This Is Us Recap Season 1 Episode 6 Career Days

This Is Us Recap: Paths Not Taken

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

“What if?” is a harsh mistress, but that doesn’t stop several This Is Us characters from sleeping with her this week, anyway.

Randall wonders if he was meant to be a musician, but that pesky getting-adopted thing just got in the way. Kate ponders the possibility that her new boss only hired her as an elaborate scheme to communicate with her overweight teenager. Kevin, the king of doubt, rings his “Maybe I’m Just Not Good Enough” bell so hard, it takes a funeral (a stranger’s) and a breakdown (Kevin’s) to dampen the clanging. And in the past, Jack envisions a life in which his anachronistically sculpted dad bod is out there building homes for his own company instead of stuck under fluorescent lights in a cubicle all day.

How do all these what if?s affect the Pearson family’s general happiness, in both the past and present? Read on for the highlights of “Career Days.”

THE SAME, BUT DIFFERENT | In the past, Jack comes home from the desk job he took to make a little more money for the family, and the kids all yip for his attention. But it’s Rebecca who actually nabs it when she shows him Randall’s totally average report card and note from his school, which wants a meeting ASAP.

Turns out, Randall’s test scores are through the roof, and the discrepancy with his grades is likely because he’s bored. A school administrator suggests a private school where he’ll be more challenged, but Jack immediately balks on the grounds that the school is even whiter than the public one he’s in now — and at the new place, he won’t have Kevin and Kate there to look out for him.

JACK WISES UP | But Yvette, the mom from the pool a few episode ago, who is now a friend of the family, points out that Jack is treating Randall differently because he’s black; after all, he wouldn’t think twice about sending a white kid to the very white private school if that kid were exceptionally bright. So when Jack spends a little alone time with Randall at the office and witnesses his son’s mathematical genius firsthand, he questions why the boy doesn’t want to own up to his smarts. “I don’t want to be different from them,” Randall says in tears… and he’s referring to his brother and sister.

Jack then gives a very touching monologue about how, even though he and Rebecca have tried to treat all the kids equally, they’re not the same — and that’s a good thing. “I love you as much as the human heart can, kiddo. You are an exceptional young man,” he says, and they hug. No, YOU’RE moved by a mustachioed dad’s tender words to his child!

So Randall starts attending the new school, and Jack puts aside his dreams of opening his own homebuilding company (Big Three Homes, awww) and instead takes a promotion Miguel offers.

This Is Us Recap Season 1 Episode 6KATE DON’T PLAY THAT | Kate gets a job as an event planner/personal assistant for a woman named Marin (oh hi, Jami Gertz!), but soon realizes that the woman partly hired her because she thinks Kate can somehow get through to her overweight daughter, Gemma. It doesn’t really work. And after Kate kicks the insolent girl out of her car while chauffeuring her to a friend’s house, it looks like maybe that’s the end of this gig (at which, by the way, Kate excels).

But Marin apologizes, and Kate stays — though she dumps the personal assistant duties. On her way out of the house, Kate lets Gemma know that she, too, has a gorgeous and thin mom with whom she’s compared herself her entire life “and now we barely talk and it sucks.” Using herself as a cautionary tale, Kate advises the brat to cut her mom a break.

LETTING IT ALL OUT | In rehearsals in New York, Kevin is having a really hard time mustering up the appropriate amount of sadness for the play’s emotional climax. So Olivia tricks him into attending a stranger’s memorial service with her.

Kevin is irked by the ruse (as well he should be; when Olivia lies to the widow about how they knew her husband, I hate her a little), but eventually he finds himself sharing a moment with the dead man’s wife in her kitchen. They go from talking about the deceased’s love of pickles (some of which Kevin eats) to The Manny sobbing on her shoulder after he tells her that he destroyed all the models he made with his dad and how the necklace he wears is “all I have now. I can’t take it off now.” (Side note: I love Kevin’s vague “It was a long time ago” when the grieving Grace asks when Jack died. Nice try, lady! Go back to theorizing on Twitter like the rest of us!)

