Warning: This recap for “The Best Washing Machine in the Whole World” episode of This Is Us contains spoilers.
Randall and Kevin’s relationship — or lack thereof — has been touched on since the second episode of This Is Us, but this week the brothers’ fierce rivalry explodes in ugly fashion, both in the past and in the present.
But by the end, there is hope for these two to forge a new beginning. Other relationships, however, threaten to unravel — Randall’s with his mother, after Beth learns the big secret that she and William agreed to bury, and Kate’s with Toby, after he decides to quit their weight-loss program.
And then there’s Mama and Papa, whose relationship is told through the analogy of a humble washing machine. Relationships don’t always end with a bang and a fistfight on a football field; sometimes it’s just normal wear and tear that breaks them down. And it looks like Rebecca and Jack are in need of a tune-up.
Here’s a rundown of this week’s episode…
Kevin and Randall
In the past, the brothers are teens who play football for different schools. Their sibling rivalry has only grown fiercer, and after one late-night shouting match, Kevin moves out of their room and into the basement.
In the present, Kevin and Randall are having dinner. What? As Beth notes, it’s hard to imagine these two alone in the same room. Well, their mother is supposed to join them. OK, makes more sense. Except Rebecca ends up canceling, and the brothers decide to go ahead with their dinner plans anyway. Uh-oh, this can’t be good. They go to a loud, flashy hot spot where Kevin takes selfies with fans. A friend of Kevin’s comes up to greet him, and Randall asks who he is. Turns out the guy played Kevin’s best friend on “The Manny” for years! Kevin realizes Randall never watched “The Manny” and storms out.
In the past, the brothers’ big football game begins, and Randall first sacks Kevin, then tackles him hard. They get into a fistfight on the field as their horrified parents and sister watch.
In the present, Randall runs after Kevin, who bitterly complains that Randall got special treatment from their mother because he was black and adopted. Randall agrees and adds that he lapped up the attention because the one person whose love he craved didn’t give it to him (that’s Kevin). Kevin accuses Randall of showing him up at every opportunity, and the two get into a scuffle on the streets. They stop only when Seth Meyers (in a hilarious cameo) recognizes Kevin from “The Manny” and asks if he needs to call someone. Kevin acknowledges that Randall is his brother, and the two run off before the police show up.
When they return to Randall’s home, they sit quietly in the car for a moment. Randall sadly notes that that was the first time Kevin claimed him as his brother in 36 years. Stunned, Kevin can only say, “That sucks.”
In the past, Kevin and Randall sit alone in their separate bedrooms, sad and angry. But in the present, when Kevin discovers Beth moved him to the basement, he asks his brother to stay and watch some TV. Their relationship isn’t magically fixed, but it’s a start.
Beth and William
With her husband gone for the evening, Beth keeps a chemo’d William company. He’s feeling ill from the treatment, so she suggests she bake him some “special” brownies. They get a little high and have a heart-to-heart. She tells him about her big family living in a small house, and then he recites a poem to her. She knows it! It’s in a book Randall owns. Yes, William says — it’s the one he gave to Rebecca years ago. UH-OH. Beans = spilled.
Beth immediately realizes what he just revealed, and she has to tell Randall. William begs her not to, so she calls and leaves Rebecca a voicemail. Randall’s special relationship with his mother could soon blow up.
Kate and Toby
Kate is on fire in her weight-loss quest: She’s walking on the treadmill, she’s meal-prepping, she’s counting calories. But at the group meeting, she discovers that she’s lost only one pound. Meanwhile, Toby has lost eight. (Ugh, men.)
She sneaks out of the meeting, but later shows up at Toby’s apartment to apologize. But when she enters, she finds a ton of empty junk food containers. He’s been binge-eating! Toby admits that he’s sick of depriving himself and he’s done dieting, but he’ll still support her efforts. Kate is skeptical that they can make it work, but he promises that he’ll eat healthy food when they’re together.
At dinner, he does just that, but when the waiter comes around with dessert, Kate urges him to get one. She can handle it … right? Well, folks, she can’t. After their date, Kate stops at a gas station, but gas isn’t the only thing she buys — she also gets a box of mini powdered doughnuts. So much for progress.
Jack and Rebecca
The episode begins with snippets of dialogue over the years, as Rebecca complains about their crappy washing machine and then gushes over a new one.
During the boys’ football drama storyline, Rebecca is also starting a new gig with an old friend’s jazz band. She’s nervous as hell, since she hasn’t performed like this in years. But Jack isn’t really listening to her — he’s distracted by work so much that he forgets to kiss her goodbye in the morning, for the first time ever.
Then, later, as the game begins, she’s trying to tell him how rehearsal went, but this time he’s distracted by a fellow parent. He sleepily asks her about it again after the game, but she pushes it to the next day. After fixing herself a midnight snack, Rebecca hears Kevin call for her. He’s annoyed by the washing machine, and she looks at it with a nostalgic smile. She remembers when Jack bought it for her and she called it “the best washing machine in the world.” But now, it’s a little run-down and not working as well as it once did — just like their marriage.
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC. Watch clips and full episodes of This is Us for free on Yahoo View.