This Is Us Recap Season 1 Episode 4

This Is Us Recap: In Over Our Heads

Need to catch up? Check out last week’s This Is Us recap here.

When the family air conditioner breaks this week during This Is Us‘ flashback storyline, Jack innocently suggests that the family head to the public pool for a little relief from the heat.

Meanwhile, I suggest that Rebecca check the cooler to make sure Jack is sticking to his promise not to drink. Because I have to believe that no one in his or her right, sober mind would think that a day-long trip to a community swimming hole with three kids is a good — much less relaxing — idea.

And it’s not like the kids have an easy time at the suburban oasis, either. Kate runs into weight haters. Randall finds himself torn between his family and his desire to connect with other black kids. And Kevin… well, we maybe start to get an indication of why he grew up and went into acting, perhaps the most “look at me!” profession there is.

Read on for the highlights of “The Pool.”

CARE BEAR DESPAIR | The troubles start when Kate, who’s so proud of the Care Bear bikini she’s rocking, sees some friends and makes a big show of waving to them. They act like she’s one of the really gross Garbage Pail Kids; later, they pass her a note that reads, “We don’t want to play with you anymore. You embarrass us.” And there’s a drawing of a pig face on it, too, just in case Kate’s spirit hadn’t completely died from the words.

Kate eventually shows the note to her folks. Jack is ready to run across the pool deck and show the mean girls the full power of Mad Dad ‘Stache, but Rebecca stops him, saying it’s their fault “because we didn’t make her wear a tee shirt.” (Side note: Rebecca’s well-intentioned yet damaging comments about/around her kids may be the end of me.)

So Jack contents himself with lending Kate his ridiculous green frog T-shirt, telling her it has magical powers (he was wearing it the night he met Rebecca) and that she’s a princess in his eyes no matter what.

AWKWARD | Meanwhile, when Randall disappears, Rebecca panics until she finds him playing with some black kids. “Oh, we know who you are,” one of the moms says with a big smile when Rebecca introduces herself. “When a white family has a black child and they don’t introduce themselves to any of us, we tend to take notice.” Ouch.

Rebecca drags Randall back to the family’s spot, but later heads back over to try again, asking if Randall and her son can play sometime soon. The woman softens a bit, gives Rebecca a tip on how to keep her son’s skin from turning ashy after he gets out of the pool, and a tiny spark of friendship is lit. (We know, thanks to a framed photo at Randall’s house later in the episode, that the woman becomes a good friend of the family’s.)

Meanwhile, Kevin nearly drowns in the pool while his parents’ backs are turned. And he throws a fit over it later, calling out how he doesn’t get as much attention as his sister and brother because he doesn’t have overt issues. I mean, the kid’s not wrong…

EX MACHINA | In the present, Kate and Toby are having lunch when Toby runs into his ex-wife, Josie. She’s thin and pretty, and Kate does a quick scan of the woman’s white skinny jeans and 4-inch heels and is instantly obsessed. “I told you I was married before,” he says. “Not to that,” she shoots back.

So Kate cyber-stalks Josie, even going as far as walking into her shop. When Josie assumes Kate is there for a job, Kate doesn’t disavow her of the idea, and pretty soon…

“So the good news is, I got a job,” Kate says as she arrives at Toby’s place later. He’s ripped that she can’t focus on anything other than the fact that Josie is not fat; even worse, Kate seems to value Josie’s opinion of her more than she does Toby’s. “She was terrible to me, Kate,” he confesses, adding that Josie cheated on him, lied to him and took half his life savings. The aftermath of their marriage was ugly, and he was suicidal. “I gained 95 lbs in one year after she left me.”

Long story short? “You haven’t cornered the market on problems, Kate,” he says, and though he’s clearly not happy with her, he makes it clear that he’s not going anywhere, either. She apologizes, and they make up.

This Is Us Recap Season 1 Episode 4 A NEW UNDERSTANDING | William tells his granddaughters a story about his involvement helping fight anti-bussing protests in the late ’80s, then he goes for a walk in the neighborhood… where he’s promptly stopped and hassled by the neighborhood security guy for Walking While Black (and Unfamiliar).

