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'This Is Us' recap: 'The Best Washing Machine in the Whole World'

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Ron Batzdorff/NBC

This Is Us

type:
TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
seasons:
1
run date:
09/20/16
performer:
Milo Ventimiglia, Mandy Moore, Justin Hartley, Sterling K. Brown
Producer:
Dan Fogelman
broadcaster:
NBC
genre:
Drama

If the kitchen is the heart of the home, then the kidneys are in the laundry room. You may say, “Well, that’s not too romantic,” but if you’ve ever lived in a place without a washer and dryer, you know a home can survive without it — but it’s mighty difficult. So it’s not completely surprising we open with a series of washers that have defined Jack and Rebecca’s relationship. The problem is… You can find a temporary fix without a kidney, but the heart? If you don’t have a heart, things are hopeless.

Let’s recap:

Kate and Toby

On the outskirts of the spin-cycle plot are Kate and Toby. Kate is starting to see the benefits of sticking with her diet and respectable power-walking regime — mind you, in 1.25-pound increments, but still! And then there’s Toby, who dropped eight pounds wearing regular clothes. Kate is supportive, but you can see the frustration. We all collectively just held up our emotion wine and did a cheers, Kate. We get it, girl.

That frustration is only compounded when she visits Toby, who has been actively breaking his diet with pizza and snack cakes and high-fructose corn syrup. She calls him out on the binge, but Toby insists he’s done dieting. After some back and forth, Toby agrees to stick with Kate, but it proves to be quite the struggle at dinner as Kate insists Toby gets the dessert she knows he wants anyway. As Toby gives in, it doesn’t take long for Kate to follow suit. On the way home, she stops and picks up some powdered doughnuts — which we all know equals at least a quarter-pound, because life is too cruel.

Kevin and Randall

And speaking of cruel, let’s catch up with Kevin and Randall’s adolescence. Teenage Randall appears in a late-night study sesh after joining the football team, as roommate/arch nemesis Kevin is trying to get to sleep. Having already completed his bicep exercises for the night, former-family football star Kevin isn’t having Randall’s hours, causing him to move downstairs. Like most new-age millennials and independent women, teenage Randall is trying to have it all, so he asks Kate what he should do to connect with Kevin, and she tells him to be more laid back.

Kevin isn’t having it, though — he banishes Randall (and his milk and cookies) from the basement. They seem to have a bit of a cease-fire until game time because as all men know, you take your frustrations out on the football field. Teenage Kevin and Randall break into a fist fight on the field while a Peter Gabriel song plays in the background, which seems strange for any other show, but this is This Is Us, after all. Of course Peter Gabriel was playing.

Though not typically physical, adult Kevin and Randall still don’t get along, even competing on their morning runs. Beth, being no less brutally honest than usual, calls out how strange it is to see them together and even compares them to Cain and Abel. Randall insists everything is fine, so we raise our emotion wine and cheers to Randall because we all know that’s a lie. He tells Beth he and Kevin are having dinner with their mother tonight, so they’ll be in late.

In the office, Randall is dropping some solid futures jokes when one of his coworkers sees Kevin through the glass. When you’re the Manny, you know how to stop a business meeting. He’s come to the office to meet Randall for dinner, but when Rebecca has to cancel, that just leaves Cain and Abel the brothers to duke it out at a fancy restaurant. It’s not long before Kevin’s Manny persona pushes Randall out of the picture (literally, because selfies). When Randall doesn’t recognize his costar, Kevin asks him what his character’s name was on the show. Randall can’t tell him, because there’s not much talk of weather futures on The Manny. Kevin bails on dinner.

NEXT: Aided by pot brownies, William spills a secret

[pagebreak]

Randall chases after him, addressing how they’ve never really been there for each other. They seem to agree to disagree…until they run across a billboard for Kevin’s replacement on The Manny, who happens to be black. Kevin comments on it, admitting he thinks Randall got special treatment because he was black and adopted. History repeats itself when the two get into a fight, before it’s interrupted by…Seth Myers?? It’s like a fictionalized/public version of Seth and Amy’s “REALLY?” Weekend Update segment.

As Randall and Kevin drive home, Randall admits Rebecca really did favor him as they were growing up. But the main reason he didn’t stop it is because he wasn’t getting validation from the one he wanted it from most. He goes on to say the first time Kevin ever claimed him was in the middle of Seth Myers Surprise 2016/their public fistfight. Sure, they’ve both messed up in their own ways, but there’s something deeply revealing Kevin just now seems to be processing: He might not completely be in the right here.

Beth and William

With Randall out for the night, Beth says she can get the girls to bed and make her and William some special brownies — when you’re dealing with terminal cancer and your long-lost son is out with his brother for dinner, it’s okay to slip some catnip in the batter, ya know? After a little piece of a brownie/pan (who’s counting?), Beth and William are higher than a Willie Nelson fan-club meeting.

They relocate outside to talk about what life would have been like had they taken different paths. After some sentimental talk about life, William quotes a poem, and Beth recites along it with him. He asks how she knows it, and she says it’s from a book they own. William, too stoned to know better, mentions the book he gave Rebecca back in the day before he can catch himself. Suddenly, Beth is the third wheel to Rebecca and William’s little secret. She does not take it well, but just as she announces she’s going to tell him, Randall and Kevin come in and immediately realize they’re high. Kevin attempts to head off to bed, but bed isn’t the same place he left it. Just like back in the day, Beth has moved Kevin downstairs, but this time, Kevin invites Randall to hang out in the basement with him. Upstairs, things are a bit heavier as Beth calls Rebecca…but downstairs, the boys are getting what seems to be their first real shot at being brothers.

Rebecca and Jack

Let’s be honest, guys… We show up for Mandy and Milo every week, right? This week, their spin cycle of love has found its way to the ‘90s, where Rebecca and Jack are balancing life with teens and marriage.

It’s a big day — Rebecca’s first day of returning to band rehearsals, big news for Jack at work, and game night for Kevin and Randall. In the process of balancing everything, Jack nearly leaves without kissing Rebecca…the first time in 18 years. At work, Jack talks to Miguel about the passing moment, but even as a flirty secretary interrupts, it seems all too evident Jack and Rebecca’s love story can’t help but find its way to the backseat of the conversation.

As the day ends, field fight and all, Jack tries to reconnect with Rebecca, who never got the chance to tell him about her band practice. She passes on the opportunity and goes downstairs for a snack when Kevin calls out from his new basement digs. He complains about the new washing machine he can’t seem to turn off, so Rebecca shuts it off and stands back, recollecting on all the washing-machine related memories they’ve had in their relationship (as lovers often do). As the memories fade back to a Laundromat, Jack promises to buy her the best washing machine in the whole world. But now that she has it, it’s too clear: The kidneys of the home are nothing without a heart.

Episode grade: B+

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