Warning: This recap for the “Kyle” episode of This Is Us contains spoilers.
After an unwelcome break last week, This is Us and all its glorious, relatable, hysterical, and gut-punching family drama returned and all was right in our TV world again. As the family and their extended loved ones dealt with awkward surprise visits, secret deals, postpartum depression, regretful past decisions, negative test results, fear of failure and relationship stagnation, many of the characters — especially the male ones — were left feeling out of sorts.
Jack and Rebecca
It started with a flashback montage that showed how Randall’s biological dad, a wannabe poet everyone called Shakespeare, met his biological mom. Things eventually soured as they got hooked on smack and she died. The last scene showed William holding a baby as the bus passed the fire station. After we learned they’d assigned the trio K names as a tribute to the good doctor, Rebecca noticed William hanging around outside as she was leaving the hospital to take the babies home for the first time.
Back in the present, Rebecca’s surprise visit threw off Randall’s plan to keep William a secret for any longer. “I’m going to put on a fake ass smile and tell her something that is going to completely and utterly devastate her,” he worried. But Rebecca was full of surprises of her own. After asking to speak to William alone, she drops a bomb. “We had a deal. It will break him knowing that he could have known you and I kept him from you. My son who I raised is going to put everything he has into trying to save you because that’s who he is. It is going to come in front of his job, his marriage and his time with his kids so you better damn well be worth that.”
Turns out Rebecca tracked him down in an effort to connect with the baby she did not birth. A peek at their early days with three newborns was not pretty — the house was a mess, all of them were crying, and baby Kyle was not taking her breast so she worried they needed to put him on formula. “He feels like a stranger,” she lamented. She tried to tell Jack about William, but he assumed she was going to come clean about having second thoughts about the adoption. Jack coaxed, “We have to treat them the same. They are our babies. He’s our baby. And they’ll be in college soon.”
Her disconnection ran deep in those first weeks, so much so that she skipped a checkup. Jack unloaded on the doc. “I think the babies might have broken my wife. I was hoping you could tell me how to fix her.” Always full of sage advice, he replied, “She lost a baby. You can’t just dismiss that. You willed yourself forward with positivity. She is going to have to do this her own way. You have to give her the space to find her way.”
Her way, as it turns out, was to find William and see where the baby came from.
William told her about Kyle’s mom and the poetry and assured her the baby “came from love.” He suggested that he check in on the child occasionally and she nipped that idea in the bud. “I wanted to know his story and that there was good here. I also need to know that you’re not going to come back for him. I need to know that I can move forward. He will have your blood and the blanket you wrapped him up in. That’s it. That’s the deal. I’m not bonding with the baby. I want to love him like he’s my own, but every time I look at his face…” William suggested giving him his own name instead of the one that would have gone to the dead triplet.
She returned to Jack and sold the name change idea as her own, but used the last name of William’s favorite poet. (Side note: The book he gave her that day appears on Randall’s bookshelf, but there was no explanation about how it got there or if he knows it came from his dad.) The trick seems to work as the closing scene has her successfully breastfeeding the newly christened Randall.
Being a perfectionist and a control freak, it was killing Randall to not know what his mom was talking to his bio dad about. He also was clearly irked about her and the stepdad’s unannounced visit.
He excused himself to retrieve his father to go to the oncologist only to find an empty room. He managed to chase him down in the car and confronted him about bailing. “I had to kiss up to the biggest d-bag at my firm just to get you this,” he pleaded before demanding that William had to get the second opinion. “Then I will give you permission to hobble off like hobo Joe without so much as a goodbye.”
William tried to reason, “You are trying to stop me because you were raised to be a good man. But I wasn’t the one who raised you that way. I was reminded of that today. You have parents. I just can’t step in 40 years later and enjoy the fruits of someone else’s labor.”
