After two really strong episodes, it's only natural that This Is Us would have one that doesn't quite pack the same emotional punch — and that's okay! That's how TV works: The dramatic arcs need to rise and fall and rise again. "Kamsahamnida" is part of the slow down before the next gut-punch episode, so it's much quieter than the past two weeks.
Randall, Beth & Kevin
The bigger storyline this week is that Randall (Sterling K. Brown) is still running for city council in Philadelphia, which means he isn't really noticing what a hard time Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) is having with losing her job and looking for another one. Beth is trying to put on a good front, but she is hanging on by a thread. Of course, when she snaps at her kids, Tess (Eris Baker) kind of had that one coming for the majorly disrespectful sass she threw her mother's way.
The real MVP here is Deja (Lyric Ross), who both manages to cheer Beth up and also shows off her giant heart and highlights how great Randall can be — but also that he needs to know how Beth is feeling. Yes, he probably should have noticed Beth's struggles on his own, but sometimes you just have to tell people how you're feeling.
Randall decides he needs to appeal to Koreans instead of African-Americans. The Manny was a huge hit in South Korea, and they all love Kevin (Justin Hartley), so Randall can exploit that. That's kind of hilarious, but a young Korean man Jae-won Yoo (Tim Jo) calls Randall out on his transparent BS. He wants their votes, and then they’ll never hear from him again. But Randall's heartfelt speech about wanting to help them gets Jae-won's 75-year-old grandmother to register to vote for the first time, and Randall finds himself a campaign manager (Jae-won, not the grandmother).
So, Randall is off and running, and he's got his opponent a little scared with this Koreatown play. Now, my main concern with this plot was that it would make Randall's storyline too external. But I should have known This Is Us wouldn't let that happen. When Beth finally tells Randall how hard things are for her right now, he asks her to work for his campaign. She balks at first because it seems like a pity job, but he wins her over by saying he's got 20 years of experience to know that she's the best teammate he could find. It's vintage Randall, and it's lovely.
Meanwhile, Kevin is obsessing over the photo of Jack with the Vietnamese mystery woman and reaches out to Randall to have a partner in his obsession. He's also happy to use his bulging muscles and 1000-watt smile to charm the Korean voters, but really he just wants Randall's take on what to do about their dad.
Randall isn't really that curious about the mystery woman, but he supports his brother, so Kevin decides he needs to go to Vietnam and he wants Zoe (Melanie Liburd) to go with him. She says yes, of course, though it feels like we're catching up with last year's flash-forward a little too quickly, Not enough time has passed for them to be going to Vietnam already, right? Hmm.
Kate & Toby
This is the smaller storyline this week — which is weird because the way last week left things, it felt like this was going to be a major thing in tonight’s episode. But it's actually a little ho-hum, and that kind of does a disservice to Toby's very real struggle.
Anyway, Kate (Chrissy Metz) tells everyone the baby news. They are predictably ecstatic, though everyone is concerned about Toby (Chris Sullivan). He's been back on his antidepressants for two weeks, but it's taking a while for his body to regulate itself. Kate hasn't really dealt with this before, so she's struggling to know the right way to behave.
Since she doesn't quite know what to do for Toby, she instead focuses on being a fur mama to Audio after he eats a rock at the dog park. This is all a way for Kate to escape Toby — not because she can't handle it, but because she's not sure how to act around him.
When Kate finally talks to him about how he's doing, Toby confesses to her that he's terrified she's going to leave him because she didn't sign up to take care of him and his problems. She tells him that's nonsense and repeats that they vowed to love each other in sickness and health, for better or worse. She's stronger than she comes off, and she can handle this.
It's a little anticlimactic after last week, so hopefully, the show will find time to really dig into what Toby is going through.
Odds & Ends
The quick-cut editing of the Pearsons learning about the baby and Toby's struggles was a small scene, but really well done. I enjoyed that quite a lot.
Randall: "Is it love or is it years of poverty and occupation by foreign governments?"
You are correct, Tess. Cheez Whiz is gross.
I should mention that the episode also contained a flashback to the Pearson children with Randall wanting to learn how to box so that he could be tough like Jack. It's one of those instances where the show doesn't have a great way to tie the flashback into the present day, so it feels a little forced. I would have actually preferred to skip the flashback this week, but I will say that Mandy Moore is such a low-key heavy hitter on this show. The look on her face when Jack opens up to her about boxing with his brother? It's like she has just been given the greatest gift and it conveys so much without saying a word.