Tuesday, November 22, 2016

This Is Us 1.08: “Pilgrim Rick”

“I’m thankful for my family. I’m thankful that we’re safe and there’s no one in the whole world I’d rather be too hot or too cold with.”
- Jack

Welcome to our first Thanksgiving with the Pearsons! In the mid-1980s (when the Big Three are around 8) we see that Rebecca is making cranberry sauce. She’s obsessing over making it perfect to compete with her sister. It seems their family tradition is currently to go to her parents’ house. None of the kids really like it. Kate hates the handmade (and super itchy) sweater that her grandma made and Randall hates it when they always ask for pictures of “just the twins”. And just as they are ready to leave, the boys come crashing into the kitchen and make Rebecca drop the sauce! They get a late start on the road because they had to spend 2 hours finding the right cranberry sauce substitute and then they get a flat tire, leading them to go on a hike (we are beginning to see the new tradition develop). As they walk along, Jack and Rebecca come up with a game to keep the kids occupied. They want them to say what they’ll do for Thanksgiving as adults. At first Kevin wants to be a football player and eat a big turkey but when Randall says he hates Thanksgiving, the twins chime in that they hate it, too. And not just because of going to their grandparents’ house. Rebecca gets kind of mean. And then Rebecca does what she believes is the unthinkable—as Jack tries to get a tow truck and some food, she calls her parents and tells them they aren’t going to come anymore. They end up at a funny lodge run by a guy named Pilgrim Rick (in a big hat) with only Kraft singles and saltines to eat and a Police Academy movie on the TV. And then Jack borrows Pilgrim Rick’s hat and sets a really sweet tradition into motion involving hotdogs wrapped in cheese and crushed crackers. The way he is always working to make his kids happy is just so heartening. This makes me so sad that Jack is dead in the present. His kids still need him!

In the present in LA, Kate is preparing to go to New York to spend Thanksgiving with the rest of the family (hey we get everyone but Jack in the present, how cool is that?) but she has some personal and painful things to do first. She’s out to dinner with Toby and she tells him they need to take a break because she needs to get a handle on her whole situation and she can’t do that with the way Toby is acting at the moment. It was really painful to watch and the emotion coming off Kate’s face was just gut wrenching. We also see that Kate is having a hell of a time getting to be with the rest of the family. The plane hits some serious turbulence and she ends up kind of bonding with her seat mate.

Back on the East Coast, Kevin convinces Olivia to go to Thanksgiving with him. And we also see that Randall takes Thanksgiving super seriously. He gets up really early and gets into the kitchen to start cooking. He also wakes everyone up (even if they don’t want to get up). As Kevin heads out to get Olivia, Rebecca and Miguel show up. I have to say it is very interesting to see that both Randall and Kevin call him “Miguel” rather than “Dad”. Neither of them seem to like him all that much. Especially when Miguel asks Kevin about the play and if he’s having fun in rehearsals. As we saw in the past, the family has to hike to get to their destination and now part of the family tradition is to go on a hike. We also learn about what William used to do (hang with his sober friends) and about Olivia’s family (the essence being her father was cheating on her mom and they didn’t get to the desserts). I like how we are learning about the other people’s traditions.

Randall heads off to William’s apartment to get the recordings of William and his friends playing during previous Thanksgivings and he declines Rebecca’s offer to join him (Beth has tasked her with telling Randall the truth about her and William by the end of the night) and we also see more of how much Kevin (at least) doesn’t like Miguel. There’s some part of the family tradition with a hat involved and Miguel wants to wear it. Kevin quite rudely says that it won’t happen because Jack wore it and now Kevin and Randall take turns. And then his day gets even worse when Olivia walks out (all dramatic and very much romantic comedy-esque). William talks some sense into Olivia (he can be wise and the way he described what it feels like to die was beautifully poetic and I have to wonder if she’s getting a similar lesson out of this that Kevin did at the funeral) and she goes back into the house.

In New Jersey, Randall finds the tapes that William listened to but he also finds a letter that seems to really upset him. While Kevin allows Miguel to take over as Pilgrim Rick, Randall gets back and you can tell he is upset but he isn’t saying anything. He’s simmering and I can just tell once everyone is together, it’s going to explode! Before dinner, we see the final Person family tradition, pulling on yarn (originally from Kate’s awful sweater) and saying what they are thankful for. But when Randall gets the yarn, he tosses it on the ground and about loses his damn mind (with good reason). You can tell a part of him wants his mother to explain but the bigger part is so hurt, he just can’t handle looking at his mother or being in the room with her. So he leaves, just as Kate arrives and announces she’s going to have gastric bypass surgery.

I knew coming into this episode that it would be emotional (then again what episode of this show isn’t?) and man it delivered. I’m so glad we get to spend more time with this family as they come through their struggles.

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