Who'd have thought golf was so meaningful?
This Is Us Season 4 Episode 6 used the game to subtly explore the ways working-class Jack didn't fit in with Rebecca's family and how Randall's experiences as a black teenager helped shape him.
Three generations' worth of golf games had an impact making this one of the most interesting hours of This Is Us yet.
This Is Us has never shied away from exploring Randall's experiences as a black person.
It would have been all too easy for the writers to ignore this aspect of his identity and write him as just another one of the Big Three, adopted by white parents as if his blackness was irrelevant.
But This Is Us has been more sensitive than that from the beginning, and Randall's interactions with Jack and with Mr. Lawrence were no exception.
Jack's jealousy of Mr. Lawrence's importance to Randall underscored that theme.
For Randall, Mr. Lawrence was a role model who, unlike Jack, was the same race as Randall and understood what it was like to be black in a mostly white environment.
But for Jack, it must have felt like Mr. Lawrence was taking over fatherly duties. He was the one that Randall talked to about important things and the one about whom Randall talked enthusiastically all the time.
Randall: You just don't get it.
Jack: What don't I get?
Randall: What you said before. You felt uncomfortable on a golf course and I probably wouldn't have been allowed on it.
Jack: Son, I'm sorry. That was a stupid thing to say. When I look at you, I don't see color. I just see my son.
Randall: Then you don't see me, Dad.
The whole reason Jack took Randall to the golf course was to try to relate to him after he talked so excitedly about Tiger Woods.
But he missed the point altogether, just like he missed the point when Randall talked about his mixed feelings about being the first black kid on the debate team.
Jack's colorblind attitude was one that many people considered enlightened when Randall was growing up, but as Randall pointed out, his racial identity is a big part of his identity.
It wasn't pointed out in a preachy manner and wasn't the focal point of the episode. It was just a conversation between father and son that went wrong for reasons Jack couldn't fully grasp.
The difficult part of it, for Jack, was that his feelings about how Dave treated him were based on class prejudice. In some ways, Jack could relate to feeling the odd man out -- and yet it was totally different.
Dave made it clear that he didn't think a working-class guy who was happy being a working-class guy was good enough for his daughter.
I didn't blame Jack for not taking the interview opportunity.
Dave didn't make the offer because he thought it would help Jack. He made it because, in his mind, someone who works for his friend and eventually becomes rich is superior to someone who works at a blue-collar job for his entire life.
Jack refused to accept Dave's standards as his own, and Dave didn't like it -- especially not when Jack suggested that Dave would be the one to lose out if he refused to accept Jack and Rebecca's relationship.
Dave's attitude was obnoxious, and I cheered when Jack asked him if Dave could see himself fitting into the life Jack planned to build with Rebecca.
Still, even though Jack felt uncomfortable and out of place with Dave and his friends, classism and racism are two different things, and that's what he didn't realize until Randall explained it to him.
Kudos to Jack for slowing down and listening to what Randall had to say instead of getting defensive.
Double kudos to him questioning whether he and Rebecca had felt threatened by Randall being with other black families at the dojo all those years ago.
It was awesome that Jack took Randall's feelings seriously and questioned his own behavior toward his son.
That golf game had a clear impact on Randall, judging from the adult Randall's discomfort with playing golf with his fellow councilmen.
Randall's golf game with the other councilmen was the opposite situation.
He was golfing with three other black men who worked in the same office as he did. Yet he had trouble connecting with them and felt frustrated and excluded at first.
Since his election, Randall has been reluctant to get social with his co-workers, preferring to focus on policy and on connecting with his constituents.
It's unrealistic that one golf game would turn that all around, but it was good to see him settling into his job and beginning to make connections.
Both his co-worker and Jack helped him learn how to play golf, and that final scene of Randall practicing his golf swing both as a child and an adult cemented that.
It was almost as if he were coming to terms with his complicated identity as a black person raised by white people as he took both his black co-councilman and his white father's advice into account.
Meanwhile, Kate faced insecurities of a different nature as she and Toby tried to rekindle their romance.
The scene after Toby couldn't get it up for her was heartbreaking. Kate's insecurities are making Toby feel pressured, and it's clear that his weight loss is making her feel that she can't possibly be good enough for him anymore.
I'm glad Kate cut up the wrong pair of pants, though. That broke through the tension that had been building the entire hour.
It remains to be seen whether the two can overcome all the problems between them, but their honest conversation and Kate's reaction was a good start.
KEVIN AND CASSIDY KISSED!
Many viewers predicted that Cassidy would turn out to be the woman in the flash-forward, and she and Kevin took a big step in that direction.
I'm not sure how I feel about them kissing while Cassidy was at her lowest point, though. She may regret it -- especially since she isn't officially divorced from Ryan.
Better her than that red-haired girl, though. Kevin had nothing in common with that woman, and it's better that ended before it began.
What did you think, This Is Us fanatics?
Did you like the golf theme weaved throughout the hour?
How would you grade the way This Is Us is handling Randall's exploration of his identity as a black teenager?
And how excited are you that Kevin and Cassidy finally kissed?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments, and don't forget you can watch This Is Us online if you missed anything.
This Is Us airs on NBC on Tuesdays at 9 PM EST/PST.
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