As Jack tells his little girl, every good story has a he or a she who really wants something. But what does our Kate want? And can she ever find it?
In this week’s Kate episode, directed by our very own Justin Hartley, we rejoin the Family Pearson in 1983 or so, as Jack and Rebecca’s third child pops out of her big girl bed and needs parental attention to settle down for the night. Little Kate can’t sleep, and Mommy isn’t available for a story as she is conked out on cold meds. Daddy Jack begins to weave a tale as old as time, about a princess in puffed sleeves.
Fast forward 16 years or so, and Kate has lost her dad in a fire. In the wake of her grief, she falls for a complicated, troubled guy. On the one hand, Marc thoughtfully buys her a copy of Patti Smith’s book. But on the other hand, he’s a raging control freak and player of twisted mind games. We get the sense that one wrong move on Kate’s part and he might become violent, or at least that’s the way I interpreted him. Creepy. It was a major red flag when Marc hated the fact that Kate could direct a customer to the Pulp Fiction song he was looking for, not him. Jealous much, Marc? Later, a freaked out Kate waits by the phone and keeps calling him for reassurance. Finally, after she grovels to him, he “forgives” her. After all, he says, “you ‘re the only good thing in my life.” Uh oh. Nobody likes the sound of that.
Fast forward again to 2020, and Toby is excited about a possible new treatment that might help Baby Jack regain 30% of his vision, except, as Kate gently points out, that won’t work with Jack’s type of blindness. this irritates Toby, who seems to be all about what Jack can’t do with him–he can’t watch football games or Star Wars or even see what he looks like. Toby, Toby, Toby. Don’t you know it’s not about you? When Toby balks about going on the retreat for families with blind children, Kate invites her mom to go along instead. Things are super tense, and nobody’s too pleased with Toby, least of all ME!
Back in 2000, Rebecca shares her desire to get to know Marc a bit better, because what could be better than hanging out with a warped loser intent on damaging her daughter? Of course, he makes a bad impression on her, failing to be even borderline polite and displaying an appalling lack of responsibility as he describes how he quit his job at the record store, Charmless. Rude. Angry. Yikes, this Marc thing can’t end well.
But Kate is still shackled to her boyfriend, already emotionally abusive. Will he take his harm to the next level? She can’t see it though, because Marc is the first boy to like her, nevermind love her, which he professes to do. Kate and Rebecca get into a fight over Marc, and Kate storms off, planning to visit the family cabin with her disturbing beau.
In 2020, Kate feels lonely at the retreat, which is populated by moms and dads. Meanwhile, Baby Jack’s dad “can’t handle it” so he’s home. Oh boy. Step it up, Toby!
However, Rebecca being there with her leads to some lovely moments between mother and daughter. They swim in the resort’s pool, and Rebecca remembers how much her “Bug” loved the water. “It’s ironic,” Kate says. “the only place that’s weightless is the place I have avoided my entire life.” Rebecca also remembers that Kate loved any kind of bugs (hence her nickname), especially fireflies. She would cup them in her little hands and say, “find your way home” to them. Sweetness.
Back to Jack’s story: Tiny Kate takes over the tale-telling and suddenly decides “the prince disappears.” Poof! Prophetic, maybe? Because it sure seems like Marc is a snake and even Toby may be a bit of a frog instead of a prince.
Marc is the worst, actually. Driving to the cabin in the dark, he begins to get angry that Kate isn’t planning to quit her job just because he did. Yeah, you Jackhat, that makes sense to no one except you. Devoid of all reason, Marc starts driving faster and more recklessly until Kate screams for him to stop. “I don’t want to look at your fat face anymore,” he explodes, cruelly. Ugh, isn’t it awful seeing Jack Pearson’s princess treated this way? A sobbing, cold Kate walks to a gas station and calls home on a payphone. Just as she’s about to spill what happened to a very concerned Rebecca, Marc slithers back onto the scene, driving up and bearing blankets and non-apologies. Kate, broken and with no idea of her own worth, seems to accept him back. Nooooooooo!
In 2020, Rebecca tells Kate about her diagnosis. Kate takes it well, even the fact that Randall knew, so now I am wondering if this secret will really be at the root of the Kevin/Randall estrangement coming up in just 7 months. Or is it something else entirely?
The mother and daughter talk through Kate’s issues with Toby, and Rebecca affirms her belief in both her daughter’s strength and Toby’s ability to step it up and be the father Jack needs. “You made me strong,” Kate tells her mom, which is my favorite line of the night. The duo dries off and hit the karaoke bar, where they sing Alannis Morissette’s “Ironic.” A shimmering moment for them both, a time of building strength for what is to come in terms of Toby and Rebecca’s brain health.
This moment is woven with a flashback to Jack’s story when tiny Kate figures out what she really wants: Mommy. And I cried all the tears when she ran into her mother’s arms. All of them!
Finally, strands from Kevin and Randall’s stories entwine with Kate’s. Kevin is a mixed-up puppy in the love department, Randall is melting down with increasing anxiety, and Kate? Kate feels her marriage is near the breaking point. What’s a Sad Three/Big Three to do? How about hit the Pearson cabin together and maybe sort it all out together?
Sounds like next week, things will escalate with Marc locking Kate out of her own family cabin. Good thing Rebecca and the boys are on their way (hopefully). Still, I am nervous about next week! What will ultimately happen with volatile Marc? Will he hurt Kate physically?
Tell me all your fears, hopes, tissue moments, and favorite lines!