At the start of the hour, “M. Night” Shyamalan, Kevin’s director, uttered this phrase: “this is the ending everyone wants and they still won’t see it coming.”
And he couldn’t be more right.
Most fans have been pushing for Kevin to date his longtime love, highschool sweetheart, and ex-wife, Sophie.
The episode, which focused on Kevin and dissected his trauma while also giving us plenty of Sophie and Kevin flashbacks that dated all the way back to their childhood, gave off the “true love” vibe.
It was the ending everyone wanted and yet, Kevin didn’t end up with Sophia.
Instead, the audience was thrown for a loop with a twist no one saw coming and one that angered fans mainly because creator Dan Fogelman nixed the theory seasons ago.
At the end of This Is Us Season 4 Episode 11 (an emotionally drive Randall-centric episode that opened up the dialogue around mental health and men of color), we saw Kevin in bed with someone and the hope was that it was Sophie, whom he spent the whole day with after her mother’s funeral.
But alas, it wasn’t Sophie, it was Madison, Kate’s bestie.
The actress that plays Madison, Caitlin Thompson, is Fogelman’s wife in real-life and he put it in writing that he would never, ever, ever allow her to hook up with Justin Hartley’s character.
Here it is in writing:
And then, he did just that.
Now, Fogelman never promised to keep his word, and he’s allowed to change his mind, but fans felt a little jipped and taken advantage of because it seemed like Fogelman purposefully wanted to mislead us.
Yes, that may be the fun of the show, but it’s also irritating unless Madison is the real deal and not just a one-night stand.
At this point, I’m skeptical to believe anything.
Why is Kevin’s dating life so important, you ask?
Well, it’s because the flash-forward to the Big Three’s 40th birthday reveals that Kevin has a fiancee who is pregnant and all bets are off as to who the lucky lady might be.
“It’s Been a Hell of a Week” did a stand-up job at establishing that Sophie and Kevin don’t belong together. It served as more of a tribute to their relationship than a chance for them to get back together, though, lord knows Kevin would have liked that.
Despite having so much history and a genuine connection, too much has transpired between them. They’ve missed their window.
The plot centered around Sophie’s mother’s funeral, and in a way, it was a funeral to their relationship.
As Kevin grieved Claire, his grief over his relationship with Sophie came to the surface He knew Claire supported him and loved him like a son, but he also knew that she never thought his relationship with Sophie would last, and he couldn’t prove her wrong.
He grieved not being enough, not being able to be that man for Sophie, and he was forced to accept that he never will be; he will never be worthy of that emerald engagement ring.
Kevin has shaped up to be the guy that would have been worthy of Sophie’s love, but timing is an essential part of a relationship.
He was ready now, but she’d given him so many chances that she couldn’t anymore. Plus, she’d moved on with Grant.
The connection between Sophie and Kevin was only the memory of Claire and of the past. It’s nice to get lost up in something nostalgic for a moment, in the “what could of been,” “what should have been,” and the “what was,” but it’s not reality, and oftentimes, it isn’t the future.
Claire knew that. Kevin knew Claire so he could help her grieve her mother unlike Grant who was a new phase in her life
Kevin was also someone who lost a parent and could relate.
The story was focused on making amends, acceptance, and moving forward, but it was about Kevin and Sophie and not about Grant, which is why we never saw him or met him. It didn’t matter who he was or what he looked like or what his dynamic with Sophie was because that’s what it was. It wouldn’t have changed the storyline in any way.
Sophie and Kevin aren’t meant to be anymore, but their friendship is something they both cherish, and it was a nice wrap up to the storyline.
And truly, I hope that’s what it was. However, that may not be the case given how Sophie looked at that emerald ring upon finding it.
Maybe she is the one, but before she could give him another chance, she needed to see Kevin’s growth and that he’s accepted a life without her in it.
Now, back to that cliffhanger.
Madison doesn’t strike me as someone that meshes well with Kevin, and the hook-up was surprising, however, plenty of relationships have flourished into healthy relationships after starting as just a casual thing.
