This Is Us Recap Season 1 Episode 13

This Is Us Recap: As You Wish

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

This Is Us routinely pokes a thorny branch into memories from my childhood I’ve not thought about in years, and after 11 episodes, I’ve come to expect the bittersweet twinge that accompanies these intrusions. But for the first time in the NBC series’ short run, this week’s episode did not make me misty and/or sad and/or a pile of sniffling sobs. Two possible explanations:

* The drama is still pulling back on the tear-jerking slingshot, story-wise, and we’re gonna get walloped in the next new episode. (Jack’s funeral, anyone?)

* This Is Us has broken me, emotionally, on some fundamental level.

Let’s go over the highlights of “Three Sentences,” then you be the judge.

INDUBITABLY! | A montage of home-movie footage shows us a bunch of celebrations of the Big Three’s (and Jack’s) birthdays: cake, pin the tail on the donkey, paper hats, all that good stuff. But on the eve of their 10th birthday, Kevin and Kate announce that they no longer want a joint bash: He wants a Princess Bride party, Kate wants a Madonna party, and Randall… doesn’t care much either way.

So the Pearsons go about preparing for three simultaneous parties, all thrown at the house. And Jack thinks this is the perfect time to bring up the idea of having another kid. Rebecca gently tells him he’s insane, that she’s done having children — oh, and they’re not getting a dog, either.

THE PARTY LINE | On the day of the party, everything’s going well until Jack and Rebecca realize that there’s almost no one at Randall’s party. Not that Randall minds, though. “I have three really good friends” and they’re all in attendance, he reassures his parents, who look horrified, then pleased that they raised such a smart, self-assured kid.

And off of that parenting win (I guess?), Rebecca reconsiders and tells Jack that “maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to shape another little incredible person.” He’s delighted… until he tries to cheer up Kate, whose friends have all migrated to Kevin’s party, to no avail. Though the bit about Jack lifting her spirits by having her teach him to vogue is so dorkily cute. (And believe me, college-age Kim just took a time machine, read that sentence, rolled her eyes and scoffed in disgust before hopping back in the time machine to make sure she’ll catch that Lilith Fair concert she’s been looking forward to.)

When the parties are wrapped, Jack and Rebecca collapse on their bed and agree that they have nowhere near the energy necessary to raise three pre-teens and an infant. And when they hear the kids making noise in the dining room, they come downstairs and join in a birthday after-party that involves throwing wrapping paper and eating leftover cake.

CAMPING IT UP | In the present, Kate calls off her gastric bypass — being around for Toby’s heart operation freaked her out a bit — and “I just don’t think it’s the right time for surgery,” she tells the doctor, who then suggests an alternative: “an alternative weight-loss experience.” Or, as Kate surmises, “A fat camp?”

This Is Us Recap Season 1 Episode 13But Toby is on board, and Kate decides that she’s going to have a Biggest Loser-type lifestyle change, complete with a skinny jerk of a trainer and lots of puking during workouts. Imagine her surprise when she gets to the camp and it’s all yoga and meditation and feeeeeeeelings and she gets hit on within five minutes of her arrival.

“It feels like a cult, or Whole Foods,” she says to Kevin during a phone call. And for the first day or so, she’s not into any of the hikes or classes or anything. But when the guy who hit on her, whose name is Duke, is kind of a jerk to her and calls her a quitter, she tries again. And in a group class that involves beating yoga mats with sticks, she taps into the anger and hurt that she’s been holding inside for quite some time. As Kate tears up, we see brief flashbacks to Jack’s funeral, when the kids were teens.

Later, she thanks Duke for kicking her butt. He’s still rather gruff, but he brazenly tells her she’s sexy and that they’re going to have their own “This one time, at fat camp?” story to tell by the time he’s through with her. She disagrees… but does she really?

TAKE YOUR FATHER TO WORK DAY | Though he’s under pressure at work, Randall can’t say no when a revitalized William — who feels a ton better now that he’s no longer undergoing chemotherapy — shows up at the office with a request for his son to join him for the afternoon. So they buy sunglasses, hunt down a specific kind of egg cream and drive around in a parking lot, all so William can live out a childhood fantasy of being a cool cat. It’s sweet.

SOPHIE’S CHOICE | Tasked by Kate with keeping Toby company while he’s medically grounded in New York, Kevin takes his future brother-in-law to a bar full of pretty people. “You see those two women? They look like Westworld hosts,” Toby quips. But all Kev wants to talk about is his Sloane-Olivia problem, which prompts Toby to give him lessons in romantic gestures, aka How Those Who Are Not Straight Outta an Abercrombie Catalogue Woo Women.

