Wednesday, November 14, 2018

This Is Us 3.07: “Sometimes”

“I can’t talk about it, Vietnam. The things I did and saw, I don’t want to bring that part of my life into this, with us.”
- Jack

I enjoyed this episode of “This Is Us” more than I have some of the others. While we didn’t get nearly the amount of information or answers we probably wanted about Jack and Nicky, that’s honestly not that surprising. They dole out answers in bits and pieces and I feel like we got some more of Jack’s war story as Kevin and Zoe made their way to Vietnam in the present.

As we see, post-war, Jack and Rebecca are embarking on their roundtrip across the country to LA so she can meet with a record executive. She’s got high hopes for her demo and Jack is kind of there for the ride. He’s got some business he needs to take care of nearby which he won’t tell her about. In fact, while they start to get more into each other—slow dancing at a diner and making out in a myriad of hotel rooms—Jack still can’t let Rebecca in on the pain he’s carrying around from the war. She wakes him one morning from a nightmare bout he claims not to remember his dreams and he says he never cries because he’s learned to swallow the bad stuff. I’m not sure that’s a good tactic, Jack but it is probably accurate for how men coming back from this particular war dealt with it. As they make their way across the US, we see Jack trying to deal with Nick during the war. He’s high and at first he thinks Jack isn’t real and then Nick’s commanding officer kicks Jack to the curb. Jack has to walk back to the village he’s stationed in and he ends up getting a ride from a local. It is interesting that it seems this guy may be Viet Cong (or as he eventually puts it to Jack…sometimes). But, Jack eventually makes it back to his village and then Nick shows up. His commanding officer gives Jack two weeks to straighten is brother out. Nick seems unhappy that Jack stepped in.

Not surprisingly, Rebecca’s meeting with the record guys doesn’t go how she wants. He says she’s good but she’s “Pittsburgh” good. She tries to take it as a compliment. While she’s getting this rather brutal feedback, we find that Jack has gone to see the parents of one of the men who died under his watch during the war. He goes to tell them that he is responsible for their son’s death and he is sorry for what happened. God, it broke my heart to see him placing the blame on himself. They rightly tell him it wasn’t his fault. And when he meets up with Rebecca later, he asks her to sing the song she’d sent as the demo. She’s reluctant at first but as she sings, we see how much it touches him and he starts crying. Kudos to Mandy Moore for writing a sweet song.

In the present, Kevin and Zoe land in Vietnam and Kevin is understandably excited to see what he can find about his dad’s time in country. Zoe doesn’t seem quite as excited and she sort of freaks when he takes a selfie of them and is going to post it to Instagram. She says her dad is in China and he would try to reach out if he saw she was in Vietnam. She doesn’t elaborate beyond that and Kevin accepts it, even though you can see he wants more. They end up eating lunch at a market where Kevin sees a tourist with the necklace his father had given him and he quickly learns that tons of them are sold all the time. He’s disappointed because he thought the necklace was such a key piece. I think it still may be. After all, a man bought it for a woman but he discarded it when he saw her with another man. Another guy picks it up and then when he dies, a woman takes it off his body so it clearly has a story. Still, Kevin is kind of moping about the whole thing when Zoe asks to go back to the hotel. At first Kevin thinks she’s just being a party pooper but when she gets sick, he rushes her back and even buys her coconut water. Kevin may be kind of a dope sometimes but he can be awfully sweet when he tries. He explains that his parents built a relationship on secrets with Jack not letting Rebecca in on his life before they met and it worked for them but Kevin doesn’t want that for him and Zoe because he’s falling in love with her. I appreciated the parallel that the writers drew between these two stories. I also get why Jack didn’t want to talk about the horrors he experienced because he didn’t want what he had with Rebecca to be weighed down by everything he was feeling. After Zoe divulges the deal with her father, I can see why she wanted to keep it quiet and why Beth previously told Kevin that Zoe’s history is complicated. She was sexually abused by her father and every so often he reaches out to try and make amends but she doesn’t want to forgive him. She’s let what he did to her affect her life and relationships for so long, she doesn’t want to give that part of her history power anymore because she’s falling for Kevin, too.

As I mentioned at the start of this post, I liked this episode. It did move storylines forward, if a bit slowly. But, they’ve got the rest of the season to dole out this information and I know that the writers will give us all of Jack’s story eventually. I have faith in their ability to give us all the pieces to the Jack Pearson puzzle. I am excited to see how the story continues to unfold as we hit the Thanksgiving episode for the season.

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