This Is Us Recap: Brothers, Brownies and Pretty Bad Ideas

Kimberly Roots
TVLine.com

Need to catch up? Check out the previous This Is Us recap.

How tense are things between Randall and Kevin going into this week’s This Is Us? Let’s just say that the brothers’ adult relationship ranks somewhere between “Trump and Clinton voters forced to share a rush-hour pedicab” and “you and your disapproving mother-in-law trapped in an elevator after she suggested you take the stairs.”

But that pales in comparison to what’s simmering between Kate and Toby in the present storyline and Jack and Rebecca in the past. The hour, on the whole, is a little sleepy. But after the week we’ve had? I’m OK with a little comfort food disguised as Pearson family angst.

Read on for the highlights of “The Best Washing Machine in the Whole World.”

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FOOTBRAWL | In the past, the now-teenage Randall earns a spot on his private school’s football team, meaning he’s now an official rival of Kevin’s; the other teen plays for his school’s squad. That’s great, because they’ve both got plenty of practice: The boys fight incessantly at home. It’s so bad that Kevin moves down to the basement just to get away from his sibling, and Randall’s attempts to make things better are constantly rebuffed.

The rivalry gets so bad that the boys get into a scuffle on the football field when their teams play each other. And though Jack is distracted by work stuff and Rebecca is sadly realizing that her husband is slowly checking out of their relationship, both parents are very troubled by — though at a loss for how to fix — their sons’ anger.

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MEET THE NEW MANNY | In the present, as we know, Randall and Kevin’s relationship is only marginally better. And when Rebecca drops out of dinner with the guys at the last minute because of Miguel’s gout (ugh, Miguel: again, the worst!), they only waver a moment before deciding to soldier on.

But when Randall fails to recognize the actor who played Kevin’s best friend for four years on The Manny, it becomes clear that Randall never really watched his brother’s show. He (rightly) points out that Kevin doesn’t really understand what he does for a living, either, but the whole thing is just a jumping off point for them to start clearing the air — out in the open air — while a crowd gathers to watch them fight.

After they notice a billboard for “The New Manny” — and the new actor in the role looks a lot different, though no less ripped, than Kevin — Randall can’t contain his laughter, and Kevin can’t contain his ugly. “That’s great. Replaced by another black man,” he spits, which leads to the world’s most pathetic fisticuffs as they argue about how Kevin treated Randall like a dog and Randall always showed Kevin up.

When a cameo-ing Seth Meyers (heh) steps in to ask Kevin if he needs a hand, the men realize how ridiculous they’re being and pull it together. In the car on the way home, Randall points out that Kevin has never publicly claimed him as a sibling before. He also admits that Rebecca gave him more recognition… but he only ever wanted it from his brother. “Well then, that really sucks,” Kev says, chagrined, and there are a LOT of man-tears being held back in this scene.

At home, the pair seem to have reached a new place: Kevin invites his brother to watch some Manny with him — under a throw blanket, which is cute — and Randall happily accepts.

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HIGH TIMES AND HARD TRUTHS | Unbeknownst to Randall, his wife and his dad spend the evening eating pot brownies (baked to help William’s post-chemo nausea). This leads them to haul Kevin’s stuff out of Beth’s office and down to the aforementioned sublevel, then to sit out under the stars and talk about life. But when William quotes a poem and Beth recognizes it as one from Randall’s book, he blurts out that it’s “the one I gave Rebecca back in the day.”

They both realize what he’s said, and Beth gets intense as she demands that he tell her the full story. He begs her not to say anything to Randall, because it’ll destroy his closeness with Rebecca. So when the guys come home, Beth says nothing but skedaddles up to her bedroom and leaves an urgent voicemail for her mother-in-law.

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THE END IS NEAR? | Kate’s weight loss is too slow for her liking. (Though I’d kill for a 1.25-lb. loss this week, am I right fellow Weight Watchers? Stress eating is Points-INTENSIVE.) Toby’s efforts to slim down, on the other hand, are going well. And when she tracks him down at his apartment, she’s incensed to see a pizza box, cookie wrappers and other junk-food detritus on his coffee table: He’s got a “full-on food mistress,” she realizes, crestfallen as he explains that he’s done losing weight for now but he’ll fully support her.

And that sounds nice and all, but after they have dinner and she watches him devour a delicious brownie-sundae-dessert-thing, she stops to get gas and winds up eating powdered donuts in her car. After watching her start the episode reveling in her healthy new habits — food prep, exercise, etc. — it’s a low point, for sure.

Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Sound off in the comments!

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