This Is Us Recap Season 1 Episode 3

This Is Us Recap: Maternity Grieve

Need to catch up? Check out the previous This Is Us recap here. 

This Is Us‘ Randall was almost a Kyle.

While that trivia is nowhere near the biggest revelation of this week’s (thankfully) twist-free episode, the story of how Jack and Rebecca’s second son wound up with his name provides important insight into the family’s past at the same time it illuminates the tragic courtship of Randall’s biological parents and addresses the pilot’s too-easy handling of the grief over losing a baby.

In short: This Is Us feels like it’s settling into itself, and the good news is that it’s still incredibly watchable — even without a “Grandpa Miguel WHA?” moment at the end of the hour.

Read on for the highlights of “Kyle.”

THE ADVENTURE BEGINS | A flashback to the 1970s shows us William, as a young man/poet, noticing a beautiful woman on a city bus. As we watch, they fall in love. He writes poems in a notebook. Everything is great… until drugs begin to have a very clear effect on their romance. They’re both spaced out, with him scribbling nonsense in the same pad he used to fill with verse. And then, suddenly, young William is there without her, holding Randall as an infant, wrapped up in a sweater.

Cut to Jack and Rebecca leaving the hospital with the kids, whom they’ve named Kate, Kevin and Kyle in honor of their saintly obstetrician’s last name. She admits to feeling overwhelmed, and Dr. K. watches her with a kind yet clinical eye: He’s seen postpartum exhaustion and/or loss before, and she’s certainly swimming in both. But Jack is all “Let’s go! Big adventure! Woo!,” and when he bounds off to get the car, Rebecca notices William standing on the other side of the street. She shouts to him, but he leaves.

At home, the babies freak out despite the mellow AM gold that’s bumpin’ on the soundtrack. (Jackson C. Frank’s “Blues Run the Game,” for your Spotifying pleasure.) During a brief moment when none of the babies need their attention, Rebecca laments that Kyle won’t nurse like Kevin and Kate do. “I grew the other two inside me, and he feels like a stranger,” she says, feeling guilty. She tries to mention William’s appearance at the hospital, but Jake is far too involved in his “EVERYTHING IS FINE!” campaign to listen. “I was a complete stranger, look how quickly I took to your breast,” he jokes. (OK, it’s funny, but this poor woman is in pain, dude!)

This Is Us Recap Season 1 Episode 3SHAKESPEARE’S SOLUTION | In the present, Miguel explains that he and Rebecca stopped by unexpectedly because “a friend at work gave us his Hamilton tickets.” Hmm, Miguel. I’m already suspicious of you for macking on your (dead?) friend’s wife; this story about anyone “giving” anyone Hamilton tickets only makes me even more wary. Anyway, Randall decides it’s time to tell his mom that William just happens to be in one of the girls’ bedrooms. And when he says, “I know you guys would’ve found him if you could’ve,” the look on Rebecca’s face pretty much sets up what comes next.

Though in front of Randall she and William act like they’ve never met, they certainly have. And when their son is out of the room, Rebecca angrily reminds William “we had a deal.” Via flashbacks, we see Rebecca track down William, whom the bus driver refers to as “Shakespeare” and who asks if he can check in on his kid from time to time. She takes a gander at the heroin paraphernalia around his apartment and adamantly says no, which he seems to understand, and then she admits that she’s not bonding with the child. “Give him his own name,” William suggests. And because Dudley Randall was the poet that William used to read to the boy’s mother… William gives Rebecca a book of the poet’s work, and she leaves.

A NEW START | Back in the present, Rebecca warns William that his son will put saving him ahead of everything else in his life, “so you better damn well be worth that.” The notion scares William so much that he tries to leave; Randall chases him and, with good intentions, bullies him into going to the fancy cancer doctor appointment Randall set up.

That visit brings bad, if unsurprising, news: William’s cancer has metastasized, and he’s got months left. After a few tears and a little prodding from Beth, Randall knocks on his father’s door and starts to use the time they do have by asking to hear about his biological mother.

In the flashback, Rebecca and Jack talk about how they both can’t stop thinking about the baby they lost. Feeling more united, they evidently agree about renaming their adopted son: When Rebecca (successfully) breastfeeds him later, she says, “Hi, Randall.”

