Tonight’s This Is Us episode “Sorry” is about, you guessed it, things characters have to be sorry about. It’s fighting, it’s forgiving, it’s making amends… or not.
Everybody is dealing with wrongs they’ve committed, be it in their present, recent, or distant past. Some issues are resolved, with apologies and rare displays of vulnerability, while one situation escalates into a volcanic eruption, left to be cleaned up in a future episode.
Let’s break down the ties that bend (and nearly break) in this episode:
Kate and Toby
In Kate’s case, unlike with her siblings’ situations, this episode simply sets her “fights” up.
One “fight” is Mark. For the first time since episode 5, we get another (albeit brief) look at Kate’s first boo. In a college-era flashback, at the Pearson’s house, we get our first glimpse of shady Mark, as he calls Randall “Randy” and Rebecca by her first name (my mother says you NEVER call a friend’s parent by their first name), and then in a crudely demeaning and controlling way, shuts down the idea of seeing a movie Kate wants to see because he thinks it’s too childish. Plus, Kate grabbing a banana for lunch is presented in a way that suggests she could be eating improperly for Mark’s sake.
When Randall tells Rebecca he doesn’t like Mark, Rebecca says she’s just happy Kate is happy. To be continued…
In the present, Kate and Toby begin their day trying to get baby Jack to eat his first solid food. Jack refuses, though. Toby suggests Jack just doesn’t like bananas, but Kate quips, “Everyone loves bananas, it’s the healthy snack that comes in its own wrapper.” Toby makes Kate promise not to try again with the food until he’s home. He doesn’t want to miss it like he missed the first roll over and sit up.
However, later, while Kate is helping their neighbor Gregory around his house, Gregory successfully feeds Jack avocado. Toby returns that night to find fresh avocado from Gregory’s garden and excitedly feeds them to Jack. As he does, and delights in the “first solid food” moment, Kate watches guiltily but doesn’t fess up. Between this and prior interactions, it seems like Toby and Kate may be headed toward a clash over their new dynamic of Toby always being out and about, while Kate’s home.
Kevin & Nicky & Cassidy
Kevin’s storyline is one of two plots this episode that are linked to bed-making memories. Kevin’s memory is of Jack delighting the toddler-aged Big 3 by making the sheets into a parachute.
We first see Kevin in bed, looking grim. There’s a flashback to the moment after he and Cassidy hooked up. It’s the start of his “fights” — with himself, Cassidy, and Nicky.
After the hookup, Cassidy tells Kevin they did nothing wrong but still leaves on an awkward, tense note. Nicky soon gives the already shame-filled Kevin a hard time about going there with Cassidy in such a vulnerable, fragile state of recovery and trying to repair her marriage. Nicky calls Kevin a wrecking ball. As he’s scolding him, Kevin sees Jack’s face — nodding to a recurring theme about Kevin’s insecurity that he isn’t living up to the man his father was.
Later, a panicked Nicky calls Cassidy and begs her to help him find a missing Kevin. Cassidy agrees, even though she’s dealing with her own stuff — signing her divorce papers.
Turns out Kevin’s at a bar. He’s sober but picks a fight and gets punched. Cassidy and Nicky soon find him walking down a road. Cassidy drives the Pearsons home. As Nicky berates Kevin for forgetting that his court case is that afternoon and getting himself punched — which, since Kevin is his character witness, could hurt Nicky — Kevin again sees Jack’s face in Nicky’s.
Then, while Cassidy is treating Kevin’s wounds, she opens up in a rare way. She tells Kevin she kept reenlisting in the military to find the bravery and heroism her father found in it, but she never did. Instead, she just ruined her life back home. Cassidy tells Kevin the divorce is her fault, not his.
In court, Nicky admits to the judge that he isn’t sorry about throwing the chair through the window because it’s ultimately what made him turn his life around, reconnect with Kevin, and finally realize something: that he’d pushed people away for 40 years because he thought he was broken and would hurt them, but really, he was just sick and when you’re sick, you have to accept help from people who care about you.
