RANDALL WANTS TO GET OUT THE VOTE (THIS IS US RECAP)
In many ways he was like America itself, big and strong, full of good intentions, a roll of fat jiggling at his belly, slow of foot but always plodding along, always there when you needed him, a believer in the virtues of simplicity and directness and hard labor.
–Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried
If we can’t have Vietnam, then fine. I’ll indulge in this renewed focus on Randall’s campaign for City Councilman/Mayor of Chicago, if only because it allows me to implore you once more to vote. Vote early. Vote once because it’s the law but tell everyone else to vote often. That way you don’t get in trouble. I’m not the only one here begging you to use your constitutional right to political representation. A large part of this episode was Randall seeking out the mythical independent-voter-turned-Democrat. Let’s not even pretend he could be a Republican, Randall got into Howard for freak’s sake. It was, of course, the very special election-themed This Is Us episode but in everyone’s petty traumas, there was one big question that loomed. How do we take care of those who feel neglected?
In the case of This Is Us you make sure your dog poops out a rock.
Kate is pregnant! Yay! Since the universe can’t allow us even one day of sheer happiness though, her announcement is tempered by the unfortunate fact that she also has to tell all her loved ones that Toby is still depressed. Until the meds kick in, The Tobes will still be in the throes of depression. He lies in bed, watching TV, unable to even muster the energy for a walk.
I guess at some point in the show, Kate decided that she was going to stop treating Rebecca like the spawn of Ted Cruz and Tomi Lahren (shudders) because she’s actually being nice to her. Not only that, she’s relying on her a lot. When Audio eats up some garbage with gusto, she calls mom. When the vet asks her to choose between surgery and letting Audio poop a malevolent rock from his intestines, she calls mom. She’s calling so much that Rebecca finally bursts out to tell her that yes, yes, she’s thinking of voting for JB Pritzker instead of Rauner. After that outburst, she tells her how life is about making a million choices and hoping you don’t screw up. What you don’t do is sit out elections because you’re uninspired and probably named Todd and therefore think that your big insight into the political pulse is somehow revolutionary when really you’re putting thousands of POC at risk with your short-sightedness, ok Todd?
Toby cares enough about Audio to force himself to go through the motions of showering, getting dressed, trimming his beard. This gets Kate all excited but Toby admits that he still feels like crap. His big fear is that Kate is going to leave him because of his depression. Kate insists on going out for a walk with Audio to see if he’ll have a bowel movement and Toby accepts.
Out on the walk, Kate gives the usual spiel about how she vowed to be with him for better or for worse and that she’ll stand by him. This declaration of commitment finishes with Audio expelling a rock out of his anus, which is the appropriate reaction to this entire trite speech. Sorry, folks, talking to a divorcee here who is convinced marriage is a sham, so these kind of gestures are nothing but an excellent time to go get some water while the TV blabbers on.
Little Randall and Daddy Pearson
We know Randall is gearing up for the fight of his adult life against Establishment Politicians ™ but where did that fighting spirit come from? We have a totally unnecessary but harmless and somewhat touching flashback to give us the answer.
Daddy Pearson comes home one day with a black eye, shocking Mommy Pearson. He confesses he’s part of an underground anarchist fight club led by some dude named Tyler Durden, who spews a lot of anti-materialist, anti-corporate ideology. He’s not supposed to talk about it (that’s the first rule) but he’s been caught. Tyler will later get his revenge during Project Mayhem by planting a faulty slow cooker in the Pearson home, but that’s neither here nor there right now. The important thing is that Jack needs to box to get rid of his demons. Rebecca promises that he’ll turn to the punching bag only.
Little Randall’s interest is piqued, though. You see, some idiot named Dylan from New York is picking on him and he wants to learn how to defend himself. He’s a smart kid, who knows that snitches get stitches, and Jack, having grown up on the wrong side of the tracks understands this. He starts teaching Little Randall in secret until Rebecca catches them one day sparring. Mommy Pearson is pissed and Daddy Pearson tries to explain why Little Randall asked for his help. Rebecca won’t hear of it and decides to call the principal. That’s when we find out that there is no Dylan from New York. Little Randall has been lying all along. Jack resolves to find out why not before waxing poetic about why he needs to beat the crap out of another human being. “Boxing helps me,” he proclaims. “It helps me with stuff, stuff I can’t think about. It quiets things. I wish I could explain it.” I get it Jack. You need to feel the bloody pulp of another man’s face to feel whole; I need to fall asleep to the screaming banshees that populate the Real Housewives for the same reason. Potato, potata.
Jacks goes up to Little Randall’s room, where he finds him reading. He lets him know that they’ve found out to the truth. Little Randall says that he knew Jack would only teach him if he had a good reason. Hence the lie. The real reason he wanted to learn, though, was so he could be more like him. Kevin is tough because he is his “son-son” as Little Randall points out (cue crying of millions of suburban moms) and the only way he could get Jack’s toughness is through learning how to box. Jack then tells him that he is his son-son too (cue the crying of millions of suburban dads, in secret). Then he tells Randall, “You’ve got something even greater. You’ve got a brain so smart you tricked your old man to teaching you how to fight. It’s your secret weapon.”
Randall and Kevin
Finally, the far more interesting segment of this week’s episode! Randall is still trying to decide what to wear for his next campaign appearance. He’s going to church, specifically a black church in Philadelphia. I have no direct knowledge of what that means but it’s the kind of place where teal is welcome so I would probably like it. Beth, my poor professionally frustrated Queen, is left helping her kids sells Girl Scout Cookies. Pro tip: You buy them outside of college dorms. You know why, don’t even make me spell it out.
