This Is Us recap: Kate and Toby's marriage problems boil over
Last week on This is Us, the Big Three trilogy concluded with Randall making a big decision, followed by a set-up for this week. Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Toby (Chris Sullivan) reached an impasse about their marriage and referenced a coming BBQ which episode three foreshadowed as the end of "Katoby."
Sure enough, tonight's episode, titled "Saturday in the Park," centered on preparations for a BBQ at Kate and Toby's house to celebrate Rebecca (Mandy Moore) and Miguel's (Jon Huertas) tenth wedding anniversary. Uniquely and beautifully, part of the story is told from the fuzzy visual-astute audio perspective of toddler Jack. Viewers intermittently see what Jack sees as Kate and Toby's bickering continues and escalates. Also in the mix is a flashback to a different tenth wedding anniversary — Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca's — and the continuation of Kevin's post-Madison struggles.
Let's get started breaking down the chaotic episode.
During the BBQ preparations, Kate asks Randall (Sterling K. Brown) to take Kevin (Justin Hartley) out of the house away from Toby, who's annoyed with him, so the Pearson men visit Madison (Caitlin Thompson) and the twins. On the way, Kevin says he's doing well and happily setting down his own roots.
However, when Kevin then accidentally discovers Elijah (Adam Korson) is planning to propose, he spirals. He tells Randall his life will change completely. Hearing Kevin contemplating being with Madison again, Randall asks him if he's suddenly sure he is in love with her. Kevin still can't say yes, and Randall asserts he's just reacting out of loneliness — that he makes "rash romantic decisions that reverberate for decades" and must not be so destructive again. Kevin acquiesces and seemingly drops his musings.
That night, Kevin revisits Madison. He says, as if it's a gesture of letting her go in general, that he's removing her as his emergency contact. In response, Madison shares suspicions Elijah is going to propose and says she's excited, but adds that as the mother of Kevin's children, she'll always be his emergency contact. Kevin's disposition throughout the interaction evolves from seeming like he wanted to make a move, to actual acceptance and being truly, unselfishly happy for her.
Kevin then returns to Kate's house and joins Randall in the backyard. When Randall asks about Madison, he jokes they eloped. It's nice to see Kevin playfully embrace his romantic reputation, but where will that tendency lead him next? To be determined.
The Big Three and the Anniversary of Yesteryear
On the day of Jack and Rebecca's tenth wedding anniversary, the couple leaves the young Big Three with a babysitter for a rare night out. Ecstatic at the restaurant, Rebecca orders every cocktail on the menu. Unsurprisingly, she quickly gets drunk, and while Jack's trying to cope, the babysitter calls. The kids locked her in the bathroom, so Jack and Rebecca must abandon their dinner and rush home.
After freeing the babysitter, Jack sits the kids down and demands to know what happened, Rebecca drunkenly commentating beside him. Eventually, Kevin says he locked in the babysitter because she hurt Kate's feelings. Randall says it was his idea to put the chair under the door knob. Against Jack's reprimand, the brothers think they're justified in the name of protecting their sister.
In bed later, with the kids sleeping between them, Rebecca tells Jack she loved their night. Jack thinks the kids ruined it, but Rebecca is delighted about how they banded together and looked out for each other. She feels it's a major sibling moment (aka a sign of how their bond would be forever).
Toby, Kate, toddler Jack, and the Bad BBQ Day
The episode opens on Jack's blurred perspective of waking up, hearing his parents fighting, then going to the park with them as part of their Saturday routine. Kate sings the direction song on the way, guiding Jack. Once there, she and Toby both laugh happily while pushing Jack on a swing, but joint remarks on missing Kate's laugh reflect their relationship troubles.
Then comes the day of Rebecca and Miguel's 10th anniversary barbecue. As Toby prepares his fancy new grill outside, in the kitchen, Kate talks to Kevin about her latest fight with Toby — because he left Jack's safety gate open. Toby's annoyed upon learning she told Kevin about their dispute.
Moments later, Jack begs Kate to go to the park, since it's Saturday, but Kate says they can't. He's soon cheered up by helping Kate open the door — she's taught him how — for Randall and Beth. Kate immediately breaks down to Randall about her marital problems, then asks him to get Kevin out of Toby's hair, to ease some stress. (Shoutout to Kate subsequently noting Beth is the least stressful in the family — we love Beth love!). However, a new stressor emerges for Kate and Toby: massive ceiling leaks. After chaotic family discourse over the crisis, Toby tends to the grill, and Rebecca takes Jack to his room to put shoes on so he can join Toby, meanwhile Miguel and Kate handle the ceiling.
Outside, Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) tells Toby she and Randall survived long-distance, but Toby notes Beth eventually moved … for the sake of her marriage. The implication that Kate is being more selfish. (Is she ... or is Toby wrong? Sound off in the comments!) Inside, Jack shows Grandma Rebecca his shoes, explaining his red rubber boots are for muddy puddles in the park. He and Rebecca then share why they're both sad. Rebecca says she feels useless, and Jack says his mommy and daddy are mad a lot. (Jack talking could not get any cuter!) Rebecca comforts him, then he chooses low-top shoes.
Later, when Toby is urgently called from the grill to help move his and Kate's mattress from under a sudden ceiling hole, he frantically puts Jack in his room, but again fails to properly close the safety gate. Then, Kate lets the plumber in the house and neglects to lock the front door behind him. Soon enough, with the adults preoccupied by the leaks, Jack puts on his red boots and heads out the front door to the park, singing his direction song along the way.
When Toby realizes he's missing, the family launches a panicked search. Eventually Rebecca notices Jack's low-top shoes on his bedroom floor and that the red boots are missing. In what's clearly meant to be a mental victory amid her declining health, she remembers what he said about the boots and runs to announce Jack has gone to the park.
Jack makes it all the way to the park without any issues, but when he gets there, he drops his cane and runs for what he thinks is the swings. However, he accidentally heads towards a staircase instead. Cut to Jack in the hospital, getting stitches, but otherwise fine. (It wasn't a grill accident, like we expected!)
Once back home and having put Jack to bed, Kate and Toby have it out in front of the house — finally unleashing everything full-stop, after so many half-fights. They play the blame game — Toby should have closed the gate properly, Kate should have locked the front door ... and not have taught Jack how to open it. Kate says she wants him to have dignity and confidence as early as possible. Then Kate explosively names the issue that's really long plagued their marriage, underneath the surface. She says all Toby's ever seen of Jack was his limitations, and because of that, he began pulling away from the family when Jack was born and never really stopped. Infuriated, Toby says Kate's never seen limitations, which is irresponsible. As the fight continues Toby points aggressively in Kate's face, prompting bystanders Randall and Kevin to step between them. Toby backs off and seems to imply, with frustration, that Kate always chooses her family over him. With that, the couple disperses.
A little later, Toby visits his sleeping son's room, kisses his head, then sits down beside him and breaks down. Meanwhile, Kate joins Kevin and Randall in the back yard, sits between them, and says Jack told the doctor he went to the park because "that's where mommy and daddy are happy." Then, as Rebecca looks on at her grown kids bonded together in support, like that anniversary day long ago, Kate breaks down to her brothers about her doubts for the survival of her marriage. It's bittersweet, and all the more painful because we know indeed the end is coming for Kate and Toby. Will we have to watch Rome burn or will we skip to what's next for Kate? Time will tell.
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NBC’s beloved era-hopping drama tells the story of the Pearson family through the years.