Thursday, February 11, 2021

This Is Us 5.07: "There"

“That’s the thing about parents. That’s why the loom large in our heads, I think. They mean a thousand things all at once. And even long after they’re gone, we’re stuck with them.”
– Jack

So, I’ll be honest, this episode did not end where I expected it would. We start off with an image of a crashed car on fire and a close-up of Kevin’s wallet with his ID in it. Of course, we’re dealing with the This Is Us writers and so they’ve clearly faked us out. Granted, they usually aren’t this blatant about it. We find out that Kevin is a week shy of wrapping his filming in Canada but Madison calls saying she thinks she’s in labor. We also see a call between him and Kate before he talks to Madison. Apparently Ellie (her and Toby’s birth mom) is being induced that day. I highly suspect that the twins and Hailey will be the next generation Big Three. The news that Madison is in labor sends Kevin into a bit of a panic as she’s six weeks early (duh, dude), and he wasn’t expecting it. Multiple people (mainly his agent and the director) tell Kevin they’ll try to wrap up his scenes that day in like six or seven hours so he could get to LA the next day, meet the babies and fly back. This does not work for Kevin. He doesn’t want to just swoop in for a photo op and then jet off. We haven’t seen all of what he’s been doing in his time away but it seems clear he is consciously making Madison and the twins a priority over his career. In fact, he tells the director that none of those plans will work and he gets in his car and starts driving for the airport. Along the way, he tells the director he quits the film because the guy is being such a dick about everything. It’s very interesting to see Kevin actually put family over his career. He’s been so focused and driven by trying to famous and popular, it’s just nice to see him making that distinction.

Along the way, he talks with several family members, including the scene from the last episode with Randall. Throughout the episode we see Kevin struggling to make it to the airport (Miguel and Rebecca find him a direct flight out of Seattle) but on his way, he sees a crashed car in a cell phone dead zone. He pulls over and rather heroically gets the guy out of the gar. But unbeknownst to him, he drops his wallet and ID on the ground in the process of the getting the guy back to Kevin’s car so they can get to the hospital (just not the one Madison is in). I will say before Kevin happened upon the accident, they did one hell of a job trying to convince us that wreck could have been him. He nearly gets hit or veers into oncoming traffic multiple times as he’s trying to deal with phone calls. In LA, Madison explains to a nurse that she doesn’t really have family she can call to be with her and the two people she’s closest to (Kevin and Kate) aren’t exactly around. And then, Randall calls and tells her that he and Beth can stay on the line with her as long as she needs as they head back to Philly from New Orleans.

The past storyline gives us some insight into why Kevin is so driven to be there for the birth of the babies and not just drop in and out. We had two sets of flashback in this episode that informed the present-day storyline. In the far past, we see preteen Jack (or maybe early teens) playing little league and he prays before the game. It turns out, he was praying that his team would win so that when his dad inevitably got drunk, he’d be happy, rather than a mean drunk. Unfortunately, this time his team lost and when Jack tries to get his dad to wait a while before going home (he can’t come out and say it’s because of his dad’s drinking), his dad blows him off. Ultimately, he tells Jack to drive home then. This is clearly a brand new experience for Jack and he’s nervous for a whole host of reasons. But he makes it home unscathed and even gets some praise from his dad. Then we see Kevin getting ready to go to football camp for the weekend with Jack. We see Kevin trying to review some plays before they leave and when they get to the hotel and he meets some players from Penn State who will be running drills, Kevin gets so nervous he throws up. He then tells Jack he thinks he’s not good enough to play football and if he doesn’t have football, then he’s got nothing. We’ve always known Kevin had some self-esteem issues. Jack insists that football isn’t all Kevin is or has and take shim to the hotel bar for a nice steak and cokes. Before they go, though, Kevin confides that his coach yells at him every day which Jack tries to brush off as being “old school”. Then Kevin admits that the coach calls him stupid basically every day. This clearly sets Jack off and that’s part of what prompts the bar visit. He suspects the coach will be there and ends up confronting him in the bathroom, telling him to never call Kevin stupid again. Jack vows to be at every game, too not just to support his son but to ensure that the coach is behaving himself. Back at the bar, Jack tells Kevin that he tried to be better than his father but feels like he failed by pressuring Kevin with sports. Kevin assures his dad that he’s nothing like grandpa.

But as we see Kevin get to the Seattle airport only to find he’s not go his ID, he realizes he may in fact miss the birth of his children. He’s trying to be better than his father (who he believes would have stopped and rescued the injured guy and still found a way to get to the births) but he’s really struggling. We’ll have to wait to see how the episode resolves but I’m hoping for a good outcome.

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