Friday, November 1, 2019

This Is Us 4.05: “Storybook Love”

“You have strange relationships with people.”
- Nicky

This week’s episode was all centered on food. At least in the two past storylines. It’s not often we see stories in the distant past, the somewhat distant past and the present all at the same time. But they all informed each other and I thought it was pretty cool. In the past set in the year after Jack died, we find Rebecca and Kate have moved into a house and are having Sophie and Kevin over for dinner to celebrate their wedding. Kate thinks it’s weird that Kevin got married without them and she makes her feelings perfectly clear. Beth and Randall come for the visit, as does Miguel. Kate’s boyfriend, Mark, ends up showing up, too. There’s totally more to this story and I can’t wait to find out more. But as we see the night unravel as the kids snipe at each other, we also see a flashback to Jack and Rebecca moving into their new home after she found out she’s pregnant. She wanted to make the perfect lasagna but it got burned and the table didn’t’ have all the legs. And then a bird got into the house and Jack lost his mind because he’s terrified of birds. Ultimately, though, the night turned out pretty perfect. In the not-so-distant past storyline, however, it seems the kids are forcing smiles for Rebecca’s sake as she sings a song from the Princess Bride. I’ve seen that movie countless times and I don’t remember this song at all.

In Philly, Randall and Beth end up having to deal with an expected situation with Tess. Randall has been focusing a lot on exercise which makes Beth nervous (when he’s ramping up for an anxiety episode he tends to get hyper=focused) and he’s trying to recover from bailing on the councilmen for drinks (when he was meeting with constituents and firing his aid). But then he gets a call from Tess’s school that she had a panic attack. Randall tries to sympathize with Tess but she doesn’t want to hear it. She insists she doesn’t want to be anything like her dad. As Randall worries that he’s passed on the one bad thing about himself to his child, Beth flashes back to a very similar conversation with William not long after Randall’s breakdown in season 1. William admits that he, too, suffers from anxiety. While they didn’t have a name for it when he was growing up, his mother would pour him a glass of seltzer water and they’d watch the bubbles settle (the bubbles were analogous to his thoughts). So, Beth drags Randall and Tess into the kitchen and gives them seltzer. It calms Tess enough to admit that she is anxious about the fact that she’d planning to just come out to people but when another girl asked if she thought a boy was hot, Tess answered “yes” instead of saying “I like girls”. Both Beth and Randall promise to help her through the stress. Beth even finds Tess a therapist. She’s found one for Randall, too, but he refuses, saying he’s fine. That’s not going to end well.

Out in LA, Kate is waiting at home for some big present from Randall and Kevin. It’s a delivery so she’s got to be home for it. The doorbell rings and Rebeca shows up, claiming she wants to see the baby. But then, the delivery people arrive with the old piano from their house and it is really a sweet gesture so that Kate can share music with baby Jack. Other than being worried about Kevin buying a trailer in in the woods in Pennsylvania, Kate didn’t have a ton to do this episode in the present. She does uncover some Polaroid pictures from the dinner party, her and Rebecca’s reaction to the photo of Kate and Mark promises drama about to unfold. I have a feeling it’s going to be some sort of abuse.

Out in Pennsylvania, Kevin is trying to bond with Nicky but it’s just awkward and Nicky isn’t really interested in bonding. He doesn’t really want to go to the hockey game Kevin is dragging him to. Cassidy is being honored as a veteran and Kevin is going to support her. Plus, her husband is going to be there which gives Kevin a chance to help her fix things. At first it doesn’t seem like things are fixable. Her husband is chilly at best to her and Kevin and he spends the whole event looking at his phone instead of focusing on Cassidy. Nicky also bails on the event and I don’t blame him. There are too many triggers around: copious amounts of alcohol, loud noises that are somewhat unpredictable. He ends up leaving. I get Kevin was trying to be supportive of his new friend but he put his uncle in a really bad situation. After the game, Kevin confronts Ryan who admits that he met Cassidy when they were 15 and he fell in love immediately and he knew she was going to be his favorite person. The ceremony honored the thing that broke his favorite person. So there may be hope for them yet. I still think that Kevin and Cassidy may end up together but we’ll just have to wait and see. By the end of the episode, Kevin has also gotten Nicky to open up. He tried to share a story about Jack sharing a box of ice cream with him and how much Kevin loved that connection with his dad. Nicky explains that it was their father who started it. Even though he wasn’t a very nice man, every now and then he did something nice and cool. It was nice to see how different things, both good and bad, can be passed down through generations. It was a nice connection for Kevin and Nicky to have and I’m so glad that Nicky was able to stay sober despite the whole triggering situation.

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