Jack and Rebecca were disappointed when the Big Three wanted to do their own thing during a family trip to the pool, while an adult Randall butted heads with Deja and Beth disapproved of Tess' choice of hairstyle.
Our TV Fanatics Lauren Busser, Christine Orlando, Mariha Morales, and Jack Ori debate whether Randall was too overprotective, whether Rebecca ever learned to let go of Kate, and what was our favorite moment from This is Us Season 4 Episode 2.
1. What were your thoughts on the way Randall handled the strange guy sitting next to Deja on the bus? Was he 100% overprotective or was there a kernel of rationality there?
Lauren: I think Randall was in his head, and I think part of that is him moving to a new city, and having to get used to new surroundings. At the same time, Deja is smart and capable and can handle the bus, but Randall doesn't know that.
Since Deja has come into their lives he's assumed this Papa Bear mentality, and while I can see how it works here he does need to let go.
At the same time, I'm sympathetic to him. Deja is older than Tess and Annie, so he hit this milestone a little quicker than anticipated. I am glad that he found a compromise and that they made it work so everyone is happy.
Christine: I don’t know many fathers who could sit there and watch some strange guy interact with their 14-year-old. I think Randall was completely rational.
The flip side is that Deja has had to be self-reliant from a young age, and knows how to handle herself. I think Randall’s compromise of letting her take the bus to school on her own and having her text him the moment she got there was a good one.
Mariha: Randall is being 100% overprotective. The girl is in the ninth grade living in the largest city in the state, using public transportation is a must.
As Deja said, they grew up different. Deja has always been independent and can handle her own. She was clearly ignoring the man. He should have just waited for how everything played out. Then he’d really know if she can handle her own.
Jack: I can understand Randall’s anxiety, but I think he way overreacted here. Deja had the street smarts to ignore the man and keep looking at her phone, and there was no need for Randall to step in. He accomplished nothing but alienating Deja by doing that.
2. Do you think 12-year-old Kevin really meant to embarrass Randall in front of Randall's friends?
Lauren: I don't think so, but I think the theme of this episode is about kids growing up, getting older, and changing. While they may have all had different interests, this is the first episode where we've seen the twelve-year-old versions start to take different paths.
It's also curious how that moment echoes This Is Us Season 1 Episode 4 where Rebecca got a lesson in how to make sure Randall got a proper haircut.
Christine: No. I think he was trying to impress Randall’s friends and then trying to involve Randall.
Pre-teen Kevin just couldn’t see that he’d just forced his brother, who has no rhythm, into a situation in which he was going embarrass himself. I don’t believe Kevin’s intentions were mean, just short-sighted.
Mariha: Sadly yes, but this is not an uncommon thing for a sibling to do. I speak from experience!
I think the actor in Kevin wants to put on a show and get attention. Show everyone how great he is, and sadly some think making your sibling look foolish might make you feel better about yourself.
I think it wouldn’t have been such a big deal though if it wasn’t for the racial difference.
Kevin showing those kids “he is down” more than his brother, who looks like them. Randall’s friend even stated that Kevin is blacker than Randall, which further stabs into Randall’s identity crisis. This edge to it makes it more hurtful for Randall who is already struggling to be a part of that world.
Jack: I agree that race issues played a part in this. Kevin might have felt a need to prove himself to Randall’s friends, while Randall wanted to be seen as cool by other black kids.
That said, I agree with Christine that Kevin didn’t set out to embarrass Randall but didn’t think about how his behavior might affect Randall.
3. Kevin skipped the movie opportunity in Chicago to go visit Nicky. React!
Lauren: I am still stuck on the fact that he brought his plant, and at the same time I don't blame him. As for the movie, I think Kevin needs to do what's right for Kevin and at that moment it was making sure his uncle was okay.
Christine: I’m proud of him. There was a voice inside Kevin that kept telling him not to go to Chicago. That voice may not have been logical but I’m glad he listened to it.
Now, I can’t wait to see him interact with both Nicky and Cassidy!
Mariha: What the hell Kevin!!
I hope that they don’t throw him in with Jennifer Morrison yet. He needs to breathe and get himself together before jumping into a relationship.
I cannot remember a season where he wasn’t clinging to a woman. Though I admit I miss him with Zoey. He was making so much emotional progress.
Jack: I thought that was a touching moment.
I hope that Kevin doesn’t get sucked into Nicky’s issues at the expense of taking care of himself, as Rebecca feared he might..
But I also think Nicky needed to see that there was someone in the family who wouldn’t give up on him no matter what, and that Kevin’s visit could be good for him.
4. Toby kept it to himself that he was working out at the gym. What do you think was going on with him and how will it affect things with him and Kate from this point forward?