It’s a big win. The judge cuts Nicky a break, Kevin is glad to see Nicky has finally forgiven himself, and Nicky’s speech helps both Kevin and Cassidy realize that they too aren’t bad people who deserve punishment.
It gives Cassidy courage to finally try to join her husband Ryan and their son at their traditional Wednesday diner dinner. Before Cassidy leaves the Pearsons to go into the diner, she thanks Kevin for helping her find her way home. She and Kevin wish one another luck in finding their happy endings. (It’s obviously with each other!)
Back home, Nicky tells Kevin he’s a good kid, and Kevin sees Jack’s face again. Kevin smiles as he remembers his father laughing with him during the parachute game.
Beth & Deja & Malik
While the rest of the family is out, Beth supervises a Malik and Deja date. In the middle of the date though, Deja and Malik start whisper-arguing. It sounds like Malik is pressuring Deja into something. She storms off. Beth confronts her and she tells Beth to send Malik home, but won’t say what they fought about.
Beth goes downstairs and demands Malik tell her what he’s pushing Deja to do. He’s reluctant but ultimately relents and says Deja wants to see her birth mom but has been too afraid to ask Randall and Beth. Malik boldly points out that Deja asked a while ago and they were “too busy” for it. Beth realizes he’s right and they’ve neglected Deja in that way.
Beth apologizes to Deja and promises they’ll pick a time for a visit, but Deja asks if instead, she can invite her mother to Thanksgiving dinner. Beth says yes, to Deja’s delight, but it’s clear Beth is not so thrilled about it.
Deja and Malik swap apologies next, and Beth gives them 30 seconds of privacy to…as they do… kiss goodbye.
Rebecca and Randall
Now for the second bed-making plot.
The episode opens with pregnant Rebecca and Jack talking baby names as they make the bed. Then we see the same scene in different eras — each time the sheet is spread out, we jump to a new era. There’s the toddler era (from Kevin’s flashbacks), teenage era, and then, heartbreakingly, Rebecca is struggling to make the bed on her own in the post-Jack era.
She’s struggling with a lot of things after Jack’s death, in fact, and Randall is trying his hardest to help her. Not only did he not go to Howard University so that he could be closer to her, but he also visits frequently to help her with the house and keep her company.
During one such visit, Rebecca admits she needs a job to pay the bills. Randall drives her to an interview. The interview appears to go well until Rebecca admits she doesn’t know how to use the company software. After the interview, while Rebecca’s in the restroom, Randall learns Rebecca didn’t get the job. He confronts the boss, Mr. Simons. He tells him that Rebecca is the kind of person to adopt an abandoned baby, deal with her husband’s recent death, and not mention either of those “sob stories” as a way to get a job. Mr. Simons is sympathetic but mentions the software problem. Randall says he’ll teach Rebecca how to use it over the weekend.
Rebecca sees Randall leave Mr. Simons’ office. Later that night, when she gets a call offering her the job, Rebecca asks Randall what he said to him. Randall says, “I just want people to see you the way I do.” Then Rebecca breaks down, over Randall reminding her of Jack, over having to take an entry-level job at her age. She stops herself and again insists Randall shouldn’t be home with her worrying. He says he likes spending time with her — he calls it “R&R time” for their shared initials. They both laugh about how lame it is but flash forward to the present day, and they’re still using the term.
For a present-day R&R session, Rebecca visits Randall in Philadelphia for the first time since the move. Randall plans a busy day but is frustrated when Rebecca is glued to her phone the whole time. He also gets worried at seeing her misplace her phone and become frantic about it.
That night Randall asks if she’s seen a doctor. Rebecca gets mad, insisting she’s fine. When Randall doesn’t let it go, she yells that she’s still the parent and he the child. In response, Randall implies he’s been taking care of her like the parent for years. Rebecca is mortified and angrily kicks him out of the guest room.
This was perhaps the worst fight I’ve seen between any of the Pearsons, and between the last two I would expect. I’m scared on so many levels. How fast will Rebecca’s health deteriorate? How long before she and Randall make up? When will their “sorry” come?
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