You probably haven’t forgotten about the Damon family’s troubling job situation. And, as this week’s This Is Us makes abundantly clear, neither has Toby.
We can’t blame ol’ Toblerone for losing his cool during a dinner at Kevin and Madison’s. Because even though we love Kev, his “isn’t it crazy how much money I make?!” thing can wear — especially for Toby, someone who’s just lost his job and has no potential employment on the horizon.
Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, a family dinner at Randall’s house also devolves into raised voices and hurt feelings, as well. But why? And what’s said? Read on for the highlights of “I’ve Got This.”
NEW ROOMIE! | Let’s start in Philly. Beth’s mother, Carol, has been staying with the Pearsons for a while — and Beth can’t wait until she leaves. While Carol’s around, Beth grouses to Randall, the older woman constantly judges her daughter on her parenting and home-keeping skills. The mounting tension comes as no surprise to Randall, who has started working on the back patio in order to steer clear of the drama.
On the night before Carol is supposed to depart, Beth cooks up a huge family meal to show her mother that she is a good wife and mother. “I love a dinner with something to prove,” Randall teases her. But then Carol announces that she’s delayed her train a week, and that throws everything into hyperdrive.
Before we sit down, though, a brief aside. Malik shows up for dinner and asks to talk with Randall alone. Turns out, his ex-girlfriend, Jennifer, is interested in being a part of their daughter, Jannell’s, life. Getting custody of the baby was a huge mess, he recalls, and he knows his parents aren’t going to be happy when they hear about what Jennifer wants. But he also knows that Randall has had some experience in this department, so he’s wondering what the councilman thinks. “It was a big hole for me, not knowing my birth mother,” Randall says, but he quickly acknowledges that all situations are different. That said: “If I had a chance to know my mom, it would’ve saved me a lot of time in therapy.”
So, dinner. Carol criticizes Beth’s cooking. Tess blows up at Beth, who accidentally uses the wrong pronouns to refer to Tess’ friend, Alex. Then it comes out that Alex and Tess are dating, and that Carol has known for some time. And then Deja finds out that Randall and Malik were discussing his ex, and she’s not happy. Eventually, Randall asks for a minute for the adults to speak — and that’s when a frustrated Beth lays into her mom. She says she feels constantly judged, and that there’s nothing wrong with their loud, messy family — and they can’t feel like they’re back to normal “until you go home and take all the damn judgment with you.”
While Beth is upstairs apologizing to Carol, Randall finds Deja on the porch. She’s mad at Malik but also mad at Randall: “You’re my Day 1,” she says, and I marvel once more at how damn good Lyric Ross is. “I’m happy you have a thing with Malik, but you’re supposed to think of me first.” He agrees, reaffirms that he is #TeamDeja “first and always,” and then they make up by going through Jennifer’s Instagram account and making fun of her.
Later, Beth comes downstairs to Randall and tells him that he should get used to working out on the patio. As she and her mother spoke, Carol confessed that she’d been extending her time with Beth’s family because she’s envious of the loudness and the messiness; her own house, she confesses, is quite quiet and lonely. So now, “My mom is staying indefinitely,” Beth genially informs her husband. “Your entire family treats our house like a Ramada Inn. It’s my turn.” (Ha!)
NEW PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT IN | While Kate is taking Jack to music class, Toby attempts to simultaneously rock Hailey with a golf club and carry on a video job interview. Things are going well until his backdrop falls, revealing that he’s sitting in his garage. So Tobes levels with his potential employer: He knows the interview isn’t going well, so should they just part ways, with no harm done? But it turns out that Toby is at the top of their short list, which gives the dejected dad a much-needed boost.
Still, though, he’s wary as he, Kate and the kids head over to Kevin and Madison’s for dinner. So he asks Kate not to say anything to her brother, and she agrees. Right as they arrive, Toby gets an email letting him know that he didn’t get the job. So the whole time Kevin is prattling on about the family compound he wants to build in Malibu and the congratulatory cigars that Leonard DiCaprio(‘s manager) sent, Toby is seething. And by the time Kevin and Madison muse out loud about paying for a pod-type private daycare for Nicky, Franny, Jack and Hailey, Toby flips out.
“I don’t need you paying for my kids’ lives, OK?” he says, louder than is strictly necessary, and he’s not calmed by Kevin’s explanation that he makes “stupid money” and thinks of it as belonging to everyone because they’re family. Toby also assumes that Kate did tell her brother what was going on — she didn’t — and he blurts out that he didn’t get the job, after all. Then it gets a little nasty, with Toby talking about how Kevin and Madison’s nanny does all the hard work, and it’s time for everyone to take a little break. Alone in the kitchen, Kevin makes Kate promise that she’ll come to him if she finds herself in a bad spot financially. She promises. Then Toby apologizes to Kevin, they shake hands, and the Damons leave.
A NEW WAY OF DOING THINGS | At home, Kate calls Rebecca and thanks her for always providing for them and never letting on how hard it was to balance expenses on Jack’s salary. And that’s how we learn — at the end of this episode’s ’80s flashback — that Rebecca took over handling the household budget after Jack played (and lost) credit-card roulette during a fancy dinner with his bosses right after The Big Three were born.
Imbued with a new sense of authority, Kate finds Toby in their bedroom and lovingly tells him that she’s going to go back to work, a topic he’d quickly shut down at dinnertime. She’ll be teaching at Jack’s school — apparently, Jack’s teacher already offered her the position — and it’s all going to work out. “We’re going to be OK,” she gently tells him.
Meanwhile, at Kevin and Madison’s, they’ve just finished talking about how they’re kind of into the idea of holing up with their little family when the doorbell rings. “Let me get this straight,” Uncle Nicky says, “you only named one baby after your favorite uncle?!”
Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Sound off in the comments!