Friday, November 1, 2019

This Is Us 4.06: “The Club”

“You’ve seen things 99% of the rest of us couldn’t even dream of. And yeah, you’ve made some mistakes along the way but that doesn’t make you unlovable. It makes you human.” Br>- Kevin

This episode of “This Is Us” moved a couple of storylines forward and gave us some interesting insight into some of the family relationships, especially Jack and Randall. Like last week, we have two past storylines that help inform the present. And it’s all about golf. I tried to learn golf with my dad at one time. Turns out, all ball sports aren’t really the best fit for the blind kid. But, hey, it was a bonding experience. It wasn’t quite that type of experience for Jack and Randall. At least not entirely. See, in the time when Jack and Rebecca were still dating, Jack gets goaded into going to club with Rebecca’s dad. It seems like yet another way to have her dad show Jack up but he almost seems to be trying to get Jack a job other than being a mechanic and working part time at a gas station. Until Jack turns the guy down—while quite drunk—and Rebecca’s dad pointedly says he’s still not good enough for his daughter. This doesn’t deter Jack at all. He says he’s going to marry Rebecca and have kids and be happy. His temper does start to flare though until Rebecca shows up and unknowingly diffuses the situation.

But that golf outing informs how Jack interacts with Randall when he’s 12. Randall is going on and on about his English teacher (who he clearly looks up to as Black male role model) and about Tiger Woods. So Jack goes and teaches him golf. In an attempt to bond, Jack explains that he never felt comfortable on the course and that he regrets letting other people hold him back and define him. But, Randall isn’t appreciative of his dad’s attempts to share experiences. He thinks Jack will never understand what it means to be a black kid (or man) and he’s right but that doesn’t’ mean Jack and Rebecca aren’t trying. Jack also wonders if maybe he feels threatened by having Black male role models in Randall’s life. In the end, he seems to warm up to Randall’s teacher—even inviting him for dinner—and he also shows Randall how to game other people on the course. He explains that a lot of important business gets done on golf courses and he has to know whether to be a show off or terrible to help get what he wants.

And that’s exactly what Randall is doing in the present. He wants one councilman to back his affordable grocery store bill but he’s been told if he keeps asking for support, he won’t get it. So, Randall floats that he’s got an in at a local golf club and then lets himself get roped into going with them. He presents as being pretty terrible but with some coaching from the councilman he’s trying to win over, he gets better. This was a strategic move on Randall’s part to butter up the other councilman. In the end, they come to an agreement to talk about supporting each other’s bills. And that’s really all Randall wanted. He’s learning how to be a politician but still put some Randall Pearson flare on it. I liked how the story had multiple layers to it and we got to see the through-line across multiple eras.

The rest of the episode was all about couples and romance. Kate and Toby are worried their sex life is dead after Jack’s birth and Toby suggests they get away for a night. Kate agrees but things don’t go well. Toby can’t perform and ultimately it’s because Kate told him not to throw away a pair of pants he clearly can’t fit in anymore. She says they are his favorite and he thinks she doesn’t support him and his new body or that she thinks (or even wants) him to put the weight back on. Kate eventually explains that she loves him just as she is and things seem to be moving in a better direction with them. But, they need to be quick because Rebecca and Miguel were about to come back to the house with Jack. Oh boy.

And then there’s Kevin. Oh, Kevin. He’s getting bored out of his mind in Pennsylvania in the small town where Nicky lives. He can’t just bail because he told the VA counselor that he’d be there for Nicky’s court appearance for throwing the chair through the window. So, Kevin goes to work out and ends up running into Cassidy. Things still aren’t going well with her husband but Kevin urges her to keep trying. He also ends up on a rather boring date with a girl who works at the gym. She says that it’s a nice place to raise kids (so hey, at least someone he’s interested in at least minimally wants kids). He’s also been creeping on Zoe. At least he’s moved on from Sophie? But, when he gets back to his trailer with his date, Cassidy is there. Kevin sends his date away because clearly Cassidy needs someone to talk to. She explains that she went to see her husband but things devolved quickly and she lost her temper. She thinks she is unlovable given everything she’s’ been through but Kevin disagrees. And then, of course, they end up sleeping together. I still think she’s going to end up being the mother of his kid that we saw at the end of season 3. I get that we needed to check in on everyone in the family but the Kate and Kevin storylines didn’t feel as cohesive with the rest of the plot and I was kind of annoyed. I wanted to see more of Jack and Randall and those storylines. It felt like Kevin and Kate’s relationship drama could have waited a week.

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