Wednesday, March 25, 2020

This Is Us. 4.18: “Strangers Part Two”

“I think the trick is not trying to keep the joys and the tragedies apart. But you gotta kinda let them cozy up to one another, let ‘em co-exist. Life has a way of working out to more happy than tragic.”
- Dr. K.

We’ve reached another finale of “This Is Us” and boy has this year had its ups and downs on issues that seem far more personal to me, given the material. But hey, at least I’m hoping we find out who Kevin’s fiancée and baby mama is this episode so we can go into season 5 prepared. And Based on the episode title and what I’ve heard, I’m hoping we get to check in with the characters we met at the start of the season (I’m especially eager to see grown-up Jack and Cassidy).

Before we dive into the current (and future) storylines, let’s look back at the Big Three’s first birthday. Jack is all ready in his terrible towel and Rebecca comes in with a cupcake and her bathrobe on. She’s not keen to be showing off her body a year after delivering triplets. And Jack doesn’t get his usual birthday show because the kids start screaming. And even though it’s super cute as the Big Three try cupcakes and cake for the first time, Rebecca needs to take a minute. She’s been feeling really sad lately because she’s been wondering what Kyle’s first words would have been or when he took his first steps or gotten his first tooth like the Big Three. Jack admits he’s been feeling sad about it, too but he didn’t know what to do about it. So, he decides to take the family to see Dr. K. He’s pleased to see them, but he suspects what’s on their minds. He recounts how he and his wife lost their first child and he had sung “Blue Skies” to his wife’s pregnant belly and then after their loss, they’d sit listening to the song and it made them sad. But then, they got pregnant again and he was back to signing it and this time their child survived and he danced to the song with her at her wedding. So, he points out that they have to let the joy and the sadness exist together. And so, we see Jack and Rebecca watching home movies of when Rebecca was pregnant as a way to remember Kyle. I did find it interesting that they brought him up. I do often wonder why none of them talk about him much.

In the present, the family is gathering in LA to celebrate Jack’s first birthday. We get a little touch stone with Cassidy and Nicky (apparently, they’re still checking up on each other which is a good thing) and Nicky even sent Kevin baby shoes to give to Jack as a birthday present. It was really sweet, and Kevin is happy that he’s made it to a year of sobriety. But not everything is as it appears. We see that Rebeca hasn’t told Kevin or Kate that she’s entering the trial and Beth thinks that Randall pushed her to do it and I don’t blame her. Randall has a savior complex and this need for control and it’s going to push the people he loves away. And he’ll have done it to himself. Initially, Randall acts like he’s just as surprised as everyone else about Rebecca’s change of heart. But when Rebecca uses a phrase that Randall used when the Big Three were talking about it, Kevin puts the pieces together. Beth smartly takes the rest of the family out to see the city while Randall and Kevin have their blowout. And boy is it brutal. It starts off small and is interrupted by Madison (who is carrying Kevin’s twins!) and the it gets really ugly. Randall accuses Kevin not caring about anyone but himself and Kevin responds by saying the worst day of his life was the day Jack and Rebecca brought Randall home from the hospital. Ouch. And then Kevin decides to go all in and says his great love is going to be his kids. I don’t really see Kevin and Madison ending up together, so we still don’t know the identity of his fiancée. Unless they get married because of the babies and split up later down the road. But we also get a glimpse of Sophie seeing a ridiculous ad that Kevin did. So, she’s not totally gone from the picture either.

While all this chaos is happening, Kate and Toby take Jack back to the hospital and put up a picture on the “success” wall. Toby recounts to Kate a conversation they had after Jack was born abut him being there for her and Jack. He admits he’s not done the best job over the last year, but he is committed now. I’m pretty sure they are going to be fine. Especially since Toby sys he wants to give Jack a sibling via adoption. And this leads us to the future where Adult Jack and his wife are eagerly awaiting the birth of their overdue baby. Jack starts singing one of his songs and her contractions start. We see them get to the hospital and they want to be surprised by the gender, but the nurse lets slip that it’s a girl. They’ve been struggling to come up with a name, but they finally settle on one when Jack ‘s sister Hailey arrives. She works at a gallery and before we realized Toby and Kate were adopting, I honestly thought maybe she was the baby mama to Kevin. But, the next generation of Damons has a name: Hope.