Randall apologizes to the guard — to his rankled father’s surprise — then takes him shopping for new clothes. While they’re at the shop, the men process the event, with Randall summing it up: “Because I grew up in a white house, you think I don’t live in a black man’s world.” He makes a point of telling his dad that he swallows a lot of injustice and microagression “so I’m not pissed off all the time” — and he’s been doing it his whole life.

Later, after watching Tessa play Snow White in her school play, Randall reveals that he’s stuck on the idea that William was clean in the 1980s but didn’t come to look for him. “Three weeks I’ve known you, and I haven’t said the words,” William says, looking so sad. “I’m sorry. I am so deeply sorry. I did everything wrong by you, and you’ve done everything right. You are doing everything right, son.” Really nice work there from both Sterling K. Brown and Ron Cephas Jones, right down to the way they laugh the same after the heavy moment eases a bit.

BABY SAYS WHAAAAAT? | Kevin arrives in New York, ready to take the theater scene by storm. But he acts ignorant at best, offensive at worst during his first audition. (When he calls someone a screenwriter and she corrects him that she’s a playwright, he replies, “Well, you gotta start somewhere.”) He’s so L.A. that the actress who’s reading opposite him can’t contain her disdain; but even without that, he just generally does a terrible job in the audition.

When he bumps into the actress on the street later, they grab a drink and she offers him some “friendly” advice: Go back to Los Angeles and learn how to act, if you want to do something real. “You’re in over your head, Kevin Pearson,” she says, pulling out her phone to check a message… which then causes her to break her glass in anger. “You got the part. They think The Nanny will sell tickets,” she says, huffing away as Kev quietly corrects her about the title of his greatest work thus far.

Later, Kevin shows up at Randall’s and asks to crash there for a while. Randall and Beth say yes; their faces say, “God, why?” And when Kevin and William make eye contact, Randall introduces the older man as his biological father. “Wait, was that The Manny?” William asks, starstruck after Kevin leaves the room. Ha!

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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  1. Kelly says:

    I love protective momma bear Rebecca but hope the show doesn’t try to make her the bad guy or bad parent with first the kids idolizing dad in the pilot, the Randall-William secret and now the Kate weight stuff. I feel bad for her already.

    • Claire says:

      Having been a chubby child in the 80s, I don’t think Rebecca looking to shield Kate from that kind of thing makes her the bad guy. This was before the awareness of things like “fat shaming”; people were just expected to cover up if they were heavier. I think it accurately represents Kate’s insecurities, but it was a culture that created them, not a single person. Rebecca’s approach to dealing with her weight was (unfortunately) common, not cruel.

      • Hazel says:

        I’d say it was common but unintentionally cruel. Rebecca did not realize the impact but Kate still took some damage there.

      • Josh says:

        The writing for the female characters LEAVES a lot to be desired. Kate’s entire storyline is her weight, Rebecca is mostly hapless and relies heavily on Jack to do the “emotional parenting”.

        There is a very strong “a family needs a strong patriarch” vibe to this show….Where mothers are kind of “there”(Randall’s wife) or hapless(Rebecca).

        I mean, why couldn’t Rebecca have that emotional moment with her daughter? It was girls making Kate feel bad about her body, why couldn’t it be a woman who made her feel better?

        • KCatty says:


          I don’t mean to be rude when I say this, but that moment was in fact, quite organic. Something that being male and specifically not having been a woman or a girl coming of age in the 80s may make it difficult for you to understand or appreciate.

        • Anna says:

          I strongly disagree, Josh. Both Randall and Beth are shown as being on equal footing with their parenting of the girls. No major issues have come up with their kids, but everything from cheering them on at soccer games, to making sure they’re fed and taking their medicine, to doing their hair in the morning is shown as being equally shared. Beth is not “kind of there”.

          And Rebecca and Jack seem to have drastically different strengths when it comes to the kids. My parents are relatively similar – my mother is very practical. We always finished our homework, got to all of our appointments, got to camp on time, took our medication, etc. because my mother was really on top of everything. But my father was much more emotional, and it was much easier when I was younger to have emotional conversations with him. Not being the emotional parent doesn’t make you hapless.

