What’s the meaning of life and death? Is life really over after kids? So many questions that This Is Us tries to answer. But in this episode, “The Game Plan,” these questions are discussed but never really answered.

Kevin struggles to learn his lines for his play while taking on the challenge of answering his nieces’ questions about death. Randall and Beth face a possible challenge of their own during a night of no kids. Kate finally lets Toby in on one of her rituals. And before there was the Big Three, there was just Rebecca and Jack. So how do the kids fit in?

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Life Before the Big Three

Rebecca and Jack are loving being married with no kids. They can drink whenever they want. They can sleep in whenever they want. They can take on the world. Rebecca specifically loves her singing. But everything comes to a head during Super Bowl Sunday, when the Steelers are playing. After years of teaching Rebecca to love the sport, she’s into it and can’t wait to get to the bar. However, when their new parent-friends arrive late, Rebecca makes the comment that they are never having kids.

This, of course, doesn’t sit well with Jack, and he stews on it for a while. When Rebecca finally confronts him, they start to argue as she brushes it off, not wanting to discuss it at the bar on Super Bowl Sunday. He explains how he never thought he wanted kids until he met her. Now he wants a family. However, she explains that he knew when he married her that she didn’t want kids. A group of drunken guys overhear them and start to yell at them. Jack gets up and punches the guy, to which Rebecca says, “Yeah, you’re ready for kids,” and then storms off.

Jack seeks advice from his friend, Miguel, as the Steelers win the Super Bowl. He goes to find Rebecca upset outside. He tells her that if he had to choose between her and kids, he’d choose her every time. She admits that while she never really wanted kids, when she closes her eyes, she sees herself with Jack and kids in the future.

Randall and Beth’s Night Out

Randall and Beth seem to be walking on eggshells in their own home. Between taking care of their girls, taking care of William and now playing gracious hosts to Kevin, they have their hands full. After a few days, Randall and Beth finally ask Kevin when he’s leaving. He goes on and on about how lonely he is in his big hotel suite. And soon, Randall is telling Kevin that he and Beth will stay at the hotel for a night while Kevin and William watch the kids.

Beth is a little reluctant, but they finally make it out of the house. When they get to the hotel, Randall suggests sex and then shower-sex and then lots of room service and burgers in bed. However, Beth seems sad. She confesses that she’s over a week late and feeling pretty crappy but hasn’t bought a pregnancy test yet.

The pair heads to the pharmacy, where they argue over who has more to lose if she is actually pregnant. Back at the hotel, their tunes change as they wait for the results. But in the end, she’s not pregnant, and they are both relieved.

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Explaining Life and Death

Kevin is a horrible babysitter. All he wants to do is learn his lines, but the girls want him to play with them. And William just laughs on the sidelines. Finally, Kevin suggests that all three of them help him practice his lines. The play seems to be about a woman who dies and comes back as a ghost, so of course, the girls start to question Kevin about ghosts and death. Everything he says comes out wrong, including when they ask if William is going to die because he’s sick.

William puts the girls to bed and then offers some advice to Kevin. He says Kevin keeps doubting himself when he’s actually a very good actor. He then suggests that Kevin figure out what the play is about to help him learn his lines.

Later on, Kevin apologizes to the girls and reveals a painting. He confesses that he likes to paint every time he gets a new script to help him understand the material. The painting is full of colorful lines, which he explains is about life and death. During his monologue is a montage of the characters, past and present, including one of Randall packing up William’s things and crying, which can only mean that he has died. I’m hoping they expand on this more.

Meanwhile, the answer to Jack being alive or dead has been answered by Kate.

Toby suggests a date night after a meeting, but Kate tells him it’s Sunday, football night, because the Steelers are playing. She’s very vague about it, saying she watches alone. He suggests watching together, and she turns him down. During the meeting, however, he passes her an invitation to watch at his house. And because she’s smitten with him, she agrees. However, when she gets there, he has a friend there, and all they want to do is chit-chat and not watch the game. She leaves abruptly.

Later, Toby goes over to Kate’s to find out what’s up. She’s still super vague. And then she finally opens up and explains how she used to watch the Steelers when she was younger with her father. When she grew up and moved out, she stopped the tradition until 2006, when the Steelers eventually won the Super Bowl. And she’s been watching the games with her father ever since. When Toby says he’d like to meet her father, she says sure and brings over an urn.

How Did Jack Die?

This question, unfortunately, is not answered in “The Game Plan.” However, we now know that present-day Jack is dead — and now, apparently, so is William. As I mentioned above, I hope they expand a little more on William’s death (and Jack’s, for that matter). But I know it will all play out in due time.

I’m happy that Kate finally opened up to Toby. After he confessed to her that he was suicidal after his divorce, it is only fair that she let him in. It’s clear he’s very into her, even eating the healthy food she makes him. He’s done nothing to make her doubt that he’s interested. But I know she needs time to accept that — and herself, for that matter.

Kevin is just a nut. Sometimes, he needs to just quit while he’s ahead. But he’s one to just do without thinking, which I guess is what makes him, him.

It was interesting to see that Rebecca never really wanted kids. I hope they keep expanding on this more. It’s clear she loves her kids, but even after they are born, she has clearly struggled.

What did you think of “The Game Plan”? Do you like the way This Is Us jumps from past to present? Do you think the story is moving along at a good pace? Were you surprised by either Jack or William’s deaths? Let us know in the comments below.

This Is Us season 1 airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on NBC. Want more news? Like our Facebook page.

(Image courtesy of NBC)





Contributing Writer, BuddyTV