And the Pearson clan is going to need a lot of it in the future because we visit the timeline where everyone is gathering to say their goodbyes to Rebecca on her death bed. We see Kevin’s’ twins (a boy and a girl) and we see that Kevin ha a wedding ring. There’s still not answer as to where Miguel is and wherever Kate and the kids are coming from must be far away because they haven’t showed up yet. And we also get a glimpse of the fact Nicky has a wedding ring on, too. Some people have speculated he married Rebecca, but I don’t think I see that being the case. Other’s have suggested Cassidy but that seems a bit farfetched, too. So, we’ll have more questions to ponder until the fall when the show returns. Kevin and Randall have a bit of an icy reunion but as the episode ends, Kevin puts his hand on Randall’s shoulder. So maybe they’re going to be okay after all, even if it takes a decade to get there.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

This Is Us 4.17: “After the Fire”

“I could have done something. That’s what I do, I fix things.”
- Randall

We’ve reached yet another penultimate episode of “This Is Us” and it looks like we are going to be finding out “what if”. I’m both intrigued to see what’s changed (and stayed the same) and a little nervous that this is going to essentially be a filler episode. We still don’t know who Kevin’s baby mama/fiancée is and we’ve been told that next season picks up with the Big Three turning 40 so we have to know soon.

So, this episode didn’t turn out at all like I was expecting. It wasn’t filler at all. It did in fact move the plot along, even though I desperately wanted to smack Randall the entire episode. We spend much of the time with Randall in a therapy session. He’s told his therapist that he’s been thinking a lot about what life would have been like after the fire, if Jack had lived. She asks him to tell her how his life would have been different and thus begins scenario number one.

In the first version, Randall convinces Jack now to go back into the house (and a fireman has rescued the dog). Rebecca comes clean to Jack about knowing about William and although he’s upset, he’s united with her. Randall is very angry with his mother, but we see Jack take him to meet William and the tow strike up a bond and a relationship. We see Randall help William get clean (Jack helps, too, by taking him to AA and NA meetings). I suppose in a way, that helps Jack to stay sober, too. I had expected that Randall would still go away to Howard but he decides to attend the same school where he met Beth so he could still visit with William. We get a version of the Big Three’s first dinner home from college and it is there that Beth manages to get Randall’s head out of his ass about Rebecca and he starts to heal and forgive her for what she’s done. Kevin is also still married to Sophie (or at least dating her) and thankfully Kate isn’t seeing Marc in this version of events. Jack gives a sweet toast at Randall and Beth’s wedding and it’s a big happy family for a while, until William starts showing symptoms of stomach cancer. But hey, Randall is able to save his biological father from that, too. And then, as time passes, we see Rebecca start to deteriorate and it looks like Randall is going to save her, too, when the therapist steps in and calls Randall on his bullshit.

I honestly was glad she pulled the rose-colored glasses off. Basically, Randall was trying to fix all the issues in his life in this little fantasy. But we know life isn’t like that. She then tells Randall to tell her the version filled with all his fears about what his life would be like. We get the start of the story again and this time, Jack is furious with Rebecca and Randall refuses to forgive Rebecca for what she’s done. But this time, William, who is clearly still high, denies having any children, which sets Randall on a path to Howard University where he gets immersed in the culture (joining a fraternity) and becoming a professor who sleeps with his Teaching Assistants. It was weird to see Kevin be the stable one working for Big Three Construction. We also see that Kate has married a different guy and had twin girls who look to be around three or four when Kevin gets married to Sophie much older. Randall eventually gets a package of William’s belongings, but he tosses it in the trash. I will say, the dinner scene with all of the kids back from college was super awkward and uncomfortable but not just because of the cold shoulder Randall gives his mother but seeing Jack drinking and getting kind of aggressive. I was surprised that their marriage lasted. In the end, Randall reconciles with Rebecca when Jack calls and says she’s not well.

