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You got me, This Is Us. Again!
Ever since those glimpses of the future in the Season 2 finale, I’d imagined that Toby’s flash-forward was still a long way off. Sure, he’d gone off his meds a few episodes back, but surely things couldn’t have tobogganed downhill that quickly, right?
Wrong. This week’s hour finds Toblerone lying in bed and staring at the wall while Kate gently tells him about an upcoming doctor’s appointment, just like we saw in the finale. And it turns out, the moment is even sadder than it seemed before. Toby’s depressive episode comes to a peak at precisely the moment he’s been waiting for: the arrival of the good news that he and Kate are going to be parents.
The hour also shows us Kevin meeting one of his father’s war buddies in person and Randall kicking off another unwieldy project that will tax his marriage and finances big endeavor. Read on for the highlights of “Toby.”
TOBY, OR NOT TOBY? | The episode opens with a flashback to Toby’s childhood. He’s dressed up like a Ghostbuster and reciting dialogue from the movie, but his parents’ loud argument in the next room keeps interrupting and making him sad. His dad yells about his mom’s “hysteria” and “moods.” His mom angrily responds that Dad should relocate to another woman’s house. When Mrs. Damon finds her son to assure him that everything is going to be OK, he’s lying in bed and chewing on his nails.
More memories from Toby’s youth show him using humor to get a smile out of his mom, who starts crying while holding his baby brother during a department-store outing to buy school clothes. We also see his father packing to move out of the house, warning his son that he’s got to get a handle on his “sad sack” stuff because “it won’t fly when you’re grown.” Indeed, we watch his marriage to Josie break up after he stops taking his meds, and eventually he’s unable to get out of bed.
Toby’s mom shows up months later, after he calls his brother and says “some pretty scary things,” and urges him to get up and get help the way that she eventually did. “The joy in you is as much a part of you as this sadness, you hear me?” she gently reminds him. Pretty soon he’s in therapy, where he good-naturedly bemoans the weight he’s put on. And when the therapist asks if he’d like to attack that problem next, we watch as Toby attends the Overeaters Anonymous-type meeting from the series’ pilot, when he and Kate met.
THE GOOD NEWS BLUES | At the start of the episode, we learn that of the eight eggs harvested during Kate’s retrieval surgery, three were fertilized successfully. And of those three, only one is viable. “One embryo, Tobes. We’ve got one shot,” Kate tells her husband. So on the day the doctor will call to announce whether or not Kate is pregnant, the Damons vow to spend the day at their jobs and not obsessing about if they’re going to have a kid.
So Kate dons a blonde wig and some serious lashes and performs at an office party as a Singing Adele-o-gram. (Ha!) She’s so good as she croons “When We Were Young,” the guy who ordered her performance tells her she should be on The Voice. “When sad things happen to me, I tend to shut music out of my life. A lot of sad things have happened to me, which is why I’m nearly 40, singing Adele-o-grams,” she says flatly. “Fits and starts, right?” The guy, who just wanted to compliment her and seriously did not sign up for a deep dive into Kate’s psyche, says he hopes things stay happy. “Me, too,” she says.
Toby, however, is in a pretty bad place. He skips work and heads to the pharmacy, where he demands that the pharmacist give him more meds so he can start taking them again the moment they learn Kate is pregnant. The woman behind the counter tells him to talk to his doctor, but that’s not the answer Toby wants. He winds up at an arcade, playing and getting lost in his memories until a nearby teen mentions that it’s 3:45 — 15 minutes before the doc is supposed to call with the big news.
So he rushes home, where Kate is sitting at the piano and singing/crying a little. He apologizes profusely for being late, but she stops him. “The doctor already called. It worked, baby. I’m pregnant,” she says, and they hug for a minute before Toby rushes to the sink to pour himself a cup of water. He’s actually trying to hide his sudden and overwhelming sobs from Kate, who’s confused when she realizes they’re not tears of joy. Next thing we know, it’s the flash-forward scene: Kate gets off the phone with Toby’s doctor, walks into the bedroom and quietly informs her husband that they’re going to adjust his meds again.
CRYIN’ SHAME | Before Randall heads to Philadelphia to kick off his City Council campaign, Beth reminds him not to tear up in front of his potential constituents. “These people do not want to see a rich man from Alpine crying when he talks to them,” she warns him. They banter/exposit a little about how he’s eligible to run for office in Pennsylvania because he put his name on William’s lease when William moved in with them, then Mr. and Mrs. Pearson go off to slay their days — she’s got a job interview — and plan to meet up in Philly.
Randall’s meet-n-greet at a barbecue restaurant is Peak Randall: It’s well-intentioned and very well sourced, yet also awkward and overbearing. And the people of the district don’t love him. So shortly after Beth arrives, and after Randall starts spouting about how terrible the current councilman is, everyone who showed up for the free lunch walks out in disgust.
Alone with Beth and the restaurant’s elderly owners, Randall can’t understand why an area that’s been “abandoned” by its leader is so loyal to the incumbent, Councilman Brown. One of the eatery’s owners angrily informs Randall that Brown stepped in 15 years ago when their rent went up by 50 percent, schmoozing the landlord into lowering the monthly rate and helping them keep their business. Therefore, they don’t owe Brown loyalty, the man tells Randall, “we owe him our lives.”
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Beth bucks up her husband, noting that it’s not going to be easy but he’s more than capable. What she doesn’t tell him: She got teary during her job interview, and she’s clearly not over the fact that she was unceremoniously sacked from the business she helped build.
PROM NIGHT HORRORS | In a flashback to the time after Jack died, Miguel buys an upright piano at a yard sale and totes it to Rebecca’s rental, bringing a rare, genuine smile to her face. He also fixes the wonky refrigerator and takes care of Kevin when Sophie brings him to Miguel’s, passed-out drunk, after prom. But when he tries to give some fatherly advice to Randall, whose prom went south after his girlfriend’s father was blatantly racist toward the teen, Randall politely shuts him down. In a flashback-within-the-flashback, we see Jack ask Miguel to “take care of ’em” should anything ever happen to Papa Pearson.
WAR STORIES | On their way to meet Jack’s Vietnam War buddy Robinson, Zoe bristles when Kevin teases her about her desire to sleep on a silk pillowcase (which he is too white and unaware to know keeps her hair from drying out) and when he fails to see the cold way a racist convenience-store clerk deals with her, especially given the warm way the woman interacts with Kevin.
While Robinson tells Kevin all about Jack’s military time — including the fact that he was a staff sergeant/platoon leader and not just a mechanic — Zoe explains to Mrs. Robinson that she’s not sure that dating Kevin is worth the effort it will take to explain everything that he, as a white male, doesn’t see/understand/experience. But then Kevin has a silk pillowcase delivered to their hotel room; even though he doesn’t understand why it’s a big deal, he tells her offhandedly, he realizes that it is a big deal to her, and he wanted to help. Seemingly making a decision in her mind, Zoe fills him in on the racism she experienced at the rest stop. He’s shocked. “Why are you just now telling me this?” Kevin asks. “Because I think, God help me, I think you just might be worth it,” she answers.
The next morning, despite his earlier advice that maybe Kevin didn’t want to know all of Jack’s dark stories from the war, Robinson delivers him some letters and a photo of Jack with a Vietnamese woman who’s wearing the medallion Jack gave his son years before.
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