A family dinner ties This Is Us “Storybook Love” together.
Family dinners can either bring people together or tear them apart.
Thankfully, in this case, they brought the Pearsons closer together despite a few hiccups.
But these two family dinners varied wildly from each other.
In the first, Rebecca and Jack were moving into their new house. She was pregnant with the triplets.
Instead of making the first dinner at their new home special, she burned the lasagna, Jack knocked it over while hilariously fighting a bird, and they embraced the night for what it was — a fond memory to look back on.
The second dinner found the family reuniting for the first time after Jack’s death.
Rebecca once again wanted everything to be perfect because this was the start of their “next chapter,” and just like before, everything went sideways.
She tried her hardest to keep her composure but seeing Kevin and Sophie’s “quickie” wedding wasn’t easy for her.
Beth and Randall didn’t present too many problems that night, although Beth’s housewarming gift, a bottle of hot sauce, stirred up emotions as Jack loved to eat hot sauce on everything. Has this always been a thing? Or did they just add that in now for emotional texture?
And Kate’s date, Marc, surprised everyone by arriving unannounced after looking up her address and showing up at the house. Again, nothing concerning until a scene later in the episode raises a few eyebrows.
The Big Three had a lot to say to each other, but Rebecca wasn’t interested in seeing any of them argue and made it very clear as she went off on them in the kitchen.
It was awesome.
We’ve never seen Rebecca’s composed exterior crack, but I’m kind of digging this side of her.
At least, when it’s necessary.
By the end, Rebecca admitted the night was a failure and salvaged it by ordering pizza and being present in the moment.
It helped that Miguel was there offering up some advice alongside a glass of wine: stay patient.
Admittedly, Miguel felt slightly out of place at dinner, but it’s a testament to the man always being there for the family.
Kate even mentioned that he’d been hanging around the house frequently.
Seeing him involved so early on defines his relationship and allows us to see how it naturally turned from being there for his best friend’s wife to something more romantic.
Miguel promised to take care of Rebecca and that’s what he did.
While nothing seemed too out of the ordinary about Kate’s boyfriend, it does seem like we have something to worry about.
The episode didn’t elaborate on what transpired between Kate and Marc, but it did allude to something horrific happening as Kate found pictures of that night in the piano that the Pearson men sent over (another grand gesture) and became visibly triggered.
Rebecca then made a comment about wanting so badly to believe the kids were happy that she ignored what was right in front of her.
Did Marc abuse Kate?
Did he take advantage of her?
Following this final scene, Kevin’s “bad feeling” about Marc and the fact that he was 23 suddenly worries me.
It’s possible Kate was so eager to fit in or have a significant other that she too ignored the signs that something was wrong.
But did anyone pick up on Marc being too pushy or weird?
I’m not entirely sure I like where this storyline is headed especially since it has never been brought up as something that happened to Kate or formed her character.
Randall’s anxiety was prevalent during the family dinner, which Beth used as a reference in the present day.
Making lists was just one of the ways he stayed in control and coped with the anxiety, the same anxiety that took a toll on him back in season 1, and the anxiety that was now affecting Tess.
Randall’s storyline feels the strongest simply because it’s been developed from the beginning.
It’s not being added in out of convenience — this has always been something he’s dealt with and suffered from.
Now, Tess is overwhelmed with her sexuality, her new school, and new friends and it’s manifesting in panic attacks that Randall is all too familiar with.
Surprisingly, Beth finds a solution by remembering a conversation she once had with William, who also suffered from anxiety.
Boy, was it nice to him again!
Just like Randall, William hated that the one thing he passed onto his child was the thing he liked least about himself.
Yet, Beth found a way to spin it into a positive. Her three favorite people in the world are all affected by anxiety and panic attacks. It doesn’t make them less than and it’s not something they should be ashamed about.
Instead, they have to just let the bubbles fizzle out. As someone who suffers from anxiety, I enjoyed that metaphor.
But while Randall was able to identify the problem in Tess, he believed he had it all under control despite Beth picking up on the warning signs that he was on a verge of another mental break.
If Randall doesn’t see someone soon, it’s not going to end well.
Many shows tackle mental health and mental health stigma in an exaggerated way for ratings but that isn’t the case with This Is Us. They broached the topic with sensitivity and with the intention of informing.
When storylines are handled with such care, they’re better and stronger.
In the present day, Kevin continued being a support system for Cassidy and his uncle Nicky.
He wasn’t as helpful as he wanted to be. Nicky was annoyed of him and didn’t want to stick around for the hockey game because there were too many triggers.
Meanwhile, he made the wrong assumption about Cassidy’s husband and when he called him out for looking down while she was being honored as a vet, Ryan checked him by saying that he couldn’t watch her get honored by the very thing that broke her.
So yeah, not a great day for Kevin, but his heart was in the right place.
Ryan even told him to “stay away” from his wife, which is highly unlikely since there’s a definite connection forming between Kevin and Cassidy though neither of them sees it just yet.
In fact, Kevin’s been the only support system for Cassidy. Ryan may “still like her,” but he hasn’t been there for her and alienating her is pushing her onto those darker vices.
I’m warming up to the idea of Kevin and Cassidy as a couple, which is exactly what they looked like when they met up with Ryan before the hockey game.
As for Nicky, he seems to be around to keep Jack’s memory alive as Kevin looks back on their upbringing and shares a slice of ice cream with his uncle.
There were plenty of generational callbacks that tied the whole episode together. Despite originating from a terrible Pearson (Jack and Nicky’s father), the men turned out okay.
What did you think of tonight’s episode?
Sound-off in the comments below!