Madison has always been a take-charge kind of gal who helped get Kate out of a funk. She’s been there when many others turned their back on her. She doesn’t leave when things get hard, and she’s loyal.
Those qualities make her a promising partner for Kevin if they’re both digging this relationship. I wouldn’t want them to both settle simply out of necessity because they both realize they’re almost 40 and lonely.
If Kevin is going to settle down, it better be with someone he’s madly in love with that’s equally as in love with him. Also, let him heed Claire’s advice: “we don’t settle.”
Hartley followed up with People after the episode and his comment makes it seem like this is just a one-off moment between two broken people who needed some comfort and found it in each other.
“For now you can assume that’s what it was because they both found themselves in a very vulnerable position,” he said.
He also explained that things get sticky because Madison is a family friend. The devil’s advocate in me, however, wants to point out that Hartley can say whatever he wants to leave the audience befuddled. It’s his job not to spoil anything.
Our whole focus on who Kevin ends up with is hinged on the idea that he is happy about his situation in the flash-forward.
Back in season 3, he told Randall that by 40 he wanted to be married with a baby, which means he’s putting the pressure on himself and maybe settling is fine by him.
It’s entirely possible that the flash-forward isn’t as “happy, go-lucky” as audiences interpreted.
We can’t forget that something happened that drove a wedge between Kevin and Randall. It could be the fact that Randall kept his mother’s memory diagnosis a secret or it could be something entirely different. The series loves to pull the rug out from under us so it’s never really certain where the storyline is headed.
Kevin’s at the point where in his life where if Madison was to get pregnant, he’d stay with her and support her. One of his honorable qualities and also his flaw is that he wants to be there for people and help them solve their problems.
This could be one of those situations.
After all, the 40th birthday is about 8 months away, which would line up with the timing of this “one-night stand.”
As for Madison being part of the family, Kate could either be jealous that she has to share both of her best friends or she could be happy.
Likely, Kate’s only concern would stem from the fact that she wouldn’t want Kevin to hurt Madison as he’s known for doing that on occasion. He even told Madison that he always leaves relationships before things get complicated.
And Madison told him that she always stays too long, which now that I think about it, could be foreshadowing. Could Kevin stay with Madison because he doesn’t want to be another guy that leaves and runs away from anything serious?
There’s a lot of possibilities here, so if you’re not happy about the mystery girl being Madison, there’s a huge chance it isn’t her.
Heck, for all we know it could be “hall pass Lizzy.”
Other This Is Us musings
- I didn’t like how they made Rebecca to be the ‘bad guy’ for the sake of Claire’s supportive storyline. Rebecca has always been supportive of Kevin, and wouldn’t have skipped his acting debut had she known about it and not been in a tizzy trying to pick up her life after his father’s death. Claire was the motherly-figure Kev needed but that doesn’t make Rebecca any less of a good mom.
- Kevin’s speech to Sophie about how she’ll eventually be able to go back to the coffee shop just like he went back to the forest, a spot where his “childhood ended,” was sweet. It shows how much he’s grown as a character.
- Sophie and Kevin’s “Good Will Hunting” game was a testament to their longlasting friendship and proves that though the ending may be different than they imagined, it doesn’t mean it’s not as good. Heck, it seemed to be better than anything they came up with.
- Sophie looking to Kevin for inspiration also showcased how important he will always be to her even if they aren’t romantically involved.
- The episode teased the next and final installment of the “Big Three trilogy” with Kate’s emotionally abusive relationship with Marc, the greaseball no one liked. Something tells me this one is going to be hard to watch.
- Also, in the present-day, Kate and Toby’s marriage is imploding, and it seems serious this time as they seemingly just got back from their retreat for families with blind children.
- Flashbacks to when the kiddos were young and scared to sleep in their “big kid” beds paralleled the storyline in a great way again. Jack telling young Kevin that “you’re going to find something else to love” resonated following the loss of Sophie, Well, maybe not a “something” but a “someone.”