Kevin tries to hard and almost screws everything up with yet another woman in his life.
These teenagers will test you. Kevin and Kate can be grateful they don't yet have teenagers in any of the timelines on "This Is Us" because Rebecca and Randall were being put through it!
No real surprise on one of those as the last time we checked in on Deja, she was getting real defiant right in Randall's face after he said she wouldn't be going to see Malik anytime soon in Boston.
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Does Randall overreact? Most certainly. But Deja did sneak off, lie to her family and go spend the weekend with him. We're not sure she could have convinced an authorized trip out of them, but certainly lying and sneaking around isn't going to do anything to engender trust.
That's why we can't help but wonder if her big declaration this week was a typically emotional teen extreme reaction to Randall's grand ultimatum about the two of them. For his part, Randall continued to make bullheaded ultimatums tonight that were really only going to make things worse. He's not the greatest when caught off guard. Thank goodness for Beth.
Young Rebecca certainly could have used a Beth in her life back in the aftermath of Jack's death when she was living with Kate. With Kevin in LA chasing his Hollywood dream and Randall in college, Kate was alone to lay out all her frustrations on Rebecca, and boy did she make a low blow tonight ... that resulted in a nice high slap across her face.
It was a night of lots of tension among the parents, with adult Kate and Rebecca dealing with their own pain and a slap across the face of a more metaphorical kind -- but no less shocking or painful.
As for Kevin, the hopeless romantic is still just flailing, seeking something to latch onto. This week brought Cassidy fully back into his world, but is she that someone? Should she be? We're still shipping Kevison! Never give up hope!
As we do every week, we're going to single out the show's most powerful moments, scoring them by how many tissues we tore through just to watch them. Believe us, these are happy tears of anguish.
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"You Can't Just Sit Here with Me for the Rest of Your Life"
Not that Kate would approve one bit, but we did kind of agree with her that if Miguel and Rebecca were sitting around watching "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" five nights a week that they should probably think about getting a life. At the same time, this was such a sweet line to hear because of course we know that ultimately that's exactly what they do. The ease with which they were there for each other previews the sweet and supportive relationship to come. Time is running out and we still want their full story!
1 tissue (if only they knew)
"Okay, What's Going On?"
We were dying when Deja and the girls were plotting this elaborate plan to throw off Beth and Randall, totally forgetting (as kids do) that Beth and Randall have already been kids. Parents tend to be so much more clever than their kids give them credit for, and you're certainly not going to fool anybody by altering your behavior so drastically as to appear alien to them. Tess suddenly interested in Beth's dance work and Annie offering up knock-knock jokes. It was so adorably pathetic, we were cracking up by the time Beth shut it down.
1 tissue (they were so naïve they believed it would work)
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"No, You Should"
Look, we're going to say it here and probably again, but Kate totally had that one coming. We know you're not supposed to spank your kids anymore, but this was a while ago now when such things still happened. And regardless, Rebecca clearly didn't think through her actions. It was a knee-jerk reaction, but one that's completely understandable. She'd just come in from a nice night out with a man (Matt from the PTA) and Kate had to attack her, evoke Jack's name and then call her a slut. We've known that Kate was awful to Rebecca for years for a multitude of reasons, but it's still extremely difficult to watch. We at least got that soft moment of apology and Kate backing down when Rebecca suggested she wouldn't date. They've got years to go before they get in a good place, but it's nice to see they still managed to find good moments.
2 tissues (teenagers are bags of emotional awfulness, but they have their moments)
"I'm Going to Go Ahead and Not Tell Her About This Conversation"
Deja is not the only one wise beyond her years. We've seen that from Malik, too, which is why he's one of the good guys we can root for in this. Randall lashing out and telling him he should break up with Deja so as to not ruin her life isn't about Malik as it's about the kids' hare-brained scheme for her to move in with him after finishing school early doesn't line up with the future Randall envisions for her. He's afraid she'll screw everything up. Malik could have weaponized Randall's words to help Deja be even more convinced to move in with him, but Malik values her relationship with Randall and sees how important it is. Beth, too, helps talk Randall down later. She again asks him to remember when he was that age and imagine someone telling him he couldn't date Beth. That would not have happened. She's right that they're in a dangerous place right now. The future tells us they get through it, but we never had any doubt.