    • Josh says:

      The writing for the female characters LEAVES a lot to be desired. Kate’s entire storyline is her weight, Rebecca is mostly hapless and relies heavily on Jack to do the “emotional parenting”.

      There is a very strong “a family needs a strong patriarch” vibe to this show….Where mothers are kind of “there”(Randall’s wife) or hapless(Rebecca).

  2. dan says:

    I think the woman from the pool, who was seen near the end of the episode in the family photo, turns out to be Beth’s mom. I knew Kevin would get the part to help sell tickets as soon as the Tony-nominated actress gave him attitude. And I loved seeing one of the Santos sisters from All My Children playing the ex-wife Josie! Not the most exciting episode, but still better than most things on network tv.

  3. c-mo says:

    So many things right about this show. It’s pretty obvious that the writers know a lot about the 80’s, the nuances in the dialogue are spot on. Thank you NBC for recognizing what a gem this show is!

  4. Hazel says:

    I loved how WILLIAM was a Manny fan. Kevin really needs a hug.

  5. Charlotte says:

    Great show. BUT, please enough of Toby. He’s annoying.

    • kevstar69 says:

      Why? He has the fat and happy thing down. The thing where you are self-deprecating to get people to like you. Plus, he could teach Kate a lesson in how to feel good about herself.

      • Claire says:

        Because he fits all the qualities of a “nice guy” who acts like he’s doing her a favor by being nice to her.

        • Maybe you’re jaded and he’s just a genuinely nice guy who is falling in love.

        • lanna says:

          That makes no sense Janice, What is wrong with Toby being a nice guy? What would you rather Toby demean Kate and slap her around.

          • E. D. Boddy says:

            I share your sentiments, but on the internet these days, “nice guy” (always in quotation marks) is regarded as a negative quality, off the automatic assumption that someone has an ulterior motive by being nice, and feels entitled because of it.. Because, I guess, no one can ACTUALLY be nice…?

        • Lala says:

          What do u mean he “acts like he’s doing her a favor”….like when exactly? Toby is genuinely nice and has not asked for much from Kate; he’s a guy who is smitten with his girl and tries to cheer her up & be romantic whenever he can. So how is that a bad thing. I love Kate but she’s the one who acts like she does not deserve to be loved or to be in a rship. She cannot understand why someone would love her…and Toby tries to show her that she’s worth it. So I don’t get how Toby is the bad guy in this case.

      • Charlotte says:

        We get it he’s fat and happy. BUT, he’s obnoxious, pushy and as the person below mentioned, manipulative..big time.
        I don’t like his character. Also, I understand some overweight people cannot help it. But come on these two people are very over weight. They should address it..instead of playing the victim and we’re always made fun of because of our weight. They should show how they are trying to lose weight, exercise, etc.

        • Jacob says:

          They have shown that on every episode thus far. They have been in the gym, she has been shown cooking healthy meals, counting calories, etc. I think that Toby, while a bit heavy-handed/pushy, is trying to get her to enjoy life while she is trying to lose weight; to make her life about more than just her weight. When you are struggling with something like your weight, you can easily lose focus on everything else and your entire life becomes about losing weight.

          • Charlotte says:

            I like Kate. But, wow, and I sincerely do not say this in a mean way (apology if it’s taken badly) she is so big. I find when I’m watching her I think all that weight must be so hard on her heart, she should get her stomach stapled, if she lost weighted she’d have to get skin cut off.
            btw, I’m no size 2 I am wayyyyy bigger. I need to lose weight too.
            As for Toby, he’s not funny, he is obnoxious. I like this show but when he’s on screen it’s like the show went from being a drama/good show..too just blah.
            I also really hope Jack is still alive. How disappointing would this show be to know the mother was so broken hearted when her husband, father to her children has died and mother dearest moved on to his best friend. My hopes, he’s alive and they just fell apart and divorced. From what I see yes, Jack has drinking issues. But, Rebecca comes across..she has to be right, everything he way or no way, and everybody do what I want. Not a fan of Rebecca. (still want her on the show but don’t like her character)

          • Lala says:

            @Charlotte Wow you are a very passive bully!! I have read through comments all the comments and you are the first person I’ve seen to constantly express how fat the characters of Kate & Toby are & your disapproval !! FFS If you have a problem with it then don’t watch the show. Stop trying to be all polite about it when actually you being a total B! When you mention stomach stapling so are you suggesting the the actual actors staple their stomachs so that their TV characters can lose weight. Gosh some people are so freakin entitled!!

