We know some things now, a couple of juicy revelations which will have to last us a while. Even though we are just at Episode 4, not 9, our show is going on a hiatus until January 5! WHAT? Well, it will be 2021, so I say bless it. It’s time to turn the page on this year, even in “Us” world. At least they left us hanging with a truly stellar episode. I adored this one, from all the fizzy humor to Randall’s viral disrobing to a couple of major reveals (I’m looking at your sweet face, Vietnamese Grandfather). There’s plenty to mull over in the next 7 weeks as we await more answers to our burning questions.
For now, here’s my RECAP:
1980: Jack and Rebecca endure the age-old quandary of whether to let your baby cry it out and self soothe or whether to jump in and comfort them the moment they squawk.
1993: Kevin is exhausting himself, staying up at night trying to learn football plays, plus he’s trying to eat himself into being a beefier boy by eating 50 eggs at a time, like Cool Hand Luke. Rebecca is worried about her boy–is he overdoing it? But Jack wants to push him to the greatness he knows is there.
2020: Kevin again, doing a read-through for a mercurial director who insists on using the word “film” instead of “movie.” Uh oh. What unreachable high standards do we see here?
2020: Back at Toby and Kate’s cute little house (I am always admiring the colors and plants and design), Toby notes again that as prospective adoptive parents, they are completely at the mercy of whether or not Ellie, their birth mother, will stick with the plan and give them the baby or change her mind. (I am adopted, and my mom told me that she held her breath for a year until she knew there was no chance of my birth mother changing her mind. It’s a real thing.) They decide on the name Chloe for the baby as Kate prepares to accompany Ellie to her ultrasound.
2020: Over at Randall and Beth’s place the Pearsons are getting ready for their day. Annie complains that her “hair is a fright!” which leads Tess to complain that “I told you not to let her watch Little Women again.” Cute! Randall is having the time of his life picking on Deja over the fact that her boyfriend, Malik, is going to be shadowing him all day at City Hall. “What could go wrong?” he asks, with a delicious peel of diabolical laughter.
1993: Kevin’s football coach is intense, and rides him hard at practice over not learning his plays. Jack assures him that “his boy” is up for the grind and the gruel. But is he really?
2020: The director of Kevin’s movie, Foster, is also intense, in a different way, critiquing Kevin’s every utterance and inflection at the read-through for the new movie, er, film. Kevin feels like he can’t do anything right with this guy, and he may be right.
1980: More screaming from Baby Kevin, and more angst from his mother, who feels as if her son’s wails are “the sound of him being emotionally traumatized for life.” Jack is committed to letting his boy cry it out, but Rebecca can’t handle it (she and millions of other moms and dads).
1993: Thirteen years later, Jack still wants to push Kevin, and Rebecca wants to make things easier for him. Classic case of parental push and pull. After a rough football practice, Kevin wants to quit but Jack won’t hear of it. This leads to a tiff, as Jack accuses Rebecca of making Kevin “soft” by letting him off the hook for things like guitar lessons and boy scouts. Yikes! They’s fighting words, Jack!
2020: Back at City Hall in Philly, Randall notices Malik falling asleep in the middle of a meeting. Overall, things are going well, until they are not. When Malik gets a phone call from his mother regarding his baby daughter, he forgets all about monitoring Randall’s Livestream “bulletin” to his constituents. Randall, assuming Malik had cut off the video when he was supposed to, begins to disrobe in front of everyone. The video of his shirtless “dancing” goes viral, and why would it not? Councilman Pearson is a very healthy politician.
1993: Kevin asks Randall for help in learning his football plays. Since he usually openly mocks Randall for his brainy ways, this is huge. Instead of quitting, Kevin is applying some grit and becoming more resilient.
2020: He is going to need some grit to get through this shoot with Foster and his constant criticism. After the read-through, Kevin asks Foster why he was so hard on him. “You are a good actor,” he says, but not a great one. Will he stretch himself again as he did 27 years beforehand?
2020: Kate goes to the ultrasound with Ellie and coos at the baby on the screen, “Chloe.” Except, at the name Chloe, Ellie stiffens and things become awkward. Later, when Kate apologizes for her presumptuousness in naming Ellie’s baby, Ellie tells her about a Mean Girl named Chloe Penner who told her late husband, then-boyfriend, that she had a hairy birthmark the shape of South America on her chest. Well, that’s not very nice! The name Chloe is deep-sixed immediately.
On a more serious note, Ellie tells Kate that she almost had an abortion earlier in her pregnancy, but she didn’t. Kate does not judge her, but by the look on her face, it’s obvious she is very uncomfortable. Thankfully, Ellie reassures her that she is 100% sure about giving her baby to Toby and Kate.
2020: Malik faces the music with a dignity beyond his years. Randall gently but firmly chastises him for messing up and (literally) falling asleep on the job. Malik just as firmly responds, telling Randall that his daughter would always come first, no matter what, and that he gets up at 4:30 a.m. and makes other sacrifices for her.
Randall is impressed, and tells Malik that he made his dreams smaller when Jack died, but that Malik should make his dreams bigger-for his baby girl.
2020: “Mom and Dad were obsessed with Randall,” Kevin tells Kate on a phone call. “Let’s not pretend Mom and Dad did anything wrong.” This is in response to Kate trying to share with him how she is awakening to how hard it must have been for Randall to be the only Black person in their family. Oh, Kevin, some things cannot be learned by writing them down on color-coded flashcards.
Toby is adorable, beaming at the ultrasound photo of the “melted wax baby” that he loves. But Kate is not nearly as chipper as one would think. Then it all comes out, her secret of 22 years, of getting pregnant by that SKEEVY SKEEVE Marc–remember him, her abusive boyfriend? We won’t know for sure until after the hiatus, but we are pretty sure Kate had an abortion back then. I don’t see how even these writers could have this character hide a pregnancy.
Sweet moment: When Kevin is studying his lines at night, and he is still using Randall’s color coded flashcards.
Of course, the HUGE reveal in this episode is that the Vietnamese Grandpa makes the connection between his old love (the young Black woman in his framed photo, Randall’s birth mother) and Randall himself. Because Randall’s video went viral, the man watched it, and heard Randall pay tribute to his birth father, William Hill. The man rewinds it again and again and listens to Randall say “William Hill” over and over. Then he looks at the framed photo, of himself and Laurel from long ago, and the connection is made. We still don’t know if Laurel is alive, but I think we do know how Randall will find out that she didn’t die when he was born.
I don’t know if I can wait until January 5–how about you??? Well, what are your theories? How will the Vietnamese man reach out to Randall, and what will he say? How will Kate’s secret affect her and this pending adoption? How will Toby respond? Are you warming up to Ellie like I am? Of course, she may be a fabulous person and still change her mind about the baby. She has that right, but oh, how painful that would be!
Favorite line? Favorite performance? I feel like we just got started with our lifestyle, er, show, again, and now we have to be stoic and bear these next seven weeks!