Tuesday, October 17, 2017

This Is Us 2.04: “Still There”

“I just wanted to say … I’ve had two nervous breakdowns in my life. One right before Tess was born and one just earlier this year. And they happen when I let myself get stressed out and it just builds up inside and then boom. But, one of the things that helps me feel less stressed out is running. I run every day. It just helps me clear my mind. So, if you ever feel like you want to I would love to go running with you.”
- Randall

A few more weeks have passed for our favorite family and in the 1990s, a crazy snowstorm is on the horizon. The family is at Blockbuster picking out movies for the inevitable snow-in when Kevin kind of loses it. He’s got a fever and it turns out both he and Kate have chicken pox. Oh, I remember that. It’s not fun. Randall isn’t sick but the doctor says it’s easier if all the kids get them at the same time. So, Randall goes around trying various methods to get sick. He walks around in his underwear when it’s really cold out and is then chasing Kate around the kitchen for her germs. This would all be kind of adorable if Rebecca’s horrible mother didn’t show up unannounced and try to take over everything. We know that she disapproves of Jack and she clearly doesn’t think Rebecca can do anything right either. First, she gives the kids presents and while Kevin’s is fine (a football helmet), Kate gets a too-small dress and Randall gets his third basketball. We know he’s not really into sports very much. And then, she insists on making soup because Rebecca isn’t doing it right and she banishes Jack off to the upstairs when he, too, comes down with a fever. I do like that we are getting to see more of Kevin and Jack’s relationship. Kevin is suffering pretty bad and Jack gets him to scream his “battle cry” to focus on something other than the itch. It’s a sweet scene until Grandma ruins it. Later that night, Rebecca has it out with her mother. She points out that she could kind of explain away her mother’s disapproval with Rebecca’s cooking and cleaning skills and the family income but she won’t it around while her mother treats Randall like a second-class citizen. She outright calls her mother a racist which is totally true but neither of them realize that Randall has heard the whole thing. Jack and Rebecca try to explain that racism can come in many forms to Randall but he just wants to go to bed. The next morning, the whole family is avoiding going downstairs so they don’t have to face Grandma. But Jack mans up and he and Kevin go dig her car out of the snow. Grandma admits she’s trying to deal with the whole thing but I suspect the relationship won’t be mended any time soon. Even if she does tell Randall he’s special when he shows her his finished science fair project. I’m glad Rebecca had the strength enough to finally confront her mother about her feelings. I just hope it allow the whole family to move forward in a positive manner.

In the present, Kevin has been hobbling around on his bad knee for a few weeks and the producer on his movie sends him to the doctor. He’s got a tear in his knee which they can fix in a pretty quick surgery. While he’s laid up, Kate and Toby plan to take care of him. Which is all well and good except Kate got her first big paying gig and she’s obsessing over losing enough weight to fit into a particular dress. She abandons Kevin with Toby to go to yoga and Kevin promptly declines the pain medication and starts unwrapping his knee. He’s convinced he can be good enough in a week to finish filming. Kevin is pretty but god is he dumb sometimes. One of the guys from set brings over a fruit basket and updated script pages for Kevin while Kate is out trying to find a quick way to fit into her dress. It turns out that she wasn’t buying a quick fix to fit in her dress. Kate and Toby are expecting! I have to say, I didn’t see that coming at all. Sadly, I did see Kevin wallowing in his pain and succumbing to the use of prescription pain meds. That’s going to lead down a bad road I can just tell.

The more interesting present-day arc is Randall and Beth and the girls. Deja still isn’t really feeling comfortable at the house. Namely because she hasn’t showered in like two weeks. It’s pretty gross. Beth and Randall agree they need to talk to her about it but Randall wants to take the lead and try to make her feel welcomed before discussing the issue. His solution is taking the girls bowling. But Deja isn’t wearing socks and she isn’t about the idea of giving up her shoes. When another girl in the alley calls her out for her hair, Randall immediately jumps in to defend her but she just walks away. Beth agrees to take her own approach the next morning and I have a feeling while Randall’s heart is clearly in the right place, Beth is going to have a better shot. And in fact, she does. Deja lets Beth do her hair and we learn that Deja has alopecia and it gets worse in times of stress. The condition is also apparently somewhat common with African Americans. I did not know that. Unfortunately, the little bit of trust Beth built with Deja goes out the window when Randall shares his nervous breakdowns and his running. She takes a pair of scissors to her braids. I really feel for Randall. He is trying so hard to find a way into this girl’s comfort zone and he just keeps getting rejected at every turn. He was right, though. This is really as hard as people say.

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