We start off well enough; a very agitated Randall has been pacing around “for a few hours now,” writing a list of reasons why he’s angry with his mother, while Beth and Randall tentatively try to soothe him without bringing his wrath down on them instead. Kevin and Kate, meanwhile, wait out the storm in the kitchen, discussing Kate’s latest weight-related plans because they know it’ll drive me nuts. Although it’s almost worth it to hear the not-entirely-drama-free-himself Kevin inject a litte reality into his sister’s high drama by pointing out that “Kate, you experienced mild turbulence. You spilled your peanuts.” Almost.
Once Randall’s done pacing, the Big Three decide to head off to their family cabin in the woods for one last hurrah (their mother’s selling it, and although they apparently don’t want her to, none of them, not even tv star Kevin nor money man Randall, is offering to buy it, but never mind). Of course, because Kevin is second only to Kate in his self-absorption, he invites the appalling Olivia along too, and because she can’t let any opportunity to be a jerk pass her by, she brings her hipster ex-boyfriend and press-gangs her playwright into driving them both up. Joy.
While Olivia and Kate fight over who’s worse, then, Randall, who’s worth a dozen of both of them, accidentally drinks a magic mushroom smoothie, allowing him to check out of the hipster vs Pearson war entirely, and spend most of the rest of the episode talking to 80s Jack instead. This is undoubtedly good for Randall since 80s Jack is lovely and has more helpful things to say than anyone else in the cabin, but not great for the ep unfortunatel; brilliant as Sterling K Brown and Milo Ventimiglia are, the whole sequence is just a bit too silly and weird to really work.
On the plus side, though, Kevin dumps Olivia at last (albeit temporarily, I’m sure); Toby, of all people, reminds Kate that you can’t have your cake and eat it (sorry) and Randall takes a small but firm step towards reconciliation with Rebecca, which makes me cry. And my crying’s not confined to that scene either, oh no. The 80s timeline is the real kicker, with Jack seeking black male role models for his son, because he truly wants the best for his kid, while Rebecca seeks out the black male role model her son wants the most, and cuts him right out of Randall’s life instead. Sigh. There’s no doubt Rebecca absolutely adores Randall, but what she does is so clearly done out of selfishness and fear, rather than love, that while Randall might have started to forgive her, I’m not anywhere near there yet.
All in all, this isn’t my favourite ep, then, but the 80s stuff at least is still terrific – the scene in the dojo with the push-ups is particularly beautiful, but it’s Jermel Nakia as young William crying as he puts Randall’s photograph in his “Book of Poems for My Son” which completely destroys me.