Thursday, May 27, 2021

This Is Us 5.16: “Adirondacks”

“I can’t marry someone who’s not in love with me. I know it’s ironic but I think you have finally helped me realize that I am worthy of that.”
- Madison

So, the big day is upon the Pearson clan and you know that things aren’t going to go off without a hitch or several. Before we get to the bride and groom, let’s take a quick look at the other Pearson siblings. Randall is in a great mood until Rebecca asks to talk to him about his trip to New Orleans. She wants to know what happened on his trip and to hear about what he learned about Laurel. When Randall starts showing her pictures, Rebecca breaks down crying and Randall is visibly grateful when Kevin shows up needing his Best Man. Later on, though, Rebecca explains to Randall that she has carried the guilt and shame around for years that she robbed her son of the chance to know his birth parents and that when she cries hearing about the stories he’s learned, it’s because she’s hurt that she kept that from him, not that she’s jealous.

On the other end of the spectrum are Kate and Toby. Toby finally tells Kate about the San Francisco job offer but notes they will need him in SF three days a week. He also drops on her that he needs the job because while he loves the kids, he can’t be with them all the time. Kate is upset but as she talks to Madison as they get ready, she realizes that she promised to put Toby’s needs above her own. I’m not sure that’s entirely what marriage is about but this prompts her to try and resign from her position at the music school to try and support Toby. Except Phillip wont’ accept her resignation because she’s talented and the kids love her and on occasion, her jokes are funny. So going into the back half of the episode we knew things weren’t great.

And then there’s Kevin and Madison. Kevin is running around like a lunatic trying to make sure everything is perfect for Madison. This means enlisting Miguel and Nicky to fix the altar that Madison designed and which broke. And when Beth asks Kevin if he thinks Madison will flip if she alt4rs Tess’s dress (because of course Tess has to have some drama going on), he can’t handle it and retreats to his room to get ready. (Side note: Deja finds out Malik got into all the Philly-area schools and Harvard…which clearly bothers her because that means he wouldn’t be doing long-distance with his ex-girlfriend to see the baby but Deja would be long-distance). As Kevin starts to get ready for the wedding, Madison shows up. Up to this point we’ve seen some flashbacks to her life. First we see her mother leave (interesting, her mom is British) and she leaves Madison with a pair of earrings. But Madison’s mom just can’t deal with her dad anymore. Then we see her dad being rather callous about the fact the boy she wanted to ask her to the dance asked someone else. He tells her to basically settle for anyone that will go with her. And then we see a failed relationship because she was more into the guy than he was into her. This all leads Madison to show up at Kevin’s door and ask if he’s in love with her. She’s definitely in love with him but being with him has shown her that she doesn’t need to settle for not being loved back. He goes on about loving their family and instating that what they have can and will grow but that’s not enough for her. So, that whole being married with kid’s by 40 thing isn’t happening.

As the Big Three and Rebecca settle into the Adirondack chairs Nicky bought as a wedding present, we get to hear that Rebecca is having a harder time envisioning Jack in family situations. We also got to see a little flashback to them when Rebecca just wanted to watch the Dynasty finale to find out who gets murdered at the wedding but Jack taped over it and they argue several times. The kids are around four or five and tell their parents that they need to get married again. Cue the adorable living room wedding where they all pledge their love to each other and it’s super cute!

And then, because it wouldn’t be a This Is Us finale without a surprise flash forward, we see Kevin preparing what we assumed initially were wedding vows. But then we see that it’s in fact the future. We see Randall chasing down Nicky (who mentions having a wife) to get him ready as Kevin heads into the room where the ladies are getting ready and we learn that Kate is getting married again. The dress isn’t the same she wore when she married Toby but it could still have been vow renewals (it is in 4 years as Kevin notes to Madison that he is a 45-year-old grown man). But it becomes clear when Kevin ducks out and we see Phillip in a tux that things have gone very differently. It appears that he and Kate are getting married. Given what we’ve seen of Phillip so far, he’s been kind of a tool. It will be interesting to see how we get from that position to him wanting to marry Kate, and her saying yes. I am not looking forward to seeing her and Toby finally implode but it’s kind of been building all season so it’s felt inevitable. But this also suggest we might get to see older Phillip in the future with old Rebecca. The writers are going to have to fill season 6 with a lot of storyline to fit everything in. We’ve got a lot of story left to tell for the future and I just want to make sure we get it all in, especially since next season is the final season!

