This Is Us Finally Settled The Duke Debate

Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC.

Quite a bit happened on last night’s episode of This Is Us. We’re obviously moving closer and closer to the deaths of Jack and William and I’m still not prepared. Kevin finally decides not to be a self-entitled douchebag and support his brother, Randall, albeit at the most inconvenient time. We’re also introduced to a new antagonist in the form of Rebecca’s bandmate Ben who she used to date.

But for me, there was already a villain that needed to be handled on This Is Us. His name is Duke. After we were first introduced to the fat camp stable boy a few episodes ago, I thought I was in the twilight zone when no one else seemed to think the way he interacted with Kate was problematic. Many people kept describing him as “flirty,” when his behavior seemed so predatory to me. He snatched Kate’s phone out of her hand and threw it. As she continued to rebuff his advances, Duke basically told Kate that they were going to hook up. Her own objections, be damned. That wasn’t flirtation, it was a rape threat as far as I’m concerned. It’s the same thing people crucified Robin Thicke for in 2013.

In last night’s episode, we find out what Kate’s intentions are when she shows up at Duke’s cabin. Much to my relief, it’s to tell him off for being a complete asshole. And in true asshole fashion, Duke shows his true colors. He reveals that his parents own the fat camp Kate is finally settling into, and that she’s “done” there. It’s a classic display of masculinity being too fucking fragile and the spiteful lengths that people will go to defend their broken egos.

I'm so relieved Kate didn't dump Toby for him. I have my own theories about how Kate is attracted to Toby because he’s annoyingly entitled, just like her brother Kevin. Kate has dedicated her life to being Kevin's crutch, so Toby fills a similar void now that her brother is moving in a new direction. But annoyingly entitled is tolerable. Rapey and domineering are not. Obviously, using your inherited power to retaliate against a woman who refuses to entertain his advances is unacceptable. But I saw this coming. “When people show you who they are, believe them; the first time.”


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