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This Is Us -- Toby Has a Hard Time Dealing With a Premie

Updated on March 23, 2019

Randall leaves Beth a message he shouldn't...

Last time, Kate gave birth to a very premature son that she naturally named Jack. Kevin was still drinking and Zoe knows it. Randall and Beth were still at a stand-off. And Rebecca was planning to move to be closer to Kate.

Baby Jack is still in the NICU [neo-natal intensive care unit] and Kate is a rock about it, but Toby is crumbling like a cookie. While Kate sings to the baby as he’s being stuck with a needle to draw his blood and having a catheter inserted to check his urine, Toby wants them to stop and can’t stand to watch it. He ends up taking refuge out in the waiting room where he runs into another NICU dad whose been going through this longer than him. He tells Toby about another NICU dad that has it worse than him and says he feels like a ghoul for bucking himself up saying at least that’s not him and he has it better than the parents of that child. One has to wonder if Toby doesn’t use his new friend in the same way to thinking if he can do it for that long I can man-up and do it, too.

When Toby returns to Kate’s side she tells him to look at Baby Jack and basically tells him This Is Us. Kate and Toby are allowed to hold Jack for the first time. And I’m saying right now any kid named Jack is going to make it. Fans would have a fit if they killed off two Jacks. They’re still upset about Jack I and the Crockpot of Death. And it wasn’t that helpful kitchen appliance’s fault. Jack had a heart problem and he didn’t tell Rebecca or the doctor when he came into the Emergency Room. Had he done either or the firemen at the scene of the fire he might still be alive. He also might have been fine if he hadn’t run back into a fire to save as many mementoes as he could, leaving his family with the mementoes instead of him. So, ultimately, Jack’s death is Jack’s fault.

Kevin is apparently off he sauce according to him and going to AA meetings we haven’t seen him attend. Right now, he and Zoe are going to couples therapy. During a session Kevin drops a baby bomb on Zoe…he wants them and guess what? She doesn’t and she’s not kidding about it. She tells him babies are a deal breaker. She’ll put up with his booze problem but she will never let him knock her up and he needs to make a choice if he can live with that or they need to call this thing quits right now. This leads to him hanging outside of Sophie’s apartment when she comes home and she’s not all that thrilled to see him after they ended things. He gets her to have coffee with him. She reveals she’s engaged and suggests Kevin make a choice of what he wants. Kevin returns to Zoe, not mentioning seeing Sophie, and says he chooses her, but does he really mean it? Or does he think maybe in time Zoe will change her mind about having kids. I guess time will tell.

Randall and Beth are under pressure trying to make their schedules work and be able to take care of the kids. As a result, Randall’s having to put in more of the child care time, which is something he’s not used to. Randall’s a bit late for Beth’s first dance recital and misses all the great things her boss said about her. Trouble crops up when Randall wants Beth to come to a political dinner, claiming how important it is, and she gets invited out to dinner by her boss. Naturally, Randall expects his commitment to come first, which doesn’t please Beth, at all. When Beth is late showing up Randall leaves her a nasty message on her cell phone only to discover there was an accident and she got trapped in traffic. She says her phone needs charging, so Randall breathes a sigh of relief she didn’t hear his message deriding what she does compared to him and telling her to basically stick it. However, when Randall tries to hold Beth’s hand during dinner she pulled it away from him. And when they’re leaving the house she tells him she heard his nasty message and he can sleep elsewhere, tonight. She’s pissed she had to sit through a boring political dinner when she could have been having dinner with her boss and helping her own career. However, Randall, says he’s not sleeping elsewhere and Beth closes their bedroom door and says if he wants to do it now, then let’s do it and that’s how the episode ends.

You have to blame Jack and Rebecca with this. Randall was raised with his wants and needs coming first. In short, he wasn’t raised to be a Jack. None of the kids were. While that’s nice as a child, it doesn’t prepare you for when you’re the adult in an adult relationship. It puts a lot of pressure on your partner when you think your wants and needs are more important than theirs.

For years, Beth has accommodated Randall and put him, first. Now she’s had her life upended and she wants to follow her dream after putting it aside for her family and Randall for decades. In short, Beth was the Jack in her family, but she’s done being Jack. She wants to be Randall for a change and he doesn’t know how to deal with that. He’s not accustomed to not being the one whose put first.

Jack’s all consuming love and devotion is a wonderful thing to feel, but at the same time it can be debilitating. It doesn’t prepare you for life. It can make you selfish and expect to be treated the same way by everyone, especially your life partner. Look at Kate. Did she ask Toby what he’d like to name their son? No, she decided he should be named Jack without even asking what he’d like to name the baby. Maybe she’ll let Toby give the baby a middle name. Look at Nick. When Jack wasn’t around to cosset him from life he wasn’t able to handle things very well. He’s still not handling things very well.

I understand why Jack did what he did. He was over-compensating for how he felt as a child. He had a horrible relationship with his own father. So he wanted to be sure his own kids never felt the way he did. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But when Jack was gone he left such a big hole in their lives they all still feel it. Kevin still wants to make his father proud of him and may have latched on to Nick as a way to get his father back, only Nick wasn’t receptive and that lead to Kevin drinking again. Kate still worships Jack and Toby has to deal with the big Jack Elephant in their relationship. And Miguel is still considered an outsider and they won’t allow him in even as Rebecca’s second husband and Rebecca doesn’t demand they respect Miguel’s role in here life and by extension theirs because in a lot of ways she still feels like she’s Jack’s wife.

This week’s Jack backstory was the kids going to the prom and Jack and Rebecca being chaperones. At one point Jack imagines what would have happened if they had met as kid and declared they would have been childhood sweethearts. Kevin had a date with Sophie and Randall ditched his date to study because a kid in his class was a tenth of a grade point higher than him and he had to be number one in his class and Jack made him go back to his date and the dance.

It’s too bad Jack isn’t alive to guide Randall through this new phase in his marriage and tell him Beth has always put him first, now it’s her turn.

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