‘This Is Us’ Season 3, Episode 2 Recap: Jack's Legacy
*Warning: Spoilers ahead*
The episode, titled “A Philadelphia Story,” picks up right after Jack’s (Milo Ventimiglia) tragic death. Rebecca (Mandy Moore) is making coffee in the family’s temporary space (ICYMI: Their house went up in smoke in season two) when teenage Randall (Niles Fitch) enters the kitchen.
It’s a “big day” for the Pearson fam—they’re going to look at new homes. But before they dive into real estate, Rebecca gives Randall a massive envelope from Howard University, which means—you guessed it—he’s going to college.
Just then, teen Kate (Hannah Zeile) walks into the kitchen, congratulates Randall and then ignores him when he mentions her impending Berkeley acceptance.
When Rebecca offers her a veggie omelet, Kate grabs a Pop-Tart and exits the room. Sure, it’s not the most nutritious breakfast, but it appears to be the cinnamon flavor, so we’ll let it slide.
In a flashback, William is sitting at a bus stop when he sees a woman carrying a baby and a whole lot of luggage. He offers her a hand, and she politely declines. (More to come later.)
Back in present day, Randall (Sterling K. Brown) goes to pick the girls up from school only to discover that Tess (Eris Baker) and Annie (Faithe Herman) have plans. Sorry, Deja (Lyric Ross).
Randall dives right in and asks his (soon-to-be) adopted daughter how her day was. And no, “fine” is not an acceptable answer. Her response? The school is primarily Caucasian and has a Milk Enthusiasts club. Even more, she misses her drill team.
Instead of taking Deja to the apartment complex (because that worked super well in last week’s episode), Randall takes her to a recreation center.
While there, he introduces her to a woman named Chichi (Yetide Badaki) and her daughter, Sky (Drew Olivia Tillman), who is around the same age as Deja.
They immediately hit it off (duh), giving Randall and Chichi some one-on-one time. During their chat, he discovers the center isn’t getting the attention it deserves from the city. Since her requests are going unnoticed, Randall takes it upon himself to get help.
In the car, Randall calls Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) and confirms that he will stop at nothing to get the councilman’s attention. No, really. The poor guy wasn’t at City Hall, so Randall hunts him down and corners him during a haircut. Bold.
After the confrontation, the councilman reveals that his dad inspired him to get into politics. However, this role requires him to make decisions, and they aren’t always favorable.
He says, “Ironic, isn’t it? I got into politics to honor a man who I’d now be constantly disappointing.”
Right on cue, Randall plays the “I have two dead fathers” card, and the councilman eats it up, promising to send a maintenance crew later that day.
Cut to Kevin (Justin Hartley) watching his new movie at its premiere. While Kate (Chrissy Metz) is sitting on one side, the camera pans to show Jack (?) sleeping on the other.
Just then, Kevin wakes up from a dream. He turns to Zoe (Melanie Liburd) and explains that he wanted to invite her to the premiere but thinks it’s “too soon.” She agrees, reminding him that she’s going to be in Chicago that same day.
Kevin makes an amateur mistake, offering to drive her to the airport. Zoe responds with a speech about how she’s not looking for anything serious. Ouch.
He plays it off, saying, “I’m the king of caj” (aka “casual”). You do you, bro.
Meanwhile, Toby (Chris Sullivan) is secretly Googling “antidepressant withdrawal” symptoms. On the bright side, his sex drive is through the roof, according to Kate, who wants to keep her IVF treatment a secret despite the fact that she’s experiencing very noticeable hot flashes. Nevertheless, the show must go on. Or, in this case, Kevin’s movie premiere.
Rebecca and Miguel (Jon Huertas) stop by Kate’s apartment before heading to the red carpet (fancy, huh?). In a total Miguel move, he raids their refrigerator and accidentally uncovers Kate’s IVF materials: a vial and an injection needle.
Toby immediately blurts, “I’m a heroin addict.” Well played.
On the way to the premiere, the tension is thick while Kate, Toby, Rebecca and Miguel attempt to make awkward small talk.
“Just say it,” Kate finally says.
Rebecca calmly asks if she really thought IVF through because it’s a dangerous process…for someone her size. (We still love you, Kate.)
