Ahhhh! Our Pearsons are back, and it was such a balm to see them again, even though I thoroughly enjoyed the Olympics. As a hockey and figure skating fan, I was thrilled to watch it all, especially the astonishing performances of fellow Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir!
I digress, do I not? Ken Olin–or maybe Dan Fogelman–promised the three episodes left after Jack’s death would be “lighter.” This episode absolutely delivered on that promise, though I still got choked up at one or two junctures–those good old “tissue moments” jump up and surprise me! I think “I’m not going to cry” and then something hits me…Right?
At this point, I am so invested in these characters that their emotional breakthroughs feel like my own. Do you know what I mean?
Anyhoo, here’s my recap of “Vegas, Baby,” an episode filled with sweetness, laughter, and insight into our common human condition. In other words, what else is new?:
1. Flashback: Oooh la la! We travel with our favorites Jack and Rebecca down a memory lane of anniversaries, starting with their magical first. Rebecca (I want that macrame tote bag she had there in 1977–TAKE MY MONEY!) gave Jack a bound book filled with his drawings, plans, and scribbles, and Jack planned a Grand Gesture for Rebecca, arranging for the bowling alley to be transformed into a dance floor so they could take an anniversary twirl. LUMINOUS! And I loved that 70’s nugget they danced to. (Basically, as a Mennonite child in the 70’s, they had me at disco ball and worldly music. It’s like, Helloooo forbidden world!)
2. Dear Deja shows up at their door, as she and her mom’s heat has been turned off. Randall’s worries for her escalate and he can’t quite wrap his mind around anything else, even the forthcoming trip to Vegas for Kate and Toby’s bachelorette and bachelor parties.
3. As they prepare to take off for Vegas, Toby and Kate talk expectations of the weekend in Sin City. “Hey Toblerone,” Madison hails her new pal’s fiance, which made me laugh. Actually, what made me laugh was when Toby said, “I really don’t like that.” Or her, apparently. But WHOA NELLY OLESON–Kate needed a girlfriend in the worst way. Also,Tobe wants so badly to bond with Kate’s brothers, “one scoop of dark chocolate Pearson and one scoop of Vanilla Pearson.”
4. Oh! And we find out Toby has a brother. That guy is definitely showing up one of these episodes, and I can’t wait to see who they cast.
5. Randall is obsessed with Deja and her well being, while Beth is keeping her cards close to the vest. We find out later that Beth really is deeply concerned about Deja, but as they are driving in to Vegas, we just think the girl needs a break from life. “I guess I’m just not able to detach like you are,” Randall says, which is a criticism, to be sure. Beth’s buoyant mood is dampened, and the stage is set for a barnburner of a fight.
6. Kevin always gets the name of whoever is cleaning his hotel room, and this time it’s no different. Checked into a posh suite for the bachelor party, Kevin tells “Renate” that she will receive $100 in a tip at the end if he manages to steer clear of the well-stocked bar in his room. In other words, accountability. All his memories of Vegas involve getting blackout snockered and he doesn’t want to fall off the wagon. Later he finds out that he may have been cut out of the Ron Howard movie he filmed with Sly Stallone. Uh oh--that movie is what is getting him through these days.
7. Back to the eighties, the Big Three want to plan an anniversary dinner for their parents, who seem to be blowing off the usual grand celebrations and gestures this year. Instead of the suggested spaghetti, little Kevin (SO CUTE!) wants to go all out and prepare Cornish game hens for mom and dad’s special dinner. I mean, sweetness. Of course, Jack forgets to turn on the oven so nothing is ready at dinnertime, causing Kev to burst into tears of stress and frustration. Sophie’s parents are splitting up, and Kevin has somehow interpreted Jack and Rebecca’s casual anniversary plans as a clue that they, too, were divorcing. Oh, honey. The kids rustle up another surprise, twinkly lights and a suggestion for their parents to go out on the roof and watch the meteor shower. Umm, I am a huge fan of twinkly lights, but could a bunch of 9-year-olds really pull that off??? If so, those kids need to come over here and do up my place in twinkly lights!
8. Okay, the scene where Randall and Beth fight with the incongruous backdrop of Magic Mike in the background? Cringe-ey! That’s how my 13-y-o talks. Everything is cringe-ey. I don’t even know if I am spelling it right, but the word fits, especially–ESPECIALLY–when Kate butts into their fight. I was covering my eyes! What could you be thinking, Kate??? She finally blurts out the corrosive truth that has been eating away at her for years: “(Randall) has made it perfectly clear who is more important to him.” As in, his wife, not his sister. Which is as it should be, but our Kate has some boundary issues, does she not?
9. My tissue moment (ha! how cringe-ey is that?): When Randall and Kate have a heart to heart, and he tells her that she could never lose him, no matter what. I adored how the sibs expressed their love and commitment to each other, and I loved the flashback to when they were teens, laughing at Sex in the City while eating Hot Pockets.
10. Kate goes to Beth, heart in hand. An uneasiness has always existed between the two of them, and it’s time to take a risk. Kate shares how she has always felt intimidated by Beth’s success and strength. And Beth leans in and risks as well, telling her SIL that she is actually really worried about Deja, too. Vulnerability is the conduit of grace, and I hope these two will be closer from now on.
11. Toby to Randall: “Can I call you Randy?” Randall: “No.” Ha!
12. Kevin also musters up the courage to be vulnerable, and he calls Ron Howard to tell him he’s made a mistake and that Kevin should not have been cut out of the movie. Howard, as I suspected, did not cut him out at all, and in fact, has shifted the focus of the movie to Kevin’s character’s relationship with his father (Stallone). Again, vulnerability + courage = grace.
13. Beth takes the lead on being “all heart” and decides to check on Deja when they return. She and Randall find Deja and her mom evicted from their apartment and living out of their car.
What happens next? I wish I knew. Who WAS that man in the preview, the one Deja is looking at, who is talking to the cops? Is that her Biological?
Two episodes left before we have to get out the sackcloth and ashes and wait SIX MONTHS for more stories.