‘This Is Us’ Season 4, Episode 2 Recap: They Grow Up So Fast
Last week, in the This Is Us season four premiere, we revisited Jack’s (Milo Ventimiglia) first meeting with Rebecca’s (Mandy Moore) parents and met a handful of brand-new faces—one of whom is the grown-up version of Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Toby’s (Chris Sullivan) son, Jack (Blake Stadnik). Uncle Nicky (Griffin Dunne) got arrested, Deja (Lyric Ross) met a romantic interest named Malik (Asante Blackk), and Kate and Toby learned their son would be mostly blind. Now, we find out what else is in store for the Pearsons in season four, episode two, titled “The Pool.”
JACK, REBECCA & THE BIG THREE
We open on Jack and Rebecca high-fiving because the kids are going back to school (seventh grade!). They feel like they haven’t seen Kate (Mackenzie Hancsicsak), Kevin (Parker Bates) and Randall (Lonnie Chavis) all summer, so they call them into the kitchen and propose that they all go to the public pool. This used to be the Big Three’s favorite outing but now they’re not interested at all. Ah, growing pains.
Regardless, the family makes their way to the pool. Jack is overjoyed to find five chairs, but the moment he sets them up, Randall and Kevin go off with some friends and Kate gets an invite from the popular girls to come sit with them. While Randall and Kevin are with Randall’s friends, Kevin impresses them with his rapping skills and makes fun of Randall for not knowing lyrics to popular rap songs. They call him an “Oreo,” and although Randall tries to laugh it off, he’s clearly hurt.
So, while Kevin is in the pool, Randall ruins his brother’s Kris Kross tape. When Kevin calls him out, they fight. Jack tries to break up their fight but neither will tell him what’s wrong. Once Jack walks away, Randall tells Kevin he embarrassed him in front of his friends and that he’s supposed to be his brother.
Meanwhile, the popular girls tell Kate that one of the cute boys in their grade wants to kiss her. They tell her to wait for him behind the snack shack, and so she does. But another boy shows up. She shows her disappointment for a moment but when he tells her he knew he was coming to kiss her, she smooches him right on the lips. It’s her very first kiss.
RANDALL & BETH
Randall (Sterling K. Brown) comes back from a run around the family’s new home in Philadelphia and tells Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) that he’d love to enjoy a Pearson family fun day. The girls, however, have other plans. Tess (Eris Baker) needs to get her hair cut and Deja needs to do a practice run on the bus, per Randall’s suggestion. Instead, they’ll enjoy a truncated family afternoon.
They break off—Tess to get a very short haircut and Deja to ride the city bus. She and Randall sit separately so he can see what it’d be like for her to ride alone, but the second he sees a strange man approach her, he says he doesn’t feel comfortable with her riding the bus this year.
Deja is upset and when they arrive at the hair salon to meet Tess and Beth, she storms past Beth. Beth says she hates that the girls are growing up and don’t need them as much anymore. Just then, Tess comes out with a brand-new short haircut. Her parents tell her she looks absolutely beautiful.
They head out on their day of sightseeing and play a little game of worst-case scenario, in which they share their worst fear about their move to Philly. It’s a sweet bonding moment ahead of the girls’ first day of school and an opportunity for Randall to tell Deja he overreacted. She can ride the bus. Later, Deja and Tess ready their first day outfits. Tess worries about her new hair and Deja texts Malik a picture she snapped of him while she was riding the bus and passed the automotive shop he works at. (No wonder she wants to ride the bus so badly!)
Meanwhile, Kevin (Justin Hartley) reaches out to Nicky to ask him what the deal is. Kevin hasn’t heard from him once since his arrest and he’s curious to know what happened and how his uncle is doing. He leaves Nicky a message and asks him to call him back.
Later, in an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, he opens up about how stuck he feels. Yes, he’s the proud owner of a new plant (the only thing that makes him feel in control) but he’s asleep at the wheel of the M. Night Shyamalan (played by the actual Oscar-winning director) film he’s working on.
Rebecca can tell he’s down and she and Miguel (Jon Huertas) tell him they saw in The Hollywood Reporter that he’s on the short list for a Spike Jonze movie. He says it’d be a great opportunity but that it films in Chicago and he feels too preoccupied with baby Jack and Uncle Nicky to focus. When his agent calls him to tell him the producers want to meet with him in Chicago, he says he needs to think about it.
Later, he opens up to baby Jack about how he’s almost 200 days sober, which feels like an eternity. He admits that he’s almost 40 and the most serious relationship is with a houseplant. He tells Jack that maybe he should take the movie so that he can stay distracted. He doesn’t like having too much time to think about things.
That evening, Kevin hops on a plane to what we assume is Chicago (with his emotional support plant in tow), but he shows up on Uncle Nicky’s doorstep.
KATE, TOBY & Baby JACK
Kate finishes nursing baby Jack, and Toby and she talk about the expert they’re about to meet with who’s going to help teach them how to raise a blind child. Kate is delightfully optimistic, and Toby asks her how she’s really doing. She says she’s doing really well, but Toby says he’s just hanging in there. The look on his face says he’s waiting to see if Kate’s burying her pain or if she’s really meeting this challenge with such positivity.
Later, the expert arrives and offers Kate, Toby, Madison (Caitlin Thompson), Rebecca, Miguel and Kevin tips on how they can all make Jack’s transition home easier. They break off into separate rooms to note items that might be hazardous to baby Jack. Rebecca takes the opportunity to ask Toby how he’s really doing. He’s lost a ton of weight and admits he’s “hanging on by a thread.” He’s worried about Kate and Jack, but mostly Kate. He notices her overeating and is waiting for the other shoe to drop. Rebecca says she understands all too well.
When they reconvene, the expert asks them about electrical cords and Kate tells her they’re having a handyman come hang their TV shortly. They splurged on the big screen so that Jack can become an early fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. As she says it, she realizes that Jack won’t be able to watch because of his visual limitations. She finally breaks down and goes into the other room to be alone.
Meanwhile, Kevin is having his heart to heart with baby Jack. Kate walks in as he’s finishing, admitting that she heard everything on the baby monitor. He asks her how she’s doing and she reveals she’s feeling a lot of guilt because so many doctors told her not to have a baby and she had one anyway. They continue chatting and she tells Kevin that he really should do the movie so he can become the best version of himself.
Feeling inspired by their chat, Kate walks into the living room and tells her family and Madison that she doesn’t want the prevailing feeling in their home to be worry, she wants it to be hope. “My son is going to live a life without limits,” she says. They all rally around her.
After everyone has gone, Toby tells Kate he’s going to the grocery store but instead he goes to the gym.
The teaser for next week promises secrets will be revealed. We can’t wait to find out what they are when This Is Us returns with episode three on Tuesday, October 8, at 9 p.m. PT/ET.