          • Charlotte says:

            @Lala, you sound very angry. Calling me a “B” yet, I’m the bully? Lol
            As for the actress “Kate” she is very big and that much weight is a strain on the heart. No need to be so aggressive Lala. . Anyone who has been in a cardiologists office has seen the pictures. ie, woman with a huge stomach is at risk of heart problems. To act like it’s ok to be obese and laugh it off is not doing anyone any favors.

        • lanna says:

          Have we’ve been watching the same show? They’ve shown Kate and Toby addressing their weight. They’ve been to the over eater classes, been eating right, and we’ve seen them work out. What more can they do?

      • Lala says:

        Thank you very much Kevstar…I don’t get all this hate for Toby, Kate could learn a thing or 2 from him. He is overweight but he is happy and confident in who he is. This was my least fav epi for Kate, her behavior was borderline clinical crazy this epi. Toby was right to be upset. All Toby does is try to prop her up and make her feel good and make her realize she’s worth loving. I get that it’s only 4th epi but it gets exhausting…I hope as the season goes on they can have a normal rship that doesn’t revolve around Kate’s weight.

        • So here’s the thing…
          Kate isn’t just fat, she has been fat her whole life. She has grown fighting with her own weight, unsure why she is not liked they way she is, certain she has to please anyone else to have some kind of interest, and always doubting if someone could be interested in her when the mot part o the wold sees her as a bag of food.
          Kate has a problem. We saw that she is the one most invested in losing weight, wanting to workout and eat as little as possible, and as healthy as she can… But she doesn’t lose her weight, while Toby already lost it without even trying so hard.
          Her whole life HAS been about weight. From the moment her mom says she should wear a t-shirt or eat blah cereal. She has grown feeling that she was being punished for being fat, she probably had her rebellion phase and tried to accept her weight, or not care about it, only to be attacked by other people. So now, even though she has some talent, and she could do something about her life beyond being his brother’s assistant, she only cares about losing the weight.
          The one thing people don’t understand is that saying “you need to lose weight, or you wont be happy” really doesn’t help people. When you’re fat and people start to call you names, or look at you like you’re in the wrong place you feel rejected and alone, which does lead to severe depression, which leads a person to seek comfort in something, more often then not the easiest way to get comfort is eating sweets, or other foods that change the chemical balance in your body to make you feel satisfied and happy for a short time, and then you get more weight, an you get even more depressed and fall back on eating.
          Kate might look ok, but she’s actualliy battling a looooooooooong depression along with the weight. Toby was depressed and bounced back, and he knows that only focusing on the problem won’t solve it. He’s trying to make her passionate about something else, make her find something to aim for, so she can start to be happy, even if she doesn’t get thin. But right now Kate is locked up oh her own mind, and is all what she sees, hear, talk. Her weight has been the one constant in her life, in a way, it has been there, forever, it might have been her refuge when she was afraid of doing something (she could just blame on her weight) it might have been her biggest obstacle, but it has been there for years, and her issues won’t disappear fast, and even though it might look like the show is trying to bang our heads with her weight, or suggest that she has nothing, or is nothing, beyond her weight… Well, for Kate, that is the truth, so that’s the history the writers are telling. This young woman thinks her life is all about her weight, that no matter what she does, it will never change, till she finds this one guy that, despite her battles and issues is trying his best to crack her vision and make her realise life can be a lot more than just this uphill battle with the scale.
          So you have one choice, you get along for the ride, even if it’s not fun, or easy, and it feels very annoying, or you let go of the show. But Kate history is one of the hardests and more honestly told on this show, even if it feels very uncomfortable.

    • bigdede says:

      I agree. I was sick of him by the second episode.

    • lanna says:

      I love Toby, I like how he appreciates Kate and gives her self-confidence. Toby and Kate are good for each other,

  6. Michelle says:

    Am I the only one who finds Toby manipulative? I’ve felt it little by little each episode, but it seemed really apparent in this one. I don’t trust him.

