Tuesday, November 14, 2017

This Is Us 2.08: “Number One”

“You are my purpose Kevin. I swear to you son, you will find yours.”
- Jack

We are in the final three episodes before the fall finale and the writers have decided to do something different. For the next three episodes we are focusing exclusively on one of the Big Three and this week’s episode is all about Kevin. Poor, stupid, Kevin. His life is a hot mess right now. We find him staying in a hotel just washing down pills with booze and wandering around the hotel room in a daze. When a housekeeper shows up and he lets her in, it becomes clear that he’s not been outside in like a week. As she starts to clean up, he gets a call from the homecoming coordinator from his high school to ask if he will be there for the alumni honors ceremony. He decides to go but when he gets back to Pittsburgh, he has to stop by the house and he gets hit with a bunch of memories of being a little kid playing football in the backyard with his parents and siblings.

In the 1990s, we find the Big Three starting to fill out college applications and Kevin has a scout from Pitt coming to meet with him. Kevin is so not interested in it but Rebecca and Jack insist on him meeting with the scout. Kevin does everything he can to show he’s not interested and doesn’t think very highly of the school. After the scout leaves, Jack rips into his son (as he should for such poor behavior) but Kevin throws it back in Jack’s face. I suspect that Kevin was hit the hardest by Jack’s alcoholism and recovery. He just seems so angry. I wonder if adult Kevin even realizes what he’s doing right now in the present is exactly what his father did and what he was so mad at him for. Later that night, Jack tries to apologize to Kevin but Kevin (much like he did when he was ten years old on the camping trip shuts down). But as Kevin tries to write the apology letter to the scout, he goes back upstairs to apologize to his dad and finds Jack ending a call with his sponsor and then reciting the serenity prayer that they use in AA. I don’t think Kevin quite gets how his actions affect other people. Kevin is still mad at Jack, though, because he’s taking Randall to a college tour and missing the big game where Kevin ends up injuring his knee. We also see Jack give Kevin his pendant. It’s the Buddhist symbol of purpose. Kevin’s dreams may have died with this injury but Jack is certain that Kevin will find a new purpose in his life. And mark me down for yet another scene where my heart broke because Jack is never going to get to see his son grow up.

Kevin’s arrival at the high school is filled with more flashes of his teenage years until he runs into someone he went to school with (not that he remembers them) and admits that he and Sophie got divorced, back together and split up again. He also spills the baby beans about Kate. All the while he’s downing cheap red wine to keep his buzz going. Well, until he realizes he needs to give a speech. The award he’s getting is presented by his former coach who he intermittently sees as Jack which I found very touching. But Kevin is in no mind set to accept the award. Not when there are other honorees like the plastic surgeon who works with Operation Smile. But the crowd just cheers, oblivious to his pain and as he heads off to the football field we get this great monologue where he admits he can’t get through the pain of everything without the help of pain killers and we also learn that the time between Kevin’s injury and Jack’s death isn’t too far off because he says specifically that he was able to walk just in time to bury his father. Oh, it is painful (all the while he’s ignoring calls from Kate and Toby which makes me worry given that the writers have said that these three episodes take place over the same period of time looking at each of the Pearson kids). And then, in a super creepy move, the homecoming coordinator (who is like 16) asks Kevin if he wants to party. I know he’s in a rough place but dear lord I hope he doesn’t sink that far. I’d say the fact he hooked up with the doctor is a good thing, except the next morning he rifles through her medicine cabinet looking for pills and ends up stealing some pages from her prescription pad to write himself some scripts and sneaks out of the house. I really hope someone manages to get him to admit he’s got a problem and starts on the road to recovery.

Kevin is about to fill the prescription when he realizes his dad’s necklace is missing and he races back to the woman’s house who he slept with but she refuses to let him in and he legitimately breaks down on her front yard, sobbing that he needs someone to help him. That someone may turn out to be Randall because the next we see Kevin, he’s showing up at Randall’s house and when Kevin is about to come clean, Randall says that he knows Kate lost the baby. And yes, I about lost it (even though I assumed that’s where this was going). I truly hope that this is the end of Kevin’s spiral because his sister is going to need him to lean on. Yes, she’s got Toby and Randall and Rebecca and the rest of the family but they’ve had that special bond their entire lives and I suspect he’s going to feel even worse when he realizes those missed calls were her needing her big brother to be there for her.

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