IF YOU’RE LOST, YOU CAN LOOK AND YOU WILL FIND ME | The morning after Kevin’s Hollywood party, Toby wakes up on the sofa and marvels at Kate, who is singing to herself in the bathroom. He tells her she’s got a great voice and tells her to sing in public, but she quickly shuts that notion down. While they’re having a lackluster (though calorically on-point) breakfast, Kevin bounds in, all excited about his upcoming move to New York.

“Wait, that was real?” his twin asks. Turns out, Kevin really wants to do theater in the Big Apple — “Maybe you should specify that I don’t want to do anything where I have to show my penis,” he later hedges — and assumes that his sister (whom we later learn is also his assistant) will come along. So he starts packing his stuff. (Side note: Kevin’s slouch-cap mannequins might just be my favorite things in this episode).

But Toby wants to put the spotlight on Kate and how awesome she is, so he shows up at her house and offers a day where she’s the star, complete with red carpet, paparazzi, a chauffeur and a singing gig… at his aunt’s nursing home. No, Toby! Old people have no filter! What are you thinking?! But Kate nails it, singing Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time,” aka the Anthem of ’80s Girls Who Wanted to Emote But Did Not Have Anything to Emote About at the Time.

It goes so well that Kate is ready to bang Toby in a janitor’s closet, but a call from Kevin sends her scurrying home to help him handle an out-of-control ex… and Toby is finished with their twin ish. “I can’t play second banana to your brother,” he grumbles. “You have to,” she says, not sorry. “Everyone has to.”

LATER, BRO | But after a heart-to-heart between the double Ks, Kevin fires his sister for her own good. He says it’s time for them to have separate lives for a while. “I don’t really know who I am if I’m not your sister,” she says. “I do,” he answers. “You’re gonna love her.”

So Kate calls Toby over so she can apologize in person, something that doesn’t work until she brandishes a condom. “I accept your apology,” he says quickly. (Heh.) And while the lovebirds are getting it on, Kevin hops on a redeye to New York to start up his new life.

Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Sound off in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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55 Comments
  1. Kelly says:

    Mandy Moore and Crissy Metz are so phenomenal on the show.

  2. Mm says:

    Great recap
    I love this show :)

  3. amber says:

    Has the show addressed why Randall never seems to hang with his brother and sister? It plays like it’s two separate shows sandwiched together.

    • I believe Randall is in NY and brother and sister are in LA. I do hope they make the show a little more centralized.

    • Jane says:

      Based on the episodes so far, the characters did somewhat mentioned this distance. In The Big 3, Kevin admitted that he was never a good big brother to Randall and we saw them in school as kids – Kevin picked his friends over Randall. Kate also mentioned at least in this week’s episode that she and Kevin are twins so they just naturally have a special bond that outsiders probably don’t understand. Also, in all the hospital scenes, the twins were always placed in the same crib while Randall had his own, so that helped build the bond b/w the twins more. But we definitely see that the siblings do get along very well.

    • Anna says:

      The trailer for episode 4 shows Kevin coming to Randall’s house after his move to NY, so it seems like it’s a combo of distance (LA is hella far from NY) and the fact that Kate worked for Kevin.

    • A fan of TV says:

      He’s in NY they’re in LA. Soon to be Kate who never hangs, I guess.

    • lanna says:

      I assume the reason why Randall never hangs with his brother and sister because he probably lives on the east cost and his siblings live on the west coast…makes it hard to hang.

  4. leo says:

    This show is the best I’ve seen in 2016. Crying most of the time with Randall storylines. And Kate. And Kevin, he’s hot… lol

  5. Paula says:

    I laughed a lot, I cried a lot. My typical reactions to this heartbreaking and yet uplifting series. I was quite angry about Rebecca’s treatment of William but I warmed to her again by the final (breastfeeding) scene. Kevin, Kate and Toby are always highlights for me. Love Beth and her gentle, determined wisdom. All this plus Gerald McRaney!

    • Anna says:

      I had tears streaming down my face in that final breastfeeding scene. Given how much she was struggling to bond with Randall, what a beautiful moment between mother and son.

  6. Sam says:

    I love it and hope it is renewed.

  7. Sarah says:

    I just love this show. I can’t believe how invested I am after only 3 episodes.

