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This Is Us - Career Days / The Best Washing Machine in the Whole World - Double Review

23 Nov 2016

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Career Days

As the title suggests, this episode was all about careers, and throughout this episode we see Jack struggling with the decision to start his own business and break free from his desk job or take a promotion that has been offered to him. At the same time, Jack and Rebecca find out that Randall is gifted and his teachers recommend for him to attend an advanced school. At first, everyone is against this idea. They don’t want Randall to feel different from Kevin or Kate and Jack doesn't want Randall following the same path to a boring desk job as he has. When Jack asks Randall why he tries to hide how brilliant he is, Randall’s answer is heartbreaking. He doesn’t want special treatment or to be different from his siblings. He says that if he gets A’s and they don’t then only he’ll get ice cream and they’ll hate him. I loved this scene at Jack’s office and in my opinion, it was one of the most emotional scenes of the series so far. We haven’t seen a lot of interaction between Jack and Randall and up until this point Randall has seemed closer to Rebecca and Jack closer to Kevin, so it was nice to see something a bit different. At the end of the episode, Jack decides to take the promotion and sacrifice his dreams so that they can send Randall to his advanced school. Although he can be flawed, Jack really does seem like a great father. One thing I haven’t discussed enough is how incredible these child actors are. Usually, I find child actors to be very hard to watch, simply because they often sound very scripted and it makes me uncomfortable, but I haven’t felt that way at all so far, in fact, I think they’ve been great and I’ve enjoyed every minute of watching them.

One of my favorite parts of this episode was Randall’s mini midlife crisis, it was adorable. Upon finding out that William is very musical, Randall starts questioning whether he could have been a musician had his life turned out differently. This, combined with Career Day at his kid's school, has him feeling a little insecure about his job. The girls say they want William and Kevin to do Career Day instead because Randall’s job is too boring and complicated, which kind of hurts his feelings, not even Beth really understands what he does. Randall puts his foot down and says he’s doing career day, but what he ends up doing totally surprises everyone in the audience. Instead of just giving a speech on his job he tries to play the piano and sing a song about it. It’s so cute and hilarious and it’s definitely one of my favorite Randall moments so far. Later after the career day is over, Randall explains to his family that he doesn’t care that no one understands his job because he loves it and is passionate about it. One of my favorite quotes of this episode is “My dad put on a tie every day because he had too and I put one on every day because I want to.” He knows exactly who he is and he doesn’t apologize for it. To lighten the moment, he also shares that he’s starting to take piano lessons and invites them all to his recital. His midlife crisis is just too adorable, but I wouldn’t expect anything less.

Meanwhile, Kevin’s rehearsals for his play are not going well. The director doesn’t believe his acting and asks Kevin if he’s ever lost anyone. When Kevin responds that he has, the director still doesn't believe him. This whole exchange really made me wonder if Kevin fully processed his father’s death, what their relationship was like, and how he felt about everything at the time of Jack’s death. Kevin’s co-star, Olivia, takes him to a strangers memorial as a sort of improv test and it’s actually pretty funny up until he has a meaningful conversation with the wife of the man the memorial is for. I feel like this conversation was a breakthrough moment for Kevin. Up until this point, I was having a hard time connecting to him or feeling anything for him. However, in this scene, he brought me to tears. He also answered a few questions about his relationship with Jack but also left a lot of specifics unanswered, so as usual we get a couple pieces of the puzzle but there are still plenty more to uncover in the coming episodes. When Kevin admits all of this to Olivia they have a moment and start hooking up. It was very obvious they were going to get together from the beginning but part of me wishes they had gone another way with this. I think it would have been nice to see Kevin just have a platonic relationship with a woman and have her be someone he looks up to and learns from. He can of course still do this but I don’t think the obvious romance was really necessary, and I kind of expected more from such a creative and interesting show.

In an episode centered around careers, it’s fitting that Kate started a new job in this episode. I’m glad she didn’t stick with the job at Toby’s ex-wife’s store, that would have been pretty terrible of her after hearing his story. Kate seems to be settling in really well with her new job until the woman’s daughter needs a ride and Kate gets delegated to do it. The kid is so rude and keeps making a lot of hurtful comments about Kate’s weight until finally Kate can’t take it anymore and kicks her out of the car. I’m sorry but that kid totally deserved being kicked out, it was kind of dangerous but she needed it. Luckily, she doesn’t lose her job over this and it turns out that the woman who hired Kate kind of hired her because she’s overweight and thought she could help her daughter. While this is a pretty messed up reason, Kate tries to help and gives them both some advice based on her experiences. Just like we learned more about Kevin and Jack’s relationship in this episode, we also got some insight into Kate and Rebecca’s relationship. In a flashback, we see a heartbreaking scene where Kate notices Rebecca’s size small clothes and compares it to her size extra large. Later, we learn from Kate that she barely talks to her mom because of her own jealousy and comparisons. 