Toby advises Kev to pick a girl, then imagine that he’s only got “one shot, three sentences. What are those sentences, and who are you saying them to?” he wonders. When Kevin gets clarity, he winds up on the doorstep of… some woman we’ve never seen before. Turns out Kevin was married back in the day, his wife’s name was Sophie and she is a childhood friend of Kate’s and the love of his life, the one for whom he pines above all.

Sophie is less than impressed with Kevin’s big speech on her doorstep, but she reluctantly agrees to meet him to talk. She texts him “Where?” soon after he leaves, which isn’t exactly Pretty Woman‘s Edward climbing the fire escape to fetch Vivian back to his side, but it’s a start.

Now it’s your turn. Are you dreading the next new This Is Us? What did you think of this 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. Mike says:

    My only complaint tonight….fact checking. The year Carrie Underwood won American Idol a female came in 8th. A big show like this should be able to handle small things like fact checking. :)

  2. Sheila says:

    This episode didn’t give me the feels like other weeks. Am I having emotional punch blindness? I thought they were going to tell us how Jack died today. Did I fall asleep and miss it?

    • TV Fanatic says:

      That’s definitely going to be held until the finale, but I think the big reveal was how young the kids were when he died – looked to be the high school versions of the three.

      • Gospino says:

        A previous episode said that Jack died when the kids were 15. Hardly a big reveal if it’s something we already know.

    • jimmyu says:

      Nope, they just showed his funeral. Though we did learn the approximate time era in which he died (mid 90’s judging by how old the kids were.)

      • Billy Bob Johnson says:

        They’ve mentioned a couple of times in past episodes that he died when the kids were 15, so that would be 1995, and he’d have been 51.

  3. Jodi says:

    I hated tonight. I love the show, and maybe liked tonight a little bit. But they’ve always left out the big question of Jack’s death – the “how long ago?” question and now that they’ve answered it, it makes it more real.
    Now the only question is “how?” and I’m definitely not ready for that yet.

    • catlover04 says:

      I just hope they don’t do Jack’s death and funeral in the past in the same episode with Williams death present day. That just might be too much for me.

  4. John036 says:

    I have this fear that Milo is going to leave this show after this season because Jack’s death is definitely going to occur in season one, and the rest of the flashbacks will be post-Jack’s death. :/

    • Steven says:

      The way this show plays with linear time that’s not going to happen. I’m waiting for an episode taking place in the future like how Lost messed with everyone!

      • Normandy says:

        There was one brief scene from the future in an episode where Randall was packing up William’s things from his room after he had passed away. Nothing to suggest how far into the future though.

        • Redd77 says:

          I thought I was imagining things when i saw that episode. I cried as if that was his last appearance on the show. Then this next episode he was there.

          • NormalOne says:

            He was packing up William’s stuff to move it to his (Randall) house. It happened in the present, that’s what lead to him finding out his mother knew about William and the confrontation at Thanksgiving.

          • MCal11212 says:

            NormalOne, no – that was in the Thanksgiving episode and is different. The scene PP is talking about was definitely from a prior episode showing Randall in his girls’ bedroom packing up William’s things. There were several interviews with the creators discussing this was in fact related to William’s eventual death, just not confirming when in the timeline it will happen.

        • Steven says:

          Yeah, I remember that. I’m waiting for something bigger.

  5. Foxy says:

    I thought we already knew that Jack died when they were 15… or did i just imagined it?

    • Leah says:

      yea, I think that was when Kate was telling Toby about the last time she watched the Superbowl with her dad.

    • dan says:

      I also thought we got a hint that Jack died when the kids were in the 15-17 range (high school). We know Jack was at the high school football game where the boys fought, and then there was the funeral when Kevin made a comment to either the widow or Olivia about being near the same age as the dead guy’s son when his father died (I may not be remembering this exactly right, but I know there was some inference by Kevin that the kids were in their teens when Jack died).

  6. Iggy says:

    Yes when Kevin went to a shiva call
    he told the kid his father died at 15

  7. Pam says:

    Kim, how did you manage to miss in your recap that adorable moment when Kevin tells his parents that he can’t stop paying attention to Sophie because he loves her? That one got me!

  8. bigdede says:

    So Kevin’s wife is Kate’s friend from the birthday party. I’m so glad neither of those two vapid annoying boring women from the play are his love interest. Kevin’s storyline was getting really boring. LOVE LOVE LOVE seeing William so full of life and trying on those sunglasses. Randall’s expressions made the scenes even cuter. I so hope Duke takes Kate away from Toby. Kate needs someone like Duke. I loved when Kate told him she had a fiance and Duke was like we’ll see about that. That was so smooth. Toby would’ve made some stupid joke. I wish they would’ve changed the time when Jack dies. I want to see Milo with some gray in his hair. They should’ve switched it to when the Big Three graduate from college. Then they would be starting life on their own without their dad.