Friday, May 21, 2021

This Is Us 5.15: “Jerry 2.0”

“Some love stories are written in he starts. But some others are written together. Two people the universe had no plans for, writing their story in the stars together.”
- Miguel

Because of COVID, we are two episodes short this season, which makes this episode the penultimate episode of season 5. It looks like, much like when Kate got married, we’ll be ending the season with a wedding. We hope, anyway. Because it is Kevin, and you sometimes never know.

But this week find the Person clan gathering to share in Kevin and Madison’s bachelor/bachelorette parties. And admittedly, I have to say on the whole, the ladies had more fun than the guys but both parties were interesting and moved the story forward. And in a way, so did the flashback. So, let’s start there. In the past, we see Kevin come home from pilot seasons, not having landed anything. Sophie is happy to have him back because their time apart was really hard for her. Randall and Beth are dealing with the possibility of being apart for the summer if she takes an internship in Boston, but Kevin keeps saying it will be “no big deal”. Man, he can be clueless sometimes. They all head up to the cabin for the weekend (I’m guessing it’s the first time Kate’s been back there since what went down with Marc) and she’s off brooding. As Rebecca ends up giving Beth some great motherly advice, Kevin and Randall watch jerry McGuire. It is apparently Kevin’s favorite movie and he saw it with Jack in theaters when it first released. This becomes important later on. But, after watching again, Kevin writes a mission statement to Sophie about where he sees their lives. Clearly none of that happened. At least not with Sophie.

In the present, Kevin and the guys (Toby, Randall, Nicky and Miguel) head to the cabin and it’s kind of a sad affair. They’re sitting around and Kevin is kind of mopey because he had a call from Sophie earlier in the day and it’s just put him in a weird mood. Toby is oddly quiet, and Miguel is obsessing over Rebecca. And then there’s Nicky who just flat out tells it like it is and that’s kind of awesome. They end up watching Jerry McGuire again and Nicky points out that Kevin is basically Jerry. Nicky thinks Kevin is marrying Madison because he thinks it’s the right thing to do but Kevin finds his uncle’s assessment rude and mean. Randall comes through though and drags everyone outside for a campfire and some real talk. They air their worries and life stuff, and Toby admits that he really needs a job and there’s one prospect in San Francisco but that would be nearly impossible. Obviously he’s not told Kate any of this and this just adds fuel to the fire that makes me think they are headed for a break-up before we get to the old Rebecca flash forward. Nicky admits that he only had one relationship half a century ago and it failed, and he’s been scared to try again and so anything romantic just puts him in a bad mood. And then there’s Miguel who spent a lot of time worrying about how he and Rebecca came together because, we all know that Rebecca and Jack had one of those “written in the stars” romances. But Miguel points out that some people get written together. Two people who you wouldn’t think would end up together, do. And I think that helps put Kevin in a better mindset. That night, he deletes Sophie’s number from his phone. So, maybe he’s ready for the big day.

Over with the ladies, things get a little awkward when the male model Kate hired to come so they could paint him naked. He and Madison used to date. Oops! But, hey, he’s handsome and still down to let them paint him. Admittedly, I thought they were actually going to physically pain ton him when he first said it but them painting his portrait made a ton more sense. As they do, we learn that he ghosted Madison and then they turn to her relationship with Kevin. Kate thinks that Kevin would have fallen for Madison eventually, even without the babies, but Madison isn’t so sure. He didn’t exactly ghost her, but he wasn’t exactly responding to her flirty texts. Then, later when they ae playing a game where Nicky asked Kevin questions about Maidson and Madison had to guess the answer, things seem to be going great because they get the first question right. Then when Madison explains what she expects they’ll be doing once they are empty nesters (lots of travel), Kevin replies that it’s a trick question because he never wants to get old. This triggers Kate to remember his mission statement from the cabin where he tells Sophie that they’ll grow old together. She worries that her brother doesn’t make Madison happy. Maidson assures her friend and future sister-in-law that she is happy, and that Kevin has shown up for in ways she never would have expected from the pretty-boy famous actor. But that night as she watches the video over, the look on her face doesn’t reflect that happiness. You can tell she’s unsure of what she’s walking into.

So, that tees us up for yet another Pearson wedding. It seems that Kevin will get what he wanted: a wife and kids by the time he’s forty. But there’s still a lot of answers we’re missing to fill in some of the gaps to get from where we are now to that future trip to the cabin where Rebecca is dying. Where’s Kate? Is Madison still around? And will we see any more of adult Jack and Haley. IF we do, does that mean we might see Nick and Franny, too? What about Tess, Annie and Deja? They’re only going to have 18 more episodes to fit in so much story and we won’t be getting it until 2022.

