Wednesday, October 2, 2019

This Is Us 4.02: “The Pool Part Two”

“I had a whole life before I met you. The things that make you uncomfortable remind me of where I’m from.”
- Deja

If you were worried that we wouldn’t get to spend some quality time with the Pearson clan in episode 2, fear not because we’ve got the whole family! In the past, the Big Three are about to enter seventh grade and have hit the point in puberty where they are too cool to be seen with their dorky parents. Still, Jack and Rebecca convince them to go to the pool one last time before school starts. Kate gets asked to hang out with the two most popular girls in school and Rebecca worries they are setting her little girl up for heartbreak. It doesn’t end up happening though. At least not like she thinks. The girls tell Kate that a popular boy wants to kiss her and to go wait behind the snack machine. Another kid shows up and she ends up kissing him anyway because he was expecting it to be her. The boys have a less than stellar time. Randall just wants to read his book (that’s so me) and Kevin has to show off of course in front of Randall’s friends by rapping and then embarrasses Randall who doesn’t know the song. Randall ends up ruining Kevin’s tape and the two nearly come to blows. Kevin then asks Jack if he’s a good person and Jack explains in a very Jack way that they are both dealing with stuff but that they are good people.

In the present, we catch up with Beth, Randall and the girls in Philly. Randall wants to do a family fun day (it’s amusing to me how he and his siblings resisted it back in the day but he wants to do it now). The girls are not interested, especially since Randall said he’d ride the bus with Deja to see if he feels comfortable with her riding it alone and Tess wants to get her hair cut. Both girls are trying to find themselves a little and both parents are obviously worried about them. Annie’s pretty chill at least. By episode’s end we learn that Deja’s motivation for the bus was because it takes her right by the car repair shop where Malik works. And we see Tess trying to figure out her own style with a cute hat. I am intrigued to see how the new characters fit in with our current cast.

Over at Kate and Toby, the family gathers to meet with a new specialist who is apparently supposed to educate and give them pro tips on raising a blind baby. Having been a blind child, I was really interested to see what they did with this part of the story and while I obviously don’t remember things from when I was that little (about 6 months old), it seemed a little early to be dealing with intervention type stuff. The specialist was going on about keeping furniture in the same place and having different floor textures to help Jack know what room he’s in. While that’s probably a good idea (lord knows I still walk into furniture when it’s moved and not where I’m expecting it to be), some of the things like dealing with sharp corners isn’t really a blind baby thing. That’s just a mobile baby thing (as in, we’ll have to babyproof our house pretty soon when our little guy gets moving on his own). I did find Kate’s ultimate outlook on things, about just having to narrate things to actually be accurate and ring true with my own experience. People know that if they go to a movie with me or watch something that has subtitles, they need to narrate it for me as I can’t read the screen. I also was touched by Kate and Kevin this episode. Kevin has been sober for 187 days (that’s how old Jack is at this point). But he worries that he’s just moving though life. He has a house plant to take care of but you can see he’s struggling not to get involved with Nicky more. He also worries that Jack cries every time he tries to pick him up. Kate explains you have to warn him since he can’t see what’s happening. Once Kevin learns to do that, things go much more smoothly.

We also get to see how all of this is affecting Toby, too. He’s losing a lot of weight (he’s going to the gym a lot) and he and Rebecca are both worried about Kate. She’s overeating and they both recognize that as a problem. Hopefully Kate sees it as the issue it is, too. And just when we think Kevin is jetting off to take a new movie role (we got to see him in an M. Night Shyamalan movie) he turns up on Nicky’s doorstep with his plant, ready to hep his uncle face his demons. And this definitely puts him right in Cassidy’s path. I just keep thinking she’s going to be his son’s mother.

Overall, I thought this was a decent episode. It moved things forward and while I’m sure I’ll have conflicting feelings and opinions on the baby Jack storyline as things progress—just because of my own experience as a blind person—I am hoping the writers treat it right. No, not every disabled person’s life and journey are the same and shouldn’t be portrayed like they are but I think the writers of This Is Us have usually handled sensitive topics well. So, while the infant tips specialist was probably a little unrealistic (It did provide a backdrop to address other issues), I trust them to proceed with sensitivity. It also might have helped if they also explained a little more of his journey in the NICU. All we saw was him getting off the vent. But hey, I also have Randall meeting Malik to look forward to!

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