‘This Is Us’: Kevin & Rebecca’s Heads Are in the ‘Clouds’ While Randall Tackles Therapy (RECAP)
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 4, Episode 15, of This Is Us, “Clouds.”]
This Is Us continued its Pearson family saga with the Big 3 separated once again by their daily lives in different locations. Dealing with the aftermath of the events which led them to the cabin in last week’s installment, “Clouds,” sees Kevin (Justin Hartley) deal with Rebecca’s (Mandy Moore) illness, Randall (Sterling K. Brown) tackle therapy as a promise to his wife Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) in response to their home break-in, and Kate (Chrissy Metz) deals with the tension between her and Toby (Chris Sullivan).
Below, we’re breaking down all of the drama, but beware of major spoilers ahead.
As with many This Is Us installments, this episode is framed by a past timeline which sees the young Big 3 showing parents Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca their report cards. Randall (Lonnie Chavis) is anxious and upset because one of his grades is an “A-” as opposed to an “A,” meanwhile Kate’s (Mackenzie Hancsicsak) devestated after he first heartbreak, and Kevin’s (Parker Bates) looking to collect on the five dollar per “A” promise after he unveils two “A”s on his report card which is less than satisfactory otherwise.
Despite his parents’ disappointment, Kevin still expects his promised money and asks to spend it at the baseball collectibles store. While Rebecca says she can’t because she has errands to run, she does ask Kate if she has any meal requests in an effort to cheer her up. Meanwhile, Rebecca and Jack are worried about Randall, so Jack comes up with an idea for helping Randall blow-off steam.
Eventually Rebecca caves to Kevin’s pleas after he notes how Kate and Randall were being shown special treatment and that Rebecca isn’t fun. In an effort to prove him wrong, she allows him 5 minutes in the store after they go grocery shopping.
Meanwhile, Jack gets Randall to engage in some running as a means of letting go of his anxiety and uncertainties. At the store, Kevin’s searching for one baseball card in particular — Jack Candelaria’s 1991 Blue Jays edition. Opening the packs on the counter that he bought, it’s a gamble if he can find what he’s looking for, but Rebecca joins in with helping her son unwrap them.
Back at home, Kate’s watching music videos when Randall and Jack arrive and her father gives her a mini post-breakup pep-talk. He goes with a waffle analogy, saying “first boyfriends are like first waffles,” as in, they are usually discarded and not given much thought afterwards. As for Kevin and Rebecca, they’re having fun and laughing as they lose track of time, enjoying the thrill of their baseball card search. Eventually we learn they do find the card — the perfect end to a perfect moment.
Kevin and Rebecca’s Joni Adventure
Following the discovery of Rebecca’s cognitive ailment, Kevin takes the opportunity to spend time with his mother in the present. At first, he tries to play it cool, but it doesn’t take long for Rebecca to catch on that he’s been made aware of her predicament. She’s apologetic that he found out that way, but he doesn’t give her trouble over it.
He notes that he’s aware she’s getting results that day, and she tells him about her plans to visit the local record shop with Miguel (Jon Huertas). Instead, Miguel gives up his spot and suggest the mother and son make a day of it as long as she’s home in time for her appointment. Setting off, they hit up the shop where Rebecca tells Kevin while listening to “Both Sides Now” that Joni Mitchell’s record Clouds was one of her favorites, part of her collection like his baseball cards.
This leads her to mention how her and Jack had attempted to find Joni Mitchell’s old house in Los Angeles when they were in the early days of their relationship. Using Siri, Kevin reveals that he can bring Rebecca to the house easily, if there’s time. When they arrive at the gate he rings the bell, but no one is home, but “Carpe Diem Rebecca” doesn’t care as she enters the premises. She tells him that Graham Nash (of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young) wrote the song “Our House” about the home they’re admiring.
Apart from this history, Kevin asks some more serious questions, asking if she’s afraid of what she’ll learn about his illness. She admits that she’s “a little” scared, but she’s not thinking about it because she’s spending time with him. She tells her son he has an innate ability to let others forget their worries and enjoy the moment, “you make everything fun.”
Despite this seeming like a possibly bad quality, Rebecca tells Kevin it’s one of the nicest things a person can do for another. And with that in mind, Rebecca suggests going to get food, but Kevin mentions the appointment for her scan reading. She’s ready to blow it off, telling him that she doesn’t want to go because she doesn’t want the day to end. Kevin is direct when he tells her the day will end no matter what and that they can have another tomorrow, so she agrees to go. Rebecca’s Mild Cognitive Impairment is confirmed and the doctor says it appears to be due to Alzheimer’s, but it’s a little too soon to tell for certain.
