Tuesday, January 9, 2018

This Is Us 2.11: “The Fifth Wheel”

“You wanted me to talk about Dad. I’m talking about Dad but I can’t say the only reason I’m messed up is because he died.”
- Kevin

Welcome to 2018 Pearson clan! We are finally back with our favorite family. And boy did we leave them in a not great placed at the end of 2017. Kate had lost the baby, Randall and Beth saw Deja go back to her mom and Kevin spiraled into a hot mess in handcuffs! When we next catch up with the Pearson clan, it’s been a month and Kevin is in court-mandated rehab. Kevin has asked the whole family to convene for a group therapy session and things are a bit awkward. Beth is furious with Kevin still but Randall reminds her that his brother was there for him when he really needed him so they’re going to do the same for Kevin. And Kate seems like she’s stress eating and hiding it from Toby. Things are only made worse by Kevin’s therapist when she insists on the session being just Rebecca, Kate and Randall. The spouses need to take a hike. Beth, Miguel and Toby end up at a bar talking about how there are certain “no fly” zones with the Pearson family, chief among them being Jack. Although, Miguel does defend his best pal a bit. It was nice to see them interacting without the rest of the family around though. I liked that Miguel was able to acknowledge that Rebecca and the kids went through something the rest of them can’t understand because they weren’t a part of it. But he’s okay being on the outside. I am starting to warm up to Miguel more and more.

In the past, we find the family when the Big Three are around ten years old. Jack comes home all excited to spend a week in a cabin (which makes me think it’s THE cabin) and Rebecca reluctantly agrees to go. I suspect things are going to be a little rough with the kids as we start to explore Kate’s weight a little more and Randall may face some bullying in school now that he’s wearing glasses. Kevin is a few days late to vacation thanks to being a summer football camp but things are not as happy as everyone hopes. Jack and Rebecca the same argument over Kate’s weight again and Jack promises to try and get her to be more active. This involves trying to get her to play football with Kevin and all Kevin wants is his dad’s attention for a little while. But Jack says the wrong thing that sends Kate running off. And then, out of frustration, Kevin lashes out at Randall. Kevin is really just not in a great mood, telling Rebecca that she sucks when she asks if he took Randall’s glasses. That night, the other kids end up in bed with Rebecca and Jack and Kevin ends up on the floor (even though he doesn’t realize his mom gets on the floor with him too as he sleeps).

In the therapy session, I felt like at the start we got Actor Kevin as he was making his apologies to his family for how he hurt them and for not being there for them when they needed his support. It just felt so disingenuous, like he was saying lines because they were expected of him. And when the therapist says they need to talk about Jack and how he wasn’t so perfect, everyone gets really uncomfortable. Especially Rebecca and Randall. I don’t think Kevin is ready to deal with his feelings about Jack’s death. And if he does, it’s going to be so messy. And messy it is. Kevin rightfully points (at least from his point of view) that Kate and Randall were the favorites for his parents and he was always second best. He says that he tried to fill the void with things and that ultimately led him down a darker path. When Rebecca proclaims that she loves all her kids equally, things get really heated. She tearfully admits that she didn’t tell her kids about the possibility of being more prone to addiction because she didn’t want to color her children’s’ memories of their father. And then Randall lets into his brother about Randall’s perspective on things. Kevin fires about why Tess was in the car. I have to agree with Kevin that Randall brought all these people into his home without consulting his wife and kids and Tess became unimportant. And as Kevin pressed Rebecca to just admit that Randall is her favorite, she breaks down and exclaims that Kevin recoiled from her, was angry for no reason as a teenager and then abandoned her after Jack died. I was not expecting that and my lord did it make me cry.

In the end, all of the tears and emotions seem to be leading to a good place and some healing. Kate is able to admit to Toby that she’s been eating junk food and she acknowledges her weight issues are more complicated than she wanted to believe. Randall apologizes for not being supportive to Kevin and it seems that maybe now, Rebecca and Kevin will have a better relationship. I was a little worried they weren’t going to at least sort of resolve that tension between them after Rebecca’s admission. I want to know more from Kevin’s perspective on why he left when he did. There’s always more I want to know with this show. I am glad that they are still presenting Jack as such a good guy. Yes, he had a problem and he worked to confront it (and maybe he succeeded and maybe he didn’t) but at his core, he was a good man. And while I do want them to reveal how he died so we can all stop speculating, there is so much more I want to know about Papa Pearson. Namely his brother and time in the military. That’s got to be a juicy story there just waiting to come out.

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