At this point, the therapist yet again calls Randall out. For one thing, he started the session off talking about how a disagreement with his brother about their mother’s care brought him into the office. She points out that it appears Randall is seeking someone who reminds him of his mother to try and work through the issues he still has with her not telling him about William for so long (as we saw, that’s the first thing she did in these two different versions of his life). Randall feels like he couldn’t safe or fix his biological mother, William or Jack and he thinks Rebecca’s death would break him. So, he’s been pushing so hard to take care of her. He calls Rebecca later that night and tells her that he’s been a good son and never asked her for anything but he’s asking her to do the clinical trial for him. She agrees but I can see that this is going to be the thing that tears Kevin and Randall apart. I suspect the trial isn’t going to be the cure-all Randall is hoping it is and that he eventually has to come back to the family and beg forgiveness.

I really do love this show and its complexity, but I have to say I was happy to see the therapist knock Randall down a few pegs. Because he can be so pushy (and he still is). He thinks he needs to take care of everything as a way of fitting in, but I don’t think that’s the case. It just makes him come off as trying too hard. I cannot imagine what it is like to be a man of color in this country right now and I appreciate that they are taking these issues seriously, I just wish Randall would be able to see some of the flaws in his character and work toward improving on them. It would give him better relationships with everyone in his life. He needs to work on ceding control for things that he can’t fix.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

This Is Us 4.16: “New York. New York, New York”

“She’s so happy right now. Let her have one great day.”
- Kevin

This episode of This Is Us found the Pearson clan going to the Big Apple for three very different trips. When the Big Three were in middle school, the family took a trip there for the day before heading to Randall’s debate tournament. Rebecca is saving ahojt her memories of the city form her trips there when she was a little girl and Jack is feeling inadequate even though we all know her dad is a jerk. So he tries to act like he knows where he’s going but he gets them lost in Queens. Finally Rebecca pulls him aside and he admits he’s out of his depth. He wants to give his kids a great day and they do manage to fit in what each of the kids wanted to do: natural history museum for Randall, a visit to a giant toy store for Kevin and a fancy tea for Kate: Rebecca wanted to go to the Met but when she gets there it is closed. This is a bit of a through line in each of the three time periods. Jack hasn’t decided yet what he wanted to do until that evening when he takes the whole family on a horse drawn carriage ride.

That brings us to the college years when Rebecca, Randall and Beth go see Kevin’s adding class showcase where he does a monologue from Death of a Saleaman (side note: I was not a fan of that particular work). Anyway; as the evening progresses it becomes clear that Kevin is trying to set Rebecca up with his acting teacher, Kirby. This leads to tensions between the boys since Kevin thinks a year is enough time for their mom to move on and that she shouldn’t be sad about Jack for the rest of her life. Randall doesn’t think she’s ready and it seems in this instance he may be partly right. Rebecca is making her second attempt to get back to the Met and Kirby offers to join her. They seem to hit it off at first, bonding over music and such but when she spits a horse drawn carriage ride and he dismisses it as a lame tourist attraction she bails on the Met. It clearly is too soon and it just brings up memories of Jack.

And then there was the present day. Kevin has agreed to take Rebecca to his movie premiere and Randall is coming up, too. But his motive isn’t to support his brother. It’s to try and convince Rebecca to enter a 9 month clinical trial. Honestly, I’m kind of torn. I understand that trials help people and it could prolong her memory and help her maintain her relationships but I also feel like Randall pushes it because of his own fear of losing his mother. Degenerative diseases like this are painful to watch and experience for everyone. But it really is Rebecc/a choice.

