Friday, May 14, 2021

This Is Us 5.14: “The Music and the Mirror”

“When I look at you, I see all of you. All the Kates you’ve ever been all the versions might still be. You might not have always been an easy daughter, but you were always easy to love.”
- Rebecca

We are in the final episodes of the season (thanks COVID for cutting the seasons short by a couple episodes) and we are hurtling towards a Kevin/Madison wedding. Madison is going dress shopping with Kate and Rebecca and at the start of the episode, Madison is worried about making a bad impression on Rebecca. Because she knows and gets along with “Kate’s mom” but has never really interacted with “Kevin’s mom”. But she’s got nothing t worry about. As she tries on dresses, she gets emotional about everything (and the fact that her asshole dad isn’t coming to the wedding) and Rebecca jumps in to reassure her. Madison finds the perfect dress (it has pockets!) and seems to be in a good place. Rebecca and Kate also seem to be in a good place. We see in flashbacks to when Kate gets her job at the diner. She was supposed to go for an interview at the office where Rebecca works but she didn’t want to. Over dinner, she tells Rebecca that she should “get her wins” from Randall and maybe Kevin, but that Rebecca is always going to be disappointed by Kate. In the present, Kate apologizes for being such a difficult teenager. Kate also tells her mom about her new job and Mama Pearson actually joins Kate for choir practice and remarks that she sees joy and passion in her daughter again, something she hadn’t seen for a long time.

If only Kate could actually share that joy with Toby. They seem to be tiptoeing around each other. She doesn’t want to share how much she’s loving her job because she doesn’t want Toby to feel bad and he doesn’t to tell her how much he hates being a stay-at-home dad because he doesn’t want to make her feel guilty. It’s just not a good situation. And he’s really struggling. When a pip bursts in the kitchen, he insists he can fix it himself and that they don’t need a plumber. But eventually he has to call his dad who comes over and fixes the issue (along with some fun commentary by their neighbor who sort of came over to keep an eye on Jack and Hailey). I just keep thinking if the two of them don’t start talking to each other, their marriage isn’t going to last. Given that we haven’t seen Kate yet in the flashboards and that Toby arrived alone, I am really starting to suspect they don’t make it long-term.

Elsewhere in the episode, Kevin is dealing with the screening of the movie he was making while Madison was pregnant. It’s the firs time he’s seen the director since he walked off the set when the babies were born. While he gives the director a glowing response, he admits to his agent that the movie is terrible. The agent agrees and apparently the buzz around Hollywood is that it’s the worst film Kevin has ever been in. He’s trying to salvage things by finding another project before this one really hits the wider community but all that’s been sent are crappy movies and ones where he’d have to deal with kids and be shirtless. His agents point out that he has a reputation for walking off his projects and they reference the big blow up on the Manny and when he walked off his New York play. He’s going to have to find something if he wants to save his career (and it looks like Uncle Nicky might actually be the one to help him because he took all the scripts and is going to read them all). As they’re getting ready to leave, Kevin spots Zoe on a computer screen. She’s having a Zoom meeting with her agent and they chat a bit about what they’ve been up to and Zoe points out that he is always willing to change to please other people (she doesn’t say it in quite those words but that’s basically the gist). She insists it’s a compliment, but you can tell by the look on his face it’s an insult. And even when he gets home that night and tells Madison he wants to watch one show, she says she wants to watch something else, and he agrees.

Across the country, Randall is really worrying about Beth because we see in montage her trying to keep the studio open during COVID and having to transition to doing it over Zoom (and the number of students dwindling to just one or two). She eventually decides she has no choice but to close the studio down and she’s stress eating. Randall has to go off to meet a State Senator and he asks Deja to keep an eye on Beth (who has an informational interview with an urban planning interview). Deja is going through some stuff with Malik and his ex and the baby. She’s annoyed about him sending her videos of his ex with the baby calling her mama and yet she also knows that Malik knows not to push Deja until she’s ready to talk. She sees that the relationship is unstainable with him and his ex, but he needs to come that conclusion on his own. Beth starts the informational interview and the person she’s speaking with realizes she’s double booked and asks Beth if they can reschedule. Beth kind of cracks up laughing and then heads to the studio to pack up. This somewhat parallels young Beth in college, throwing out all her dance shoes and giving up on ballet. When Randall tries to take her to the ballet to celebrate six months together, she freaks out. Back at the dorms she explains that she tried to be the very best she could, using the mirrors in the studios to correct every little flaw, but that it wasn’t good enough. Randall very sweetly asks her to dance. In the present, he shows up (after twisting Deja’s arm to get Beth’s location out of her) and plays the same song and dances with her. It’s just enough to show that he’s there for her and I thought it was really sweet. We know from the flash forwards that she’s got another 9bigger) studio so I’m eager to see what happens between now and then.

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