I am limp with relief that Beth and Randall seem to be okay, after seven weeks of gnawing anxiety over their relationship! (Of course, anything can and will happen on this show, but they sure made us feel a sense of doom for R and B on the Fall Finale, right? At least this week they reverted to their old, strong couple selves and worked out their problems.)
RECAP: 1. Tuesday’s episode loops back seven weeks and brings us up to the night of Randall’s election for city council. At first, Beth completely withdraws her support, which I think is uncharacteristically unfair of her. I don’t see why Randall should have been expected to drop out after so much work, even if the polls showed he would never win.
2. In a flashback to 1997, Jack and Randall journey together on a college visit to Howard University, and nearby Washington, D.C., where the two ponder some deep stuff. “What a great life you’re going to have…What a great man you are going to be,” Jack speaks words of truth and life into his son.
3. Kevin and Zoe return from Vietnam, buzzing with the news that Jack’s brother, Nicky, was not killed there during the war. Then things get sticky, as Kevin pushes Zoe to move in with him. Blurgh. You could cut her ambivalence with a knife, but she says yes anyway. But when they go in search of Nicky’s information from the war, they hit a dead end with the feds. (In TV Land, there is no such thing as a government shutdown…yet.)
4. Gaahhh! This time, I was on Toby’s side all the way. As an actual child in 1977, I, too, had most of those action Star Wars figures Kate sold to some shlub for $10. And I, too, had my Princess Leia absconded by an aunt with a vengeance for cleaning and no regard for sentimental/potentially valuable childhood mementos! But Kate makes things right as best she can, ultimately buying the same figures (but not Toby’s) off eBay.
5. Zoe’s complex layers peel back when we learn that she broke up with her ex, now a congressman, via email. Ooooh, that does not bode well for Kevin’s heart, and he knows it. Guys, I know what happens at the end but I still don’t have a great feeling about this.
6. Randall, torn by his love for Beth and his desire to run the race to the end, runs into the Reverend from his Philly district, who happens to be a pro at giving “deathbed advice”: “Act in a way that will make you smile as you’re lying under a pale, pink nursing home blanket, thinking of the life you led.” Randall takes this as his cue to deep six the incriminating info on his opponent, purloined none-too-easily by Jae Won. Yeah, he doesn’t want to be THAT GUY. And we don’t want him to play dirty, either. There’s enough of that in the real world, thank you very much.
7. In flashback, Jack tells Randall he needs to find his one key to the puzzle, “like your mom is to me,” Jack says. “Someone who brings out all your good stuff.”
8. Kevin is flipping out and who can blame him? Zoe has not unpacked a single box, and now he knows she has it in her to break off a serious relationship with an email. Ugh!
9. Ahhh…My girl Beth comes to her senses and tells Randall she should’ve had his back. “I will not let you forget who you are,” she says, proving that she is Randall’s One Key. She brings out all his good stuff. Then, a hint to her past (supposedly she will be fleshed out more as a character this season): The couple reminisces about the time Beth had a meltdown at Payless in the sandal aisle, and Randall stood guard over her private cry. I get it. The smell of a bookstore gets me misty every time, thinking of my dad. You see, the man who brought Beth the shoes had hands that smelled like her dad’s hands. Nothing like a whiff of a loved one to spark tears!
10. Our fine gent Toby is at it again–conjuring Jack Pearson Level Magic for his girl, Kate. He now has Star Wars action figures to hand down to Baby Boy, but Kate can’t hand down her treasure–a dollhouse-like replica of the Pittsburgh Steelers s
11. Zoe breaks up with Kevin–or does she? She’s scared spitless but tries to be brave for love, and she loves that handsome man and his John Stamos acrylic keychain. “It’s a lot for me to give up my safe space,” she says, but expresses her love and commitment.
12. What? Randall won? And Jack knew Nicky was alive but didn’t tell anyone? Lots more storytelling to come from those two plot twists, we can be sure!
Well, what are your thoughts on this first episode of 2019?
Will Zoe and Kevin make it or will her issues (he’s also got some issues) drag them down?
What do you think happened to Beth’s dad, who is dead or missing or otherwise painfully absent enough to have made her meltdown at Payless?
And SWEET MOLASSES! Why in the world would Jack withhold a little thing like his brother’s very existence on the earth from his beloved family???
Thoughts? Theories? Favorite scenes? Lines?
Get caught up on last week’s episode here, and don’t forget to comment below!