Kevin books them a room at the Plaza hotel and guys her a snazzy new dress and she can even walk the red carpet with him which she thinks is pretty epic even though she’s not usually into that sort of thing. I do have to aah the dress he got her was gorgeous. Randall shows up and they agree to wait to talk to Rebecca about anything medical until the following day so she can enjoy the night. But, of course; Randall can’t resist when Rebecca has a slip on remembering the name of the hotel when talking to Kevin’s manager. Randall starts to fill her in on all the details when Kevin comes back over and kind of snaps at Randall.. When Randall says that if Kevin hadn’t abandoned them he would have been part of the conversation, Kevin points out he was gone for two minutes at his own premiere. I’m with Kevin on this one.

Rebecca says she needs some air and then they get a text that she’s headed to the Met. They find her staring at a painting and she explains that she was a little girl when she came last and watched a woman stare at a painting for hours. She wanted to come back and do that as an adult. I kind of wondered if the woman young Rebecca saw was the woman in the painting. Anyway, Rebecca decodes that she’s not going to do the trial. She just wants to enjoy what time she ABA left and doing all the things she’s put off as “next time”. Kevon seems to accept this but as we know, Randall is having trouble. I think we are going to see this manifest over the next couple episodes as we reach the finals. At the end of this episode, we see Randall tell Kevin he was trying to save Rebecca because he couldn’t save Jack. Randall also admits that every day he wonders what life would be like if Jack had survived the fire. And at the very end we see a scene of what could have been, with young Randall telling Jack that if his dad went back in the house. Randall would go in after him. So I guess next week we get to see the alternate timeline where Jack survived. It will be interesting to see what’s the same and what changes. Does Kevin end up going to New York? Does Kate even date Marc? Would Beth and Randall still meet?

I thought this was a good episode and I think we are getting closer to whatever drives Randall and Kevin apart for a time. I think we must also be getting close to finding out who Kevin’s fiancée and baby mama is because I’ve heard we pick up season 5 with the Big Three turning the big 4-0. I do hope we get to see the rest of the scene in the future with Old Rebecca and I want to see more of adult Jack and his life. There’s still so much sorry left to be told for this family.

This Is Us 4.15: “Clouds”

“Sometimes, making people forget about their worries or what’s coming next is the most important thing you can do for someone.”
- Rebecca

We are in the home stretch of “This Is Us” and things are starting to settle down for one of the Big Three, but ready to ramp up to 11 for the other two. First, let’s drop in on Kate and Toby. Kate goes off to brunch with Madison, who is trying to apologize for sleeping with Kevin. There doesn’t appear to be any danger of Madison becoming a Pearson but she does give Kate some good advice about how to approach things with Toby. She shouldn’t resent him for being honest about his feelings. So when she goes home, after he’d tried to show her the music studio he wants to build for her, she realizes that he is being sincere in his attempts to be a good dad to Jack. It seems now that he’s been able to deal with his own emotions and fears, he’s in a better place which means he and Kate are going to be in a better place. He doesn’t want to just build the recording studio for Kate. He wants it to be for Jack, too. And we get a sweet montage of Jack growing up in the little studio, all the way to adult Jack recording in there, too. I hope that Kate and Toby are able to stay in a good place (because we really only saw Kate in the montage with Jack as he grew up).

