Wednesday, September 25, 2019

This Is Us 4.01: “Strangers”

“It’s so strange, isn’t it? How a complete stranger can become such a huge part of your story.”
- Rebecca

The Pearsons are back and even though we didn’t spend a lot of time with them this episode, it still felt so good to have them back on our screens. I know some people were probably annoyed or unhappy with the new characters they introduced in the episode but as much s I love Jack and Rebecca, they will run out of story to tell and we need to expand. We’ve got a whole host of other characters to explore and increase their orbit.

We do catch up with Jack and Rebecca as they are getting back from their cross-country road trip. They exchange adorable goodbyes about not calling each other first and then of course, Jack calls her. She invites him to dinner with her parents and their friends at a fancy country club and Jack being Jack, tells her not to worry about anything. He goes to a store to buy a suit—even though we know he’s strapped for cash and jobless—and he meets Miguel! I think their friendship is born partly out of Miguel letting Jack take the sport coat since they aren’t doing any alterations and lets Jack just tuck the tag away and return it a week later. Hopefully without that little bit of lobster he got on it at dinner. Honesty, I wasn’t surprised by the way Rebecca’s parents acted and treated Jack. They clearly don’t have a high opinion of him, no matter what Rebecca’s dad says after dinner. But as we know, Jack isn’t giving up that easy and he wins out in the end. I did love how he matter-of-factly told them that his parents aren’t worth much and he lost a lot in the war. It was eloquent in that beautiful Jack Pearson way. And the night ends with Jack and Rebecca going to one of her old haunts and her singing during open mic night.

Throughout the episode we are introduced to several new characters. There’s Cassie Sharp, a Marine clearly dealing with PTSD and alcoholism. There’s Malik and his parents and his little (very adorable) baby girl. And there’s the unnamed blind musician and his cute diner waitress. I wasn’t entirely sure where any of these storylines were going until we got to the end of the episode. I wasn’t surprised by Cassie’s storyline necessarily. I was a little surprised by the waitress and musician and Malik’s storyline just makes me grin ear to ear.

When we first meet Cassie, she’s overseas in the Middle East, trying to get intel from a local woman. She’s ultimately successful but the higher ups change their plans and take out the terrorist they got intel on. It killed at least eight civilians. We also learn (and I have to believe it’s fairly accurate because I don’t see Dan Fogelman not doing his homework) they pay civilians $1,200 per death as compensation. That’s honestly horrible and sickening. And it brings Cassie to a point where when her husband tells her their water heaters is busted and will cost $1,200 to fix, she kind of goes into a trance and ends up hitting her son, Matt. Her husband kicks her out of the house for what she’s done (and the drinking no doubt) and she ends up at an AA meeting. As she’s talking about how she can’t feel anything, someone throws something through the window and we see Nicky standing there, sucking down booze. We later see that its’ the Big Three’s birthday and Kevin gets called to go deal with Nicky’s situation. So maybe people are right and she will be the mother of Kevin’s child in the future.

Malik and his family end up being from Philadelphia. He’s got to work now that he’s got a baby to support but when he tries to get in on some shady business from one of his customers—gang affiliated I’m assuming—his dad ends up dissuading him. I’m really interested to see Malik’s story and what brought him to this place. By the end of the episode we find him at his friend’s house where he meets Deja. By the look she gives Randall when she gets back, she’s clearly smitten. That’s going to be an interesting situation to bring Randall and Beth into when Deja finds out about his daughter.

Lastly, we have our blind musician (who I learned is actually both blind and a musician) and the waitress. He’s got a little dog (it looks kind of like an American Eskimo actually) who ends up breaking a plate so he’s got to go out for breakfast where he meets Lucy. She’s a waitress with aspirations of owning her own restaurant. We briefly see their friendship develop into a courtship and marriage before we see her reveal that she’s pregnant. Our musician is thrilled and we see him take the stage at the end of the episode, introduced as Jack Damon. As in, Toby and Kate’s son. We see them learn that he’s got retinopathy and he likely won’t every regain his sight. He’ll see lights and darks a little and some blurred shapes but that’s it. That really struck me that they’d really consider the effects of him being born at 28 weeks. It also hits close to home because that’s the same eye condition I have. I have more usable vision than Jack but still, it’s lovely see a character I can relate to. I know we likely won’t get a ton of Jack and Lucy and the next generation of the Pearson/Damon clan but I really hope we see him again because he’s very pretty to look at and he’s got a great voice. And I love that they are playing the musical skill through the generations from Rebecca to Kate to Jack.

This felt a little bit like the pilot in how it revealed the timelines at the end of the episode but I’m not mad about that. I’m intrigued by the new characters we’ve met and can’t’ wait to see how they enhance and deepen the lives of our core family.

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