Season 1, Episode 4 “The Pool”
Air date: October 18, 2016
*** warning this contain spoilers for the fourth episode of This Is Us ***
During an extreme heat wave, combined with a busted AC, Jack and Rebecca decide to take the ‘big three’ to a pool to cool down. While there each child deals with their own insecurities, in one form or another. Kate, sporting a new bikini, is shunned by her friends because of how she looks in her swimsuit. Randall, who suggested going to this specific public pool because of the number of African-American families that visit it, realizes that he is being raised in white family. We see in present day how that has affected his identity has a black man through conversations with his biological father. And Kevin feels like the odd kid out, between Jack comforting Kate through her body insecurities and Kate recognizing that Randall is different from her other two children, it seems like no one is there for him. We see how each one of these little events has affected each sibling as an adult.
The “That Is Us” Moment: When Kate (Chrissy Metz) is out on a lunch date with Toby (Chris Sullivan), his ex-wife appears at the restaurant. She is pretty, well dressed, and most surprisingly to Kate, skinny. Seeing the person that Toby used to be married to causes her to have doubt in their relationship. Wondering what Toby could possibly see in her when he was married to someone like that. Her own lack of self-esteem causes Kate to follow his ex-wife into the boutique she owns and ends up interviewing for a position at the store. Later, when Toby confronts Kate about the incident, she expresses her self-doubt in his interest in her. What she is feeling is completely relatable, in our current relationships with out partners; we all have some form of suspicion of our partner’s exs. Especially if we think they are better then we are. But Toby also shows us that people are exs for a reason.
Toby: “You’ve been fat, yeah I get it. I emphasize, clearly. I emphasize, and I say something cute then you feel better. Rinse and repeat. She was terrible to me Kate. Josie, this skinny, successful woman that you admire so much. She cheated on me, she lied to me, then she took half my life savings. I gained 95 lbs. in one year after she left me. At my lowest point, I told my brother I was committing suicide even though that wasn’t true because I wanted him to be as scared and as lonely as I was. You know what, that’s a lie; I did consider suicide, a lot, when I would get drunk alone and disgust myself. So you haven’t cornered the market on problems Kate.”
This episode showed us another layer of Toby, an important one. Making him more than the comic relief of the show.
The “That Is Us” Moment (#2): We see this episode that Randall (Sterling K. Brown) has struggled with being black while growing up in a white household. An issue that people can relate to when they are adopted by parents that are not the same race as they are. This show tackling the subject of adopting a child of a different race, and showing the difficulties that not only the parents face, but issues the child has to deal with as well. The episode shows this struggle that Randall is faced with not only during the pool scenes as a kid, but also when he is an adult as well. Especially when his father William (Ron Cephas Jones) has a minor altercation with Randall’s white neighbours. Telling his father that even though white parents had raised him, it did not take away the colour of his skin, nor did it change the way others treated him.
Randall: “That story you told about helping the bus of little black kids in Pittsburgh, that was ’86,’87? So you were clean then? Functioning. Cause you know what this little black kid was doing? I was a little boy living in Bethel Park, Pennsylvania. Which is pretty much the whitest place on earth. I had this little notebook, and every time I met a new black person I would put a mark in this notebook. And every time I met a black man I wonder if somehow, if that man could possibly be my father. But I could say that, I couldn’t say that out loud, because I love my father, my white father. And my white mother. I’m a strong successful black man, my wife and I give a lot of thought to how we raise our girls believe that. The fact that my daughter doesn’t find anything unusual about her playing Snow-White… that’s the whole idea right? Look, I don’t know everything William, I don’t. But I wouldn’t change a thing about my parents, or how I parent.”
William sees he struggles that Randall has had to go through due to his abandoning him as a baby. And uses this moment to apologise to Randall, because that it what he’s owed. An apology, not judgement on how he’s dealt with his own relationship with his race and upbringing.
So what do you think? What was the “That Is Us” moment of the episode this week in your opinion? Comment below!