In church, the Establishment Councilman is asked to read the scripture. Councilman isn’t a fool and he uses the pulpit to throw all the shade over at Randall. He welcomes him to the neighborhood, highlights how he’s visiting from so far away, and applauds him for trying to do something good by running against him. Randall tries to beat him at his own game but he is in way over his head. I’m pretty sure Councilman was the one who taught Prince how to say, “A person who tries to play me, plays himself.”
Back in La La Land, Zoelange is ecstatic because she’s finished her doc and it’s time for her to decompress by getting a hotel room all by herself, no boys allowed. This is very confusing to Kevin and I think we’re supposed to take it as another example of her being stunted or something. Is the idea of a woman wanting to be by herself while she eats a $28 hotel burger really seen as a sign of emotional damage? Probably. Kevin doesn’t have anyone to entertain him so he turns to Randall and the mystery of the Vietnamese woman in the photo. Randall tries to blow him off because he was important campaign stuff to do, but Kevin won’t take no for an answer. “I know where your office is and you know I don’t respect boundaries,” he says, trying to be cute, when really, IT’S SOMETHING A STRAIGHT WHITE DUDE SHOULDN’T BE SAYING RIGHT NOW.
Kevin and Randall meet up at a Korean restaurant and he shows him the picture. Kevin, in all his doofus glory, is certain it’s love. Randall, who lives in reality, asks, “Is it love or years of poverty and occupation by foreign government?” It is definitely the latter, but we’re all going to pretend it’s the former. While Kevin and Randall discuss the implications of their father participating in war crimes, the server informs them that their bill is covered. Kevin is so popular back in Korea that he is considered a star among their people. This is when Randall’s beautiful brown eyes lineup and he realizes that his brother is actually of some use to this world. For nothing will give you more power in politics than a white man vouching for you. It’s why they parade any living corpse come election cycle, no matter how irrelevant they may be. (Ehem, Bernie! Sorry, got something in my throat.)
Back in his lair, Randall realizes that there is an untapped demographic of voters in that area. Specifically, an untapped segment of Korean voters. Who happen to love The Manny. He asks Kevin to follow him around the rest of the day with his star power.
While this is all going on, Beth is doing her best to be a good Girl Scout mom and failing at every turn. They get too late to snag prime sales booth locations. When they find space in a shuttered mall, their only potential costumer hands them a card instead of cash, which they can’t use because Beth forgot the swiper. The older daughter gets very stereotypical tween bratty and Beth explodes, yelling at them to shut up.
Back at home, Deja waits for Beth to come out of the bathroom like a possessed child. In this case, though, she’s full of good tidings. Deja tells her that she’s exceptional. She knows Randall worships her and if Beth’s sad, she should talk to him because he’ll also tell her she’s exceptional. This is all very sweet, I guess, and everyone apologizes.
Back in Philly, Kevin is schmoozing at a Korean outdoor market and prompting them to register to vote. A young local man who I’m calling Hot KPop (redundancy) sees right through his tactics. He calls him out, stating Randall has never set foot in there before and won’t again. Since we’re supposed to see Randall as the Indivisible Guide candidate, he opts for honesty instead of the longstanding political tradition of lying through your teeth. He says it’s true he hasn’t been around but is vowing to be there now. Then he roasts the neighborhood bad, like “this place is a shithole” levels of bad but it seems to work because he’s listening. I think this is the electoral equivalent of negging. Then he busts out the one Korean word he knows thanks to Kevin. Leave it to a white man to be surprisingly knowledgeable about an Asian language for no other purpose than to inflate his own ego.
After their successful day of campaigning, Kevin tells Randall how much he admires his whole go for it attitude. Once he has something inside, Randall will do it and now Kevin does to, which is why he needs to discover Jack’s secret past in Vietnam.
Hot KPop stops by Randall’s campaign office to touch things: the map, the buttons, the t-shirts. I swear this sequence takes way longer than is necessary. After he’s gotten a feel for it all, he mentions how his grandma has never voted. Undemocratic Korea didn’t allow it. Here in the US, she feels like she doesn’t matter because she is a low-income, Asian woman. Yet, she registered today because Randall made her believe he cared. Korean Grandma can wait to be inspired because she’s been through famine and is fictional. You fellow voter, cannot. Want inspiration? Think of the hundreds of migrant children currently living in subhuman conditions under makeshift tents at the border. Hot KPop offers to be his campaign manager.
After a long day, Randall goes over to councilman’s office to tell him he knows what’s up. Randall has a few tricks up his sleeve. He uses his brain like Jack uses his fists. Do you think the councilman is afraid that he has a campaign manager? I’m going with “nah.”
UGH KEVIN BOTHERS ZOELANGE IN THE HOTEL ROOM DESPITE HER PLEAS FOR ONE NIGHT BUT HIS NEEDS ARE MORE IMPORTANT. He comes bearing gifts: a visa application to go to Vietnam. He wants him to come with her because he’s inept and she has documentary skills. She says yes.
Randall comes home to tell Beth the big news but she is still sad. She’s not fine and she’s at a point where she doesn’t want to hear how great she is because no one is answering her resumes. The solution? Randall wants her to join his campaign. This isn’t a pity job or nepotism. Beth is the best in whatever she does, he explains, and the whole speech is very nice and affirming and will definitely make you second guess your lackluster partner who thinks it’s kind of cool you did that cool thing once at what was your job again? Beth says I do to this new special hell that must be working with your spouse.
That’s it for this week, folks! Randall knows the importance of voting and so does this usually hot mess of a show. So much in fact that it won’t be on for Election Day because everyone’s got more important shit to do. VOTE.