Eventually she, Kevin and Miguel disperse, with the couple retiring for the night and Kevin looking up another Candelaria baseball card which he tucks inside his wallet.
We first see Randall and Beth preparing for the day, and she tells her husband she’s proud he’s going to therapy like she asked. When he arrives, Randall’s frustrations are obvious when the magazines in the waiting room are outdated, there’s no cups for the water cooler and he has to hit a button to be seen. Eventually he’s welcomed in by the therapist who is never seen until the episode’s final moments.
Analyzing everything, Randall tries to deflect, he’s sarcastic beginning their conversation about the reason he’s there by saying, “it’s kind of long story, you got an hour?” He mention’s his mother’s appointment, but claims he won’t get distracted by it. When the therapist asks for him to elaborate, he mentions Rebecca’s illness, but that he’s dealing with it. Ultimately he admits he’s dealt with anxiety and so he’s there to combat any debilitating episodes that could leave him in the hospital again.
Before begins getting into his history he asks if this is more “Good Will Hunting or Sopranos,” but she halts him at the beginning of his story and admits she knows who he is because she’s seen him speak. Randall’s annoyed about this, saying it feels like she cheated or something, like googling him. It should be noted that a sound off camera keeps sidetracking Randall’s attention, only agitating his mood.
He apologizes, knowing he’s a public figure and that was bound to happen, and so he proceeds by opening up his panic attacks and about how his father’s impacted his life. She then asks about Rebecca, saying that he’s been deflecting talking about her. This opens a floodgate in a way as Randall makes a snide comment about Kevin’s involvement in Rebecca’s appointment that day. He then makes the claim he’s the only one of his siblings fit to care for her.
“I know my faults, I know what triggers me, but i think my faults are good faults, and I would rather have them than not have them,” he tells the therapist. He then goes on to say, “if it wasn’t’ for me, this whole family would’ve fallen apart.”
When she counters with, “would they?” Randall freaks out, stands up and claims he has her whole “operation” figured out. He then goes to exit and calls out the source of the noise fans saw him reacting to — a dripping coffee maker sizzling on the warming plate below. He turns the machine off and bids her farewell. At home, he tells Beth he tried but that he can’t do therapy now, but she claims it’s not for him, it’s for her. She later reveals that she has pepper spray in her bag for when she’s locking up her studio now, and she wants Annie (Faithe Herman) to have an iPhone as a means of communication, she also shows him a prescription for sleeping pills because she’s been having a hard time resting.
This reveal leads Randall to see that he needs to take care of himself in order for Beth to share this info with him because she’s too afraid to pile more on his plate. So we see him in the final moments of the episode give therapy another go, and that’s when Pamela Adlon (Better Things) is revealed as his
Kate and Toby begin their first steps towards reconciliation as he feeds baby Jack in the morning after her return home. He apologizes for his behavior and statements about Jack’s blindness and tells her that he and Jack have a surprise for her. He’s made up their garage as a makeshift music studio, and while Kate appreciates the gesture, she says she still needs time and tells him about having to go to brunch with Madison (Caitlin Thompson) since she wants to apologize for sleeping with Kevin. Toby’s reaction to this revelation is rather comical despite the somber mood around their house.
When Kate meets Madison, they discuss things, and she’s apologetic but does admit it was nice sharing intimacy with someone she actually knew versus a tinder date. When Kate vents about Toby and talks about his gesture with the music studio, Madison suggests that maybe marriage is allowing someone to share their feelings without judgement, and although it’s hard for her to admit, Kate can see the point and agrees to give Toby another chance.
After she arrives home, she tells Toby, who is sitting on the couch with a sleeping Jack, that she wants to be on the same team again, and says they’re better together than at odds. She then compliments his gesture, calling it his most romantic yet. It gets even sweeter when he shows her the corner in the garage that he set up for Jack to practice music. We then see a flash forward with Kate and an older Jack in the studio, then Jack alone through the years, making music as the studio improves with the passage of time. Could it be a sign of Kate’s possible absence in the future? Or does Jack just take over the space alone? Only time will tell, so tune in when This Is Us returns next week on NBC.
This Is Us, Tuesdays, 9/8c, NBC