Wednesday, September 28, 2016

This Is Us 1.02: “The Big Three”

“What did I ever do those first two minutes without you?”
“You cried and crapped a lot.”
“Yeah, that sounds about right.”
- Kevin and Kate

Before we even dive in to this week’s episode, I wanted to share that NBC has already picked up “This Is Us” for a full season (to be comprised of 18 episodes). This is the first new show this season to have gotten a back order and at the time of the pick-up, had only aired one episode! The power of this show is amazing. And boy does it continue to give us unexpected twists and turns.

Life for Jack and Rebecca has changed quite a bit since they brought “the big three” home. The kids are now eight years old and the boys are definitely not getting along. We see very early on that the fact that Randall is black is an issue for Kevin. He keeps calling him “Webster” (a reference I don’t get as I wasn’t around in the ‘80s). We see that Kevin doesn’t like that people don’t think he and Randall are brothers (even at such a young age we see that Kevin was always concerned with what people thought of him). We aren’t quite sure why he craves the approval of others but I’m sure we’ll find out as the story goes on. Randall, in the shadow of at least his brother (and probably his sister) strives to be perfect and good. Again, we see that drive for perfection is reflected in who Randall is as an adult. And Kate seems to have struggled with weight even as a child (given the cantaloupe and cottage cheese breakfast she’s forced to eat).

Perhaps the most interesting part of this look back at the Pearson family is the strain that is clearly evident between Jack and Rebecca. Gone is the happily married, madly in love couple we met in the pilot. The stress of trying to parent three kids is taking a toll and Jack isn’t handling it well. He’s become prone to going out late and drinking with his buddy Miguel (who I totally didn’t realize was Jon Huertas from Castle at first). Jack comes home drunk that night, after picking up lavish gift for Rebecca (in the hopes of smoothing things over) when she sits him down and tells him to man up. He needs to stop drinking and be a father and a husband because she’s putting in the effort to successfully raise their children and he’s not. After sleeping in the hallway that night, Jack promises to quit drinking cold turkey and be a better man. We get an adorable scene where they are making out on the hallway floor and the kids come out and pile on them.

In the present, we pick up three days after the big three’s birthday and things are still in flux for everyone. In the wake of his Man-ny blowout, Kevin is trying to figure out what to do with his life. He thinks everything will be fine and he can just move on to a new project. Too bad his agent reads him the riot act. The network owns him for at least two more years if he refuses to go back on the show, he won’t be able to do any movies and TV on any network for the duration of the contract. Not to mention they could probably sue him for a pretty penny. So now he has to attend a fancy Hollywood party and he insists that Kate go with him. I did really like the scene where he tells her about the party and we really get to see how close they are. They do act so much more like twins than triplets. We do see Kevin reach out to Randall in the hopes of getting some brotherly advice, even if they aren’t that close (although apparently Kate and Randall are closer). I can see Kate being the mediator between her brothers for sure. But after Randall makes them do the chant that Jack did at the top of the episode, Kevin has enough courage to tell the network to screw themselves. Maybe he’ll do theater.

Meanwhile, Kate is struggling with the fact that she’s not losing weight and everyone else around her is. She loses it a little during the support group and Toby tries to smooth things over. It seems like he really wants to be with her and I wonder if trying to smooth things out and make everyone (namely Kate) happy is one of his character flaws. Regardless, I adore them together and we need more of them. Plus, he goes to the party with Kate (who gets drunk) and it’s adorable. But as Kate starts to sober up, she admits that she can’t not think about her weight because it has been such a huge part of who she is (as we saw even from a young age). But Toby understands and he’s going to be by her side. I think this is going to be a good thing.

And then there is Randall. He’s not sleeping much and Beth is worried that William is overstaying his welcome. He’s asking for money and disappearing for the whole day and she is fearful he’s using drugs again and obviously she doesn’t want that round her children. But when she sits down with him in the middle of the night to have a heart-to-heart we learn that where he is going is kind of comical. He is using the money for bus fare like he said to go take care of his cat in Philly. Randall’s youngest daughter has asthma and William didn’t want the cat to cause problems because he likes being with the family. He says he feels better than he had in a long time. I had to laugh when he revealed that it was all about a cat. I like that we are getting to see (especially through Randall’s eyes) that this man isn’t the monster he always thought him to be. And then, as the episode closes, we see that the East Coast Pearson clan is getting a visit from Grandma and Grandpa. William quickly hides away but we are left to wonder what happened when we see not Jack standing by Rebecca’s side, but Miguel!

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