Tuesday, October 23, 2018

REVIEW: 'This Is Us' - Kate and Toby Learn Whether or Not They Will Become Parents in 'Toby'

NBC's This Is Us - Episode 3.05 "Toby"

Kate and Toby try to keep busy while waiting for big news. Randall embarks on a new journey. Kevin meets someone from his father's past.

In 2018, it has become very difficult to keep up with every television show out there. It's even more difficult to provide adequate coverage on this site about the episodes that air every week. Not every show can get full coverage because of my busy and hectic viewing schedule. As such, some reviews will now be condensed to give only some summary thoughts. But it also affords a space for me to jot down my thoughts on the various episodes. And so, here are my thoughts on this week's episode of NBC's This Is Us.

"Toby" was written by KJ Steinberg and directed by Chris Koch

Toby has never been a compelling character. In fact, he has often been an infuriating character. The show has always wanted to present him as a romantic lead operating on the same level of Jack. That's why Kate loves him so fiercely. However, he doesn't come anywhere close to that kind of awesomeness. The show has never really addressed that either. It thinks he's perfect fine. And so, an episode is produced that is titled after him. Sure, it's not a completely Toby-centric story like last week's adventure in Vietnam with Jack. However, he does have a significant story in it. One that eventually catches up to the flash-forward that was presented at the end of the second season. He never wanted Kate to see him in his dark and depressed state. He knows how bad things can get when he goes off of his medication. And yet, he chose to do so anyway. Not only that but he chose to get rid of the pills. That was such a stupid decision. It's one that should hint to the audience that he wanted to get off of these antidepressants for more reasons than helping Kate get pregnant. Or it is just a stupid plot device the show utilized in order to create drama in this story. That seems far more likely. The responsible thing would be for Toby to stop taking these pills but keep them so that he can restart again as soon as they receive the clarity they seek on becoming parents. Kate actually gets pregnant in this hour. That's a moment that should be celebrated. Instead, it's a moment that is basically stolen by Toby because he is in a depressive spiral once more. He wanted to protect Kate from this. And now, she is caring for him because he couldn't care for himself. He didn't even have to do this. He just inferred it as the best course of action because of something the doctor hinted at it. He was never ordered to do this. So, he still holds responsibility for his actions. It will just be fascinating to see if the show can continue to hold him accountable as well. Right now, it's mostly just taking time away from Kate who is the vastly more interesting character as her life finally seems to be turning around in a way that will make her happy. She is about to become a mom. Elsewhere, it appears that the drama is setting up a completely new mystery when it comes to Jack. Kevin goes to the man Jack saved during the war. He is able to provide Kevin with some answers. He doesn't know everything that happened with Nicky because he was sent back home long before that trauma occurred. Kevin at least knows who Nicky is. He doesn't know what happened though. The audience is in the dark as much as Kevin too because the Vietnam story hasn't been completely told yet. Kevin is given a new avenue to explore because he's handed a couple of letters and pictures. However, the direction points out that a woman in the Vietnamese village is wearing the same necklace that Jack and Kevin revere so much. The show articulating that point basically ensures that things will remain very dramatic moving forward in Kevin's search for answers in his father's past. And finally, Randall is realizing just how difficult it is to hit the campaign trail and fight against someone with deep roots in the local community. Randall is right to be laughed at and criticized for trying to be yet another wealthy person coming to this neighborhood intent on fixing everything. He may not have the best understanding of this world and the people in it. That doesn't mean his points are invalid either. It just means he has so much to learn and will have to do so very quickly. However, that's also precious time taken away from Beth who is having her own breakdown as well. Their marriage has always been so incredibly strong because they love and support each other. However, Beth is struggling after getting fired. She isn't crushing it like she always is. That's so unexpected and interesting. It works because it wasn't forewarned to the audience like Toby's depression. As such, it's the much more compelling story that should be further explored moving forward.