Friday, May 14, 2021

This Is Us 5.14: “The Music and the Mirror”

“When I look at you, I see all of you. All the Kates you’ve ever been all the versions might still be. You might not have always been an easy daughter, but you were always easy to love.”
- Rebecca

We are in the final episodes of the season (thanks COVID for cutting the seasons short by a couple episodes) and we are hurtling towards a Kevin/Madison wedding. Madison is going dress shopping with Kate and Rebecca and at the start of the episode, Madison is worried about making a bad impression on Rebecca. Because she knows and gets along with “Kate’s mom” but has never really interacted with “Kevin’s mom”. But she’s got nothing t worry about. As she tries on dresses, she gets emotional about everything (and the fact that her asshole dad isn’t coming to the wedding) and Rebecca jumps in to reassure her. Madison finds the perfect dress (it has pockets!) and seems to be in a good place. Rebecca and Kate also seem to be in a good place. We see in flashbacks to when Kate gets her job at the diner. She was supposed to go for an interview at the office where Rebecca works but she didn’t want to. Over dinner, she tells Rebecca that she should “get her wins” from Randall and maybe Kevin, but that Rebecca is always going to be disappointed by Kate. In the present, Kate apologizes for being such a difficult teenager. Kate also tells her mom about her new job and Mama Pearson actually joins Kate for choir practice and remarks that she sees joy and passion in her daughter again, something she hadn’t seen for a long time.

If only Kate could actually share that joy with Toby. They seem to be tiptoeing around each other. She doesn’t want to share how much she’s loving her job because she doesn’t want Toby to feel bad and he doesn’t to tell her how much he hates being a stay-at-home dad because he doesn’t want to make her feel guilty. It’s just not a good situation. And he’s really struggling. When a pip bursts in the kitchen, he insists he can fix it himself and that they don’t need a plumber. But eventually he has to call his dad who comes over and fixes the issue (along with some fun commentary by their neighbor who sort of came over to keep an eye on Jack and Hailey). I just keep thinking if the two of them don’t start talking to each other, their marriage isn’t going to last. Given that we haven’t seen Kate yet in the flashboards and that Toby arrived alone, I am really starting to suspect they don’t make it long-term.

Elsewhere in the episode, Kevin is dealing with the screening of the movie he was making while Madison was pregnant. It’s the firs time he’s seen the director since he walked off the set when the babies were born. While he gives the director a glowing response, he admits to his agent that the movie is terrible. The agent agrees and apparently the buzz around Hollywood is that it’s the worst film Kevin has ever been in. He’s trying to salvage things by finding another project before this one really hits the wider community but all that’s been sent are crappy movies and ones where he’d have to deal with kids and be shirtless. His agents point out that he has a reputation for walking off his projects and they reference the big blow up on the Manny and when he walked off his New York play. He’s going to have to find something if he wants to save his career (and it looks like Uncle Nicky might actually be the one to help him because he took all the scripts and is going to read them all). As they’re getting ready to leave, Kevin spots Zoe on a computer screen. She’s having a Zoom meeting with her agent and they chat a bit about what they’ve been up to and Zoe points out that he is always willing to change to please other people (she doesn’t say it in quite those words but that’s basically the gist). She insists it’s a compliment, but you can tell by the look on his face it’s an insult. And even when he gets home that night and tells Madison he wants to watch one show, she says she wants to watch something else, and he agrees.

Across the country, Randall is really worrying about Beth because we see in montage her trying to keep the studio open during COVID and having to transition to doing it over Zoom (and the number of students dwindling to just one or two). She eventually decides she has no choice but to close the studio down and she’s stress eating. Randall has to go off to meet a State Senator and he asks Deja to keep an eye on Beth (who has an informational interview with an urban planning interview). Deja is going through some stuff with Malik and his ex and the baby. She’s annoyed about him sending her videos of his ex with the baby calling her mama and yet she also knows that Malik knows not to push Deja until she’s ready to talk. She sees that the relationship is unstainable with him and his ex, but he needs to come that conclusion on his own. Beth starts the informational interview and the person she’s speaking with realizes she’s double booked and asks Beth if they can reschedule. Beth kind of cracks up laughing and then heads to the studio to pack up. This somewhat parallels young Beth in college, throwing out all her dance shoes and giving up on ballet. When Randall tries to take her to the ballet to celebrate six months together, she freaks out. Back at the dorms she explains that she tried to be the very best she could, using the mirrors in the studios to correct every little flaw, but that it wasn’t good enough. Randall very sweetly asks her to dance. In the present, he shows up (after twisting Deja’s arm to get Beth’s location out of her) and plays the same song and dances with her. It’s just enough to show that he’s there for her and I thought it was really sweet. We know from the flash forwards that she’s got another 9bigger) studio so I’m eager to see what happens between now and then.