Saturday, February 1, 2020

This Is Us 4.10: “Light and Shadow”

“That’s what I am. A part-time mechanic. That not who you belong with.”
– Jack

The first episode of 2020 was a bit of an emotional roller coaster for the Pearsons (then again, when isn’t it?). Kevin is determined to find his future spouse (and procreate) in the next nine months and to do that, he’s decided the best move is the hire a matchmaker. But he quickly realizes it’s a load of crap when he goes on a date with a racist woman. Not long after that, he ends up meeting the woman he thinks is “it” in a coffee shop. They go on this really fun date (where he rents out the Hollywood Bowl and gets John Legend to sing for her) but then she admits that he’s’ her hall pass (as in the one celebrity she could sleep with and it wouldn’t count as cheating). But she can’t actually go through with it. This leaves Kevin quite dejected but he’s’ got other things to focus on, like reshoots for his big movie. And just as he heads to set, he gets a call from Sophie. He doesn’t see it though and it just makes me wonder if he’s going to go back down that road again. Is she really going to be his big love story? They really aren’t’ good together and Kevin just keeps breaking the poor woman’s’ heart. But I guess we will have to wait and see.

Randall is still dealing with the possibility of Rebecca having some cognitive issues. He’s doing it alone because she’s asked that he not involve his siblings. So he flies out to California to go with her for some neurological testing. Miguel isn’t exactly happy that Randall is butting in. But when the tests reveal Rebecca is having some memory issues, he starts to feel guilty about missing or ignoring the signs. He admits he noticed things but he just wanted to attribute it to getting older. I can understand it has to be terrifying to see someone you love fade away like that and I know we are going to have to see that with Rebecca on screen, too, which is going to be really rough. I did like hearing Rebecca tell Randall that she would sneak into the nursery when he was a baby because he would wake up early and they would sit and she’d rock him and listen to music and they would watch the sunrise through the closed curtains.

In the flashbacks, we see the aftermath of the golf club incident where Jack got drunk and had that confrontation with Rebecca’s dad. Jack breaks up with Rebecca, claiming he’s not good enough for her and then not long after, Rebecca’s mom drops the news on her daughter that her dad basically scared Jack off. Rebecca isn’t having any of this possessive, aggressive nonsense and she tracks Jack down at the garage where he works part-time 9blowing off her dad’s big birthday party) and tells him that he is worthy of her and they’re going to have an epic love story. I think this flashback serves two purposes. We see where Kevin thinks he gets the notion of this epic love story for himself (then again, he only saw pieces and not all the rough patches along the way) and also to serve as Rebecca trying to hang on these memories of her husband.

And then there was Kate and Toby. As you might recall, Kate saw a text from one of Toby’s cross fit friends basically trash talking Kate at Thanksgiving time. When they get home from the holiday, Kate confronts Toby about it and he says that there’s nothing going on with this woman and they are just friends and sometimes he vents to his friends but he’s not lying to her and would never do so. Fast forward to the New Year and she is getting ready to throw Toby a Jimmy Buffet-themed birthday party (hence where Kevin meets Mrs. Hall Pass). Kate is trying to keep an open mind about the whole thing and says she’s happy to meet Toby’s cross fit friends so maybe she can stop being so stressed about the woman he’d been texting with. At the party, however, the woman isn’t there and Kate learns form one of his other friends that Toby hasn’t been the gym in several weeks (despite the fact that Kate has been giving him protein shakes and he’s been heading off or so she thinks that whole time). After the party, they have yet another confrontation. Toby admits that the woman tried to kiss him but he rebuffed it and he made the decision to switch gyms so that he wouldn’t have to deal with her and he didn’t want to tell Kate because he thought she’d be suspicious (which she is). I think we are seeing the lingering trauma of Kate’s relationship after high school.

Then we get into the bigger discussion of why Toby seems to avoid being at home. He confirms that Kate does feel him pulling away but it’s not due to an affair or anything like that. He’s been avoiding being around baby Jack because it just makes him so sad. He feels like his son is going to miss out on so much of life and Toby doesn’t want to ruin the pure joy that Kate has when she looks at Jack. This was kind of a tough storyline for me. Being the blind (or visually impaired) person, I know that life can be fulfilling and that one’s disability shouldn’t hold you back. And we’ve seen that clearly Jack succeeds in life. One of the things Toby said about not being able to watch Star Wars with his son hit me. Blind people can watch movies, too. It’s just a different experience. Kate tells Toby that she got him a getaway at a retreat for families with blind children but now she’s not really looking forward to it. Until she realizes that baby Jack has some light perception. As lovely as that is, I don’t really think they should be getting that excited over it. But hey, if it puts them in a more positive space, then good for them. Next week starts a trio of Big Three centric episodes where we find out more about Randall’s anxiety and how he handles (or fails to handle) it.

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