by Amy Wilkinson | via Entertainment Weekly
On the TV twist-o-meter, this week’s This Is Us revelation probably ranks around a 4. That compared to the series’ first two episode shockers which came in at solid 8s. And let me tell you: I’m so glad for a 4 episode. A twist-of-the-week conceit feels much more suited to heightened-reality programing — Scandal this is not — so a little grounding was in order. Let’s dive into “Kyle.”
The episode opens back in the late ‘70s, but this time, William is our point of entry. We watch as he boards the city bus, poetry journal in hand, and makes eye contact with a beautiful stranger across the aisle. As the montage continues, the two become closer — and William’s handwriting becomes more erratic. Finally, sadly, William rides the bus alone with his newborn son cradled in his arms, bound for the fire station doorstep we already know he’ll be abandoning him on.
A few days later, Rebecca and Jack are ready to leave the hospital with their three babies. “This is the scariest part,” Dr. Katowsky tells them. “Some people think the scariest part is coming to the hospital to have a baby. Nah, the scariest part is leaving the hospital with the baby.”
“Babies,” Rebecca corrects him before Jack excitedly reveals the tots’ names to the doctor. They’re Kevin, Kate, and Kyle. (All Ks as an homage to the fatherly physician.) And, yep, not a Randall to be found.
Fast-forward to the present and Kyle/Randall is trying to figure out how to tell his mom that he not only found his biological dad but that he’s been living with him. She seems to take the news in stride but is insistent she meet him, and when she’s left alone in the room with William he remarks, “You look well.”
The scene of Rebecca leaving the hospital explains this: As she’s being wheeled out, she notices a black man standing at a distance from the hospital, watching the entrance. Thinking he may be the father of her new baby, she calls out to him. But he disappears onto the bus. (Did this read slightly off to anyone else? I mean, I’ve never been to Pittsburgh, but I have to imagine there’s more than one black man there, right?)
The plot thickens when Present Rebecca delivers this reminder to William: “We had a deal.”
“I won’t tell him if that’s what you’re thinking,” he replies.
“It will break him,” she says. “Knowing that he could have known you and I kept him from that.”
Meanwhile, Toby is trying to be the most charming boyfriend known to man. (One staffer in the EW office has already dubbed him a Manic Pixie Dream Dude.) He wakes up on Kate’s couch following their big night of SHOW BUSINESS and hears Kate sweetly singing in the shower. He stands outside the door listening until she flings it open, and startled by his presence, socks him in the face. “Luckily I have all this fat to soften the blow,” he muses.
Over breakfast (and after confirming that they did not, in fact, have sex) Toby asks about Kate’s singing aspirations. Apparently she used to sing all the time (Cyndi Lauper was her favorite). But as she grew up, she worked to avoid the spotlight. Which probably explains why, instead, she’s helped her brother court fame all these years from behind the scenes. And why she’s now faced with a big life decision as her brother insists on his plan to move to New York.
But Toby has plans of his own, returning to Kate’s house with a limo and red carpet and snapping paparazzi pics like she’s Kim Kardashian. “Give me just one day, one day where you’re the star,” he says. But even with this preamble, his motivations are a bit unclear. Is he trying to keep her from moving to New York with her brother? Or just prove to her that she should be a professional singer? Or both?
Click HERE to read the recap, “Kyle”