This Is Us recap: season 3 episode 16 “Please Don’t Take My Sunshine Away”

This week on This Is Us, Toby has trouble bonding with Baby Jack, R&B melt down, and Kevin has an important decision to make.

This Is Us is back and Toby has a hard time connecting with Baby Jack and seeing beyond the tubes and tape. Meanwhile Randall and Beth struggle with their intense new schedule, leading to strain in their marriage, and Kevin has an important decision to make.

Last time on This Is Us, we saw the premature birth of Baby Jack. While both Kate and Jack made it safely through the process, Jack was born very premature and has a lot of growing to do before he gets to go home. Randall and Beth stop by the NICU for a visit, Beth saying that Jack already looks stronger. Its time for them to get home though and they say their goodbyes. Kate sings sweetly to Jack, she’s there for him every step of the way. Meanwhile, Toby stands by distantly.

In the past, Jack and Rebecca get the Big Three ready for their first school dance. Kevin is gunning for his first kiss with Sophie, Kate just wants to have fun, and Randall is stressing out about his test on organelles. Jack and Rebecca are chaperones.

Randall and Beth return to their hectic schedule. Randall is busting ass at the office to get home and take care of the kids so Beth can get to dance class. He’s exhausted and they don’t see much of each other, but he’s still trying to be understanding and supportive.

Kevin and Zoe go to couples counseling. Kevin has been sober for four days and is trying out different AA meetings to find the right fit. Zoe can handle a relapse, but the sneaking around and lying is what she can’t deal with. She says she doesn’t want to be a sucker, and I think any woman can relate to that. It’s important to him to win Zoe’s trust back, because he can see having it all with her: settling down, having kids, moving to the ‘burbs. He backtracks on the ‘burbs part of this scenario, because who wants that?

THIS IS US — “Don’t Take My Sunshine Away” Episode 316 — Pictured: (l-r) Justin Hartley as Kevin Pearson, Melanie Liburd as Zoe — (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC)

Back at the school dance, Kevin dances with Sophie but will also make time to pull a prank later. Randall is still stressed about mitochondria, and Kate just doesn’t want to be embarrassed. Rebecca remembers her first dance and asks Jack about his. But Jack never went to a school dance because of his messed up homelife, which makes Rebecca so sad. She pulls Jack away from the dance to the library.

Back at the NICU, the doctors come to take blood and urine samples and Toby can’t handle it. He leaves to get some air. He comes back later after talking to another dad in the waiting room and apologizes to Kate for leaving like that. She says its fine, but he tells her its not and she needs to admit that he sucks.

She admits that it feels like she’s doing it all alone and that it does suck. He explains that he can’t see past the tubes and tape and pain to their son and he just doesn’t know how she does it. But maybe Toby hasn’t really looked at him, because Kate sees Toby in his eyes and her in his chin. She looks at Baby Jack and sees them.

Toby is afraid he’s not cut out for any of it, but Kate believes in him so much that she’s going to trust him to stay with Jack while she takes a shower. Later, Toby gets to hold Jack and gets to really look at him. Toby smiles for the first time since he was born, maybe for the first time seeing his son beyond the the machines.

Kevin and Zoe have a conversation about kids. They’re not in Zoe’s plan and they never will be. She likes her life and her freedom. Kevin thinks of kids as something that people do eventually, but he needs to decide if that’s something he really needs in his life. If it is, Zoe doesn’t want to waste either of their time.

Randall makes it to Beth’s dance recital at the very last-minute, making it just in time for the start but missing a nice shout out her boss gave her in the introduction. Beth is glad he made it, but seems a little bitter he missed the shout out. Randall asks Beth to come to a business dinner with him at the city council president’s house, it’s really important. She says she’ll be there.

In the school library, Rebecca tells Jack the best part of school dances is finding a secret place to make out with your date. But instead of privacy, they find Randall who has sneaked off to study. Rebecca scolds him, telling him that he made a committment to his date and that he needs to honor it. Later, Rebecca gets the DJ to play Frankie Avalon so that she and Jack can have the first dance he never got as a kid.

THIS IS US — “Don’t Take My Sunshine Away” Episode 316 — Pictured: (l-r) Mandy Moore as Rebecca Pearson, Milo Ventimiglia as Jack Pearson — (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC)

Beth tries to back out of dinner with Randall, saying she has the chance to be included in an informal meeting to discuss the future of the dance studio. Randall was taught that you need to honor the commitments you make, so he’s upset that she wants to change plans. He tells her he really needs her to be there and she basically hangs up on him.

Kevin runs into Sophie on his way back from an AA meeting. She asks if he’s okay, that she was really worried about him after he broke up with her. He asks her if she wants to get a coffee and she says she’s engaged. He shrugs and says coffee should be safe. So they catch up over coffee and Kevin tells her about the decision he has to make.

Kevin says he sucks at making decisions and Sophie says it’s probably because he’s not used to doing it. He’s never had to make a decision between one thing and another because he could always make it so he could always have both. Like at the school dance, he could have a date with Sophie and also spend time pulling a prank and still get the kiss.

Kevin goes home and tells Zoe that if he has to choose between a life without her or a life without kids, he chooses her, hands down, every time. Later that night, Kevin sends Sophie tickets to a Billy Joel concert as an engagement gift – since she and her fiance first met when he was playing Billy Joel on the piano at a party.

Outside the council president’s house, Randall waits for word or arrival from Beth but she’s not responding. He ends up leaving her a really angry, belittling voicemail. Bad move, Randall. Of course, half way through dinner she does actually arrive, saying that she got stuck in traffic and her phone died.

You can see the panic in Randall’s eyes when he realizes his mistake. There’s no taking that voicemail back, and while Beth is charming and pleasant, it becomes clear over dinner that she’s probably already listened to it. In fairness, he does own up to leaving her an angry voicemail and asks her to just delete it, but it’s too late. She tells him to go sleep on the cot in his office.

Randall knows that they need to have a real conversation about their issues, so he comes home and they gear up to have a really rough argument. So on next week’s episode of This Is Us, we can look forward to all of that. Oh joy.