This Is Us Recap: "He's My Brother"

PHOTO: RON BATZDORFF/NBC.
This Is Us certainly knows how to tug at our heartstrings.

In this week's episode, the writers dig deeper into Kevin (Justin Hartley) and Randall's (Sterling K. Brown) relationship. Through flashbacks, we see just how bad their relationship was growing up, even as they became teenagers.

As the relationship worsened, Kevin moved into the basement to get away from Randall. And when the brothers' high schools faced each other in a football game — with both of them playing the sport — it resulted in a full-on fight between the two.

From the clips we see this week, Kevin is clearly the instigator, while Randall often tries to make amends with his brother. It's definitely not the whole story, but it's clear that Kevin is jealous of the attention Rebecca (Mandy Moore) gives Randall.

Decades later, their strained relationship is still playing itself out, as Kevin is still living with Randall's family. Things quickly go awry for Kevin and Randall when Rebecca cancels their dinner plans (apparently Miguel's gout is giving him some trouble), leaving the two of them alone together. Kevin discovers that Randall never watched The Manny, and storms out of the restaurant. They eventually break out into a physical fight in front of the Flatiron building until Seth Meyers, playing himself (yes, really) interjects to see if everything is okay.

Of course, having a public brawl recognized by a celebrity puts things into perspective for the two of them. Kevin admits he was envious about how much attention Rebecca gave Randall, to make sure he fit in with the rest of the family — and Randall says he didn't fit in because of how Kevin treated him. Eventually, they make up (somewhat), with Randall saying Kevin's interaction with Seth Meyers was the first time he'd ever said "he's my brother" about Randall. The two go back to the house — where, ironically, Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) has moved Kevin's stuff into the basement — and watch The Manny together.

That doesn't mean all is well in the Pearson home, though. After Beth and William (Ron Cephas Jones) get high together, William reveals that he'd met Rebecca, and given her Randall's poetry book. Beth leaves Rebecca a furious voicemail, debating whether or not to tell Randall about the fact that she kept William's identity hidden from him for so long.

As far as Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Toby (Chris Sullivan), it looks like this fan-favorite couple may be experiencing some problems. Toby meets his monthly weight loss goal, while Kate doesn't, and it's clear that she's frustrated. After their support group meeting, Toby binges on pizza and Doritos, and he tells Kate that he doesn't want to diet anymore, because "depriving myself makes me absolutely nuts." Objectively, it's a good philosophy — but it's also hard for Kate to hear, after all of her diligent meal planning and exercise. We see her binge-eating gas station donuts at the end of the episode, and it's safe to say we haven't seen the last conversation about their now-differing eating plans.

The overdone soundtrack detracts from some of This Is Us' most heart-wrenching moments. But thanks to the immense talent of the cast, there were still several standout scenes that brought tears to our eyes. William tells Beth that growing closer to her and Randall's family makes him sad to die, after he spent most of his life alone. Young Randall asks Kate why Kevin hates him. And Rebecca has an incredible music rehearsal, her first in 10 years. But she doesn't get to tell Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) about it, because they have so much else going on with the kids.

If next week's previews are any indication, the brewing tensions might come to a head in the Thanksgiving-themed episode. It looks like Randall might find out that Rebecca met William. And we still don't know much about what Kevin's relationship with Rebecca is like in the present day, either. This Is Us is finding its place in the current TV landscape, and our lingering questions after each episode keep us tuning in.
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