    • lanna says:

      No, there are a few other who say he’s manipulative, but I for one haven’t seen it. What’s manipulative about wanting his girlfriend to put herself first rather than her brother. What’s manipulative about telling your girlfriend she is beautiful and talented? I’ll be the first one to attack him as soon as I see him doing something terrible to Kat. So far, I haven’t seen that,

  7. kevstar69 says:

    I think Rebecca and Jack don’t realize that just because Kevin is thin and white, he might have “issues”, too.
    The Real Housewives franchise, save for Atlanta, is all about the issues of pretty, thin and white people.

  8. Ben says:

    That episode was AMAZING. It felt like I just watched a film? I love the family dynamic, I love how Kevin is realising how he’s going to have to work hard to transition to theatre, how Kate and Toby have to deal with the fact that Toby genuinely does want to be with Kate, and her insecurities aren’t going to change that. What is going to happen with his ex now? I loved Randall and William, their conversations about how different their upbringings were, yet how they still have to deal with the same racism, that is powerful stuff to hear as the audience and to deal with as characters. Rebecca being so defensive of her son, and swallowing her pride to admit she did need help raising a black son. How Jack deals with his children? I mean look at the way he talks to them as though they deserve his respect and the time/effort to try and be the best dad he can be. There was so much in this episode and the promo for next week has me excited.

  9. Zu says:

    Yeah just a note. No need to qualify the walking while black note with the unfamiliar tag in brackets …

    The point is if he was walking while white (and unfamiliar) hit would have been highly unlikely he would have been carded ….

    Besides that great review and I totally loved the episode. I actually feel for Kevin …. its like hes the middle child here .. oft ignored and im sure was they got older it got even harder.

    Glad fhey showed it too since I was beginning to feel like he was a slightly more underdeveloped. Excited to see him and Randall interact more!

    The only story I think needs more heavy lifting and nuance is Kates now… i think the show needs to make sure they dont paint Kates weight issues with the “we all have problems” brush. And specifially would like to see a lens that discusses the gender/weight challenges and that its intersectional and the reality is – society is much harder on her then Toby. I also would love to learn more about Kate as person and independant of Toby – like she has no friends at all?

    Loved the William /Randall convo about race and his insecurity about raising his kids it was very emotional.

    Mandy Moore is also still awesome so happily surprised aboht her. Agreed Kates comment re tee shirt made me cringe… but it also made me feel like the parents are human and can make mistakes . Im reallly wondering what happened to the dad now ! Did she have an affair and he left her ? Did he die? Did he remarry?

    Another great episode!

  10. MiaB says:

    My favorite part of the episode was the tiniest moment, when Jack gave Kate the “magic t-shirt” and she decided she wanted to look like a princess when she put it on. The hurt on his face, that his baby girl didn’t always feel like a princess, oh it gave me the feels. Great job, Milo.

    • dan says:

      I like Milo in this role, but his voice bothers me. Is he speaking with a Southern accent? I know that Milo has been around for years and I understand he is from California, so I can’t figure out why this character seems to speak with a Southern accent or if that is Milo’s natural voice. Other than that nit-picky item, I really like him as Jack and I think he has great chemistry with Mandy Moore (who is terrific!).

      • Flash says:

        Milo has always had a Ryan Gosling affectation–sounding as if he’s from Brooklyn–both on screen and off. Some of it comes from being often cast as a New Yorker and/or Italian-American character, but even when he’s not he speaks with that affectation. Not Southern at all.

      • Marcie says:

        It might be the bit of paralysis he has in the left corner of his mouth.

  11. Nero tTVfiddler says:

    Once again, nice work Kimberly on the recap. :) I agree with other posts here… the ‘Everybody Loves Manny’ angle is very funny and charming. I really like the angle the writers have chosen here with Kevin – he is somewhat ashamed of the role and Manny show, but that show opens doors for him that he didn’t expect to find. ‘The blessing and the curse.’
    This is Us is going to be a very special series for 2016-17… it keeps building on the demo (I just read Matt’s overnight ratings recap of the Tuesday shows), and that is pure gold for a television series.
    The Rebecca character is a challenging character to like and understand, but key to the series. People do the best they can, they make decisions and choices, and sometimes, in hindsight, they would like a ‘do-over.’ There are no do-overs in life, and Rebecca (the wonderful Mandy Moore) will get a chance to work that theory this season.

