‘This Is Us’: Kate’s History Becomes Clearer in ‘A Hell of a Week: Part 3’ (RECAP)
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 4, Episode 13, of This Is Us, “A Hell of a Week: Part Three.”]
With two episodes of buildup surrounding a storyline from her past involving her first boyfriend Marc (Austin Abrams), Kate’s (Hannah Zeile) history becomes a little clearer. While Randall (Sterling K. Brown) dealt with an intruder and Kevin (Justin Hartley) grieved with Sophie (Alexandra Breckenridge), Kate was taking a look at her own relationships with the help of Pearson matriarch Rebecca (Mandy Moore).
Below, we’re breaking down the pivotal episode which gives us a better picture of Kate’s story and teases what’s to come for the Big 3. Beware of major spoilers.
A Fuzzy Fairytale
As with all of the trilogy episodes, this installment picks up with the night where Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) struggles to get his young kids to bed with each seeking him out at separate points through the night. Beginning where the last episode left off, young Kate tells her father there’s a problem, implying she can’t sleep.
Bringing her upstairs and tucking her into bed, he asks what’s wrong and she tells him she wants a “Mommy Story” but since he’s not about to wake up a sick Rebecca, he asks her to tell him one. When Kate says she doesn’t know how, he offers to help, telling her to close her eyes and picture a forest. We are then immersed into Kate’s story, when he tells her to picture a prince, Kate imagines Jack in the forest with her.
Throughout the episode, we flash back and forth to this story as the pair discuss plot points. When it comes to a field of flowers, Jack suggests they could be poisonous, but Kate doesn’t want them to be. This is when Jack offers a sage parental lesson, saying that not all things are as good and nice as they look. Next, their story brings them to a water filled cave, but it’s then that her prince — Jack — disappears and she’s left alone to wander into the unknown abyss of the cave.
When the story comes to it’s conclusion, fairy tale Kate finds what she’s looking for in the cave — it appears to be a jar of lightning bugs, which ties to a plot in the present timeline — and emerges to find Rebecca approaching her. The young girl leaps into her mothers arms and when we see Jack climb into bed with his wife and she asks how the kids are, he calls her the real hero when it comes to putting them to sleep. This sentiment of Rebecca being Kate’s hero is echoed in the other plots, despite their occasional indifference over the years.
All the Wrong Notes
In order to understand Kate’s present, This Is Us dove deeper into the past with her and Marc’s relationship set in the timeline introduced with the prior two episodes. For a couple weeks we’ve known she was going to be in trouble, but this episode finally shed light on how we got there. The timeline opens up at the record shop where the pair are working, when they begin chatting he gifts her the Patti Smith book Babel and says he loves her and she confesses she loves him too. The he proceeds to stop her from eating candy, claiming he’s protecting her ongoing diet before she invites him to Rebecca’s birthday dinner.
While apprehensive, Marc agrees to attend but this is before a customer asks about a specific song and she corrects Marc’s answer, revealing her deeper knowledge of the title innocently. The action causes Marc to turn cold and shut down, avoiding her, she calls until he picks up the phone the following day. Crying she asks what she did wrong as her family observes her conversation. Ultimately, he reveals that he felt embarrassed but says he forgives her and agrees to come to Rebecca’s party still.
When Rebecca approaches her daughter about Marc, she says she’d like to get to know him better and suggests the three of them grab coffee before her party. At the coffee shop the mother and daughter wait, and Kate asks Rebecca to give him a chance even though he’s late. When he arrives, he’s rude and abrupt before apologizing for his behavior. As Rebecca asks questions, she and Kate learn he’s just quit his job at the record store, and he mentions wanting to create music, saying he and Kate plan to write songs together. It’s then that he suggests staying at the Pearson family cabin Kate’s told him about.
Kate agrees and she gets excited about the possibility, but when Rebecca is apprehensive, Kate gets defensive. “I don’t need you to like him,” she tells her mother,”I like him.” Kate then decides Marc and her are going to leave before Rebecca’s birthday party as a punishment and makes a snide comment about letting Miguel (Jon Huertas) pick up the pieces.
