This Is Us Review: "Three Sentences"

(Episode 1.13)

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<i>This Is Us</i> Review: "Three Sentences"

Time is a strange thing. We don’t pay attention to the minutes ticking by on a day-to-day basis, too wrapped up in our lives and to-do lists. Then, one day, we look up and realize another year has passed and we feel we missed out on the moments we should have cherished the most. Pre-teens yearn for the independence of adulthood; adults wish to return to their carefree kindergarten days. The only people who seem to understand the importance of time are those nearing the end of their days.

After years of wishing we could be older, younger, skinnier, smarter or richer, the proximity of death finally makes us appreciate every waking hour—simply being and enjoying the moment. Summing up this week’s episode in “Three Sentences,” I would say: The Pearsons are coming to realize that time doesn’t heal all wounds unless you let them bleed first. Fearing the future and things to come, they are too busy holding on to comforting moments in the past. And if anyone is capable of showing them what really matters, it’s William.

The Big Three are getting ready to celebrate their 10th birthday, and while Rebecca and Jack are ready to dig out their favorite party games, Kevin and Kate have their own ideas. They’re too old for Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey and have decided they want separate parties now that they’ve reached the ripe old age of ten. Kate wants a Madonna-themed party, Kevin wants to recreate the world of The Princess Bride in their living room, and Randall… Well, Randall isn’t really that bothered. He’s not into inviting his own friends from school because it would mean having to invite the entire class, but Rebecca and Jack talk him into it anyway.

When the big day arrives, Kevin’s party is in full swing. An entire party of mini-Madonnas has joined the Dread Pirate Roberts’, leaving Kate behind on her own. Jack tries to cheer her up by having her teach him how to Vogue—but, feeling as though everyone likes Kevin more than her, all she wants is to be left alone. Out of his whole class, only three kids show up to Randall’s birthday party. He doesn’t seem to mind and has a mature attitude about it, but he didn’t want to tell his parents no one was coming because he didn’t want to upset them.

If you’re considering having kids, “Three Sentences” may make you reconsider: Seeing your children hurt can’t be easy, especially when there’s absolutely nothing you can do or say to make it better. No one can protect their kids from all the evils in this world, but standing by helplessly when your kid’s hurting will still break your heart. Jack and Rebecca are starting to worry about their children’s future and are so desperate to hold on to the simpler moments of the past that they even consider having another baby. But they quickly realize that time would once again find a way of catching up with them.

William is in great spirits after quitting chemo. He’s full of energy and joie de vivre, and makes the best of every day. Determined to meet his maker in style, William surprises Randall at the office and talks him into joining him on a shopping spree. Having to compete over an account with a top player in the business, Randall can’t relax and is constantly checking his clock. However, as it becomes more and more apparent that his father is preparing himself to die by living out some of his dreams, Randall gladly makes time for him. Watching William cruise around the parking lot blasting his favorite tunes with the windows rolled down and his new shades on, Randall knows he did right to choose his father over work. Time is fleeting and they can both feel it.

Kate’s story starts on a passive-aggressive note, but redeems itself when a new situation finally forced her to break down some of the walls she has built around her. Having decided against the gastric bypass surgery, she takes up her doctor’s suggestion of joining a one-month weight-loss program. She enters the program with the same cynical attitude we have grown used to from her: What she’s looking for is a quick fix to a superficial problem. She does not want to be confronted with the root causes of her issues.

When Duke (Adam Bartley), the camp’s blunt stable hand, calls Kate on her bullshit, she finally gets the push she needs to get over herself and do the real work. Joining in on a drumming exercise class, she actually manages to beat some of her old demons out of the depths of her soul: the many times she felt ugly and unloved as a child, her father’s death and the day of his funeral. Everything is slowly coming up to the surface for her to deal with and the reality of it is so painful she can’t help but to let it out with an excruciating roar.

While Kate is exorcising her demons, Toby joins Kevin in New York for some bro bonding. Kevin’s still torn between Sloane and Olivia, but when Toby starts asking him all the right questions, it turns out he wants neither of them. Instead, he reserves the grand gesture Toby suggests for a woman from his past: his ex-wife, Sophie (Alexandra Breckenridge), whom he hasn’t seen in twelve years. This is an out-of-the-blue twist typical of This Is Us, but unfortunately it doesn’t leave much of an impression. Still, seeing as Sophie was there at his 10th birthday party—where he professed his love for her to his parents—I think we can expect a touching story about their relationship in the near future. Let’s hope it turns out better than most of Kevin’s love stories so far!

Roxanne Sancto is a freelance journalist for Paste and The New Heroes & Pioneers. She’s the author of The Tuesday Series & co-author of The Pink Boots. She can usually be found covered in paint stains.