This Is Us “The Fifth Wheel” Recap: Family Therapy

this is us - 2x11 stillThe mid-season finale of This Is Us left Kevin getting arrested, Kate having suffered a miscarriage, and Deja saying goodbye. The mid-season premier picks up a month later. Kevin’s been in court-mandated rehab, and it’s time for family day, or in The Pearson’s case – family therapy day. Fun! So, the whole family, minus Randall and Beth’s girls, meet up at the rehab center to talk about their feelings. Meanwhile, it’s vacation time for the Pearsons in the past. The whole episode digs into Kevin’s feelings of coming to terms with addiction and being sidelined by his parents.

So, let’s dig into it!

Family Vacation

The flashbacks takes us to a summer when Jack comes home excited to announce a vacation to the Poconos. His buddy has a cabin there and has offered it to them for a week. Rebecca is hesitant at first, but we all know how charming Jack is.

Good Intentions

The trip isn’t all smiles, however. Rebecca informs Jack that she believes they need to hunker down on Kate’s eating habits. Jack argues that Kate’s just like his grandmother – big boned, but agrees to try to get her more active. It backfires when Kate tires of playing football and wonders why Randall doesn’t have to. Jack fails to sweetly explain that she’s been eating a lot of sweets and that exercise will do her some good. Kate, visibly hurt, runs off into the woods.

He finds her later sitting in the woods alone where she confides that some kid called her fat. She then asks her father if he thinks she’s fat. He searches for the right words, but fails, once again, by saying she’s his favorite-looking person in the world. It’s clear on Kate’s face that this wasn’t the answer she wanted, but she doesn’t say anything this time.

Good Cop – Bad Cop

You’d think that after being away at football camp for a while, Kevin would come back happy because he missed his family. Not so much. At first, he’s cool, but when Rebecca accusingly asks not to make fun of Randall’s new glasses, his mood changes. He promises that he won’t, though. However, when he sees his dad run after Kate in the middle of their game and his mom reading with Randall, he snaps. He throws the football right at Randall’s face, but misses. Rebecca scolds him a little, but doesn’t seem to punish him.

this is us - 2x11 - jack and rebeccaLater when Randall’s glasses go missing, Rebecca instantly accuses Kevin of hiding them. Not liking the accusation, he starts yelling that he hates her and that everything sucks. His outburst hits a chord with Rebecca. When Jack returns, Rebecca confronts him about him being the good cop while she’s the bad cop. He tries to assure her that’s not true. He offers to switch roles, but she says that he couldn’t, joking that it’ll give them something to talk about in therapy. Oh, you don’t know how true that is, Rebecca.

That night, Kevin wakes up from the storm only to see that Randall and Kate are in their beds sleeping. He also spots Randall’s glasses under the bunkbed. He goes to tell his mom, but finds his siblings asleep between his mom and dad… with no room for him. He places the glasses on the nightstand, grabs a throw pillow and blanket then falls asleep on the floor. Rebecca wakes up a while later and sees Kevin in the floor by himself. So, she grabs another pillow and curls up beside him in the floor. So sweet.

Family Therapy

“The New Big Three”

Once the family arrives at the treatment center, they see that Kevin is doing much better and is Mr. Popular (because of course he is). Kevin introduces them to his therapist, Barbra, who is going to be running their session. Barbra informs them that the first session is for immediate family members only, and sends “the others” packing. Beth is happy to leave (not wanting to deal with Randall’s “jackass brother”), so she rushes the other two out with her.this is us - 2x11 - miguel beth toby

They decide to ironically wait at a bar where they get tipsy and play darts. Once they’re feeling a little tipsy, the truth and smack talk starts spilling out. They vent about “The Pearson No-Fly Zone”, which is topics they can’t talk to the Pearsons about – specifically, Jack. The beloved father and husband is “untouchable”, and that none of them will ever live up to him. Miguel, as Jack’s best friend, pipes in that they’ve entered his “no-fly zone” now. Toby then makes a Star Wars-Pearson comparison, but Miguel shuts it down once again by arguing that Rebecca and the kids lost “the best man any of us would ever know, and that’s why they get to be on the inside.”

No Time for Being Polite

The therapy session with the family starts off really polite as Kevin apologizes to each member individually for his actions. Barbra isn’t having any of it, she pushes Kevin to be honest about his addiction and the source of it. So begins the drama and the truth comes out.

this is us - 2x11 - rebecca kevin randallKevin confesses the feelings he’s realized since being in treatment, including feeling sidelined and coming from a family of addicts. He believes Kate always had their father, while Randall had their mom. We saw a bit of these feelings in the flashbacks this week. As for the addiction part, he reminds them of Jack’s addiction and their grandpa’s addiction. He even tells Kate that he believes her weight problems run deeper than she thinks, insinuating she’s an addict also. The addiction topic puts everyone visibly on edge. Kate lashes out at Barbra, but Kevin argues he can’t just pretend his issues stem from Jack’s death.

Things really get intense when Barbra accuses Rebecca of not talking to her kids openly about Jack’s alcoholism. Rebecca gets defensive, saying Barbra is doing a disservice calling Jack an addict because he was so much more. Kevin takes a jab at his mom then, but Randall finally argues back in defense of Rebecca. He proclaims that the only thing Kevin’s addicted to is attention. Kevin then argues that Randall’s one to talk. He brings up William and Deja and how Randall never thought about how bringing them in would affect his family. Ouch!

Kevin really throws fuel to the fire by saying Randall has always been their mom’s favorite. Rebecca, of course, denies the accusation multiple times, but Kevin doesn’t back down. She finally cries out, “He was just easier!” Randall didn’t shrug her away when she touched him, nor did he pack up and leave when after Jack’s death. Ah, you gotta love family therapy. ☹

Moving Forward

Kate and Randall later find Kevin on a bench outside where we see that the session ultimately helped them. Kate and Kevin agree that it’s a good thing Toby wasn’t in the session because he definitely would have cried. Randall apologizes for not being there for Kevin like Kevin was there for him last season. Kevin follows with an emotional apology about what happened with Tess. The brothers lean on Kate, “I love my crazy-ass brothers. I really do.”this is us - 2x11 - the big three

Later, Kevin finds his mother in his room where she opens up to him a little more. She says, “I never worried about you because I didn’t think that I had to, but now I realize that I was wrong.” Kevin then confesses his childhood wasn’t as unhappy as he made it seem, but Rebecca realizes it wasn’t as good as she thought. She insists, however, that the pair had their good moments, “I feel it in my bones.”

This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on NBC!

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