‘Don’t Take My Sunshine Away’ examines the Pearson’s happily ever after’s.
It’s normal for a mother to wonder if her children would one day grow up and be okay, but not all happy endings are necessarily happy.
Life is a struggle right now for the Pearson clan, and it seems things may only get worse for Beth and Randall before they get better. If they even get better.
A season of frustrations and subtle jabs between the once happy couple has built up to this very moment and it’s all fueled by a pretty massive misstep on Randall’s part.
Okay, it wasn’t just a misstep, Randall acted like a complete asshole while Beth, the strongest woman on the show, held it together for the sake of painting the perfect picture for the Councilman.
Real women don’t air out their problems in public. Beth was composed, almost too composed, and dutifully played the role of supporting wife, which made it evident that tensions were going to come to a head the moment they left the Councilman’s house.
Beth let him have it for belittling her and for once, it was nice to see Randall be held accountable. Much like Kevin, Randall always gets away with everything because he’s so inherently good. But that also means when he does mess up, it’s that much more noticeable.
He couldn’t just weasel his way out of this because what he’d said was “in the heat of the moment.”
However, neither Randall or Beth is right in their arguments.
Both of them want their dreams realized but neither of them wants to make the sacrifices for each other.
Almost immediately into his first day on the job, it dawned on Randall that he was in way over his head with his new position.
This office isn’t made for someone who has a family and needs to be home in time for dinner.
It’ll be interesting to see how this storyline plays out since the alternative to working together and as a team despite feeling the pressures is that they call it quits.
Juggling three daughters and careers without a significant other’s support seems more daunting than their current reality.
It’s also seriously upsetting because we’re talking about a couple who could always figure everything out. They were each other’s rocks. Are we really going to flush all that down the drain?
Also at a crossroads? Kevin.
He’s blindsided by Zoe’s admission that she doesn’t want to have children and is forced to make a major decision about their future together while also dealing with AA meetings and couples therapy.
Given Kevin’s recent struggle, dropping something so serious and life-altering on him doesn’t seem like the best course of action.
But surprisingly, Kevin deals with it pretty well.
He finds a sounding board in Sophie, his ex and once assumed ‘true love,’ who helps coax him into making the necessary decision: he chooses a life with Zoe over possibly having children one day.
While Kevin makes plans for his future, he also makes amends with his ex by sending her tickets to Billy Joel as a gift for her recent engagement.
If I didn’t know any better, I’d think This Is Us wrapped up a storyline with a little bow on it, but the fact that they decided to bring back Sophie solely to guide Kevin and inform us of her engagement makes me a bit skeptical.
There has to be a more complicated reasoning for their run-in, right?
Will Sophie realize she wants to be with Kevin? Will he want to be with her?
The middle-school dance narrative fell a little flat in my opinion. It didn’t serve much of a purpose other than to give us some needed Jack screentime, some cute moments with Jack and Rebecca, and a cloying moment where Jack talks about what would have happened if they’d both met in middle school.
The other part that stood out to me is how effectively manipulative Kevin was. Encouraging Sophie to participate in a toilet paper prank when she clearly doesn’t want to is so effortless on his part. The point is honed in when Zoe talks about Kevin’s ‘charm’ at getting everything he wants during therapy.
He chose Zoe over children, but there’s a possibility his decision could spiral into a complex story of manipulation. Maybe that’s what he secretly believes will happen because Sophie convinced him that he’ll “get what he wants.”
Zoe is very secure in her decision not to have children, so I hope Kevin would never try to change her mind by using her love for his as leverage.
Much like Sophie, I think Zoe is really good for Kevin, but their relationship could become problematic very quickly.
Jack commends Rebecca on how effortless raising the kids is to her because of her upbringing whereas his childhood was less conventional and thus, parenting has been a bit of a challenge.
This moment directly mirrors what Toby and Kate are going through during their sixth straight day in the NICU with a preemie baby Jack.
Kate’s bonding with her baby despite the circumstances by singing him songs and talking to him, but the same can’t be said for Toby who can’t see past the tubes when he looks at little Jack.
Toby works through his anxiety and fears with another father, Gavin, which is much more effective than unloading his fears onto Kate who is already terrified but remaining strong and brave in the face of adversity.
The realization that Toby and Kate are ‘lucky’ in their situation because other parents will never be able to take their babies home is painful.
Though the storyline is heavy, it’s well-executed and shines a light on storylines that are important yet rarely get portrayed on television. The inability bond with a child is familiar to many parents regardless if their children were born weeks in advance or right on time.
- Poor Rebecca and Jack. They couldn’t even get a little naughty in the library without being spotted by their brainiac son.
- Randall and Beth continuously complain about their overlapping schedules and echo wanting to save money, but then somehow have the ability to fly across the US on a whim and go to lavish dinners on weekdays. Who is watching their children? How can they afford that babysitter?
- Where were all the other Pearsons? The former episode focused on all of them refusing to leave the waiting room but now, none of them barely mentioned Toby and Kate. Randall and Beth left almost immediately while Rebecca was nowhere to be found.
- What’s wrong with Beth teaching solely on weekends while Randall brings in the bread during the weekdays? And why can’t she find a freelance gig when the girls are at school?