When Olivia finds him later in a bedroom, he’s angry that she crashed the sad occasion. In turn, she’s happy that he’s finally getting in touch with some long walled-off feelings. “Why do you push that all away?” she asks, and apparently she likes his answer, given the way she takes swift advantage of his lips like they’re a Bed, Bath & Beyond 20 percent off coupon on the last day of eligibility. “Sorry I have picklemouth,” he mumbles as they roll onto the coat-covered bed. Ha!

But slow your emotional roll, Kev: At the next rehearsal, Olivia tells him that they’re done, and he should use those emotions to fuel his dramatic work. And, scene!

SING IT PROUD | Oh Randall. I want to be on board with your choice to sing a song at your daughter’s Career Day, but honey… you don’t play the piano. Or have any discernible musical talent. And your sense seems to be in short supply this week, as well. But here are the things I do love about Randall’s storyline this week: his description of what a “weather trader” does (“It’s like licking a piece of pizza so that nobody will eat it later!”); Beth’s advice to “look away” when he drops his boring Career Day speech in favor of a cringe-worthy ballad, sung entirely in his head voice; the way he jumps at both William’s approval and offer to teach him piano; his decision to instead take piano lessons from someone else, because his fledgling relationship with his biodad doesn’t need the complication of a student/teacher dynamic; and the way he and Beth tease and taunt each other in the most loving of ways (though I love that every week).

The best moment is when proud math geek Randall announces to his family at breakfast, “My dad put on a tie every day because he had to. I put one on every day because I want to.” Randall, c’mere. I wanna give you and your little midlife crisis a big hug!

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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58 Comments
  1. John Smith says:

    what was the piano song at the very end?

  2. Drew says:

    No one at the memorial service recognized The Manny?

  3. Cece says:

    Love, love, love this show! ❤️❤️❤️Nothing like it on TV!!!

    • Benington says:

      AGREE,AGREE,AGREE. Best show on television!!! and my typical t.v fare is mostly the darker shows. It just abounds with humanity and heart.

  4. Alyse says:

    The interview I read said that Jack died when the big three where 15

    • Lauren says:

      I read this too.

    • Claire says:

      I saw that, too.

    • Sissy says:

      It seemed to me that when the widow said her son was fifteen was when Kevin started feeling the emotions he had pushed down for so very long. I figured that was when Jack died; when the kids were fifteen. Did not read the article you mentioned.

    • Kelly says:

      I also didn’t read that interview. But didn’t Kate mention in a previous episode that she watched a Steelers game with her father in 2006? If the kids are 36 today, then she would be 26 at that time. Plus, I read another article which mentioned Milo Ventimiglia shooting a scene with his boys as teenagers. I think that they were older when he died.

  5. I love everything about this show.

  6. Chelsey says:

    I really like this show but hate that Jack is dead it takes away alot.
    Whatever happen to growing old together. I mean we know he’s dead and his “loving” wife ends up with his best friend. Really disappointing.

    • Anna says:

      I don’t understand comments like these. It was implied pretty heavily in the very first episode that Jack was dead (every character referred to him in the past tense, for heaven’s sake). What does confirming that death in the present take away? Not everyone grows old with their spouse. That’s life.

      • Chelsey says:

        Anna, sometimes in life people like to just watch TV show and smile/laugh. Obviously has ups and downs.
        BUT, in the end we want a “happy ending”.
        We now know Jack is dead, He will not grow old with his wife, he won’t play with his grandchildren, he won’t see his kids living their dreams/wishes come true.
        I get it’s a TV show.
        But, like I said..it’s just nice to watch a show with a “Happy Ending”
        It’s not going to happen with this show.

        • I think whats so great about this show is that it’s about reality, not fairytale ideals. It’s very emotional but never manipulative. The writers have created very complex characters in very real circumstances. In real life, we don’t always get happy endings but this show is about characters embracing that fact. Life can be disappointing, confusing but also wonderful and this is a show that isn’t afraid to be dark if that rings true. If you want happy endings, watch a disney film but this show is about life in all it’s glory and pain.It was made very clear since day 1 that this show isn’t afraid to reflect reality no matter how painful that may be.

        • Anna says:

          I get that, but this show never purported itself to be an unrealistic fluff show. It was super real from day one – everything from having Randall yelling at his biological father for abandoning him at birth upon meeting him for the first time to one of Rebecca and Jack’s biological triplets dying.

