It was great to be back with our Pearsons, was it not? In many ways, this was a difficult episode, but honestly, in light of all the turbulence and darkness in our culture, the dark and sad tone of this episode fit the current mood.
So we now know that the whole ovulation kit thing was a mistake–an actual mistake! (You know, how scenes from the last episode had Kate clutching both a pregnancy test and then, in another shot, an ovulation test. Theories, of course, ran rampant. But she was just accidentally pregnant, not purposefully so, which makes a whole lot more sense.)
1998: Rebecca and Randall are still out of town visiting Kevin in New York when we find Kate at an abortion clinic, vulnerable and alone. Having an abortion was, she said, “the hardest decision of my life.” Telling Toby this, many years later and 4 years into their relationship, Kate seems unaware of how this might affect him. “If this is truly in the past, why would it take you four years to tell me?” he asked. Good point, Tobe.
2020: I miss lighthearted Madison, don’t you? She is pensive and glum all the time now, and things get tense when Kevin mentions casually that their nanny will have to travel with them all over the world. It seems that is not something Madison is interested in doing, though I don’t know why. I am dying to go ANYWHERE.
2020: Randall goes to the office after his whole viral half-naked dance video thing, only to be greeted by his hilarious staff, all decked out in puffy muscleman shirts. Jae Won breaks up the hilarity with a note from someone who saw the video: The Vietnamese grandfather, Hai (Vien Hong) has reached out with a photo of Laurel and William back in the day and a note: I knew your mother; she died in 2015. Randall is thrown for a giant loop since he thought she had died shortly after he was born.
2020: Kate returns home for 24 hours before her abortion, and sits miserably on the couch. She lets a phonecall go and listens to a loving, concerned message from Rebecca, who senses all is not well. (Because moms know things, they just do.) Too late, Kate lunges for the phone but Rebecca has hung up. What would have happened if they had talked?
2020: Randall is shaken by the note from Hai. He gets all black and white and decides instantly that either Hai is lying or William was. (He must be a J instead of a P on the Meijers Briggs test.) Beth suggests he talk about it with his therapist, an excellent idea. Of course, he shoots her down. And then he talks to his therapist.
2020: Madison is struggling with the thought of traveling in a luxurious fashion to exotic locales with her husband and children. Sheesh, Madison, get a grip already! I am starting to pine for the old Madison, who was a loop de loop, for sure, but at least she was fun.
2020, 1998: Kate cyberstalks Marc and finds out that he has a MySpace page. What? And then she flashes back in memory to the last time she saw the creeper (played by Austin Abrams, who is a whole lot cuter and sweeter in Dash and Lily). He plays mind games with her, keeping her off balance as narcissists do, sort of apologizes, and then sulks. I was so proud of Kate when she just ditched him with no explanations.
2020: Current day Marc is no improvement over the 24-year-old Marc. Just as skeevy as ever, he tells her, with a leer, “You were broken in all the right places.” Ewww + Ugh. Katie Girl holds her ground: “I wasn’t broken, I was vulnerable. And you liked it …You’re the one who is broken.” Truth! I loved when she thanked Toby for sitting in the car (even though he wanted to pound the guy) and “letting me be my own white knight.” Seeing and facing the bogeyman of her teen and young adult years is freeing for Kate, and for us, too.
2020: Randall and his able therapist talk it out. “Your whole life your instincts have been telling you you need to know your history,” his therapist says, gently prodding Randall to go deeper and find out the truth about his mother. (Yay!)
2020: Madison gloomily tells Kevin that he should spend his time on the movie shoot in Vancouver assessing their relationship. What is she trying to say? Do you want to give up your career for me and the babies? Because how is that fair? It was pretty cute, though, when Kevin kissed her twin bump and told his unborn children to “be good” for their mother.
1998: Teen Kevin is given an opportunity to fly to LA to possibly audition for some shows. This would leave Sophie behind in New York, but she seems fine with it. Somehow, only young Randall is attuned to the pitfalls ahead and he calls his brother and urges him to stay home with Sophie. (I love the way they wove in the “time apart” theme into Kevin’s past and current day storylines! Impressive.)
2020: Remembering that old phone call, Kevin calls Randall and tries again to make things right. “What would Randall do?” he tells Randall. “I have that thought a lot.” He also tries to bridge the chasm between them by bringing up what Kate told him about Randall struggling when he was growing up in their white family. “Is that how you felt?” Great question. So important to ask and not assume. But Randall is distracted by a more pressing matter and cuts the potentially conciliatory call short. (Ouch! Poor Kevin.)
Randall is on the brink of calling Hai and finding out more about his mother, Laurel. When did she really die, and did William know she didn’t die soon after Randall’s birth? To Randall and Beth’s huge relief, Hai affirms that William was just telling the truth as he understood it. But that there is much more to learn about the mysterious Laurel and her whereabouts from 1980 to 2015 when she actually died. And next week, we are going to find out so much! I hope we find out tons, that is. Please don’t be torturing the good folks of This is Us Fanland. (They wouldn’t do that, would they?)
Well, let’s put the kettle on the boil and have a good old-fashioned chinwag, shall we? What did you think of this episode? Do you think Kate did the right thing? (I struggled with it, while at the same time understanding why she did it.) Will Kevin and Madison actually make it past this problem? Do you think they are actually in love? I am having my doubts. And how about Laurel? How in the world did she vanish for 35 years, without a trace? How did she lose all connection to William and her baby boy? Next week’s episode looks like a three-hankie special. I will be ready with a box or two. You?