This is Us season 3, episode 2 recap: ‘A Philadelphia Story’


Randall doesn’t think he fits in anywhere and Rebecca comes through for Kate when she couldn’t before on this week’s This is Us.

Well, it’s a record for me watching This is Us this week. I cried six seconds into the episode.

“A Philadelphia Story” started with a flashback to about a month or so after Jack’s death, so roughly February or March 1998.

It’s morning, and Rebecca naturally takes out two mugs for coffee, one for her and one for Jack. For a brief moment, she forgot that she was a widow. As soon as she realizes her mistake, her face falls, and she’s back in her funk.

It’s subtle but so true-to-life and really struck me, as I’m sure many other who watched tonight.

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Rebecca finds out that Randall got into Howard so that he will be leaving for school. And hopefully, Kate will be accepted into Berklee College of Music. Even though two of her kids will be out of the house, she still needs to find a permanent residence for the family.

She takes the kids to house, where she finds out Kate didn’t even send her tape to Berklee. We know it’s because it just hurt too much after her father died. But Rebecca is a shell of herself and Randall is alarmed enough to confront Kate.

Sure, Randall’s life seems to be on track, but his siblings’ lives are falling apart. Kate is gaining weight and Kevin is always drunk. But Rebecca has barely enough energy to get out of bed every morning. This prompts Randall to give up his spot at Howard and attend school closer to home to be with his family.

Kate admits to her mother that she has gained 25 pounds. Rebecca brushes this off as having a bad month. It becomes clear to us that Jack’s death was the trigger for her weight gain, but no one answered her cries for help to stop it.

Kevin’s premiere is finally here

This leads to the present day, the day of Kevin’s big movie premiere of Hill 400.

Kevin and Zoe also make a small stride after she initially pushes him away when he invites her to his premiere. As she watches footage of Mario Lopez ask him about having a date and he said he’s there solo, she texts him immediately and asks him to pick her up from the airport the following day.

Everybody’s business

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Kate and Toby are in New York but agree to keep their IVF treatments to themselves and their Lyft driver. But Miguel screws that plan up when he accidentally finds the drugs and needle in front of Rebecca.

Of course, Rebecca is concerned about the risks, but only because she can’t bear to lose someone else in her life. “It’s paralyzing.” But Kate feels this is literally her only shot of being a mother and passing on her father.

Meanwhile, Toby is suffering from withdrawing from his antidepressants. So, when they’re all having their Pearson moment, Toby flips out and leaves – very unlike him. Luckily, Rebecca comes around to the idea of IVF by helping Kate with her shot at the premiere while Toby is MIA.

Philly Philly

But really, “A Philadelphia Story” centers around Randall and his place in his world. Being a black kid adopted by a white family, we’ve seen in previous episodes he had trouble fitting in. By going to Howard, Randall would be around people who not only look like him but that he can also connect with intellectually. He could finally connect with who he is. But he gives that up for his family.

Present day Randall takes Deja to a recreation center near William’s apartment building so that she could hang out with ChiChi’s daughter Skye. But he finds the poor conditions of the rec center unacceptable and goes to see a local councilman to do something about it and even changes a lightbulb on the basketball court himself. But ChiChi is unimpressed.

She says, “You are not one of us — you brought your daughter to come and play here, but instead of sitting and chatting and getting to know the place, you spent the whole day seeing its problems, trying to fix them. We are not our problems.”

And just like that, when Randall thinks he’s finding himself, he’s right back where he started. He’s damned if he does the right thing because someone always thinks it’s the wrong thing.

To make him feel worse, Kevin share’s Kate’s comment about being the only one to pass on a piece of dad. Randall is crushed. Because just when he felt like he fit in with his family, maybe they don’t feel the same.

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Final thoughts

It was nice to see William (Emmy winner Ron Cephas Jones) again. It was just another opportunity to see his kindness and remind us that there is so much of him in Randall.

And as a Philly girl, it was cool to see a Septa bus make a cameo in the episode. So, made props to showrunners for being committed to authenticity.

All-in-all, it was yet another great This is Us episode! What did you think? I’d love to hear it in the comments!

Missed last week’s episode? Read last week’s episode here and make sure to catch This is Us every week on NBC.