    • ameraleigh says:

      I second that. I don’t think I’ve seen a show in quite a few years that has had quite the impact on me that This is Us has had. It may not be completely perfect, every show has it’s own flaws but this one is damn close. There isn’t a single character or story-line that I dislike.

      Other shows should definitely take note because this is how it’s done.

    • donholley77 says:

      ME2! Best show of the season by far!!!

  8. just_me says:

    Thank god they changed the name. Otherwise the triplets would have been KKK

  9. Donna Pattison says:

    I think “This is Us” is , by far, the best new show of 2016. The writing, acting, flashback/current storylines woven seamlessly together…with new reveals each week…I haven’t seen anything this good, with this kind of ensemble, since “Thirty-Something”. Look for it to score BIG @ next year’s Emmy’s!! I’m hooked…

  10. Lala says:

    I have no words for how much I love this show. Best new TV show in a long while. Almost every scene had me choked up & tearing up. The cast is incredible.

  11. Jen says:

    Every episode feels like a movie

  12. Belle says:

    Mandy Moore elevates this show to new heights! Her performances are funny, heart warming, moving, and sad. She just clicks with everyone she’s in a scene with…don’t get me wrong the other actors are great too, but she is a huge reason the show is a “must see TV” :)

    • Kay says:

      I agree, I’ve really been enjoying her wonderfully nuanced performance. Also Chrissy Metz has been phenomenal- what a breakout role for her!

  13. jj says:

    Nope. Did not like the show from the start although not surprise by its popularity.

  14. sarah t says:

    I like this show so far though it doesn’t quite give me the feels that Parenthood did (yes, I know, totally different show). I love Mandy and Milo, I think they excel at playing a married couple. I think the one character I’m not as crazy about is Toby. He just seems too, over the top, too quickly. I get that he’s trying to win over Kate but I guess I didn’t get quite what his objective was in making her the star (other than winning her over, which isn’t bad). I don’t know, I just thought that was quite the grand gesture so it felt a little off to me. Overall though, solid cast and I think this show will grow more with time so I’m definitely sticking with it.
    Talking points: I hope they find a way to keep Dr. K around, LOVE him. Also, I hope we get to see more sibling interaction other than just Kevin and Kate.
    I thought the younger actor who played William in the flashback scenes bore an uncanny resemblance to current William too.

    • CountryQueen says:

      I think he did this because he sees that she lets herself be overshadowed by her brother (who couldn’t even pack up his clothes without her, he needs her so much), and wants her to see herself as a beautiful person, who, given the chance, can be a star, just not an assistant to a star. He didn’t like that she dropped everything for Kevin, and he seemed appalled that Kevin just assumed she would move to New York with him. I loved that Kevin wasn’t happy that she answered the phone for him when she was making out with Toby, and the ending was great, because it showed that Kevin does realize that they need to separate, and he took the steps to make it happen.

      • sarah t says:

        I can see that it just felt a bit forced for a relationship that’s so new. It’s not bad, I just feel like he’s the one character that doesn’t quite gel for me yet. Overall though, I really like the show.

        • Same for me. Since episode 1, Toby’s the only one I haven’t warmed up to. He’s not a bad guy and I see what he’s trying to do. Help Kate see that she’s beautiful, shouldn’t hide or live her life as second fiddle to anybody. He is however, way too pushy for my taste. I’ve been giving him the side eye ever seen he practically pushed his way into Kate’s house after the first date. I get that she’s stuck in the rut but in his attempts to help her out of her fear/comfort zone, he becomes overbearing and a bit impatient. Not cool, Sir.

    • Amy in KC says:

      I don’t like Toby either. I haven’t from the first episode. He is too pushy, in my opinion. Yes, Kate [probably] needs to break out of her shell, but I don’t like that someone else (especially a man/romantic partner) is doing that for her. And I think his attitude/jokes about sex are disrespectful. He comes off as being desperate for sex with Kate (or anyone). One joke, maybe two, would have been fine, but he has had a consistent attitude about it that I think is unhealthy for Kate given her vulnerability.

      I also think it makes the situation seem like Kate should be grateful that Toby is interested in her. You know, since she’s overweight and who else would be interested in her? I call BS. She deserves a guy who respects her more than he does.

      Bottom line, Toby makes me uncomfortable and I really hope he isn’t end game for Kate.

