotal scene that deals with grief. I get the feeling he hasn’t really mourned Jack in the same way Kate and Randall have. Olivia seems to have an idea of how to jump start Kevin’s emotions. She tells him to go to a party with her the next day but when they show up, it isn’t a party. It’s a memorial service. Sneaky girl! At first it isn’t going very well. He’s kind of appalled that she dragged him to a funeral for some random person she didn’t even know. But then as he goes for a drink and finds the dead guy’s widow trying to find space in the fridge for all the food people keep bringing he kind of breaks down. Her son (who is 15) doesn’t want any of his dad’s things and then Kevin shares the fact that he and Jack used to build models together and Kevin would pick the most complex because they took the most time (and with two other siblings he needed to maximize dad time) but when Jack died, he threw all of them away and he doesn’t know why. And all he’s got left of Jack is his necklace. At first he couldn’t even look at it but now he can’t take it off. I know I was moved to tears as he sobbed in the widow’s arms and I think this is exactly what Kevin needed to get through the scene in the play. And apparently it gets Olivia to sleep with him (at the funeral which is kind of gross).

In LA, Kate gets a new job as a project coordinator/assistant for a woman who runs a charity. Kate is super excited about the gig until she meets her new boss’s teenage daughter who instantly comments that her mother hired “the fat one”. Disrespectful little brat! At first it seems like Kate is really into her job. She’s getting a lot done for her boss. But then she has to ferry the boss’s bratty daughter to a friend’s house and the kid refuses to give Kate the address. She continues to insult Kate based on her weight until Kate has had enough and actually throws her out of the car and tells her to walk to her friend’s house (the girl is a little heavyset so that’s why she assumes her mom hired Kate). I was so proud of Kate for not putting up with that girl’s attitude. Kate gets back to her boss’s place and confronts her about the reason she hired Kate. Kate is willing to stay on with a few caveats. I’m glad to see Kate standing up for herself and fighting for what she deserves in her life. And as we end the episode we get somewhat of a truth bomb dropped on us about Kate and Rebecca’s relationship. Kate hated her mother for being skinny and beautiful and Kate came to resent her mother and now they barely speak. It’s also interesting that Kevin has spent so much of his life hating Jack for dying (which makes me wonder what happened even more). I love how this show continues to peel back the layers of these characters and make them just so relatable.

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