While Kate and toby are on the mend, Kevin and Randall are on a collision course over Rebecca. They just don’t know it yet. Randall spends most of the episode in therapy and it doesn’t go well. Then again, I can’t imagine anyone is surprised by that. He has such a need for control and he even admits that to the therapist. Eventually, as he gets more and more agitated, he exclaims that he’s the whole reason his family hasn’t fallen apart at this point. I definitely think he’s wrong but I can see how he would think that. He feels like he had to step up and be the man of the house after Jack died and take care of Rebecca while his siblings were off doing their thing. But I also think a lot of it was down to Rebecca stepping up for her kids. So that’s going to be interesting as they continue to explore his feelings about his family. He also got really agitated by the out-of-date magazines, the constantly whistling coffee pot and the weird artwork. I think maybe part of the issue with the coffee pot was a little PTSD about the slow cooker but the rest of it was ridiculous. I can also sort of understand why he was mad the doctor Googled him before meeting him but also, she was probably trying to understand where this man was coming from to help him get to the heart of his issues. He’s ready to quit the whole therapy thing when Beth explains that she needs him to get the help because she’s been dealing with things she hasn’t told him about since the break-in because she doesn’t want to put too much on him and watch him fall apart. It was a small scene in comparison but I think it was very impactful. So, by the end of the episode, we see him go back to the office and ready to try again. I know Randall wants a quick fix but with the stuff he’s dealing with, it’s going to take time to unpack, sort through and find ways to deal with it all. And it’s going to be painful.

Meanwhile, Kevin and Rebecca end up going to an old record store where she listens to some Joanie Mitchell, prompting a search for her old house. She says she and Jack tried to find it on their first trip to LA but couldn’t. They didn’t have Siri back then and Kevin finds the house. Rebecca even decides to sneak in (the gate was open). They don’t go in the house but it’s clear Rebecca is loving this fun little mother-son trip. She even says she wants to go his New York premiere with him (which given what we see for the next episode, probably happens). Rebecca doesn’t want to go get her MRI results (which is part of what prompted the trip to find Joanie’s house) but Kevin, for once, is responsible and gets her there (a circumstance Randall rails about in therapy, saying he’ll likely get a text from Kevin saying he lost track of time and missed the appointment). I’m glad Kevin stepped up and was the adult here. It’s showing that he’s starting to really mature. At the end of the episode, he ends up going to buy the same baseball card he and Rebecca hunted for that day long ago to keep in his wallet to remind him to still be fun because that’s what his mother needs him to be right now.

We also see in flashbacks where he got into running. Jack is trying to help Randall manage his worry and anxiety by letting it out through exercise because preteen Randall is stressing over an A-. Kevin managed two As (in PE and Art) and he still gets $10 as promised. He insists that Rebecca take him to the baseball card shop so he can complete his 1991 collection. So while Randall and Jack are off running (and really it can only be a coping mechanism for so long), Kevin and Rebecca end up having fun at the shop trying to find the one card Kevin still needs to complete his collection. And Jack gets to have a really sweet moment with Jack about her breakup with her first boyfriend. He equates first boyfriends to first waffles. You got to go through several before you find the right one. It was so Jack. But it was kind of sweet all the same.

This Is Us 4.14: “The Cabin”

\“It was a fun, silly time capsule, bro. And I choked. I’ve been anxious for so long and I don’t get better. Not really. The truth is, as soon as I tackled that mugger, I had him. I didn’t have to hit him. I wanted to.”
– Randall

This was a really strong episode of “This Is Us”. The Big Three all finally know about Rebecca’s diagnosis and we get a glimpse into the future that answers a few questions. And we are finally done with Marc. When the Big Three are thirteen or so, Jack and Rebecca decide to do a time capsule at the cabin, with the intent of digging it up when the Big Three are eighteen. That obviously never happened so it’s still buried in the back yard. As everyone tries to figure out what to put in it, we see Randall struggle with what he wants to put in while Kevin and Kate seem to already know. It appears Jack is also struggling. Rebecca catches him sketching a design for a big house and he says he wants to build it on the hill above where the cabin is. This all becomes very important to the later storylines. But before we get there, we need to deal with the problem named Marc.

