Tuesday, October 3, 2017

This Is Us 2.02: “A Manny-Splendored Thing”

“You know, Beth, that’s the only time in my mother’s entire life that he’s actually risked failure. The only time, do you know how hard that was for him?”
- Kevin

Have you finished reeling from last week’s closing moments yet, Pearson clan? No? Okay, me either! But, it’s time to move forward with our favorite family and see where this crazy journey takes us next. While we initially catch up with Rebecca and Jack as they get home after Rebecca tells Jack they will combat his drinking together, most of their story takes place when the Big Three are nine-year-olds when Jack kicked his drinking the first time. We briefly get a rehash of when Rebecca told Jack he needed to stop drinking and he promised he would for her. The next day, his boss calls him and yells at him for messing up some building permits. His co-worker suggests a “liquid lunch” but Jack begs off and almost goes to an AA meeting. But instead, he heads to the kids’ school and has a sweet little heart to heart with Kate. There’s a talent show that night and all three kids are participating. Kevin is doing an impression, Randall is doing a yo-yo trick and Kate is singing. But Rebecca is pushing Kate and she’s not happy about her mom’s pressure. Jack understands but says that Rebecca is just trying to make her better. At home, we see Rebecca pick out a floral print dress and alter it.

Things start to look up for Jack when instead of getting a drink at five at work, eh ends up going to a boxing gym to try and keep his promise to Rebecca. And at home, Kate is all excited to wear the dress that Rebecca made for her until she hears Rebecca singing in the shower (the same song Kate plans to sing). Kate doesn’t want to go on at the show and Kevin is pretty ridiculous (although Sophie laughs). The next morning, Jack explains to Rebecca that he kept his problem to himself back in the day but he can’t do it anymore so he goes and has a very honest conversation with Kate about his problem and that he hated to disappoint her. It has to be so hard to be a parent have these parts of yourself that you don’t want your children to know about. But, by episode’s end, Rebecca is dropping Jack off at an AA meeting.

In the present storyline, Kevin has been asked back to “The Man-ny” for a special episode and he’s invited the whole family to come see the taping of the show. Kate is stressing out about seeing Rebecca because every time her mother comes to visit, she’s always critiquing Kate and Toby is trying to impress Miguel. Everyone still kind of is lukewarm on the guy and until we know how it happened that he ended up with Rebecca, I’m with them on the cold shoulder treatment. Beth is also annoyed at having to go across country to watch Kevin tape a not-funny show. But hey, the flight will give Randall the chance to fill out the insanely detailed foster parent questionnaire. And then, there’s Sophie. Obviously, everyone knows she and Kevin are back together and even Kate seems cool with it. I want to see more about why Sophie initially didn’t want Kate knowing they were back together!

Slowly, one by one the Pearson family leaves the taping before Kevin’s done. First, Beth and Randall leave because Randall needs a walk and he confesses that it isn’t the fact his father had a drinking problem or that his biological father had a drug problem that’s holding him up from finishing the foster parent forms, it’s that Beth was so ready to answer “yes” to question about whether they are able and ready to potentially take a child with serious abuse issues. He is questioning whether they are actually ready for this and to put their girls through this. Beth reminds him that they’ve already talked about this but they need to table it until they get home. And then, Kate gets a call from the band she’d auditioned for because they need her to fill in for the lead who got strep. And then Toby and Rebecca leave to go support Kate. So, Miguel is left to watch Tess and Annie while Kevin freaks out that the writer of the episode changed the ending to humiliate Kevin. It is a pretty humiliating scene (he’s in a diaper crawling around like a baby) but everyone, Sophie included, is laughing at it. And then we get a scene I wasn’t expecting and it was also touching. Beth mistakenly ends up in Kevin’s dressing room and she rants ab it about Randall and then Kevin points out that he was the one who helped Randall to get Beth to go out with him in college. It was a nice way for the two of them to connect, even when they don’t always get along or really like each other. And this paves the way for Randall and Beth to tell the girls about their foster plans.

And then we get Kate singing at the club intercut with Jack at the boxing gym getting out his frustrations. We see him flash back to not only being a younger man watching his father drink but also the very first glimpse of his time in Vietnam, climbing out of a helicopter, rifle in hand. It was a really powerful montage and I think the writers and producers did a great job intercutting that. But then Kate has it out with her mom and Kate explains how she always felt not good enough for her mother and that her mom was trying to mold Kate to be the person Rebecca wanted to be. It was definitely harsh but I think Kate needed to get those feelings out in the open. And Toby totally stands by his woman, which Rebecca seems to respect. So, for the moment, the Pearsons seem to be in a good place but it is inevitable that calm is just waiting to deliver the storm.

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