Well, last week I was sick I couldn’t write my recap, although I did watch the Vietnam episode and take notes. I loved that episode with its almost sepia tones and music from the era, including “No Sugar Tonight” by my hometown Winnipeg band the Guess Who!
That song had been going through my mind ever since, and it reminds me of Jack in fatigues, leading his men in Vietnam and always searching for and trying to save his brother, Nicky. The whole hour felt like a mini movie which filled in big pieces of Jack’s story. I was wondering as I watched, would they come back to the Vietnamese woman in the village, who made eye contact with Jack? It seemed meaningful to me and knowing how purposeful these writers are… And well, I wasn’t wrong, was I? 🙂
Which brings us to this week’s episode, and its numerous reveals big and small.
1. Toby gets a child and teenage version of himself as the writers explore his backstory. We learn that his mother (played by the MARVELOUS Wendy Maleck from “Just Shoot Me”), suffered from depression and that when Toby gets depressed he bites his nails to the quick. We also see that he didn’t get a whole lot of support from his dad, who called Toby’s depression issues “that sad sack crap.” OUCH.
2. In present day, Toby and Kate are excited and terrified to find out that one of their eight embryos was viable–but was she actually pregnant? Toby is trying to be supportive, but the man is hanging by a thread. It’s becoming clear that Toby is about to crash hard.
3. What’s this? Beth, our other tower of strength, is crumbling! How can it be? Well, it happens to the best of us, and Beth is the best of “Us.” On the surface, she seems as chill and confident as ever, but losing her job really knocked her off her feet. She’s supportive of Randall as he runs for city council, but does Randall have any idea how much she needs him right now?
4. I read somewhere that the Us writers have a sign in the writer’s room that reads “Make them love Miguel.” I mean, I already loved him, but I know many of y’all have issues with him and see him as some kind of nefarious interloper. On tonight’s episode, though, he did his Miguel-ish thing–quietly supporting his best friend’s family by lugging a piano up to their rental unit, fixing their fridge, and trying to help both Randall (with his identity as a person of color, which Miguel gets to some degree), and Kevin (by hauling Kevin’s drunk butt up to his own home to sleep it off and therefore ease some of Rebecca’s troubles). The guy is a prince–can we all agree on that?
5. Poor teenage Randall (amazing Niles Fitch crushes it every time)! My heart ached for him when his prom date’s dad freaked out about Randall being black. And then later, Zoe encountered a more subtle form of prejudice when the C-store clerk snubbed her right in front of Kevin, and it completely went over his head. Ugh! Kevin, it’s time to wake up!
6. Poor 38-year-old Randall! Once again he is reminded that he doesn’t totally belong in the white world of his affluent suburb or the black world of inner-city Philly. Chi Chi managed to fill a BBQ joint with folks (FREE BBQ helped), but few were interested in candidate Pearson’s message. In fact, Randall’s passion to help was met with a collective cold shoulder. Randall, though he is black, somehow came off as a “white savior” who thinks he can swoop in and save the day.
7. Kevin and Zoe take a road trip to visit Jack’s friend from his old squadron in Vietnam. “Your dad was a squad leader and Sargent, not a mechanic,” he tells them. “Your dad saved my life.” The meeting is incredibly meaningful for both of them, but the old man is holding something back. Meanwhile, in the kitchen, Zoe vents to the old man’s wife about how exhausting it is to have to explain her blackness to white Kevin. But is he worth it? (Note to Zoe: He is.)
8. He’s worth it! I knew it! Zoe decides to unzip her heart and tell her “pure alabaster” man what it’s really like for her. And we know our Kevin will rise to the occasion. Or we hope. After all, he should be miles ahead in the race conversation because he has lived his entire life with a black brother. Again, we HOPE!
9. Yay! Kate’s pregnant! But before we can celebrate for even a minute Toby absolutely falls to pieces. That scene where Toby breaks down at the sink was everything–raw, humane, desperate and distressing. Chris Sullivan should get an Emmy for it, no doubt about it. That scene will linger for a while.
10. Aha! There WAS meaning behind Jack’s look shared with that Vietnamese woman in last week’s episode. I KNEW IT. When Kevin is summoned back by Jack’s old war buddy, he is given a packet of old letters from Jack. A photo slips out at the last moment of the show: Jack and that same Vietnamese woman! Who is she? And why is she wearing Jack’s necklace?
Mark my words–there WILL be a half-Vietnamese sibling out there for these guys. I am going out on a limb to predict it will be a sister. A daughter, mind you, that Jack knew nothing about…