Well, there’s one question answered.
As This Is Us wraps up its final season, more and more pieces of the various puzzles fall into place.
On This Is Us Season 6 Episode 3, a throwaway line revealed the cause of Toby and Kate’s marital implosion: Jack burning himself on the grill that Toby insisted on buying to make new memories.
Of course, that one incident isn’t the sole cause of Toby and Kate’s marriage unraveling.
There were plenty of signs that things weren’t going to work out during the hour. Toby and Kate were trying their best to make their long-distance relationship work, but Kate felt the same way many single mothers feel after a divorce.
She was the one taking care of the kids, while Toby was the one who got to swoop in and have fun with them on the weekends.
She and Toby couldn’t even have a night out to regroup, either. Toby’s earlier failure to follow Kate’s instructions led to a cranky and rebellious toddler whom Kate didn’t want to leave in the care of a teenage babysitter.
Toby’s solution to that whole mess was to suggest they buy a smoker so that they could make new memories, and their son got hurt as a result of that decision.
So if Kate and Toby end things over that incident, it’s because it’s the last straw for both of them. The distance and the inability to get on the same page have been causing tension for a while, and Jack getting hurt will ultimately cause the two of them to explode and say things that can’t be unsaid.
Philip: I thought I was finally going to meet the famous Toby.
Kate: Yeah. He had to stay home with the kids.
Philip: Kids are the worst. That’s why I go out of my way never to be around them.
Toby’s inability to go to the concert gave Philip an opening, too.
I’m still not sure how Kate ends up with him. I’d think his dislike of young children would be a deal-breaker since she has two of them.
But at least Philip made somewhat of an effort to be empathetic and encourage Kate to try to salvage things with Toby.
He’s right that Kate and Toby still have a chance as long as they’re talking. But that’s been the problem all along: lack of communication.
Starting with that CrossFit incident on This Is Us Season 4, Toby and Kate seemed to have fallen into a pattern of turning to other people until something terrible happened. Then they finally got it out of their system in some ugly way before reconciling, only to let tensions build up again.
Toby’s working far away now because he finally admitted he wasn’t happy being a stay-at-home dad.
Before that, Kate worried obsessively that he was either going to cheat on her or already had, all because of her unexpressed insecurities. Toby’s insistence on talking to someone else about his marriage instead of to her didn’t help, either.
Throw in that Toby’s never been as comfortable as Kate with raising a special needs child, and their eventual divorce seems almost inevitable.
It’s sad because these two love each other and love their children, but parenthood seems to have torn them apart, and they never quite found their way back together again.
Toby had the most in common with Kevin of all the fathers featured on This Is Us Season 6 Episode 3, so I’m glad they bonded.
These two have come a long way since Toby resented Kevin offering to help out financially after Toby was laid off. Now Toby is making bizarre analogies, and Kevin is telling him the importance of sticking to the nap schedule.
Toby: When you’re a kid, all the houses you build are square because you think it’s the only shape there is. But it turns out the triangle is the strongest shape out there. It can withstand any type of pressure. So maybe you need to stop thinking of your family as a square and think of it as a triangle instead. You, Frannie, and Nicky.
Kevin: What the hell are you saying?
Toby: I don’t even know.
I hope Kevin gets Toby in the divorce because these two need each other’s friendship, and Toby’ll need Kevin’s advice even more once he’s a divorced dad too.
Toby was right about one thing, even if he did use the weirdest metaphor in the world to express it. Kevin’s idealized idea of what parenthood was supposed to be like needed to go.
Kevin’s still clinging to that fantasy of having the perfect family who all sits together at the dinner table and makes positive memories all the time. It was always out of line with reality — Jack and Rebecca made plenty of missteps and didn’t always get along with each other, either — but it’s even more so now.
Kevin: This sucks. You get all of the firsts and I get to hang out by the phone and hope you send me a text.
Madison: I sent you a video right away.
Kevin: Yes, thank you for that. I just feel so connected to my kids right now.
Madison: I’m sorry that you’re feeling your feelings or whatever you’re doing, but you don’t know how hard it is for me. Yes, Frannie took her first steps and it was adorable but an hour before that Nick barfed all over me and I had to figure out how to get it out of my hair before Elijah came over so I don’t feel completely revolting. Look, I know you want to be there for all the firsts but we are not together and so that means there are times when one of us is going to feel like we’re missing something.
Madison doesn’t want to be married to Kevin, ever. She has a new boyfriend and wants to co-parent with Kevin while having a life outside of him.
But Kevin can’t concentrate at work because he hates missing a single moment with the kids, and he’s still stuck on having this perfect life with Madison that isn’t going to happen.
Kevin’s ideas about being there for every milestone are especially unrealistic. It would be nice if he could be, but many parents miss some important moments because they have to work.
Even if Kevin were married to Madison, that would still be true. Sometimes watching a special moment on video is the best he can do. That’s something that wasn’t even available in the past; at least he has that now.
Interestingly, Kevin and Jack shared guilt over not being there enough for their kids. Jack worried that Kevin’s misadventure at the mall would scar him for life. But ironically, it seemed like Jack’s attempt to make a positive memory instead is what scarred him.
Rebecca encouraged Jack to make a strong positive memory so that the kids would remember that instead of what happened at the mall. But Kevin holds himself to impossible standards because he remembers his parents being perfect and creating these wonderful memories, but nothing else.
He will have to adjust to working with babies that aren’t his own and staying focused on the job. At least he didn’t drink over this.
He elected to call Cassidy instead of making a booty call to an impressionable young castmate, too. That was a better decision. And could it lead to a resurgence of his relationship with Cassidy?
While Kevin was missing his young children’s first steps, Randall and Beth had to adjust to Deja growing up.
This Is Us’ final season seems to be dedicated to the theme of change. Rebecca’s change is the saddest of all, of course. She’s slowly dying of a disease that has no cure. But Randall and Beth are learning to let go of Deja as well, and that’s not going to be easy for them.
Beth: There’s no way we’re going to ground this out of her. Deja is in love.
Randall: But that doesn’t change what happened.
Beth: She feels like we did in the beginning. If someone told us we couldn’t see each other for months, we would have found a way to be together.
Randall: So that means there should be no consequences?
Beth: Oh, there will be consequences. They’re not seeing each other again til they come out with the iPhone 30. But this is much bigger than what happened this weekend. We thought Deja was playing Candy Land but she was out there playing the game of Life. She’s not a child and we’re going to have to adjust to that.
It was odd that Beth wanted to both get Deja birth control and ban her from visiting Malik again. Maybe she’s aware that Deja will flaunt that particular rule because otherwise, laying down the law about Malik would stop Deja from risking pregnancy.
Either way, this isn’t over by a long shot. Deja will continue to find ways to see Malik, and Randall and Beth will have to deal with the young lady she’s becoming.
Randall’s admission that he’d missed out on the first 12 years of Deja’s life and wanted to keep her little for a while longer was especially beautiful, but let’s see how well he’s able to stick to his promise to try to view her as a young adult.
Your turn, This Is Us fanatics! Hit the big, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and let us know what you thought of This Is Us Season 6 Episode 3.
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This Is Us’ final season airs on NBC on Tuesdays at 9 PM EST/PST.