Lauren: I think there's something to the "intermittent stressing" that he said was happening. I think working out has become his way of dealing with what he can't control.
I did notice that Toby told Rebecca that Kate was overeating, and given the preview, I wonder if maybe they can start on a step towards some healthier habits.
The irony is that when Kate was trying to get healthy with her first pregnancy, Toby was resisting it. So I am very curious to see what her reaction is after, "Holy crap."
Christine: I think Toby is scared.
Kate looks like she’s got it all together, but Toby knows how much she’s overeating and how much stress she’s under. None of that is good for her health, so Toby is making sure he stays healthy because their son is going to need them for years to come.
However, this could become a wedge between him and Kate as his success with weight loss could make her feel more like a failure.
They’ve never been in sync when it comes to weight loss and healthy habits so I wonder if this will bring them closer together or pull them apart.
Mariha: I find this odd. Why is he hiding his work out routine? I could only assume he doesn’t want Kate to realize how stressed out he is about the baby.
This will come into play in the future. I don’t think Kate will be too concerned with the loss of weight, but the hiding and lying about his whereabouts part will be a HUGE concern.
For months, he has been lying about how he is feeling. Not. Good. At. All.
Jack: I agree with all of the above. Toby is dealing with stress by working out, which is fine -- but trying to keep it secret from Kate is not, even if his motives are well-intentioned.
I think Toby might fear Kate having a poor reaction to him losing weight and working out because of their difficulties getting on the same page re: weight loss in the past and/or Kate’s use of food to deal with her stress right now.
But he is guaranteeing a problem between them by lying to her and sneaking around, especially when there’s no logical reason for his secrecy.
5. Did Rebecca ever learn to let go after her experience with Kate at the pool or was she still trying too hard to be a protective mom now that Kate is dealing with her own child's blindness?
Lauren: My mother, personally, says that I am her daughter and she's never going to stop worrying. I see a similar thread in Rebecca with these particular timelines.
We don't know a lot about Rebecca's experiences growing up. We know about her life right before Jack, and we've met her parents, but she likely had similar experiences as well. Whether she was Kate or "the mean girls" is a whole other question.
I also think it all comes back to heartbreak and in the case of Little Jack, she knows it's coming and she's waiting for the gates to open. I think she wants the best, but at the same time, she knows this is a big change and a different expectation.
Christine: Rebecca seems to be doing fine as a grandma. We haven’t seen her overstep as of yet, but she’s there for Kate, Toby, and Jack. Rebecca is always going to be protective of her children, no matter how old they get. That’s just not going to change.
Mariha: Rebecca will always worry.
That is just what moms do, but I do think she worries about Kate the most.
A part of Rebecca feels guilty for not being more aware of her children’s spirals after their father’s death, especially Kate.
Her weight gain is something Rebecca missed and had life-altering repercussions. She knows that Kate is a silent bomb and she wants to make sure she doesn’t miss the signs this time.
Jack: I agree with everyone else that Rebecca is worried about Kate and doing her best to be there for her.
Hopefully her support won’t become another source of stress.
Kate already told her soon after little Jack’s birth to stop getting overinvolved with what the doctor had to say, and hopefully, that will stick.
6. What was your favorite scene from This is Us Season 4 Episode 2?
Lauren: I honestly loved the "worst-case scenario" scene with Randall, Beth, and the girls. There was so much that was released at that moment and then to end it with running up the Rocky Steps was so cathartic, and just beautifully shot.
Seeing Randall, Beth, and the three girls kind of cemented them as the next generation Pearson 5.
Christine: I liked Randall and Beth’s worst-case scenario game with the girls. They’re all going through a lot of changes all at once right now, and they need to keep talking to one another. I love the way Beth and Randall are with their girls.
Runner up was Kevin’s conversation with baby Jack. Kevin is good at opening up to kids, even ones that don’t understand him yet.
Mariha: For some reason, Jack repeating that he got five chairs made me laugh.
It reminds me of this story my mom tells about asking me to go to Chucky Cheese or the mall at 12 years-old and refusing. She claims she ran into her room and cried about how I didn’t want to hang out with her anymore.
Poor Rebecca and Jack were reminiscing about the good old days when the kids thought they were cool.
Jack: All of the above were great scenes! But my favorite was Jack’s advice to Kevin.
It showed how alike Jack and Kevin were, and Kevin thinking about it as he verbalized his negative feelings about himself to baby Jack brought tears to my eyes.
Your turn, This is Us fanatics! Let us know in the comments what you thought about Randall's reaction on the bus, Toby's keeping a secret, and everything else that happened on This Is Us Season 4 Episode 2.
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This is Us airs on NBC on Tuesdays at 9 PM EST/PST.
Jack Ori is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.