In the car with Marc on the way to the cabin, she laments that he quit the record store because she liked being there with him. It’s then that the suggests she quit, but when she refuses he begins to speed at a dangerous rate, she yells for him to slow down and stop, when he finally does, she gets out and asks for him to join her to take a breath but he drives off, shouting “I can’t even look at your fat face,” leaving her on the side of the road.
Making her way to a payphone she calls home and Rebecca asks if she’s okay, but Kate’s shaken and she reveals she’s not okay as Marc drives up. Holding a blanket he approaches her and Kate tells her mom nevermind as he wraps her up in a hug. This doesn’t soothe Rebecca and that’s when she tells Kevin (Logan Shroyer) that Kate’s in trouble, leading him to call Randall (Niles Fitch). The timeline concludes with mom and sons driving to reach Kate at the cabin leaving little resolution, but the promise of answers for the next installment which is sure to be set at the woodsy location.
No More Sweating Small Stuff
In the present timeline, Kate and Toby’s (Chris Sullivan) continued quest to understand Jack’s blindness is seen as he points out a story about a girl with a similar problem who regained thirty percent of her sight. This research is going on at the same moment Randall’s intruder is seen and Kevin receives his call from Sophie about her mother dying.
Toby’s hope about his son gaining better sight leaves Kate to be the “bad guy” as she tries to get him to be realisitic and accept their son for his blindness. He shrugs her off though and tells her he needs to believe this might be possible in the midst of her excitement about attending a special retreat for families who have blind children. While they’re packing for their trip, it’s clear Toby is avoiding the situation and mentions how he can’t miss work, when Rebecca calls Kate mentions her husband’s lack of availability and Rebecca invites herself to the retreat.
When Rebecca arrives, they pack the car up and neighbor Gregory (returning guest star Timothy Omundson) gives Kate a sensory toy for Jack to use at the retreat before being introduced to her mother. As they situate themselves, Toby buckles Jack into the car seat and asks if Kate’s fine with Rebecca going. She obviously fibs and kisses him goodbye, but when she observes the other families at the retreat, it’s clear nothing is fine about Toby’s absence there. Rebecca stays by her daughter’s side though and attends seminars throughout the day.
Later on as the night begins, we see Kate on the phone gushing about the day’s adventures, but it’s not Toby on the other side of the line, it’s Gregory. When she finally hangs up, Rebecca asks how Toby is but Kate admits it wasn’t Toby and shares what Toby said about how being around Jack makes him sad. Kate tells her mother that she worries she won’t be able to do things like take her son to the pool or help him learn how to ride a bike, and that she doesn’t feel like she’ll be able to count on Toby to do that.
Rebecca won’t hear of it though and tells Kate to put her bathing suit on as the pair go to the pool, chatting the reminisce on how Kate earned her nickname “Bug” — due to her obsession with all bugs but mainly lightning bugs — recalling her childhood days. Next it’s Rebecca’s turn to share and when they’re drying off, she tells her daughter about the Mild Cognitive Impairment diagnosis. Kate feels bad for not noticing her memory problems, but Rebecca says she didn’t want Kate to know and claims she’s more fun because she’s decided not to waste time by being sad. There will be no more sweating the small stuff.
They decide to take Rebecca’s fun streak to the Karaoke bar at the retreat’s hotel and the pair sing Alanis Morissette’s “Ironic.” When they return home, Rebecca asks Kate what she’s going to say to Toby, offering her some advice by saying it’s okay to be direct with him about what’s at stake. After parting ways, Kate tells Toby about how good the retreat was, she tells him he would have loved it and that’s when the big questions follow. “Can you do this?” she asks him directly, can he be the man she needs for their son. Before he can give and answer, Kevin calls her and that’s when the conversation about the Big 3’s trip to the family cabin comes together.
After getting off the phone, she tells Toby about her plans, and claims she’s taking Jack with her, but he tells her to leave the baby with him. He says he needs to spend time with his son, so perhaps this will be the test of whether he can handle Jack’s blindness or not? Tune in next week to see how things unfold and let us know what you thought about this pivotal episode in the comments below.
This Is Us, Tuesdays, 9/8c, NBC