  12. Jenna says:

    They need to develop Kate’s character as more than just “hey I’m fat”. It’s all she thinks/talks about, and while I think the actress is doing the best she can with the role, I find the character to be insufferable and suchhhh a cliche. Ugh.

    • lanna says:

      I don’t find Kate annoying, and seeing that the show is just starting, I would say all their characters are being developed. Right now, Kate’s issue is her weight, she feels unattractive and less confident because of it. Having been there, I can understand the way she feels. I would find it unrealistic if she didn’t focus on that. I’m sure as the episodes continue, will discover more about Kate and the rest of the characters.

    • Anna says:

      It will likely come with time, but I think it’s the main thing on her mind right now, especially since she’s just decided to do this major lifestyle change.

  13. dman6015 says:

    The “Mom at the Pool” becomes friends with the family, as evidenced by the picture that Randall has in his house. We know from last week that Jack and Rebecca aren’t together in the present-day timeline. So, did he and the “Mom at the Pool” hook up? Probably not. My theory on sober Jack is that he dies in a traffic accident caused by a drunk driver.

  14. Tracy says:

    I can’t believe how much I love this show. But I’m looking forward to seeing what has happened to Jack – has his drinking taken a toll that the family couldn’t overcome?

  15. HAP says:

    Holy crap! What a complex , entertaining and wonderful show.

  16. kmw says:

    Just another great episode. Such a relatable show in so many ways and a great addition to network television. I am already starting to get sad thinking about what happens to Jack and Rebecca

  17. leah1malda says:

    So I know this is picking but why didnt the director or ANYBODY notixe the kid doing the whip/nae nae and the dab in the background when kevin was doing his hand stand for randall…Just so you can check it is minute

  18. abz says:

    The final moment with all the kids lying down on Jack at the pool and the scene with Jack and young Kate brought tears to my eyes. It was just really heartwarming to watch.
    The Kate/Toby storyline feels very Mike & Molly-ish at times. I am still neutral on Toby. I like him and I think he’s a nice guy and well-meaning, but he’s also quite pushy. This relationship has barely been happening for what less than a month. It’s still new. He needs to cool it,
    I’m still not over this Miguel situation from the previous episodes. Partly it’s because I eventually couldn’t stand the actor/character on Castle, and he still sucks here, but I’m really wondering what’s happened to present Jack. I don’t like the idea that he may have cheated on Rebecca and that’s why she left him and ended up with Miguel, but I also hate the idea that he’s dead in the present. I feel like they might do a twist at the end of an upcoming episode, showing him to be alive.

  19. cp1945 says:

    So did Kevin blow off New York and the play? Did he come home just because he couldn’t reach Kate? The answers to these questions will help flesh out this character, who I really want to like but at this point is mainly whiny.

  20. kevstar69 says:

    I love this show, but one thing I don’t get is this. It is obvious Kevin loves his sister and relies on her for emotional support, but if he was on a successful sitcom ( successful enough that he gets recognized on the street), I would think he would pay for her to have weight-loss surgery, and if needed the follow-up surgery to remove excess skin. I often hear of stars who buy their parents houses with their first big paycheck.
    I would think that Kevin would do that to keep his support system happy and healthy.
    Maybe we’ll see that story in the future.

    • JBC says:

      Kevin doesn’t see his twin sister as having a problem. He ACCEPTS her & always has. She accepts him as well, and has always been there for him. They have a phenomenal bond, which I find so endearing. Obese people are judged by their looks, the majority of time, so they develop a mindset like Kate. (Weight loss surgery wasn’t too prevalent in the 80’s and not everyone thinks that is the answer, it may be healthier but still doesn’t deal with the root of the problem).

  21. Maurice says:

    At the pool scene. A kid in the pool playing as an extra did the dab move and no one caught that. Lol. So funny