Overall, I thought this was a great episode that gave us a little bit of everything. We also learned a lot about relationships as they are now, although there's still a lot to learn about how they got there.

The Best Washing Machine in the Whole World

I have to say, I absolutely loved this episode! It was everything I’ve been wanting to see over the past few weeks and it set things up perfectly for a dramatic and emotional Thanksgiving episode.

This episode was the first time we saw the kids as teenagers and it really showed the foundation that Randall and Kevin’s relationship is built on. As kids they shared a room and because Randall is up so late doing homework it disrupts Kevin. Things are already pretty tense between them and this just makes it worse. They get in a huge fight, which ends with Kevin moving to the basement. Throughout the episode you can really tell that, as teens, all Randall wanted was a relationship with his brother, but at the same time, he’s really angry at Kevin for denying him that friendship. All this anger and frustration comes to a head at their high school football game. Kevin and Randall are playing on opposite teams and Randall keeps tackling Kevin. Eventually, this breaks into a full-on fight that never really gets resolved. Honestly, seeing this, it seems like a miracle they even have the relationship they have now. Although their rivalry before was pretty serious and violent, now they’ve both grown up and their rivalry is actually pretty cute at times. On the surface they seem like typical brothers with Kevin staying over and racing each other home on their morning run, but underneath there is obviously still some real tension. This is pointed out when Beth brings up the fact that Randall and Kevin haven’t spent a moment alone together since Kevin started staying with them. They have the perfect opportunity to hang out when their dinner plans with Rebecca fall through and they're left to just get dinner together. Kevin takes Randall out to a really trendy restaurant and as they’re talking he finds out that Randall has never even seen an episode of The Manny. Kevin gets offended and walks out, leading to an altercation in the middle of the street. Finally, all that anger and resentment is coming to the surface, which is great because they have to get that out of the way before they can move on to mending their relationship. Kevin shares how he feels their mom favored Randall and Randall shares how Kevin treated him horribly and he never felt loved by him. Similar to the football game, this ends in a physical fight. Also, I have to say, Seth Meyers was totally unnecessary and felt very out of place. Normally I love Seth Meyers but he just doesn't fit with the tone of the show and his part felt forced. Kevin could have said “he’s my brother” to anyone in the crowd. When they get home they have a more calm discussion and both admit what they’ve done wrong in the past. When Kevin offers to hang out and watch TV with Randall, he accepts, and I think this is the start of a beautiful new relationship that I can’t wait to see more of.

Meanwhile, Kate has been working so hard dieting and trying to lose weight, however, at her weigh-in, she’s only lost one pound. Toby, on the other hand, has met his goal for the month and lost eight pounds. This sparks some jealousy in Kate, which is totally understandable when you see someone else get what you want so badly. As much as I love Toby, I’m just not sure Kate’s really in the best space emotionally to be dating right now. This might turn into a case of bad timing for them. This especially seems to be true when Toby tells Kate he’s done with dieting. She’s totally blindsided and questions if she can even be with him and lose weight at the same time. He convinces her that they can still be together but later at dinner, at her insistence, he orders a dessert and it triggers her to buy a bunch of junk food at a gas station on the way home. I can already tell that their relationship is headed in a bad direction and I really can’t see this working out for them right now. It’s sad because I’m a big fan of Toby and Kate but at the same time I’m a bigger fan of Kate and I want her to do what’s best for her.

Throughout the episode, we also saw many flashbacks to Rebecca and Jack, as usual. They’re both very busy, with Jack getting a new deal at work and Rebecca starting to sing in a band again. In all the craziness, Jack forgets to kiss her goodbye in the morning and she has to remind him. It already seems like they have problems again, so much for him being a 12 for her. Seeing these flashbacks has me leaning towards thinking that Rebecca and Jack aren’t together anymore when he dies. Also, it seems like there might be a little something between Rebecca and her old bandmate that she’s spending time with again. I really hope she doesn’t cheat on Jack. It also seems like Miguel is available around this time. When Jack is hanging out with Miguel in his office, it seems like Miguel is flirting with his secretary. I’m not sure if he’s still with his wife or not but it seems kind of creepy and Miguel might not be who I think he is. In these flashbacks, a lot of time has passed since we last saw him and maybe he has changed. I hope this is explored more in future episodes.

One of my favorite relationships on this show is between Beth and William so I was really happy to see them spending time together in this episode. William isn’t feeling very well because of his chemo so Beth bakes them some pot brownies and they get high together. This is really funny, cute, and at times emotional, like when he tells her having all of them to wake up and go to sleep to makes him feel sad to die. However, he slips up and accidentally tells Beth about giving Rebecca that poetry book when they met. Now Beth is in on this secret, but something tells me it won’t stay secret for long and when it comes out things are going to get crazy.

What did you think of these episodes? Let me know in the comments and thanks for reading!