Wednesday, January 17, 2018

This Is Us 2.12: “Clooney”

“You gotta own your choices, boys. Own them fully. Don’t look back.”
- Jack

We are moving ever closer to what fans have been longing for since we first found out Jack was no longer among the living in present day: his death. We got a little, yet very important clue this week. Back in the 1990s, shortly after Kevin’s knee injury, Kate asks Rebecca to take her dress shopping for the winter formal. Rebecca is thrilled about this mother/daughter outing but it quickly turns into a full-on Pearson family extravaganza. Jack needs a new suit to impress his annoying boss and he decides Kevin needs a new suit to go to the dance (to get his mind off of his injury). And Randall…he’s doctoring Magic 8 balls to try and get a girl (who I want to say was with them when they find out Jack’s dead) to go out with him. And all the while, Rebecca had asked Jack to remind her to buy batteries for their smoke detector. Yep, they forget the batteries in their mall trip, leading me to believe Jack’s death could possibly be prevented.

Kate’s story in the present this week tracks nicely with her angst as a teen over finding a dress that fits. At her weight loss group, Kate explains that she and Toby are tying the knot in the spring and she wants to find a dress. Madison, the woman who Kate has had some animosity with in the past, books them a private appointment at a custom dress shop. It’s nice to see Kate bonding with someone who isn’t related to her (or her fiancé). But things get weird when Madison eats a bunch of snacks and then sneaks off to the bathroom. Kate tries to call her out on the bulimia but Madison flips out. In the past, we see that teenage Kate is able to fit into a size 7 dress but she wants to fit into a size 5. Back in the present, Kate gets a call from Madison who has fainted and hit her head. Kate reveals that around the time we are seeing in the past, she became anorexic to fit into a smaller dress, so Madison’s issues aren’t made up or crazy. I hope we get to see more of her in the future.

Meanwhile, Kevin is out of rehab and he’s staying with Rebecca and Miguel. I guess he thinks it will give him a chance to bond with his mom and maybe repair some of the damage done. Which is a great idea, except Miguel keeps getting in the middle of Kevin trying to have private time with his mother. The tension between them in the present is kind of reflected in the past when Jack and Kevin run into Miguel. Jack launches into one of his great Jack Pearson pep talks when Miguel reveals his ex-wife just got engaged but Kevin buts in and says that they should be able to wallow. So, sodas and wings in the food court it is. Naturally, Kevin whines about his lost football career and when Jack tells Kevin he needs to find the next “football” so to speak, Kevin brushes his dad off. This prompts Miguel to bring up the fact that once upon a time Jack wanted to start his own construction company but gave it up to keep his family happy and healthy. Though now, maybe he might start it up again.

Now, I don’t blame Kevin for having animosity toward Miguel. He’s someone they all knew growing up and now he’s taken the place of his father. In the present, Kevin outright asks Miguel if he was in love with Rebecca when Jack was alive. Miguel denies it, saying Jack and Rebecca were basically one person and so it would have been impossible for Miguel to be in love with her. I’m not sure I believe that but Kevin seems to buy it. He also buys it when Rebecca admits that Miguel makes her happy after having given up on happiness for so long after Jack died. I guess when you are married to such a great guy, it’s hard to see happiness anywhere when you lose them so suddenly.

And Randall may be following his both of his father’s footsteps. He gets a call to pick up a box of stuff from Willian’s apartment and in it he finds a poem written to a “Lady”. Randall, going into obsessive mode as he does, tries to figure out who his father may have been in love with before Jesse. The super of the building urges him to take a peak around William’s place again and Randall finds that the poem was about a Billie Holliday mural. I have to admit Randall’s storyline this week was a little erratic (complete with stray cat montages through the city) but it does come out at an interesting point. Beth is unhappy in her job and Randall isn’t trilled about the job interview he had so he decides they should buy William’s old building and fix it up for the tenants that live there so they can I guess honor William and also give Beth some purpose to her work again. I suppose Jack would be proud of his son for taking the initiative and starting something new at kind of a scary time in his life.

I have to admit, I didn’t get nearly as teary this week as I do most other weeks. It was still a strong episode and I liked we got some emotional growth for some of the characters. I still think there is a lot left to unpack with everything that came out of the therapy session but I have faith in the writers that we’ll get those answers eventually. And based on next week’s preview, we may be that one step closer to solving Jack’s death so that we can finally move on to filling in the big holes in his life like his military service and the whole history with his brother.

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