When they arrive at Kevin’s place, Rebecca is still lecturing Kate about IVF because (fun fact!) Australia forbids overweight people from doing it. Kate firmly explains that she’s willing to take the risk because she’s the only one who can carry on her dad’s legacy.
If you’re thinking, What about Kevin? So is he. In fact, he demands to know her reasoning and then retracts his statement when she reminds him that he doesn’t want kids. Go figure.
“Everyone just shut up!” Toby screams.
He reminds Rebecca that it’s not about her, saying, “So please, for the love of God, save the asinine commentary from the cheap seats.” He says he’ll meet them at the premiere before storming off.
In a flashback, Randall is on the phone with the student and mom he met at Howard University in season two. He tells them about his acceptance, and Ms. Yvette (Ryan Michelle Bathe—yep, Sterling K. Brown’s IRL wife) invites Randall over for dinner just as Rebecca calls from downstairs: It’s time to go look at houses.
During the tour, Jack’s voice is running through Rebecca’s head, saying the potential home has “more light” and that she can “grow basil” in the garden. Romance, ladies and gents.
Back in reality, Rebecca is figuring out how many bedrooms they need, considering Randall and Kate should be heading off to college soon. This prompts Kate to admit that she never sent the audition tape to Berkeley and, therefore, isn’t going to college.
The real estate agent breaks the awkward silence and suggests they continue the tour.
In the backyard, Randall corners Rebecca and confronts her about his siblings. Kate is turning to unhealthy eating, and Kevin is apparently “drunk all the time.” His problem? Rebecca’s not doing anything about it.
So, he proceeds to call her a “liar” because she told them she’d take care of everything after Jack’s death. Harsh.
Back at the house, Randall is about to leave when he apologizes for calling her a liar. Rebecca tells him that he doesn’t need to be sorry. Although she knows it’s not fair to them, she is struggling to find the energy to get out of bed every day, let alone cater to the kids’ needs.
Rebecca reveals that she and Jack looked at a house a few months before the fire. She says she can’t stop thinking about where they’d be now if they bought it.
Flash-back to Jack touring the new home with Rebecca and raving about the “light” and garden capabilities. She recalls telling him that she doesn’t want to move.
“So, we’re just going to stay there forever?” Jack asks. *Grabs tissue*
Remember the William flashback earlier in the episode? Well, it resumes later that night in his apartment.
A baby can be heard wailing through the paper-thin walls, so William grabs his dinner and walks to the neighbor’s place, which just so happens to be occupied by that woman and her baby. He offers them dinner because he made too much (liar), and she happily invites him in.
He says, “Chichi is a pretty name.” Light bulb!
She thanks him before revealing that her husband passed away, so it’s just the two of them.
William suggests she come to the community center with him. You see, he’s celebrating his five-year sobriety anniversary, and Chichi could meet a lot of good people there, including single moms.
Although she rejects his offer, William can hardly contain his excitement when she asks him to hold the baby. Her name? Sky. Another light bulb!
In another flashback, William is at an AA meeting, explaining his story to a group of fellow addicts.
When he spots Chichi at the entrance, he focuses on her. He reveals that a woman recently let him hold her baby and, in turn, taught him a valuable lesson: community.
Back in present-day, Randall is bummed the maintenance crew never showed. While admiring the one light bulb he fixed, he offers Chichi a ride. She politely declines before admitting that she can’t figure him out.
Although he reminds her of William, Randall isn’t like his dad. Instead of getting to know the place for what it is, he spent the entire day trying to fix its problems.
At the premiere, Kate is worried because Toby hasn’t returned her calls, and she’s overdue for her IVF shot, which he’s supposed to administer.
Rebecca jumps at the opportunity and escorts her daughter to the bathroom. She apologizes for being so hard on her and then says, “You’ll see when you have kids.”
Toby and Randall arrive just as everyone is taking their seats. While Randall tells Beth about his day, he flashes back to the dinner at Ms. Yvette’s house. After studying the African-American couples, he returns home, calls the university and withdraws his acceptance.
Things take an even more heartbreaking turn when Kevin joins Randall in present-day and tells him about Kate’s legacy comment.
Hurt, Randall repeats it back, saying, “She said she was the only one who could pass on a piece of Dad?”
The lights dim, and the movie begins.
We’d do anything to give Randall a hug right about now. This Is Us returns to NBC next Tuesday, October 9.