On the TV twist-o-meter, this week’s This Is Us revelation probably ranks around a 4. That compared to the series’ first two episode shockers which came in at solid 8s. And let me tell you: I’m so glad for a 4 episode. A twist-of-the-week conceit feels much more suited to heightened-reality programing — Scandal this is not — so a little grounding was in order. Let’s dive into “Kyle”:
The episode opens back in the late ‘70s, but this time, William is our point of entry. We watch as he boards the city bus, poetry journal in hand, and makes eye contact with a beautiful stranger across the aisle. As the montage continues, the two become closer — and William’s handwriting becomes more erratic. Finally, sadly, William rides the bus alone with his newborn son cradled in his arms, bound for the fire station doorstep we already know he’ll be abandoning him on.
A few days later, Rebecca and Jack are ready to leave the hospital with their three babies. “This is the scariest part,” Dr. Katowsky tells them. “Some people think the scariest part is coming to the hospital to have a baby. Nah, the scariest part is leaving the hospital with the baby.”
“Babies,” Rebecca corrects him, before Jack excitedly reveals the tots’ names to the doctor. They’re Kevin, Kate, and Kyle. (All Ks as an homage to the fatherly physician.) And, yep, not a Randall to be found.
Fast-forward to the present and Kyle/Randall is trying to figure out how to tell his mom that he not only found his biological dad but that he’s been living with him. She seems to take the news in stride but is insistent she meet him, and when she’s left alone in the room with William he remarks, “You look well.”
The scene of Rebecca leaving the hospital explains this: As she’s being wheeled out, she notices a black man standing at a distance from the hospital, watching the entrance. Thinking he may be the father of her new baby, she calls out to him. But he disappears onto the bus. (Did this read slightly off to anyone else? I mean, I’ve never been to Pittsburgh, but I have to imagine there’s more than one black man there, right?)
The plot thickens when Present Rebecca delivers this reminder to William: “We had a deal.”
“I won’t tell him if that’s what you’re thinking,” he replies.
“It will break him,” she says. “Knowing that he could have known you and I kept him from that.”
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