Tuesday, March 17, 2020

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.

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