This Is Us season 3 episode 16 brings with it the title of “Don’t Take My Sunshine Away” and we will be the first to admit that we felt like this was some sort of ominous warning about the state of baby Jack. It all made some sense given that This Is Us likes to break your heart and given how premature the baby was, the idea of something terrible happening to him was a realistic outcome.
Then, we got to the end of the episode and we could finally let go of some of that stress — while the title was a reference to Kate singing the baby the song, Jack is okay! He’s actually more than okay, not to unintentionally reference that Steve Carell line in a recent Super Bowl commercial. While he’s still connected to tubes and in recovery, Jack and Kate each had a chance to hold him in the closing minutes of the episode. It was adorable, mostly because Toby was able to let just the smallest amount of his anxiety go — you could see the guy was starting to get ramped-up in his head over the tubes, the treatments, and the catheter. There’s a breaking point where all scientific understanding goes awry in your head and you’re just running on pure emotion. That is where Toby was and through most of this episode, he couldn’t make sense of what was necessary treatment and what was cruel and unusual punishment for the baby.
Toby’s okay. The baby is okay. For now, that is all that matters.
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Do you know who is NOT okay? Think Randall and Beth, who are 100%, without question or argument, really not okay. Their relationship is in total shambles and their sunshine was absolutely taken away many weeks ago. They’re now living above the Arctic Circle in winter where you go days on end without any light peeking through. Randall’s angry voicemail to her, where he told her to “grow up” (we’re paraphrasing here for the sake of niceties), is a good example of this. Is this even the same Randall anymore? While we get it that Beth has decided to pursue being a ballet teacher at a less-than-ideal time, she’s watched Randall pursue his dream for months and she’s put up with him breaking a promise already. At a certain point, she deserves to have her own spot and her chance to take a risk. She keeps giving and giving and he keeps being a jerk about it when things don’t go his way.
Yet, even after being berated by Randall via voicemail, Beth still showed up to the boring dinner-of-schmoozing that he had to do for his job, meaning that she’s still willing to sacrifice for him and put in the time. As heartbreaking as it was to see, all of the subtle moves during that dinner scene, where Beth put on a good face but shifted away from Randall’s affection as much as humanly possible, were brilliantly orchestrated. As was the closing seconds where the producers set up a storm of conflict that will be coming your way next week. Randall refused to go sleep on a cot in Philadelphia and because of that, the argument’s going to happen. There will be pain and there should be pain; it’s the only way that anyone’s going to see a sun rise again.
Until then? Our verdict is that Randall’s the one who has to take the larger leap. He’s the one who is routinely putting himself in this position, time and time again.
Kevin and Sophie reunite
This time around though, it doesn’t feel like we’re about to take another turn on the broken-down merry-go-round that’s going to cause one of them to go flying off again. Kevin instead saw her briefly outside of her place, in the midst of an admitted spell of lurking while going for a walk in the rain. (Do you really want to lurk when you’re doing it in the rain?) He was trying to process the fact that he would have to choose between being a future father, or being with Zoe, who is not interested in having kids. For now, it seems as though he’s choosing Zoe. Whether or not it stays that way? We really can’t say, since it’s hard to feel like much is guaranteed with a guy who is riding the sobriety roller-coaster and struggles to determine whatever he wants.
Kevin’s done a lot of immature stuff lately, including boozing his way through his sister giving birth. Letting Sophie go and not trying to cheat is probably one of the healthier decisions he’s made — as was giving her and her new fiancé tickets to see Billy Joel wishing her the absolute best. This could be the last time we see Sophie, either via flashbacks or in the present. This felt like Kevin’s moment of reflection, realizing the mistakes he’s made and wanting to open up a new page. This is him making a decision that he can feel good about.
We’re not going to call “Don’t Take My Sunshine Away” a landmark This Is Us episode — the school-dance flashback seemed mostly to exist so viewers could remember that Milo Ventimiglia is still a part of the show. Also, Kate and Toby didn’t actually have all that much to do other than marvel at being new parents. The Beth/Randall stuff was basically them throwing all of their conflict in a blender, while for Kevin, he was actively seeking to avoid that very situation.
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