Family, football and big questions of life, the universe and everything this week in an even more ambitious episode of This Is Us than usual.
Despite the expansion of the story, however, the telling of it is never less than careful and coherent, jumping back and forth as it does into a number of additional timelines to tell us a little about Jack’s (I think) family history, Rebecca and Jack’s childhoods, their early married life, and how and when they decided to have the Big Three. Randall and Beth, meanwhile, are also considering another child in the modern timeline, and Kevin is making an utterly charming mess of babysitting the ones they already have.
Also in the modern day, Kate and Toby’s story is notable for Toby being much more insecure and annoying than Kate this week – this is a new development for me, albeit not for Jed – but at least it’s not about their weight, and it also gives the writers an excuse for another very big reveal; I’m sure I won’t be the only one who worked out that REDACTED was REDACTED a few weeks ago, but I did think they’d keep us waiting a bit longer before confirming. The fact they didn’t shows, I think, a confidence in the story and plotting that, so far at least, is entirely justified.
Principal honours of the ep, however, have to be split between, on the one hand, Randall and Beth facing the possibility of another child (Sterling K Brown and Susan Kelechi Watson are, once again, terrific) and, unusually Kevin’s evening with William and the kids, which turned out to be funny, mortifying, and incredibly moving all at once. I don’t think I’ve realised before now just how good Justin Hartley and Ron Cephas Jones are; having them work together this week was inspired and, Hartley, in particular was outstanding. That final sequence where he talked about the painting, and we saw the past and the future and everything in between was so devastatingly moving and beautiful I don’t think I have the words to do it justice; me crying at This Is Us isn’t unusual, but my goodness. Sob.