2 tissues (age doesn't always equal maturity, and vice-versa)
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"I Slapped Her"
Regardless of how awful Kate was, Rebecca had the very natural reaction of regret and shame after she lost her cool and slapped her daughter across her face. All parents have had what they call "fail" moments, but they always beat themselves up about them and replay them and try to imagine a better way to navigate things. She knows Kate was lashing out from her own pain, but neither woman knows how to communicate with the other at this stage in their lives and relationship. It would be years yet before they could. It's very telling that Rebecca immediately called Miguel and that he was there for her. Already, he is sliding into place as her rock, and neither of them even fully realize it. It was also good for Kate to overhear this conversation, to get a little compassion mixed in with her own remorse. Rebecca is doing the best she can and a little appreciation of that goes a long way.
3 tissues (regret for things that can't be taken back)
"Just Get It"
We're not sure what Kevin expected from Cassidy, but we think he got exactly what we expected from her: tough love and truth bombs. The truth is that Kevin is a walking rom-com of hopes and dreams who's yet too broken to really figure his own shit out. Struggling with Madison dating Elijah, he decides to try and hold Cassidy's hand and even goes so far as to paint yet another fantasy about what if maybe this could be the one. He's chasing this dream, but it seems to be more about slotting the nearest women into the dream than waiting for the dream to emerge around the right woman. Cassidy sets him straight, and even advises him that treating Elijah like a jerk is only going to hurt his standing with Madison, and she knows he's still hung up there. So when he late-night texts Elijah (who calls back) with advice on how to more sensitively get Madison food and drinks while out, due to her food challenges, it's a sign of possible growth. Or is it performative? We know Kevin means well, but he gets so hung up on the theatrics of what makes a good rom-com, he sometimes loses sight of the sincerity. Hopefully, Cassidy's extremely tough love -- another slap to the face of sorts -- has a lasting impact.
3 tissues (for the care of the message and the maturity to share it)
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"I'm Very Sensitive About All of This"
Kate's second slap of the night was one she metaphorically hit Rebecca with, sharing with her mother that due to the latest PET scan, she and Toby aren't comfortable with Rebecca watching the kids alone anymore. Understandably, Rebecca got very upset with this and stormed out, but what an impossible situation for everyone involved. Of course Rebecca would never intentionally hurt anyone, which Kate acknowledged, but she is in cognitive decline. At some point, she's going to have to be restricted as to what she can do, from driving to cooking to certainly being responsible for two very small children, one of them blind. It was nice to see Rebecca have a more reasoned response later, acknowledging that she understands but it's still very hard because things are being taken away from her. What adult can endure that without fighting back now and again?
4 tissues (sometimes there are no good or easy solutions)
"I'm Too Messed Up Already; Leave Me in Peace"
Poor Cassidy. At least we can appreciate and respect how self-aware she is. But it was also incredibly insensitive of Kevin to try and push his rom-com nonsense on her less than a week after she finalized her divorce. This is the part where Kevin sometimes struggles to see the other person in his fantasies as a fully-formed human being rather than the woman he needs to slot into the rom-com for it to work. The most heartbreaking moments came when she pointed out that she's always up at 3 a.m. when he randomly texts her because her demons and his demons are not the same. She's still suffering PTSD from her time in the military, as well as recovering alcoholism and the crumbling of her marriage. But it was such a sad moment for her to basically plead with him to not try and pull her into his fantasy. It was said in such a way that she almost seemed to be saying that if he tried hard enough, it might work. But it would only work for a little while and then leave her even worse off, like all the other women's lives he's blown up (cheating on Sophie, not being able to tell Madison he loves her on their wedding day). She's so right.
4 tissues (self-awareness doesn't always mean peace and happiness)
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"I Took Everything Out on You"
We know Kate has lamented in the past about how awful she was to Rebecca, but now that she knows there's basically a ticking clock on how many good years Rebecca might or might not have left, that regret is weighing heavier than ever. Rather than face her own demons or process her own grief or even just give Rebecca a fair shake, Kate was just awful to her time and time again. She was selfish and petty and downright mean. And she held onto that resentment for years. Now, with nothing but regret and dwindling time, it's too late to go back and do anything different. And she can't say there's plenty of time now. So all she has is the knowledge that she screwed up this relationship with her mom. While they're in a better place now, Kate cost them years and they'll never get that time back or be able to make up for it. Sometimes you just have to accept the regret and remorse, but that doesn't make it any easier. Especially when it's your fault.
5 tissues (acknowledgement of our faults doesn't erase them or the damage they caused)
"This Is Us" returns to NBC after the Olympics on Tuesday, February 22nd at 9 p.m. ET.