          If you wanted a “happy ending” fluffy story to invest in, I’m sorry, but this was never the show for you.

          • Chelsey says:

            Wow, you’re kinda rude. Instead of discussing it you just dismiss as if you’re right. If someone has a different opinion it doesn’t matter.
            Guess this show and people like you are not the show for me.
            Enjoy your 2 seasons.

          • Michelle R. says:

            FWIW, I don’t see your post as rude.

          • herman1959 says:

            I think that based on the title, This Is Us, the show is about what they are REALLY like, not want they should be like. Try to relax and enjoy.

          • Anna says:

            How am I rude for pointing out that this show has never been a “happy endings” show? I never said your opinion didn’t matter – I said I don’t understand how it was formed when the show has been super real from day one. If you want to get offended by people pointing out facts, that’s your choice.

          • Lizzie says:

            I would have liked a happy ending, and it does not mean that it would be a fluffy story. Just a little less pain and sadness in the world.

        • mary says:

          Unfortunately, like life that doesn’t always happen. There’s an article talking to Ken Olin, & they basically ask about the “deaths”. He says the show is like life, people you love are going to die at some time-fathers, grandparents, etc. That’s part of what the show is about. But it also is showing that while Jack may have died while they were teenagers, he definitely left an imprint. As for Miguel, we need to wait & see. It could have been over a decade before they married. They both loved Jack for a reason. That could naturally bring them together.

        • Michelle R. says:

          Didn’t someone once say that whether or not a story ends happily depends on where you end the story? Jack died young, but everyone dies eventually. See: Six Feet Under

          I’m sad we won’t see him interact with his kids and grandkids, but I think it really is about Kevin’s painting analogy. Jack is there, always present, a part of both the bigger canvas and his children’s’ personal canvases.

  7. Chris says:

    Who is Erin? I thought the actress character’s name was Olivia?

    • Colleen says:

      Yep, it is Olivia. Seems like the writer of this article got the character name from IMDB, because it lists the name as Erin there too. This article needs to be edited.

  8. dan says:

    As the father of three, my favorite scene was Jack talking to Randall about how being different is OK and he should be proud to be smart. That may have been the most powerful scene of the series so far for me. Milo and the young actor who played Randall were terrific!

    • Anna says:

      That scene had me in tears. Poor little Randall already felt different enough, and for his dad to let him know that being different/being yourself is important and won’t take away from how loved he is really got me. Beautiful scene.

  9. GJ says:

    Kevin’s “a long time ago” seemed like it was dubbed at a later time. Like the original scene had Kevin saying exactly when it was.

    I have a feeling his dad died when Kevin was 15 due to how he reacted when the widow talked about her 15-yr-old son.

  10. kevstar69 says:

    I think I like Kate a little MORE now that she threw the brat out of the car.
    Just because we are the same, I won’t hesitate to put you in your place. Love that!
    And I hate Erin a little more for doing that to my namesake, Kevin.
    BTW, he was the best Adam on Y & R.

  11. Dave says:

    And in the past, Jack envisions a life in which his anachronistically sculpted dad bod
    *
    What does that mean?

    • Carol C says:

      That 36 years ago, men didn’t aim for hunky 6-pack abs (except for Mr. Universe types).

      • Dave says:

        Ty. What an interesting notion. It’s probably true working out wasn’t as big as it is today but it’s not like Milo is some huge guy or anything.

  12. Linda says:

    I am so upset Jack is dead because he is the best eye candy on the show and his sensitive scenes melt us. I’m pleading with the writers: PLEASE do a plot twist and have him return from years of amnesia and learn that Kate got the wrong ashes? lol

    • drhenning says:

      Jack is dead in the current time in the show but will be around as long as the show is on. It’s a tough task for a series to mix up time like they do for a long run. I suspect this show has a limited run prospect unless after a few years all their time parts are complete and they just forward. The interesting thing about this show is the time mix.

  13. Kelly says:

    I love Jack. He is such a great dad. I wonder if they only show Jack getting these great parenting moments because he’s deceased and now the kids idolize him. It makes me worry for future Rebecca and adult kids moments to come.