Before relenting, William cracked, “I’m starting to not feel so bad about leaving you at that fire station.” Unfortunately, the specialist didn’t have any good news. The cancer had metastasized and there was nothing to be done. The bad news put Randall in a funk. When Beth tried to talk to him, he acted like he was upset on the kids’ part. “I should have looked for him years ago. The girls could have had a grandfather all these years instead I brought him home so they could fall in love with a dying man.” Beth, who is turning out to be quite the voice of reason, pointed out that it probably wasn’t really the kids he was worried about and that William had only been at their house for a week, but Randall hadn’t gotten to know much about him. With no time like the present, Randall went to his room to have a heart-to-heart that started with planning to tell the girls William’s true identity and inquiring about how his biological parents met.
Kate and Kevin
After their night of drunk shenanigans at the Hollywood party, Toby awoke on Kate’s couch unsure of what had transpired. He followed the singing coming from the shower to inquire, but wound up with a punch to the nose when he startled Kate. While nursing his wound, he asked if they’d done the deed. “No, there was a lot of vomiting but not a lot of anything else.”
With that settled, he moved on to the subject of her singing and why she doesn’t take her “good, not karaoke good” voice on the road. She sadly said, “I grew up and I grew and I try to avoid the spotlight.”
Related: Is ‘This Is Us’ for You? Probably.
As if on cue, Kevin blew in like a hurricane without acknowledging Toby and started wreaking havoc. “I am pumped about our move to New York. There’s no way I would do this without you,” he said to Kate. “We are not moving all the way to New York City so I can do some lame off-Broadway comedy. I’m only interested in doing heavy drama and I won’t do anything where I have to show my penis.”
As he listened to her make arrangements for her boss brother, Toby suddenly felt like a third wheel and fretted over losing her. To show her that she should stay and take care of her needs, he planned a big day out to prove she was a star too. There was a red carpet, a chauffeured black SUV, paparazzi roleplaying, and a surprise show at his aunt’s assisted living facility. She was still hesitant, but Toby persisted, “I booked you in a prime slot, 3 p.m., right after Jell-O but before their nap. Most won’t remember this tomorrow and most lived through World War II so no matter how bad you are, they have seen worse.”
Her “Time After Time” was rusty at first, but eventually she let go of the nerves and sang with all her heart. Meanwhile, Kevin had been calling the whole time from his closet as he felt very overwhelmed packing his beanies. On a high from her first public gig in years, Kate took Toby to the supply closet for a quickie. It was, of course, interrupted by Kevin who had tried to soothe his nerves with a booty call from Insane Elaine. After sleeping with her and telling the crazy ex-girlfriend his relocation plans, she started tearing up his joint while he hid in the closet waiting for his sister to come over to get rid of her. “I have to go,” she said to a deflated Toby who got an earful after suggesting she let him clean up his own mess. “We’re twins, We’re not like normal people. When I was a kid I broke my arm and he cried out in pain 10 miles away. We’re that connected.”
Toby had had enough. “I am not some nut job who performs grand gestures for every girl I go on a few dates with. I like you Kate. I like you a lot, but I can’t play second banana to your brother.”
The ultimatum didn’t work and Kate wound up in the closet at Kevin’s to tell him the coast was clear. He’d read the plays she gave him and liked one so much that he immediately decided he wasn’t worthy and started self-medicating his panic attack with the bar cart he keeps in his walk-in.
When she explained that she’d answered the phone despite being on her way to indisposed and started rationalizing ending it with Toby so she could focus on losing weight and going with him, Kevin finally had a great moment of self-awareness and promptly fired his sister. “Maybe it’s time we go at it alone for a little while. We need to grow up.”
She admitted, “I don’t know who I am if I am not your sister.”
As she convinced Toby to forgive her by presenting a condom, Kevin left her a message. He’d booked a redeye to cut the cord. “If we keep talking about it, I’ll never go. You’ll never stay.”
However, his sudden exit and her post-coital coma were no match for the twin telepathy. As his plane hit an unexpected bump, she shot up in bed and answered Toby’s are-you-ok inquiry with “he’s ok.” Undoubtedly, this scene was added to drive the point home that this is a family-first show and the topic isn’t likely settled for good.
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC. Watch clips and full episodes of This is Us on Yahoo View.