Wednesday, October 28, 2020

This Is Us 5.01 & 5.02: “Forty: Parts One and Two”

“This world is a bright and resilient place. And we fight on.”
- Beth

Boy is it good to have the Pearson clan back on our TV screens. It’s silly to say but I will fully cop to having a slight sense of normalcy creep back into my life now that this show is back on the air. I know that the world is on fire and everything is terrible and our country hangs in the balance, but damn is it good to have this family’s drama to enjoy.

It wasn’t a shock to me that the show worked in several current social issues. After all, we have always known that the show plays out in roughly real time and so we pick up in March 2020 just when the pandemic hits. We get to see Kevin find out the news form his agent as he’s with Madison. Over the length of the double episode opener, we get to see a bit of an evolution of Kevin and Madison. I may still be secretly longing for Sophie to come back but it seems for now, at least Madison is here to stay. After sharing the news with Kate and Toby, we see them trying to figure out their living situation. Kevin suggests they could rent a big house and quarantine but Madison offers her guest room. It’s a little awkward at first, but they seem to settle in (including hooking up again at least once). They do seem to have kind of an easy back and forth which is kind of sweet. When Madison trips over a suitcase and panics she hasn’t felt the babies move, Kevin dons his mask and whisks her to nearest urgent care facility. All is eventually well but Kevin proposes and after telling her he isn’t taking it back, I guess they’re engaged?

Speaking of Kate and Toby, they are on the adoption train and as the Big Three’s fortieth birthday approaches they get their profile sorted on the adoption website. By episode’s end, their journey to becoming Hailey’s parents is well underway. I will say that I thought that particular plot point was a bit rushed. Then again, I suppose we don’t know if the person they have been matched with is going to be their birth mother. Those kind of stories tend to have their own ups and downs.

And then there’s Randall. He’s still reeling from that epic fight with Kevin and as the country slides into chaos and not only the pandemic but the civil and racial unrest begin to bleed into his job as a Councilman, he tries to manage all of the stresses. He’s seeing his therapist twice a week over Zoom but it seems he’s not getting the most out of those sessions. We get a very powerful moment of him watching the George Floyd video footage. He is clearly rocked by this tragedy as is the rest of the family. On his birthday, he actually has an interesting conversation with Malik about it. Malik explains that he and his dad take a walk after news like that breaks. Randall confides he’s never had anything like that because growing up in a white family, issues about race were never discussed. We also see Randall admitting that there are things he doesn’t feel discussing with his white therapist and therefore, he’s going to be getting a black therapist to help deal with his issues. And I have to say I felt for Kate when she asked Randall if they were okay and she says she never asked or talked about these issues when they were kids because she didn’t want to say the wrong thing. And I totally feel where she’s coming from. Sometimes being an ally while also acknowledging your own privilege is painful and uncomfortable. I do hope we get to see them come back and be closer together, though.

When the Big Three’s birthday actually hits, we catch glimpses of Rebecca’s moment of getting lost and while everyone starts to freak out, including Randall driving to the cabin where everyone has gathered, we ultimately learn it was a bad reaction between her medication and an allergy med she took for some poison ivy. It will pass. She confides in Miguel that she’s more scared of forgetting the little details as her memory fails her. I expected Kevin to get snippy with Randall who caught med error but he didn’t. You could see they wanted to say more to each other but they both stopped themselves. The snippets of Rebecca’s memory slip aren’t the only ones we get to revisit. We get to see a new side of the day the Big Three came into the world, including getting a lot more information on Randall’s biological mom, Laurel. We see her struggle with heroin addiction and that his birth was particularly painful for her. We see her OD and William call the paramedics for help. We even get to see him and Jack cross paths unknowingly at the hospital after he drops Randall at the fire station. He begs God to forgive him because he can’t raise Randall on his own and Jack prays that God brings Rebecca through the difficult delivery with the triplets. We catch a glimpse of Jack reaching out to his father, asking what he prayed for at church all those years ago. His dad said he was praying his boys would turn out better than he did. They had such a turbulent relationship. I hope we get to explore some more of it. The biggest shock of the season opener was of course in the final moments when we cut to William fleeing the apartment with baby Randall in his arms. The paramedics are about to pronounce Laurel dead when one of the medics gets a pulse and she comes back around. So, somewhere out there, Randall’s biological mother is probably wondering what happened to her son and when they finally meet, she is going to no doubt rock his world!

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