    • Allison says:

      I hope I’m wrong but I have a strong suspicion we are going to see that Randall is the only one of the 3 Rebecca is close to as adults. We already know that she and Kate have a very strained relationship and barely talk and something tells me her relationship with Kevin isn’t much better. We saw that she struggled to bond with Randall as a new born and I wonder if subconsciously that caused her to focus a little more, worry a little more, try a little harder with him to make up for that. We saw Kevin pointing out to his parents that they focus on the other 2 kids and their “issues” so I won’t be surprised if Kevin grew up resenting both of his parents. If Jack really did die when the kids were young teenagers that resentment would fall even more at Rebecca’s feet. Now that Kevin is living on the East Coast again it will be interesting how long we go before he and Rebecca have a scene together. The longer it goes the more likely I think it is that they don’t have a great relationship.

      • herman1959 says:

        A lot of parents become closer to their adult children when the children become parents themselves. The birth of grandchildren provides a way to reconnect, and Randall (as far as we know) is the only one with children.

    • mary says:

      You should read the interview with Ken Olin. It explains what they are trying to show when it comes to the parenting aspect of it.

  14. Sam says:

    This has to be one of the juiciest roles Justin Hartley has ever had. I’m loving him more and more. He’s had very comedic and quirky roles but it makes me so happy to see him in a more serious and dramatic role.

  15. Jamie says:

    The look on little Kate’s face when her dad called her mom “tiny” after her ice cream comment broke my heart. People have complained that they talk about Kate’s weight issues too much, but moments like this really drive home how pervasive the topic is to your life when you aren’t comfortable with your weight. Even as a kid.

    Also, the scenes between little Randall and Jack were magnificent. The scene at Jack’s office was beyond wonderful, but the end when little Randall turns back to Jack at the new school and straightens his tie with a big smile on his face killed me! And then big Randall in the next scene talks about how proud he is to wear a tie every day – that’s some great parenting! His kid went from wanting so badly not to be different to being openly proud of that difference (even with a little mid-life crisis thrown in there). That’s beautiful.

  16. HAP says:

    Absolutely the best show currently on network television.

    • Lizzie says:

      I love it, yet the emotional sucker punch to the gut each week, sometimes several times in each episode, is kind of addictively difficult to take.

  17. A fan of TV says:

    Ugh, Miguel. I am so sick of this man. I feel like we’re being prepped to discover that he’s the guy who got Jack killed somehow. In fact I hope we do, because I have no idea what else he is truly good for.

  18. Sam says:

    This is absolutely my favorite show of the past couple of years. Everyone is doing such a beautiful job realizing their characters. The scene with young Randall and Jack was just beautifully written. Kevin breaking down about his dad, (ooooh Justin Hartley, I see you) wonderful, and Kate kicking out that brat, triumphant. Just adore this show.

  19. kmw says:

    Another strong episode. I loved the story of Jack and how he dealt with what he wanted to do as opposed to what he had to do

  20. My says:

    I really enjoy this show. I don’t mind the jumping back and forth between time periods as I do on other shows. BTW, BB&B 20% coupons don’t expire. :-)

  21. april-ann says:

    Oh hi, Jami Gertz, indeed! She even delivered a toilet paper shout out. Something about toilet paper on someone’s head, I wasn’t really paying attention until she said that. Then I remembered …”I haven’t got a square to spare. There’s not a square to spare.” Epic. Just epic.

  22. I have a question. So when Kate had to climb the giant set of stairs to get Jami Gertz’s house… does she have to do that every day now?? or was that just based on where she was coming from?

  23. Linda says:

    My question is why did they have to send Randall to a private school? Couldn’t he have just skipped a grade?

  24. kay kay says:

    “…treating Randall differently because he’s black; after all, he wouldn’t think twice about sending a white kid to the very white private school if that kid were exceptionally bright.”, i disagree with your conclusion here because that was not my take of that scene.Jack was primarily more concerned with keeping the kids same (together)…and money of course! He would have felt the same way (methinks) if same situation happened with the other son.
    But then i could be wrong, and only because i just flow with a story and hardly ever let color to color my thoughts, until usually someone else insinuates it to me or i read about the different interpretation. Anyway, i like my assessment better!An exceptional show.