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'Us' Recap: Part 2

Daniel Hautzinger
Douglas, Albie, and Connie in 'Us.' Photo: Masterpiece
Douglas is working hard to be a better father to Albie. Photo: Masterpiece

Us is available to stream. Recap the previous part.

Decked out in a colorful new pair of sneakers he bought to prevent further blistering, Douglas once again finds himself alone at the hotel breakfast with the friendly Freja. They have a more substantive conversation and Douglas decides to go sightseeing with her after they share complaints about traveling solo. Freja describes the end of her marriage, saying she needed to let go of her husband once he wanted to leave, even if she didn’t want to.

Then Connie calls Douglas with a lead: she found Kat on social media and saw photos of Albie busking in Venice. Douglas recognizes the spot and rushes off to find his son, despite Freja’s lament that she won’t see him again—she’s leaving tomorrow morning.

When Douglas returns to the hotel that evening without having found Albie, he goes to Freja’s room and asks her to dinner—he insists it’s not a date. When Connie calls, Douglas ignores it. He ends up telling Freja about his daughter, June, who died soon after birth. The experience tied Connie and Douglas together with their shared guilt, rage, shame. They still acknowledge June’s birthday every year.

After parting that evening, Freja comes to Douglas’s hotel room. She falls asleep, clothed, next to him. He can’t sleep, and sneaks to the bathroom to call Connie. The divorce isn’t about June, is it? he asks. Connie assure him it’s not. She tells him that Albie has moved on to Siena and asks him to come home.

Douglas quietly leaves a note for Freja—he will think of her with some regret, he writes—then sets off for Siena. When he settles onto the train he realizes he’s starving, so he hops off to quickly buy a sandwich. During his bumbling interaction with the Italian-speaking waiter, the train pulls away with his bag—and wallet—on board.

When he finally boards the next train, he calls Connie, who again asks him to come home—you’re not really looking any more, she says; I know what you’re doing. But Douglas’s phone is almost dead, so he hangs up.

Connie is avoiding talking to the neighbors who wonder where the rest of the family is, but she does open up about her hopes and fears of being single again to one of Albie’s favorite teachers when she runs into him. She and he bonded once during a trivia session where Douglas embarrassed everyone by insisting on a recount after his team seemed to have lost.

Douglas himself is a bit lost—and tired—so he falls asleep in a plaza in Siena, waking up to find half of his face badly sunburned. He runs into Kat busking just as two policemen arrive to arrest her—she doesn’t have a permit and hasn’t paid any of her fines. Desperate for news of Albie, Douglas tries to stop them so he can talk to Kat and is arrested along with her.

She won’t tell him where Albie is, but does share that he’s confused and angry: he thinks he has always disappointed Douglas, and can’t stand the tension between his parents. Douglas then sympathetically listens to Kat’s own relationship problems with Albie: they have split up. She finally tells him that Albie is in Barcelona before leaving to pay her fines.

Free to go but having nowhere to sleep, Douglas asks for a cell in which to spend the night—but leave the door open, please. He calls Connie and apologizes for failing. He will come home now.

But when he leaves the police station the next morning, Kat is waiting for him. She has sent a cryptic text to Albie asking to meet by the “magic fountain” in Barcelona—Douglas can go find his son. Douglas gives Kat a hug, and she tells him to give Albie some “proper” love. He sheepishly borrows money from her and sets off for Spain.

He checks into the hotel he and Connie stayed at during a trip taken to alleviate Connie’s depression after June’s death. It’s where Albie was conceived.

Albie fears he himself is going to be a father, given Kat’s text, so he’s agitated even before Douglas shows up. When Douglas appears, he yells that he wanted to be alone and storms off. At least let me apologize for what I said in Amsterdam, Douglas interjects. Albie feels constant contempt from Douglas; I’m not even your favorite child, he says, referencing the box of June’s things that Douglas and Connie keep in the house.

Finally, Douglas convinces Albie to sit with him for a minute. He tries in his fumbling way to make amends, and shares that Connie wants a divorce. I’m very proud of you, and would hate if you didn’t know that I love you very, very much, he tells his son. Albie agrees to join Douglas at his hotel.

For once, Douglas has no schedule, and lets Albie plan the day after calling Connie to let her know Albie is safe. He and Albie take a siesta—they have to rest before going clubbing that evening. At dinner, Albie remembers moments of Douglas’s disapproval—at a photography exhibit, when building Legos—and decides he wants to leave his father and go to the coast to swim the next day. But Douglas has become much more flexible and kind towards his son, who then invites Douglas to join him.

But first, the club. Douglas gamely tries to party with Albie and is pleased when a woman tells him it’s great to see a father spend time with his son with no inhibitions or tension. Observing Albie, Douglas realizes he is gay and asks him about it while taking a breather outside. Douglas is accepting but sad that Albie didn’t feel he could tell his parents. I didn’t want to disappoint you in another way, Albie replies. He asks Douglas to tell Connie, but Douglas says that Albie should: she’ll be thrilled to hear it from him. They go back in to dance more.

By the time they leave the club, it’s light out. Exhausted, Douglas barely makes it to the train to the coast. Despite his distaste for the beach, he lays out with Albie and goes for a swim—during which he is stung by jellyfish. Telling Albie he’s fine, he stumbles to his hotel room and collapses to the ground—he’s having some sort of cardiac problem. Albie eventually calls to check in on him and comes to the room when he doesn’t answer. Albie calls an ambulance. As they wait for it to arrive, Douglas tells his son he’s frightened. If I’m not ok, tell your mother… he starts. Never mind; she knows.

Douglas requires surgery; Albie sits with him in the hospital overnight to wait for it. When Douglas wakes up from the operation, Connie is there. He can’t fly for two weeks, so Albie has booked them a flat in Barcelona, using Douglas’s travel insurance. Albie himself is off to Ibiza with friends. Douglas doesn’t try to stop him.

Recalling his promise not to get dull to Connie after they moved into a new house—she didn’t want to leave the city and start a new life but finally agreed on the condition of getting a dog—Douglas tells her he wishes he had been more fun, especially around Albie.

Douglas also encourages Connie to take up painting again. He is considering leaving his job in admin to go back to doing research, which he loves as much as she loves painting.

And yet however much Douglas has changed in this short vacation, Connie still wants a new life. They know everything about each other. When he begs her to stay, she says let’s wait and see what happens.

After dropping Albie off at university and crying in the car, they begin packing up and dividing their possessions to the soundtrack of the first mixtape Connie made for Douglas, then go to bed together. The next morning, she sets off with her things for a new flat in London. Douglas gives her the box of June’s stuff—he would just like copies of the photos at some point.

I never thought it was a mistake, Connie tells him before leaving. Meeting you, marrying you, was the best thing I ever did. When June died, I wanted to die too, but for you. We weren’t a failure; our marriage was good. Life will go on.

And it does. They see each other occasionally for dinners, or at an exhibition of Albie’s that features photos he took of Douglas in the hospital. Douglas praises his son’s work. When he and Connie leave the exhibition, in opposite directions, she is with friends, he is alone. But he has somewhere to be: an art museum, where Freja is waiting for him.