This Is Us recap: Season 2, Episode 4, “Still There,” Aired Oct, 17, 2017
This Is Us continues its journey of leaving our hearts in our throats and giving us unexpected twists. This episode’s focus is on the adult Big Three and their childhood selves dealing with illness and Rebecca’s mother.
Fighting the pox
When Kevin is the first of the Big 3 to come down with the chicken pox, the doctor’s suggestion is to expose Kate and Randall as well. While Kate handles her illness with grace and Randall does all he can to get sick so he can get it over with, Kevin is struggling. He doesn’t do very well with being down with a sickness, just as much as his adult self can’t deal with his knee injury keeping him sidelined.
Luckily, Jack is there for the younger Kevin, but it is the adult one who is still struggling alone. He has to have outgoing surgery to repair the tear in his knee while recovering with Kate and Toby.
Kevin ends up alone with Toby, who trying to help despite the other’s insistence on getting better quickly. He is clearly trying to push himself when he is not ready and there are underlying reasons for why he wants to speed up the healing process.
Meanwhile, Randall and Beth are still strugging with Deja. She has not been maintaining her appearance and they both have different ways of dealing with it, which I find interesting. Randall seems to prefer trying to find things to bond with Deja over before really having a sit down talk. For her part, Beth wants to be up front with the young girl. They both have good intentions with their new foster child. I think seeing how they work to try and figure out how to reach her is important and lessons can be learned for how to approach a situation with her.
Rebecca is not faring well when her mother arrives for a visit. She tries to keep the peace, which is easier said than done considering how dismissive her mother is over Randall. Plus, the presents she gets the kids exacerbates how little she knows them. Jack could be the buffer between the two in this case, but he ends up getting sick as well.
Meanwhile, adult Kevin is still trying to do all he can to make his knee better. Just like his younger self, he just wants to be better quickly so he can keep doing the things he wants to do. It’s obvious the loss of Jack is taking a toll on him, as his father would be taking care of him and making sure he didn’t overdo it.
After a trip to the bowling alley ends in disaster, Beth works on making a breakthrough with Deja. The talk she has about doing her sisters’ hair growing up seems to bring them together as Beth talks to the young girl about the hair condition she has called alopecia. This was a very moving scene and it seemed as though significant progress had been made.
In a pivotal scene with her mother, Rebecca is unable to deal with her mother’s harmful behavior and words toward Randall. After one too many remarks about her son, she makes it clear Janet’s behavior is wrong and unwelcome. In a powerful move, Rebecca puts the word out about her mother being a racist.
Based on memories and past experience, her mother has exhibited racist behavior toward anyone who was black but Rebecca for the first time stands up to her. She not only is doing this because she has become frustrated with how she micromanages everything about her life, but she turned it onto her son.
Rebecca, as we saw, was the one who had a hard time bonding with Randall when he was born but it was never about his skin color. It was due to her grief and William’s advice to give Randall his own identity helped him become her life. When Janet later attempts to argue that she has been trying to accept him, Rebecca says there shouldn’t be any trying involved. She should just be able to love and accept him for who he is. This was an important moment Rebecca needed to have with her mother in order to protect her child.
Due to the conversation, this leads to a scene with Jack and Rebecca attempting to explain racism to Randall. They try their best, but it’s a difficult concept for any child to understand. Randall seems to understand what they are saying and this could be the start of him fully realizing how other people act toward him could be the result of racism.
Beth and Randall discuss her breakthrough with Deja and things seem to go well. However, when Randall talks to Deja and ends up telling her that Beth told him some things, it appears things go in a different direction completely.
This is telling since Randall hasn’t had any luck getting Deja to open up. Even though Beth has some luck, Deja shuts down when Randall is involved. But is it necessarily about him or that she didn;’t want Beth to say anything? There are things left unsaid here that go deeper than we know. It’s heartbreaking to watch while the story develops.
Kevin, in the meantime, ends up talking to Toby about why he has been working so hard to get better. He got sidelined with a knee injury in high school, keeping him from playing pro. Now his career is in jeopardy. Toby tries to help, but the one person who could potentially get through is Jack, who is seen in a home video. Seeing the juxtaposition of Jack on the TV screen and Kevin fighting through his pain was tough. Kevin has a lot to work through, not just physically but emotionally.
It’s still unknown how Randall’s future relationship with his grandmother is. But she makes a step in the right direction with his younger self before leaving the house. Randall’s quip that it “took [her] long enough” to see his specialness was both funny but also sad. He shouldn’t have to deal with his own grandmother separating him from his siblings based on his skin color and hopefully she makes a real change
With the focus on Kevin and Randall this episode, Kate seemed to disappear. She is very secretive and appears to be hyper focused on her weight loss. In preparing for a singing gig, it looked like she was finding new ways to lose weight. However, just as they are known for, the writers threw another curveball. A baby is on the way! I am so excited for this plotline and I look forward to seeing her newest journey.
What did you think of the episode? How do you think Kate will reveal her big news? Tell us in the comments below or find us on Twitter!
Tune into This Is Us on Tuesdays at 9/8c on NBC.
(Featured image via Ron Batzdorff/NBC)