He and Kate arrive at the cabin and he continues to be a manipulative, abusive jackass by first making sure she still loves him and then when she makes coffee and asks him to use a different mug (the one he grabbed was Jack’s and no one but he drank from it), he purposely breaks it and upsets Kate. Then, she goes to get firewood and he takes a dig at her weight before locking her out in the freezing snow for what appears to be quite a while. Meanwhile, Rebecca and the boys are on their way up because Rebecca is worried about Kate given that phone call at the pay phone. They can’t get to the cabin that night because of a road closure due to a tree. When they arrive the next morning, Rebecca insists that Randall and Kevin tell Kate they came up because of the snow. Things quickly devolve though when Kevin remarks on how cold it is in the cabin and then Randall notices a broken window. Then it’s revealed that Kate is wearing gloves to cover up a nasty cut she got on her hand when she broke the window to get back into the house. Marc tries to play it off but Rebecca stands up to him and tells him to get out of her house. And just like that, he’s gone. I will admit, I kind of wished Kevin had gotten to hit Marc because that would have been very satisfying.

Now to the present where the Big Three head to the cabin to try and bond or commiserate or whatever. We briefly get to see Toby taking care of Jack, complete with a choking scare. But baby Jack is okay and then Toby (finally) shares his love of Star Wars with his little boy by making sound effects as he shows him the figurines he has. It was very sweet and I’ve been waiting for Toby to realize he can share things with his son. Back at the cabin, the power goes out and both Randall and Kate start to panic because Randall can’t see the camera feed on the security system and Kate can’t FaceTime Toby and Jack. Kevin is just trying to keep the fact he slept with Madison a secret. But that cat gets out of the bag when Madison leaves Kate a series of voicemails about it while they are at a convenience store stocking up on supplies. When they get back to the cabin, Kate and Kevin note that Randall is not okay given how much he panicked about not being able to reach Beth for a few hours. Randall gets defensive, claiming he’s just exhausted from everything going on, including his trip to LA. And just like that, the cat is out of the bag about Rebecca’s diagnosis. Kevin flips out, assuming (rightly so) that Rebecca was worried about his sobriety. I mean, I can understand him being upset that she didn’t tell him and he was the last to know but also, we saw how easily Kevin feel back into things when life threw curveballs at him. This prompts Kevin to go sit outside for a while, leaving Randall and Kate to work on a puzzle that Jack had created from a family photo. Jack’s eye is missing when they finish up and this prompts Randall to declare it is time to dig up the time capsule. It turns out that Randall couldn’t choose and Kevin told him to take the puzzle piece because when they dig it up, people will be happy they found it. We also discover that Rebecca put Jack’s drawing of the house in and Jack put in a recording explaining about the house and watching the kids try to decide what to put in it. I’m a little surprised they weren’t more emotional hearing his voice for likely the first time in twenty years.

By the end, Kate is heading home and Randall is finally able to admit that he’s not getting better with his anxiety and he needs help. He’s going to consider a therapist but I have my doubts that it’s going to go as expected. And in a glimpse of the future, we see that Kevin built the house that Jack designed on the hill and that’s where everyone has gathered with old Rebecca. Gotta admit, Kevin looks pretty good with the grey in his hair and beard. Not bad. I like that we got that piece of the puzzle (no pun intended) filled in while still leaving lots of questions still to answer. We only have a few more episodes until the end of the season and I’ll be sad when they are over ad we have to wait six months for more. But hey, at least we know the writers get to tell the whole story they intended to tell!

This Is Us 4.13: “A Hell of a Week Part 3”

“I’m strong. You made me strong.”
- Kate

We have reached Kate’s part of this mini trilogy and I have to admit I was a little disappointed. While we got some insight into her relationship with both Toby and Marc, it appears we won’t get the rest of the full story with Marc until next episode. In the way past, we see Jack convince little Kate to tell him a bedtime story since Rebecca is sleeping. It’s a sweet time between father and daughter where he sort of prompts her for information Mad Lib style but it’s all very sweet and we get a story about a princess in a magical forest who meets a prince and they go on an adventure to find her mom. It’s all to be juxtaposed against post high school Kate’s relationship with Rebecca.