    • queensgirl says:

      Your “smooth” is my “obnoxious.”

    • Ann says:

      I thought it was just me that hated Kevin’s story line With the two women from the Play. I love the show so much, that I was trying to make myself try and understand what the writers want us to get from his relationship with these women that are both annoying and when he is with either of them he is annoying as well..however, I was waiting for his Ex wife to open the door wider and reveal a twelve year old Son. It just had a Forrest Gump type feel.

      • Tee says:

        You never know. That might have been the reason why she didn’t let him in. Maybe she’s agreeable to meeting him somewhere because she can make plans and have someone watch her child.

    • jj says:

      Jack was 36 when the kids were born. he died when the kids are teens, meaning Jack would be in his early 50s. Gray hair is definitely likely for a man in his 50s

      • Billy Bob Johnson says:

        He died when they were 15, so that would be 1995, and he’d be 51. So, yes, there should be some gray at the temples, at least. That is, unless Jack is vain and colors his hair.

  9. queensgirl says:


    -I really hope that Kate won’t get involved with Di…I mean, Duke.
    Ugh! He makes Toby look meek.

    -How can Kevin have married the woman who so hurt Kate? At least maybe her re-emergence in Kevin’s life means that Olivia is gone for good. (Please let Olivia be gone for good.)

    -I wasn’t too pleased with adult Randall. Your father is dying, and you’re more concerned about getting ahead at work than with spending time with him? As always, though, I loved child Randall.

    • Mo says:

      See, his reaction made complete sense to me. My best friend in the world died a few months ago and it was so hard to be there at the end when she kept talking about not being there because I wasn’t ready to face it. I WAS there and engaged in those conversations, but I would have rather been folding clothes or watching paint dry than facing the reality of her not being there. It felt unbearable then and the reality is far worse. So, his reaction is consistent with what lots of families of cancer patients actually want to do. Add the complicated nature of their relationship and I can’t even fathom how much more difficult it is.

    • catlover04 says:

      Was not a fan of Duke. Agree with you there. Glad Olivia is gone. I did like Sloane though. But Sophie. Hopefully by the time they married, Kate and Sophie had patched things up. That was hard to watch though, Kate alone at her party while all her friends had gravitated to Kevin’s. Very insensitive of Kevin, for sure. As for Randall, I am not prepared to be so hard on him. He has to work. This is a project he was expecting to have, it sounded like, not that he was expecting to fight for. But if he had really wanted to push it, he would not have gone out with William during his work day when he needed to be working on this project. And he wouldn’t have taken all the time to understand what the outing with William was all about and all the time to help him achieve this “bucket list” goal of his to drive around town in his cool car with his favorite drink listening to his favorite song. :-}} I imagine we will find that Randall will miss out on this project and I’m sure we will find he doesn’t mind at all.

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  11. Stacy Smith says:

    Curious…didn’t Jack turn 36 the day the big 3 were born…? So he was 46 in tonight’s episode?

    • dan says:

      The twins and Randall were celebrating their 36th birthday in the pilot episode, but I don’t think they ever told us how old Jack was on the day they were born (maybe I missed it). I’d have a hard time believing he was supposed to be 36 on the day they were born.

  12. Michelle says:

    Two things: Toby’s “master race” comment REALLY makes me wish he hadn’t survived (shame on the writers for that, too), and did we briefly see a younger sister at Jack’s funeral, or was that meant to be Kate?

  13. kn1231 says:

    Wow, little Randall gets me every time. That scene with him and Rebecca when he had to go pee made me cry. This child is absolutely perfect! Also the Jack and Kate scenes got me to. Does a father this perfect actually exist in the real world?!?
    As usual, I loved William and Randall together. When William dies, I feel like that may hit me harder than Jack dying.
    Finally, I was definitely on the Olivia bandwagon but I was very happy that Kevin choose neither she or Sloane. I am definitely interested in seeing the story between him and Sophie develop. And with what they showed us from the b-day party, I feel like Kate is not going to be impressed by this reunion.

    • Cupcake says:

      I was just on another site where u made the same comment and i missed scene u are referring to and now I feel terrible. you make it sound like such a touching scene. darn it! Maybe I can find it on you tube

    • Cathy c says:

      Jack makes me cry every time because he reminds me so much of my father. In fact I looked up the writers to make sure I never met because the Superbowl story like was literally ripped from my life. I had not been watching the show until after that one aired and I only watch then because a friend called and told me about that set up and i needed to see for myself. As for “perfect” my dad had his faults, mostly being too much of a dreamer and having unrealistic plans for the future. Jack has his as well.

  14. Walkie says:

    The flashback scenes with Mandy Moore are by far the least interesting in the show. It just doesn’t work.

