Thursday, February 14, 2019

This Is Us 3.12: “Songbird Road: Part Two”

“You jump at the chance to save everyone else on the planet. He’s our uncle. He’s family and suddenly you have to be home for dinner?”
- Kevin

If you thought this week’s half of “Songbird Road” was going to be uplifting like Randall finding and welcoming William into his life and home, you, like Kevin, were going to be sorely mistaken. The Big Three manage to convince Nicky to go with them back to their hotel but he’s clearly not comfortable in the strange surroundings. He pulls the shades, checks all the closet ands and bathroom and locks the door. Kevin insists that they have to help their uncle get help for his alcoholism and PTSD and very quickly he’s left with telling Rebecca the latest. It turns out Kevin stays up all night trying to find veteran’s programs for Nicky. Nicky doesn’t seem overly interested and then things take a turn when Rebecca shows up. She needs answers from her brother-in-law and it isn’t going to be what she’s hoping for. After Kate and Randall head out and Kevin’s attempt to get Nicky into a program fails, Rebecca has a conversation with Nicky. She admits she was scared to meet him because she didn’t want to unravel Jack’s narrative. She tries to connect with Nicky, pointing out that Jack had been newly sober just prior to his death and that he would have found his way back to making amends with his brother at some point if it hadn’t been for that damn fire. And she points out Kevin, too, has been struggling with sobriety. Nicky rightfully points out he’s not going to be treated like a pet project. Not everyone can be fixed or is willing to accept the help.

As Kate and Randall head to the airport so Kate can get home for a doctor’s appointment, she recalls the weekend when Jack went to see Nicky in 1992. It’s interesting to see how all of the family members recall this weekend differently. For Kate, she remembers creating a ridiculous pizza and having a sequin fight with her dad and Randall (while making Valentine’s Day cards for her class. Randall recalls the angst that Jack was going through. We see Jack unable to sleep and Rebecca offer to take Kevin to the mall to get one of his rookie baseball cards signed, leaving Jack home with the other two kids. He’s not really paying much attention to what they are doing and instead goes to sit by himself outside and then work out to try and relieve some stress. When he gets back inside to see the mess the kids have made with the pizza and the cards, he kind of snaps and ends up throwing a plate against the wall. Randall recalls the darker side of that weekend, while Kate only remembers the good times. Randall points out that Jack did his job by making her remember the good stuff. They do decide to go swing by where the old house used to be and meet the new family who lives there (who has their own issues) but I don’t think they are particularly relevant.

Speaking of Kevin and Rebecca in the past, we see that Kevin—for all his whining about being ignored—isn’t thrilled to spend time with just his mom. He pitches a fit when she wants to get out of line and get food. And when Rebecca spot shim chatting with the player from a far, he refuses to tell her what they talked about. So, she resorts to asking the player and we see that Kevin has the capacity to be caring and thoughtful to others (and he knew how libraries worked). It’s hat desire to help people that is going to Kevin in trouble in the present. He’s devastated when Nicky turns down his help. He goes back to Nicky’s place to try and clean it up and he leaves a frustrated voicemail for Zoe before sitting down and taking a huge step backwards. He ends up downing most of the bourbon sitting on the table. The look on his face as he’s doing it and after just breaks your heart. He knows he’s faltered but we also know that he doesn’t handle that sort of slip well. He isn’t one to seek support from others even when he needs it most. I just hope he’s able to recognize that he needs help and it is okay to lean on other people. I suspect that things with Zoe are going to take a nosedive as well once she finds out what’s he done. I half expected him to admit what he’d done to Rebecca at the end of the episode; he looked so despondent and ashamed.

I liked how this week’s episode showed the same weekend from various perspectives as the characters reflected on it in the present. It was a different approach from last season’s Big Three individual-centric episodes leading up to Jack’s death. I also like that it showed how people remember the same situation differently, colored by perception and what was going on in their own lives. I’m disappointed to see that Kevin has taken that step backwards in his journey but it also quite clear that he didn’t know what he was expecting to get out of the whole journey looking into Jack’s past. I get that he’s mad at his father for keeping all of this from them. It hurts to know the people you looked up to as a kid aren’t perfect. But it will be interesting to see where the show goes from here. I know we have a Beth-centric episode coming up and I am very much looking forward to seeing the life experiences that shaped Beth. I also suspect we haven’t seen the last of Nicky. Now that he’s out there in the world and the Pearsons know about him, there is a chance to revisit him, although unlike with some of the other characters, I’m not sure we are going to need to get that added backstory and information. We explored him pretty in-depth.

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