  15. JP says:

    For TVlines quote of the week, they should just quote the whole show:
    Toby to Kevin- “trying to have sex here”
    Randall- “hi white people, just your friendly neighborhood black man”
    Toby- “I scheduled you prime time, after jello but before nap time… they won’t remember this tomorrow… most of them lived through world war 2, they’ve seen worse”

    This show is just so different from what’s on TV. Hope it gets rewarded with Emmy’s next year

  16. Shundra says:

    This has been a great show. I didn’t get to watch it live because I went to see Boyz II Men, but I call my mother to ask her to set the DVR so I can watch it when I get home from the fair.

    I watched last night’s episode before I head to bed. It was interesting to learn a little bit more about William and also finding out that Randall was first named Kyle. Then finding out Kate saw William before they met at Randall’s house. I agree with one of the posters. The young William actor did looks like the older William.

    I love this show. I’m usually not a person who watches the current tv shows. The only show I watch is Dancing With the Stars and that’s it when it comes to comedy or drama tv shows. I could careless because I know if I get invested in the show, its cancelled. For some reason, This is Us just pulls me in. The show pulled me in when I first saw the trailer on facebook. This show is definitely a keeper and I hope its around for a long time.

  17. MMD says:

    I absolutely love this show and that is something I rarely say. Usually it is I enjoyed or liked……. I hope that we see lots more of Gerald McRaney in the flashbacks as love or hate the role, he is a tremendous actor and always brings it and is superb as Dr. K.

  18. Hso says:

    Best episode so far, IMO.

  19. HAP says:

    Absolute best show on network TV. Great cast. Great writing. Excellent production values. NBC has a real winner here.

  20. kmw says:

    Another great episode. All the stories go together just right. I am even starting to like Justin Hartley.

  21. Walkie says:

    Toby is by far the best character on the show. He needs to be made a regular.

  22. Doug says:

    What was he name of the song during the 70’s flashback portion of the show? Anyone know?

  23. I absolutely love this show. I cried quite a bit during this episode. Young William broke my heart in a million pieces. I was also struck by the tragedy of Randal’s bio mom’s life. From this gorgeous young lady with eyes full of promises to the strung out young woman who soon died while delivering her baby boy.
    .
    I was also proud of Kevin. I could never dislike a character embodied by the utterly likable Justin Hartley but I was bothered by how much of a spoiled whinny baby Kevin was, locked in his walk in closet with booze, blowing up Kate’s phone because he couldn’t deal with life. I was shocked at how self aware he was. The second he realized Kate was jeopardizing her own happiness to run to her rescue, he set her free and matured in 30 seconds. Well done, Kev. He truly showed his love for his sis and the fact that he’s not as self-centered as he appeared.
    .
    I have no words to express how much I love Randall. I worry about him. He wears his heart on his sleeve and overextends himself sometimes. Good thing he has Beth looking out for him,
    Beth remains the best. She understands her husband better than he understands himself sometimes, and I love how protective she is of him. She knows his vulnerabilities and takes great care of his heart. Their daughters are the cutest too.
    .
    I love Young Rebeca so much and the scene where she first sees William was excellent. I understand why she hid the truth from Randall. He’s still going to be devastated when he finds out.
    .
    I rewinded Sterking’s goodbye to Miguel a few times. Lol. Thanks for dropping by. Period. Love you, peace. Yeah, Randall isn’t fond of Miguel. I wonder if he sees him as the homewrecker who took his dad’s place, which brings me to the burning question of the season. What happened to Jack? He was such a wonderful dad. I’m thinking he wasn’t able to beat his addiction to alcohol :'(

  24. People keep comparing the show to Parenthood, but I could never get into that show because I didn’t really like or root for any of those characters. I love every character on This Is Us and find I can’t pick a favourite. It’s a great show, and everyone on it is fantastic. My mom and I are in two different countries, so we wait until the day after it airs and watch it online together, and we text as we’re watching. This beautiful episode had both of us in tears. I hope the quality continues.

  25. Marisa L Brenner says:

    What’s the name of the song in this episode?

  26. soupy sal mcgyver says:

    I was good for the episode until the condom: that scene tells us that Toby is shallow, that his cockblock is more important to him than his relational issues with the girl.

  27. Buggy White says:

    Multiple condoms would have been funnier!