  15. Paul says:

    1. How does/did he know Sophie isn’t re-married and happened to still live nearby?
    2. How does she know his number and why would she still have it after all these years?
    3. Was Princess Bride really a big deal for kids in 1990? I thought it gained traction years later.
    4. Young Randall is totally acing his role. He has all the Adult Randall mannerisms and delivery down pat.

    • Cupcake says:

      agree with all your points

    • Here’s my pure conjecture:

      1. Kate and Sophie are still friends and Kate fills Kevin in on what’s going on in Sophie’s life?

      2. Again, if Sophie and Kate are still friends – perhaps she got it from Kate?

      3. Not certain the point was that the movie was a big deal – more like the story completely fit what young Kevin deemed his love story with Sophie would be. Together as children/teens, until their paths took them in different directions, yet after all their separate struggles they found each other and true love once again.

      4. Young Randall is going to be a star someday…..and I’m thrilled that Sterling K Brown is finally getting recognized for his acting chops! I’ve loved watching him act since Third Watch.

    • I was a kid at this time frame and YES, Princess Bride was a big deal… it was fun and on regular repeat on HBO when it came into rotation.

    • Cathy c says:

      I divorced my first husband in 2000. I still look in on him from time to time on Facebook. I am not pining like Kevin but I start wondering. I know where he lives and that he isn’t married. I don’t know much more. But he and I also didn’t split on bad terms. We just were really young and realized we shouldn’t have gotten married. In this day and age it isn’t shocking that someone, especially someone with his money, would know exactly where someone they wanted to know about was.

    • jj says:

      the most logical answer for question 1 and 2 is mutual friends (or Kate if she’s still friends with Sophie). Hopefully that’s the case, and he didn’t just randomly go see her without knowing if she was remarried or not

    • KP MOM says:

      1) I’ll bet Sophie still talks to Kate so he probably knew she wasn’t remarried. As for where she lived, if you find a good place in NYC, you hang onto it. But who knows, maybe he just Googled her address.
      2) If they have been holding onto these feelings for each other, then I can believe she wouldn’t have deleted his number from her phone, or her from his. But besides that, I have people I barely like still in my phone for the “just in case they ever call me, I’ll know not to answer” moments.
      3) The Princess Bride was the greatest movie. It came out in ’87 so by ’89 which is when this episode took place, it was out on video and I’m pretty sure I watched on repeat. I was about 13 or 14 then but it was a great movie and I still love it today.
      4) Young Randall is awesome.

  16. Andrew Hass says:

    I’m sure we’ll find out how Jack dies before the season is over and maybe even in the season finale.That way it could launch the show into next season.

  17. Alison says:

    I love this show and hope they keep Kate and Toby together and she dosnt mess it up at camp.

  18. ZinniQ says:

    Quite simply, I got fed up with it. Especially seeing flaunting someone so overweight!

  19. As a curvy gal, I’m thrilled to finally see a network character portraying real emotions and “damaged self” that many larger women experience throughout their lives. That being said, at times I think Jack doesn’t always do his best for his little girl… in point, her Madonna’s-in-waiting going over to Kevin’s party. They are 10-year-old girls who are just starting to be interested in boys…..Kevin is charismatic and the group is drawn to him……and, lastly, there was a MOVIE playing. Back in 1990, VCRs were still pretty new and kids were playing “dress-up” less and watching TV more. With Jack trying to make her laugh rather than explaining that it’s okay to merge the parties because everyone was having fun…..her only thought was they left because she is fat.

    Also, if Kate goes anywhere near that Duke, I’m going to be less than thrilled. Toby may not be the answer, but Duke is way worse than Toby.

    • E. D. Boddy says:

      Maybe that’s what she has to find out.

    • JenM says:

      So agree! As someone who has been extremely overweight since childhood, it’s refreshing to see a show portray what that’s actually like in real life. Very rarely is someone severely overweight simply because they like food – there are very often underlying psychological issues that result in people using food to cope in the same way an alcoholic turns to alcohol. If an overweight character makes it to tv, it’s usually just so they can be the butt of a string of fat jokes. I love that this show is showing an overweight person as a real person and exploring her struggles (both as a child and as an adult) instead of treating her as a punchline.

  20. sunshine says:

    Thank heavens for recaps, I thought he was on Olivia’s doorstep and she had changed her appearance again. I thought the ex husband remark was to shoo him away, she was involved with the ex.

  21. Carlos says:

    This article’s writer and some commenters here were not moved that much by this episode but I cried more than in others. I was telling a friend that it may be because of our different life experiences. I lost both my parents (9 and 7 years ago) and it’s harder for me now because I think of all the things that I would want to share with them. Ex. They never met their great-grand children (my sister’s grand kids). I don’t think I’ve ever been so affected by a tv show, but again it depends on where you’re in life and your life story.

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