Oh, the wistfulness of this episode! As the mother of three–21, 18, and 14–I experienced a little shot to the heart with each one of Rebecca–and Jack’s–flashbacks to when their kids were little.
Though this episode lacked the kapow! of the season premiere, I loved easing back into the lives of the Big Three. I missed them so! After last week’s crumbs, I devoured the quality time with Kevin (him and his plant, all day long!), Randall (as cheesy as ever with the dad jokes!) and Kate, whose bravery busted through her fears. Without further adieu, then, here is a recap of Season 4, Episode 2:
- 1992: Ugh–adolescents! Must they be so … so…coldhearted??? I felt for Jack and Rebecca as their now-moody triplets balked at a “family fun day” at the pool. Kevin’s response: “Do we have to?”; Kate’s desire to watch a 90210 marathon, and Randall’s objection that he just wanted to knock back a few more books to win the library’s summer readathon all rang true. So did the look on Rebecca’s face as she remembered a time not so long ago when all three cheered at the thought of a day spent together. SIGH.
- Kevin is worried about Uncle Nicky after he got in trouble last week. Nick’s not returning his calls, and Kevin is distracted on the set of his new movie. The director (M. Night Shayamalan, playing himself) notices and thinks Kevin is just acting sad and bereft. “When you strip away all the artifice…you are absolutely incredible,” he gushes. Umm..okay. Kevin is floundering a bit, but he does have his Ficus plant to take care of.
- Randall is not sad–he’s just getting carried away with silly metaphors, comparing his wife to the Rec Center’s new double pane windows–“the sexiest kind.” Randall himself wants to plan a family fun day, Philly style, including “gorging on cheesesteaks until we get meat sweats.” This plan is met with disdain by everyone but sweet little Annie. “Bless your soul,” Randall says, thankfully. Does he remember the pool day from long ago, when he was Tess’s age?
- Oh, my heart--the way Jack kept saying “I got five chairs!” all eager and proud as punch. The preteen Pearsons don’t seem to grasp that grabbing five chairs is a “pool day miracle,” nor do they want to lounge around with their parental units, either. “Do you want to play a game, Bug?” Rebecca asks Kate, the note of hope in her sweet voice making me wince. Oh, honey, your little girl is growing up, and she doesn’t want to play Marco Polo with you again until she’s 25. After all three reject their parents, Jack and Rebecca sit dejectedly in their pool chairs, wondering, where did the time go?
- Back at Baby Jack’s place, his grandma Rebecca, grandpa Miguel, Uncle Kevin, and Madison all come over to be trained by a specialist on blindness. Everyone is on edge, and Rebecca notices how thin Toby is getting (we later learn he is secretly working out like a maniac–why?). Meanwhile, Kate is eating her feelings about Jack being blind, and everyone is worried–about her.
- Deja–Miss Independance–chafes when Randall insists on taking the bus with her for a trial run to see if it is safe for her to go to school that way instead of him driving her. Freshman Deja is well used to the bus and can manage nicely on her own, but Randall, raised very differently, loses his stuff when a harmless but raving mentally ill man sits by Deja and raves at her. Nope, no bus for you, Deja. But, but…”He was a weirdo–the bus is full of weirdos!” she retorts. Probably not the best choice of words just then. (I took the bus from the age of 12 on by myself, to downtown Winnipeg, so I am with Deja.)
- Back at the pool, things are rapidly falling to pieces. Kevin is being mean to Randall for some reason, embarrassing him in front of some other black boys. Humiliated, Randall pulls the tape ribbon out of Randall’s rap cassette tape and the two squabble. Kate, meanwhile, is the unwilling pawn of some mean girls. Rebecca’s mom Spidey senses tingle like crazy–she doesn’t trust Jessica P and company any further than she can throw ’em (I wish she would’ve thrown them into the pool). Yeah, they are planning something cruel for Kate.
- Tessana wants a new, edgier look, and Beth gets a gold star for how she handles it. When Tess emerges from the salon with her pretty, fluffy, girly hair shorn short, short, Mom Beth feels everything–dismay, sadness, grief at the loss of her little girl–but all she shows is support. Oh, that had to be a tough one. Growing pains are not just for kids! Speaking of Beth, great to see her and Randall flirting and being close again.
- Over at Baby Jack’s, things ain’t so hot. Mama Kate is devastated about her son’s diagnosis of blindness, but she can’t seem to show it. So she keeps smiling–and eating. But when she suddenly realizes that her son will never watch a Steelers game on the huge TV she bought basically to follow her hometown team, she is crushed and her true emotions spill out.
- As Kate pulls herself together, Uncle Kevin goes for some bonding time with his CRAZY CUTE CRUMPET of a nephew. That baby is practically edible, he’s so yummy. Kevin spills his guts to the little guy, confessing that “my most successful relationship is with my houseplant.” Of course, his twin sis hears it all on the baby monitor, and it leads to a sweet moment between them. She blames herself for pushing the baby thing, despite many warnings from doctors. Is it her fault Jack is blind? When Kevin learns how to pick up the baby, by telling him he is going to instead of just grabbing him, he cradles the wee one against his expensive smelling self. Oh, for scratch and sniff TV! My favorite line of the night was when Kate told Kevin, “I wish you would have as much compassion for yourself as you have for me.” So wise.
- Poolside, in 1992, Kate’s mean girl “friends” tell her a cute boy wants to kiss her behind the snack shack, but the only boy to turn up is bookish, awkward, acne-ridden Stuart. Cue the sound of derisive laughter, but the joke is on them when Kate plants one anyway on the wonderstruck Stuart. His year is made, and Kate is a heroine in her own life.
- Kate’s warrior self rises above her anxieties and she declares that she wants Baby Jack to grow up in a home where the “prevailing feeling is hope, not worry.” Whoo-hoo, Katie Girl! Your dad would be so proud.
- Finally, our family in Philly has a moment by Rocky’s staircase. Randall teaches the girls “Worst Case Scenario,” his game with Beth where they say out loud the craziest, most terrible outcome they can imagine of something about which they are worried. Deja wins. “Worst case scenario–I spend the next four years of my life locked in my room like Rapunzel.” Okay, maybe that is my favorite line!
Next week: What is Kevin and his Ficus plant doing in Pennsylvania? Are they staying at Uncle Nicky’s trailer? And he meets Cassidy, the troubled vet from last week because we knew that was happening. I can’t wait to see what they do here, because at this point I absolutely do not see those two together at all.
Well, are you guys happier this week? Reading through about 1,000 (not really exaggerating) comments about last week’s massive twist, I got the feeling that most of you loved the way it all came together but pined for more time with the characters we love. And we got it!
What was your favorite line? Performance? Story thread? And can someone please tell me, what are meat sweats? 🙂
Tell me and we can all have a jolly confab about it!