‘This Is Us’ 3×03 Review: ‘Katie Girls’

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This Is Us continues to hold us emotionally hostage in another moving episode featuring a moment fans have been dying for since the first season. The beloved family drama hit the ground running from the premiere, but this episode brings us back to the status quo. We get to spend a significant amount of time in the past with Jack and Rebecca, while also focusing on all three of the Pearson kids in the present. Everyone has their own thing going on but that doesn’t mean they aren’t going to present a united front for Kate’s sake. And Randall Pearson continues to prove that biology doesn’t mean a thing because he is 100 percent Jack Pearson’s son and I’m also 100 percent here for it!

As always, spoilers below, so consider yourselves warned.

Systematic sexism has no place in Rebecca’s life

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One of my absolute favorite things about this series is the flashbacks. Don’t get me wrong. I love watching The Big Three navigate their adulthood as much as the next person but there is something so magical about learning their history through watching Jack and Rebecca’s love story unfold. It doesn’t hurt that Milo Ventimiglia and Mandy Moore have some of the best chemistry on television at the moment. We don’t call them mom and dad for nothing!

This week’s cold open featured a much younger Rebecca’s home life. We’ve only caught glimpses of it up to now because we know a little more about the abusive home life Jack endured. And while Rebecca doesn’t necessarily come from an abusive home like Jack, I can see why she would feel suffocated growing up there. She’s a girl with dreams bigger than the town she currently lives in. I get it. A lot of us can relate to that.

In high school, she finally decides she doesn’t want to be a homemaker like her mom and takes up wood shop. This is where we finally learn the identity of Rebecca’s mysterious suitor from the premiere. First of all, I love Rebecca’s Susie Q wig in the high school flashback. Second of all, Hunter Parrish’s baby face finally made his debut and he almost made me forget about Jack Pearson for a minute. Blasphemy! I know! I’m sorry. Real talk though, I’ve loved Hunter since Weeds so seeing him on this show definitely made me scream with excitement. I must be a terrible fan, though, because I definitely did not recognize him with his mustache in the premiere two weeks ago.

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So the mystery of who the guy standing on Rebecca’s doorstep is solved relatively quickly. I’m okay with that. I would have hated to see them drag out this story line for the sake of an unnecessary love triangle. He was her high school sweetheart, Alan. And it turns out, he’s actually a great guy. There’s no bad blood here. She even gets along with his parents. They adore her. So does he. He’s talking about taking her to New York so she can pursue her dream: a singing career. So what’s the problem?

On paper, nothing. He seems pretty perfect and I can’t help but wonder where he is now and if he’s happy. I hope he’s married with a couple of really great kids of his own. I’m getting off track here. Sorry about that! Back to what was wrong with him.

Okay, I got nothing.

He really is a catch but Rebecca can’t stop thinking about a certain kiss in the car after the worst first date ever. I don’t blame her either because Jack is also a hell of a catch. And fate is a funny thing because after accepting to go to New York with Alan, Rebecca takes it upon herself to go to the store to pick up champagne for them to celebrate. That’s where she bumps into Jack, who is out with his mom.

After finally standing up to his abusive father, he convinces his mom to pack a bag and leave with him so she can stay at a friend’s house where she’d be safe. But being the good son that he is, he takes her to a grocery store because she can’t just show up empty handed. There’s that systematic sexism again programmed into women that makes us have to check off a to do list.

While at the grocery store, Rebecca calls him out because he didn’t show after their date. He tells her that he did but there was someone else on her doorstep already. Rebecca isn’t sure what to say to that and finds herself making excuses. Jack, the gentleman that he is, makes sure she knows that she doesn’t owe him anything. Then they have one of my favorite conversations in this show’s history.

She tells him about moving to New York so she can follow her dream to be a singer and then asks him if he has a dream before embarrassingly asking if that’s a stupid question. He assures her it isn’t and then tells her his dream.

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He wants a decent job, wife, a family and a home that feels nothing like the one he grew up in. Shrugging, he asks her if that’s a stupid answer and she quickly shakes her head that it isn’t. It’s such a small moment but it’s the moment for them, I think.

Rebecca doesn’t really know much about Jack at this point. He was in Vietnam and his home life seems super messy. Her words. Right now, all she knows is that she can’t stop thinking about him and that she has a good feeling about him.

Later that night, while talking to the world’s greatest potential mother in law, she comes to terms with the fact that she can’t go to New York with Alan because there’s already someone else. Alan’s mom is a great mother to Rebecca but not such a great mom to Alan because she definitely thinks Rebecca deserves the world and she somehow knows her son can’t give that to her.

Maybe mom knows something about Alan that we don’t. I’m not sure but I’m gonna continue saying that on paper, he seemed great.

I’m assuming she officially broke things off with Alan because next thing that’s happening is Rebecca is driving around a suburban neighborhood trying to find Jack. She finds his car outside a house and knocks on the door.

