THE UPSHOT
Two awkward dinners dominate the screen this week. Jack and Rebecca play host to Randall’s African American teacher Mr. Lawrence and his wife. Randall and Beth invite Malik’s parents over for dinner on learning that Malik and Deja skipped school.

Creator: Dan Fogelman
Cast: Milo Ventimiglia, Mandy Moore, Sterling K Brown, Chrissy Metz, Justin Hartley
Seasons: 4 (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019)
Streaming on: Hotstar

SPOILERS AHEAD!

Malik (Asante Blackk) and Deja (Lyric Ross) continue to meet (despite Randall and Beth’s disapproval) and he convinces her to ditch school for a day to show her around Philadelphia. He takes her to his favourite haunts and the fact that he knows everyone intrigues her. Due to constantly moving around she has never experienced the sort of permanency that Malik takes for granted. She experiences flashbacks of her trip with her mother and feels a deep connection with the city and Malik. Even though things get too real too soon, she feels a sense of calm with Malik that was missing in her life until now.

Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca (Mandy Moore) are set to host Randall’s teacher Mr. Lawrence and his wife. Jack is jittery as he gets ready, because of Randall’s affection for this teacher. Rebecca reassures him that nobody can replace his position in Randall’s life and that Jack needs to calm down. They have a pleasant enough dinner with a few awkward moments, but the dinner ends on a good note when Mr. Lawrence and Jack finally have a chat. Mr. Lawrence understands Jack’s turmoil and tells him that all Randall needs is more exposure to his culture without feeling he has to hide it from his family. Jack finally understands what his son needs and decides to be there for him.

Randall (Sterling K Brown) and Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) are dreading meeting Malik’s parents. Beth tells Randall to keep an open mind and give them a chance but ironically loses her cool when Malik’s mother Kelly (Marsha Stephanie Blake) makes scathing remarks about Deja and her past. Randall is cordial with Malik’s dad, Darnell (Omar Epps), but is unable to deal with Malik’s infant daughter who his own girls are quite taken by. Tempers flare and both sets of parents reach an impasse. Kelly and Darnell explain that even though Malik is a father, he is a sensitive young man and deserves a chance. In a parental win moment, Randall and Beth treat Deja like an adult and finally come to terms with Malik being in her life. They set some ground rules for their meetings and decide to get to know Malik a little more before jumping the gun.

The episode is a beautiful take on strangers colliding and testing relationships to eventually emerge victorious at the end.