‘This Is Us’ is all of us… during a pandemic

It’s fine. Everything is fine.
Published April 7, 2021 10:02 a.m. EST

How many times have you told yourself that everything is fine over the last few days? Weeks? Months? Probably more than a few. We’re all having ups and downs right now but This Is Us (Tuesdays, 9 pET on CTV) is definitely digging into it, and specifically looking at how everyone is adjusting life in an ongoing pandemic and burying some feelings as a result.

The latest episode, “Both Things Can Be True,” didn’t unpack the pandemic feelings per se, but it did catch up with the characters as they were all pivoting following big life changes.

That meant the emotions ran deep and the right words were hard to find as Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) grappled with how to connect with her daughter, Randall (Sterling K. Brown) addressed his past traumas, Toby (Chris Sullivan) realized what being a stay-at-home dad entailed, and Nicky (Griffin Dunne) said what everyone has been thinking about Miguel (Jon Huertas) since the beginning of the series. 

The result was an episode packed with lots of muted feelings in which everything was most certainly not fine. 

Beth faces a crossroads

Are everyone’s parents, Beth and Randall, perfect? Far from it. But for years they’ve been pretty darned close, which made witnessing Beth’s tumble from Mother of the Year that much more painful.

The matriarch has had a hard time connecting with Tess (Eris Baker) lately, but especially ever since her daughter revealed she’s in a relationship with Alex. While Beth focused on serving up proper pronouns and poppers, she failed to address her feelings.

In one of the most honest heart-to-hearts viewers have ever seen on the series, it was her mum (Phylicia Rashad) who pointed out that children never quite turn out how you expect them to, and the sooner you can realize that the sooner you can let go of your damaging expectations. 

Beth tried to fix the situation (after kicking Alex out and embarrassing Tess, that is), but for now, it was too little too late.

Tess is worried that Beth has to work harder with her than she does with Deja or Annie, and that’s going to affect their relationship in the long run. Hopefully not, but it definitely seems like it’s going to take a lot of work for these two to get back to a good place. Hey, no one said raising a teen girl was easy, right? Especially when your husband has his own baggage to unpack (more on that later).

Toby loses his voice

Need more proof that things between Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Toby are going south, fast? How about Toby’s reluctance to open up to his wife about how much he hates being a newly-minted stay-at-home dad? Spending 10 hours straight, every day, with your kids can be a lot no matter how much you love them.

Toby was brave to admit that to Madison (Caitlin Thompson) at the playground, but he lost that nerve when Kate asked him how his day was. If communication really is the key to a successful relationship, then these two are failing hard. 

Not that Kate will notice anytime soon. She’s finally got her first taste of being back in the workforce post-kids, and that kind of freedom can be intoxicating.

When a new mom realizes that she can make a difference outside of the home as well as within it, well that unleashes a whole new sense of self-worth and power that can be hard to give up. Especially when you’re looking at a fulfilling job like what Kate has, where she’s actually helping blind kids find their confidence through music.

In other words: Kate and Toby fans should be pretty nervous.

Nicky reinserts himself

How many fans have had to suppress their own feelings towards Miguel over the years, after they learned that he went on to marry Rebecca (Mandy Moore)? The show has always promised to explore more of how they got together, but fans have still never really had that episode.

So it was cathartic (in a way) when Nicky, who hasn’t had much interaction with the family other than with Kevin (Justin Hartley), started in with the passive-aggressive comments. 

Did Miguel deserve it? Well no, of course not. But Nicky was clearly jealous of the guy who “replaced him” after he and Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) fell out.

What Nicky couldn’t know is just how loyal Miguel was to Jack for all of those years. They were the best of friends, which was highlighted in the flashbacks to when Jack was planning on proposing to Rebecca.

Jack not only practiced his words on Miguel, but Miguel stood up to Rebecca’s father on Jack’s behalf. To this day, Miguel still loves Jack, and in a weird way being with his family has got to keep his friend’s memory alive, right?

Now, with Nicky back in the picture the two of them have a chance to bond over the guy in a way that they never could with the rest of the Pearsons, so here’s hoping Nicky’s apology is the first step in a beautiful new friendship.

Brotherly Love

Speaking of brotherly love, there isn’t much lost between Kevin and Randall right about now. The pair have not been on good terms ever since that awful fight in last season’s finale, and although they’re kosher now, they still haven’t had their Big Talk.

For Randall, he’s dealing with a bunch of past trauma about his adoption and trying to come to terms with what it meant for him to be a Black man who was raised in a white family. For Kevin, he needs to know and understand what it was like for Randall, and he needs the air to be cleared before he can marry Madison with Randall by his side as his best man. 

At this point, even though Randall said yes to being Kevin’s No. 1, the fact that Kevin is going to fly out to have this talk should make everyone nervous. It feels like this conversation is either going to drive an even bigger wedge between the two or solve things and make them warm and fuzzy. But based on the foreshadowing that went down at Randall’s support group, it seems like things will get a whole lot worse before they’ll get better.

The good news is that fans won’t have to wait long to find out which path they take. Next week’s episode is called “Brotherly Love,” which means fans should probably start preparing themselves now.

Watch This Is Us Tuesdays at 9 pET on CTV and catch up here.

BEFORE YOU GO: Henry Golding welcomes first child with wife Liv Lo

[video_embed id='2175186']BEFORE YOU GO: Henry Golding welcomes first child with wife Liv Lo [/video_embed]