Jack is obviously surprised to see her and she’s super awkward on his doorstep. It’s probably because she’s realizing that she borderline stalked him. It’s okay though because I’m pretty sure Jack’s into it. Rebecca asks about his mom and he tells her she went for a walk so Rebecca just kind of stands there awkwardly. I like how realistic these small moments are for them because in reality they’ve only known each other for a total of four hours but she’s got a feeling about him and she’s going with it.

After a quick exchange where Rebecca apologizes for showing up empty handed (which Jack jokes about because she sounded just like his mom), he starts doing the dishes that were left out by his mom and her friend. I’m pretty sure this is the moment Rebecca officially fell in love with Jack Pearson. Men, take note. Doing the dishes is sexy as hell. Trust me. Women dig it.

Rebecca may dream about singing but suddenly building a home with this man seems like a good dream too. I’m so glad she went with her gut.

Jack and his girls

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When it was first revealed that Jack had passed away, fans assumed that meant that Milo Ventimiglia would never share the screen with the three actors who play his adult children. In season one, Sterling K. Brown got to be first when Jack’s spirit helped Randall through a panic attack.

Last season, Kevin hallucinated his father handing him an award at his old high school.

This year is Kate’s turn.

She’s under going surgery for her IVF to see if she has eggs that could be used to make an embryo. It’s a pretty dangerous surgery because of her weight and everyone is seriously freaking out. While she’s under, her subconscious wakes up in the hospital where she was born. She sees herself and her brothers as babies but then she sees an empty bed where her own baby with Toby should be.

Suddenly these scenes become seriously pivotal. Her teenage self is also here. So is her kid self. And so is Jack.

 

The four of them end up at their favorite ice cream shop in this dream world and teen Kate is begging adult Kate to stay. Why would she ever want to wake up. This dream is perfect because in this dream, their dad is still alive.

You know when people ask if you could say one thing to yourself when you were younger, what would you say? Kate got that chance in this episode. She told herself as a kid that she’s going to grow up and get married to a really great guy. And she told her teen self that this dark time in her life will pass and she’ll heal. It seems like Kate finally got that closure she was looking for because she finally tells her dad that she has to go and with a knowing nod, he opens the door so she can walk through a bright light and wake up.

On paper, these kinds of scenes can come off cheesy because they can come off as unnecessarily dramatic. A character is usually teetering between life and death so they have to decide whether or not to wake up. They didn’t do that here. There was no overly dramatic scene where Kate was dying in surgery and everyone was crying in a waiting room. She was just taking a bit longer to wake up because she was holding on to her dream with Jack. Nobody was that scared they were going to lose her. Not in this moment anyway. She finally did wake up and when she did it was to find her husband and brother standing by her bed and the news that they have eight eggs.

I know it won’t all be smooth sailing from here on out for Kate but this is a win. She doesn’t get too many of those so I’m going to celebrate this one because they are rare.

Jack Pearson’s Son(s)

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Following last week’s episode when Randall found out that Kate said she was the only one who could carry on a piece of dad, he confronted her at the Kevin’s premiere. This argument leads to a fight where the siblings don’t talk for days. It’s Beth that forces Randall to talk to his sister but it turns out that he sucks at apologizing to his siblings.

Beth tells Randall that Miguel thinks it’s because he sees himself as their rock so he can’t show any vulnerability. This leads to a hilarious exchange where Beth tells Randall about her text thread with Miguel and Toby. I’d pay to get in on that text thread because Miguel sounds way more likable on text than in person.

After a brief phone conversation with Kate, Randall decides that he’s going to fly cross country to be by his sister’s side during her surgery. It is at her bedside that he apologizes for the things he said to her at the premiere. Kate tells him that he is totally their father’s son because he flew cross country just to apologize to her. That is something their dad would have done.

Their relationship is restored and thank goodness it is because I love their bond so much. Sometimes more than her co-dependent relationship with her twin.

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Randall’s trip is cut short because Deja calls to let him know that Sky (Chichi’s daughter) had been beat up and she was in the hospital. Randall is on the next flight back home as soon as he gets off the phone. When he arrives in the hospital to see this teen girl so beat up he vows to do something.

Last week, I wondered whether Randall would run for city council after his interaction with the councilman. This week, Randall tells Beth that he is his father’s son and his father wouldn’t have stood idly by, so he’s running against him.

That’s when Beth drops her own bomb. She’s been laid off. Before he died, William made her promise to not stay quiet in moments like these because she needs her husband to be the base sometimes. Things are starting to look kind of rocky for Beth and Randall. The two of them are usually on the same page but they haven’t been since last season. It’s going to be interesting to see if their marriage will be okay in the end. I hope they are because I’m rooting for them.