In that time period, we see Kate is still dating Marc and working at the record store. He buys her a Patti Smith book and she insists he didn’t have to do it but he says he wanted to because he wants to make her happy. But the minute a customer asks about an album and Kate knows information about it that Marc doesn’t, or at least he perceives she’s trying to show her up, his entire demeanor changes. He then stops talking to Kate until that night when she finally gets him on the phone. He says he was just embarrassed but he’ll see her at her mom’s birthday dinner. But things don’t go like she’s planned. Rebecca, probably sensing that there’s something off about Marc after hearing Kate argue with him on the phone, asks Kate to have coffee with the three of them so she can get to know Marc. Marc is late and he’s kind of a jerk before saying he’s quit his job at the music store because he was getting bored and his boss was on him about taking too many smoke breaks. He also says that he and Kate are going to record songs together and suggests the family cabin. The Pearsons hadn’t even opened the cabin yet but Kate says that she and Marc can do it. But when Rebecca tells her she doesn’t think it’s a good idea, Kate storms off with marc to the cabin that night. Not surprisingly, things get tense in the car when Marc tells Kate she should quit her job, too. When she says he can’t because she needs the money, he gets really upset and starts driving erratically. When he finally stops, he kicks Kate out of the car, leaving her on the side of the road. She manages to call Rebecca in tears but then Marc shows up at the gas station with a blanket and ushers her back into the car. This prompts the scene we’ve seen a few times now with Rebecca and the boys heading out to go get her because it’s clear she’s in trouble. From what I’ve glimpsed from the preview for the next episode, Marc’s behavior escalates and I suspect we will find out what happened to split them up.

In the present, we are still the night after Toby’s birthday party. He’s obsessing on the fact Jack could see a little light and shadow and he’s researching a girl who underwent gene therapy and got some vision back. I have to say, Toby’s perspective really annoys me. It’s probably because he’s seeing his son as all the things he can’t do, rather than what he can. As a blind person, that just rubs me the wrong way. I know there are plenty of people out there who feel the same way as Toby but it just makes me sad that he is still wallowing. The next day, Kate ends up going to the retreat with Jack and Rebecca because Toby says he can’t cancel a bunch of meetings at work. I did like seeing Gregory again and the fact that he seems to be a shoulder that Kate can lean on. She’s kind of overwhelmed by all of the discussion and people at the retreat but she’s also energized by it. She sees all the possibilities for her son from learning music with Braille to riding a bike with a bit of echo location assistance. Kate does express real worries about what’s happening in her marriage but Rebecca assures her that she’s capable of handling whatever comes and raising jack if that’s what it comes down to. She also convinces Kate to have a late night pool heart to heart. I like that we get to see Kate finally finding her mom again like little Kate wanted in her story. Rebecca ends up sharing her diagnosis with Kate. She explains that it feels liberating because sure she knows there will come a time when things get bad but for now, she’s going to live and enjoy life as much as possible. It’s made her free. So now two of the three kids know the truth about Rebecca’s condition. So I don’t feel like this is what is going to set Randall and Kevin on the path to not speaking in nine months. When Kate and Rebecca get home, Kate flat out asks Toby if he’s able to be the man she needs him to be as a husband and father and he says he wants to be. After the Big (Sad) Three call, she tells him he needs to just do it. She’s going to take Jack to the cabin for the weekend with Kevin and Randall but Toby insists that he take care of Jack for the weekend. It appears from the preview that Kate has concerns about it but fi Toby is really serious about wanting to step up and move past his own issues, then I think taking care of Jack by himself is a good way to do it. Plus it gives him some time to really bond with his son which he sorely needs.

As always, I appreciate this show for tackling real issues that have real consequences. They don’t shy away from topics that are uncomfortable and they aren’t afraid to show perspectives that may be unpopular. The writers are respectful of the story lines they are telling and I am glad that they continue to do that as the show progresses. I also like that they are starting to focus on more of the present and future rather than the past, even though I adore Jack (with all of his flaws). Most of his story has been told by this point. I don’t think he’ll be gone from the show because he’s such a part of the characters’ collective story and memory but they acknowledge it’s time to focus on other characters.