Wednesday, March 27, 2019

This Is Us 3.17: “R & B”

“I love you Randall, but you consume things.”
- Beth

If you thought that Beth and Randall’s epic fight was going to be over and done with at the start of this episode, you’d be wrong. It was just the start of a look back at their relationship starting with their first meeting. Beth prefaces the trip down memory lane that they have been having the same fight for twenty years and as the episode went along, I could see it from her perspective and it really made me feel for Beth. But at the same time, she could have pushed back harder sometimes and stood her ground. The Beth we met who was a force as a teenager did seem to get swallowed up a bit by Randall and that is the problem.

I did like that we got to see the phone call with Kevin giving Randall pointers asking Beth out on a date. That was definitely cute, but the date itself was awkward in part because Randall totally info dumped all the sort of “memorable” stuff about his childhood—being adopted, his dad dying. Yeah, Randall, you don’t want to lead with that on a first date, buddy. And then the waiter requested that they pre-pay for their meal before ordering. Randall was all set to do it (even though he knew it wasn’t right…hello 1990s racism) and Beth couldn’t believe it. She didn’t want the flowers and the fancy dinner. She just wanted to hang and eat some nachos. She tells Randall not to call her again. That clearly didn’t last because when next we catch up to them, they’ve been together for seven years and Randall has repeatedly been proposing to Beth. She hasn’t said yes yet but he’s determined.

Things take a turn for Randall and Beth when Beth suggests they skip Sunday dinner with Rebecca in favor of mini golf. Randall likes the idea of golf but insists Rebecca come along. I get that he doesn’t want his mother to feel abandoned but she would understand I’m sure. This leads to Beth flipping out at Randall for telling Rebecca about all of his proposal attempts. Randall storms off and Rebecca and Beth have a heart to heart. Beth loves Randall but she is worried he will consume her and she wasn’t that. Rebecca insists that won’t happen because Beth isn’t a “wall flower”. So, Beth ends up taking Randall to a diner where she orders nachos and then tells him to ask her to marry him. She says yes this time.

Cut to their wedding day. Beth is trying to finish writing her vows because she didn’t have time earlier thanks to lots of little things that were going on with wedding planning. They bought the big house (where they live now) and they are holding the ceremony in the back yard. She asks Kate to stall for a few minutes which leads to Randall and Kevin going over Randall’s vows which Randall realizes was more of a boring dissertation on marriage than how he felt about Beth. Beth is not having any of this and so they agree to write the vows together and it is a really sweet scene intercut with their actual exchange of vows. They promise to be whole people with each other and not get swept up by the other but as we’ve seen, that’s not going to be the case.

When next we pick up with Beth and Randall, they are both sleep-deprived trying to deal with baby Tess in the middle of the night. After sniping at each other over the baby wipes to use and the right way to put on the diaper, Randall offers to make Beth some nachos. But, they end up having yet another spat. Beth tries to explain that she feels like Randall does things and he doesn’t mean to it but leaves Beth with less. She uses a fairly apt nacho metaphor. Before we get back to Beth and Randall in the present, we have one more stop on memory lane: the time that Kevin was living with Beth and Randall as well as William. Beth lies about going to a conference out of tow but really, she just needs a night to herself away from everyone else. Randall catches her in the lie when he and William stop to pick up syrup and they run into her at the store. Randall is upset but also then asks her what episodes of a shared TV show she planned to watch and Beth ends up going home.

The point of this whole trip down memory lane is of course to show that whenever there is an issue, Randall gives some big speech and Beth ends up bending or adjusting her life to fit him. It is never the other way around and that is not fair and it wasn’t what they promised. Now, I don’t think Randall has meant to do any of these things and I also don’t think Beth realizes she’s’ been giving in as much as she has. She has become a bit of a push over at times and she and Randall both need to figure out how to move forward. I found it interesting that when Beth was trying to get Randall to admit he thought his job was more important than hers and he refused to say it, we got flashes of teenage Randall walking in on Jack and Rebecca’s big fight. It was essentially the same thing. I suspect that Randall has been trying to avoid having that fight so he’s been doing everything he can to not come off like he resents Beth following her dream. But in the end, he heads back to his office because he can’t be in the house with her. Whether this is the beginning of the end of Beth and Randall as a couple (leading to that future where it seems clear they aren’t together) only time will tell. But there are definite fractures in their relationship that I am unsure how or if they will be able to fix. I didn’t get teary this week but damn, the writers are still bringing us through the wringer.

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