Kevin is doing his press tour for his Ron Howard film in this episode. He brings Zoe to an interview with Terry Gross (shout out to Terry for guest starring in this episode!) where he’s asked all kinds of questions about his dad’s time in Vietnam. It’s in that moment that Kevin realizes he actually doesn’t know anything about his dad’s past because he never asked. Not that he didn’t have a chance to when he was a kid. We even flashback to a moment where Jack first tells his son about the war and he opens up the line of communication but Kevin never asks any questions.

Now he’s a man in his late 30’s and he’s realizing how little he knows about his father. This is the official start of the season long arc where they plan on diving into a story line we’ve been waiting to see. Kevin takes the first step in contacting another veteran his father may have known in Vietnam and we see that man opening Kevin’s email at the end of the episode. I’m sure this is what leads us to the flash forward where Kevin and Zoe are flying to Vietnam.

I personally can’t wait for this story line to unfold. I’ve always been super interested in finding out more about Jack’s past. It’s going to be really nice to learn all of that through Kevin’s point of view though. And I like that Zoe is coming along for the ride. This could strengthen their relationship. I hope it does because I am all in for this pairing and I don’t think Kevin can handle anymore heartbreak.

Highlights

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  • Jack’s dad was watching Nixon on TV which is awesome because of the comparisons that have been made between Nixon and the current president. That was slick, Fogelman!
  • Jack finally stood up to his dad!!!! Was anyone else cheering in that moment???
  • Kevin’s movie looks and sounds cheesy as hell but everyone is acting like it’s going to win an Oscar. I couldn’t stop laughing.
  • Jack Pearson, #1 dad and now #1 son of all time.
  • Alan’s parents are awesome. I hope Rebecca kept in touch with his mom even though she didn’t end up with Alan.
  • Kevin saying “baller” when talking about flowers he got for Zoe.
  • That councilman sounds like a comic book villain. They might as well have named him Lex Luthor.
  • Beth being Team Kate in the Randall/Kate fight.
  • Beth, Toby and Miguel having a text thread that’s mostly gifs but they sometimes talk about how messed up The Big Three are.
  • Randall’s reaction to finding out about this text thread and all the ways Miguel has psycho analyzed him.
  • “Oh my God, Miguel is so on point!” Beth is going to actually make me like Miguel, isn’t she?
  • Kate telling Toby if she dies, she wants him to find someone as long as it’s not “that bitch from your accounting department, Sharon” or Madison.
  • Toby promising to not marry “Stink-Eye Sharon” or Madison but that he’d find himself a “committed, semi happy relationship with someone less cool” than Kate.
  • I really liked Toby in this episode. I’m liking him more this season. I’m liking Miguel. What is happening to me????
  • Beth’s layoff pissed me off and I want her to create her own firm where she can become a competitor for that stupid old job of hers.
  • That awkward moment when the nurse comes to get Toby’s sperm sample while he’s hugging Randall. “This is unfortunate timing.” I laughed so hard.
  • “Hi Katie Girl.” Milo and Chrissy finally got to share the screen and I didn’t even get a hug. I loved this but I also feel deprived.
  • That moment that Rebecca and Jack locked eyes at the grocery store.
  •  Their entire conversation in that grocery store. The fact that it was this conversation that made Rebecca choose Jack despite the risks.
  • “You’re the base.” William and Beth’s conversation in this flashback.
  • Kevin’s Homeland reference while putting together all his findings of Jack’s time in Vietnam. I will say that this would have been a perfect moment to throw in a “Wall of Weird” reference to make a callback to Justin’s other show, Smallville, but to each his own.
  • Toby and Randall bonding. This was very necessary since Toby has only ever really bonded with Kevin.
  • Kate finally letting go. Jack opening a symbolic door for her. Kate walking through. This moment had me in tears because that look he gave her melted my heart.
  • “You have so much dad in you, Randall. You came across the country to say you were sorry. That’s like the most dad move ever.” Now I’m REALLY crying!
  • Kate has eight eggs and I’m so happy for her!
  • Rebecca’s conversation with Alan’s mom is so important. I love her and I hope we see her again.
  • “My dad was a superhero….” Randall’s epiphany was perfectly handled. I thought last week broke him but he’s strong than ever.
  • The three of them really have spent their whole lives just trying to be close to their dad. Jack Pearson is so proud of his three kids and I’m emotional.
  • Beth speaking up like William told her to because it’s time for Randall to be the base.
  • Rebecca fell in love with Jack Pearson in front of a kitchen sink and I honestly love that. I also loved the callback to the fact that they spent their whole marriage doing the dishes together. These two were partners from the start.
  • “You want to go for a drive?” “Where do you want to go?” “Los Angeles.” “Yeah. Let’s go to Los Angeles.” I don’t know if they ever made it to LA but I hope that they did and I want a flashback to that trip.

Next week’s episode is shaping up to be one of their most emotional of the series because it’s going to focus on Jack’s time in Vietnam. Make sure to watch this one live. A lot of people are probably going to be talking about it and you may not want to be spoiled. This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9PM on NBC.




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