Beth’s Ballet Dreams Take Center Stage on ‘This Is Us’ (RECAP)
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 5, Episode 14 of This Is Us, “The Music and the Mirror.”]
This Is Us is back, and now that Kevin (Justin Hartley) and Randall’s (Sterling K. Brown) brother relationship is on the mend, the focus is shifting to Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) in the latest installment, “The Music and the Mirror.”
Like many other small business owners, Beth falls victim to the struggles that accompany a global pandemic. Her dream is on the line as the other Pearsons work through some other issues, whether it’s wedding planning for Madison (Caitlin Thompson), Toby’s (Chris Sullivan) handyman skills, or Kevin’s run-in with a figure from his past. Below, we’re breaking down all of the drama, so beware of spoilers.
Beth’s Dashed Dreams
The episode opens pre-COVID when Beth was opening her studio and how the thriving business gave life to her childhood dreams of being a ballerina. Mingled with snippets from her youth in the ballet studio, we see Beth open up shop, help instruct her performers, and do the best she can. As the pandemic strikes though, dancers begin donning masks during practice before shifting to zoom classes. Each passing day brings a smaller turnout though, and eventually, Beth can’t hold onto the studio any longer. She’s going to have to close.
Randall does his best to be supportive following the shutdown, but Beth shrugs him off as she helps him prepare for a meeting with a state senator. She tries to reassure him she’s fine as she also preps for a consultation with one of her former colleagues about a position. Before Randall leaves though, he’s compelled to ask Déjà (Lyric Ross) to keep an eye out for her.
When it’s time for Beth’s zoom, she is asked if it’s possible to reschedule since the woman double-booked meetings and Beth just laughs. She cancels a follow-up and takes this as a sign that it’s not time to dive back into the corporate world just yet. Instead, she just disappears to the studio. When Randall returns home in search of Beth, Déjà advises that he let her take her time coping with the loss of the studio instead of trying to be a hero. Eventually, she tells Randall where Beth is and he sets off.
At the studio, Beth’s clearing some things up, and asks Randall to leave her alone when he shows up, but instead of saying anything, he just puts some music on and takes her in his arms for a slow dance. It turns out that’s just what she needed as she lets tears fall from her eyes.
Randall’s Failed Surprise
As part of a past storyline, Randall (Niles Fitch) attempts to surprise Beth (Rachel Hilson) for their six-month anniversary by getting her tickets to a ballet show. When they arrive at the theater though, she asks the cab driver to turn around and bring them back to campus. She’s upset because it reminds her of her lost dream to become a dancer.
She explains to Randall back at the dorm that she spent her whole childhood using the mirror to correct imperfections only for it not to work in the end. She says she’s “a dancer who doesn’t dance,” and in response, Randall asks her to dance with him as they spin around the dorm room.
Madison’s Wedding Craze
Preparing for an afternoon of wedding dress hunting, Madison worries she won’t be able to connect with Rebecca (Mandy Moore) as Kevin’s mom since she’s only bonded with her when she thought of Rebecca as Kate’s (Chrissy Metz). Adding to the tension is the fact that her father is supposedly planning to attend the wedding. Kevin reassures her everything will be fine and she heads out for the day.
Wedding dress shopping goes mostly well as she bonds with Kate and Rebecca, but when she gets a message from her dad that he won’t be coming to her wedding after all, Madison breaks down. She apologizes for crying and reveals that when he mother left her, she was pretty much left alone while in her father’s care. Rebecca comforts her and welcomes her to the family in a sweet moment.
Kevin’s Movie Disaster
Kevin heads out with Uncle Nicky (Griffin Dunne) as he joins Foster (Stephen Friedrich) for a screening of the movie he walked out of earlier in the season. While Kevin is appreciative to Foster in the screening room, he calls his agent in a panic because the movie is apparently terrible. Gathering up Nicky who had wandered off to the gift shops, Kevin heads for his team’s office to consult on new projects. They read through some scripts, but Kevin has to face the reality that he’s built a bad reputation for walking out of projects unexpectedly.
As they head out of the office with prospective scripts, Kevin tells Nicky to carry on because he sees Zoey (Melanie Liburd) on one of the TVs in the office. He crashes her zoom and catches up with his ex. Filling her in on his new kids and fiancé, she reveals that she’s seeing someone as well. Their banter turns colder though when she compliments Kevin’s ability to make people feel welcome or bend to other people’s wishes.
The seemingly small comment seems to send Kevin on a spiral, because when he returns home to Madison their discussion over what to watch on TV gives him pause. He suggests Bridgerton and she wants The Great British Bake Off, not giving Kevin an option. Is he a push-over? That’s a question Kevin seems to be contemplating by the episode’s end as he snuggles on the couch with Madison and his babies.
Toby’s Cry for Help
As Kate heads out for the day with Madison and Rebecca, Toby promises to fix a plumbing issue in their home, much to her skepticism. While Gregory (Timothy Omundson) watches on in horror as he sits with baby Jack in the kitchen, Toby caves and calls his dad (Dan Lauria) who agrees to stop by and assist his son. Despite their somewhat cold attitude towards each other, after the repairs are made, Toby’s dad asks if he’s okay. He admits he hasn’t been happy since he was laid off, but that he’s fine for now.
That’s when Toby’s dad reveals he’d been laid off when Toby was 8 and he pretended like everything was okay when it wasn’t. In other words, his father’s advice is to not keep things bottled in because ultimately the pressure can break you, just like the pipes they just fixed.
Kate & Rebecca’s Work History
In two different timelines, Kate and Rebecca explore their mother-daughter bond through the lens of work. In the past, Kate (Hannah Zeile) gears up for a job interview at Rebecca’s office following the death of Jack (Milo Ventimiglia). Instead of attending the interview, Kate visits a diner she used to eat in with her dad. Upon her arrival at home, Rebecca confronts her and Kate reveals she got a job at the diner instead of opting for office work. But when Kate tries to call herself a disappointment, Rebecca does her best to prove she’s proud of Kate.
In a juxtaposition, Kate is very proud of herself and her new job, gushing about the position as a choir teacher at the blind school during the wedding dress shopping trip. Asking her mother to join her on a side trip, Rebecca accompanies Kate to choir practice where the students perform Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi.” And the pride beaming off of Rebecca is incomparable. Kate asks Rebecca how she knew that she’d find her perfect fit one day and Rebecca says it’s because joy doesn’t disappear and she knew Kate would find it again one day.
Hopefully, there’s more joy ahead for the Pearsons, but there’s sure to be drama as the last two episodes of Season 5 that lay ahead. Stay tuned.
This Is Us, Tuesdays, 9/8c, NBC