Last week I was traveling and couldn’t do my recap, but HELP ME, RHONDA, that was a humdinger of an episode. Kate being locked out by Marc! Marc getting thrown out on his scrawny white patootie by a livid Rebecca! Aged Kevin, walking into the house he built for his mother, based on his dad’s drawing in the time capsule! So, so good.
Which brings us to this week’s less dramatic, but poignant episode, featuring all the characters we love grappling with the past and those oh so complicated family narratives we carry with us into adulthood.
Take Kevin. The fun guy. The irresponsible one. Or so the story goes. Even as a young teen, he was waaay more relaxed than Randall, who was practically catatonic over getting an A-. (We have one of those at our house. One of each, really!)
Kevin, though, was happy with his two A’s–in gym and art. And Kate was super bummed that Stuart broke up with her. This family tableau in 1993 set the stage for all three of their futures.
It’s Fun Guy Kevin who rises to the occasion and joins Rebecca for her doctor’s appointment to hear the results of her MRI. But first, Miguel (perhaps bamboozled by that warm hug Kevin gave him! I mean, whaaat?) suggested the mother and son spend the day together.
I am crazy about the use of the Crosby, Stills and Nash song “Our House” throughout the episode, and loved the faraway look on Rebecca’s face as she crooned a few lines.
Kevin says, “Okay, Boomer,” which may be the first time I have heard that saying used appropriately because it sure isn’t appropriate around HERE. Ahem.
Together the two try and find the “Our House” house, which Joni Mitchell shared with Graham Nash. It was Joni Graham was referring to when he wrote: “I’ll light the fire/You put the flowers in the vase that you bought today.” Oh so sweet.
This current outing is woven with an outing from 1993 when Kevin bugged (manipulated) his poor mother into visiting a sports card store so he could spend his report card money on a very special card. (I just looked up and smiled at the Teemu Selanne and Moe Mantha hockey cards from way back in the day. They are sitting on a windowsill in my office, above my desk. You can take the girl out of Winnipeg, but you can’t take the Winnipeg out of the girl! #GOJETSGO.)
Both outings turned out to be wonderful fun, just the antidote Rebecca needs as she faces the results of the MRI. She praises her son’s sense of playfulness and humor. “Making people forget about their worries is the most important thing you can do,” she says. Heartwarming, especially when you think about how much she will need those laughs in the coming months and years.
Meanwhile, Kate, unsure of where she and Toby stand, goes out for lunch with Madison and is the recipient of some serious oversharing. No sister wants to hear those details! But Madison is a great friend, protective to a fault, even offering to “Kill Bill all of them” for Kate, meaning Lady Kryptonite et al. And, as bubbleheaded as she can be, Madison showed some hidden depths as she put it out there plainly: “Shouldn’t Toby be able to express his deepest fears without punishment?” Somehow, Kate doesn’t Kill Bill her, and actually considers her pal’s wise words. After all, Madison does listen to tons of relationship podcasts!
Perhaps those relationship podcasters among you might consider including Jack Pearson’s waffle analogy on your next shows. “First boyfriends are like waffles,” he says to a heartbroken teen Katie Girl. You have to go through a few to get it right. “Yours is out there,” he promises. “He’s still cooking.”
“He” is, presumably, hopefully, Toby, who is finally cooked, or at least finally processing Baby Jack’s blindness and coming around to be the dad and husband we knew he could be. (Well, I had a few doubts recently. You?) He sets up a music studio for Kate in the garage, complete with a playpen area with baby instruments. It’s a studio that endures, as we see through the flash-forward of little Jack, Teen Jack, and finally grown up Jack making music in the studio his Daddy built. Awwwww!
Which leaves Randall and his decision to finally go to therapy. How did it go? Not well. Not well at all. Randall was alternatively trying to fake his way through or was annoyed with the therapist for asking good questions. And his leg would not stop shaking.
Intriguingly, the therapist’s face is not shown until the very end. I kept thinking it would be someone key to a storyline. How did she know some of the main points of Randall’s speeches? Was it just because he is a public figure or is it more?
One thing is clear: Randall does not want to talk about his mother or all the ways he has taken care of her for years and years. With barely concealed scoffing in his voice, he tells the shrink that today it will be Kevin, not him, who will be accompanying their mother to her all-important appointment. “What could go wrong?” he says, snidely. (Oh Randall, please stop being snide!)
And then, it all comes out, the boiling hot coal nugget of the matter: “If it wasn’t for me, this whole family would fall apart.”
“Would they?” I loved the simplicity of the question. Stark. Barebones. To the bone. And now it falls to Randall to answer it, which he needs to.
Beth needs him to, for one. Her purse has evidence: A bottle of sleeping pills, a pepper spray gun, and an iPhone she bought for Annie, so she could keep tabs on her. Her world was rocked too by the knife assailant, but she doesn’t feel like she can go to Randall for support or he might break.
Good thing it looks like Randall will give therapy another whirl.
He will need it more than ever after Rebecca’s MRI results come back: The tests show a part of her brain is shrinking, which supports but does not confirm the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Of course, the show didn’t leave us there. It ended with Kevin in a sports card store, searching for that old Blue Jays card from long ago, and remembering the day he spent years ago with his bubble-blowing, laughing, playful fun mom. An incandescent moment of love and memory.
What was your favorite moment? Are you thrilled that Katoby seems to be patched up, or do you think there will be more drama? What about Madison? Have we seen the last of her and you know who? Why do you think Kevin and Randall will be estranged, and soon?
I missed you guys last week! Share all your innermost US thoughts and we can all have a good old fashioned chin wag!