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This Is Us

This Is Us Review – Childhood Traumas in the Present Day (5×04)

THIS IS US -- "Honestly" Episode 504 -- Pictured in this screengrab: Sterling K. Brown as Randall -- (Photo by: NBC)

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This Is Us delivered some truly great moments on “Honestly,” which is a good thing as this episode is supposed to hold us over until January 5, 2021. 

It doesn’t seem fair that we had to wait almost all of 2020 for new episodes only to be given four and then forced to wait again, but maybe, like Kevin, we have to learn to tough it. 

That’s what I’m telling myself anyway. 

The Big Three continued to struggle with their past traumas that affected them into adulthood. 

In the past, we see Rebecca and Jack struggling to sleep train Kevin, who wakes up crying every night. Jack assures Rebecca they have to let him cry it out, but she can’t fathom letting her child “suffer.”

Her behavior carries over into their pre-teen years as Kevin struggles with his team as the quarterback of the football team. 

Rebecca isn’t a helicopter in the same way we see modern-day parents, but she’s definitely always ready to step in to make life easier for Kevin, which isn’t helping them or teaching him any grit. 

But that’s the great thing we see in Kevin when he’s an adult. Instead of backing down when things get tough, he pushes even harder. 

Seeing him use his notecards in the present — a method Randall taught him when he was younger and struggling to memorize plays — was heartwarming. 

They may not be talking right now, but they’ve impacted each other’s lives in major ways. 

Seeing Kevin navigate his own path to success also proves that sometimes, it’s okay to let your kids figure it out for themselves.

The director seemed to come into the reading with a preconceived notion about Kevin, which wasn’t fair to him. I’m wondering if he didn’t like Kevin’s performance or wasn’t pleased that Kevin was cast?

Either way, it’s fantastic that Kevin didn’t just give up or lose his temper. I hope he blows the director away. 

And maybe this is the push to truly break out in his career with a performance that’s “less tired.”

Fingers-crossed he gets that Oscar-moment with Rebecca! 

Randall saw himself in Malik, who was shadowing him in his City Council position for a school class. 

Malik committed the biggest flub when he didn’t turn off the live stream and accidentally broadcast Randall’s striptease dance to everyone in Philly and beyond. 

Note to self: always double-check a stream is off, especially with Zoom meetings. 

The situation seemed rough initially, and Randall was pretty hard on Malik, a few good things came out of it. 

First, Randall got to know Malik on a deeper level and realized that Deja’s boyfriend is a standup and ambitious kid. 

Malik explained his tiredness by giving Randall the tea – he wakes up at 5 a.m. to take care of his daughter and puts her needs before his own. 

That being said, he’s still trying to make something of himself as he wants to go to an Ivy League school, open up a restaurant and become the first Michelin-starred place in Philly. 

You’ve got to admire the drive and the hustle in a young kid like that. He has his head on right, and Randall recognizes himself in Malik, which is why he gave him that internship even after the live stream flub. 

This bromance may be the best thing to happen in 2020!

The other good thing to come out of it is that it’ll bring Randall closer to his birth mother… or at least his birth mother’s boyfriends/husband.

Going viral on the Internet meant that the Japanese man from This Is Us Season 5 Episode 3 saw the clip and heard Randall talk about his birth father William Hill.

The series is drawing this storyline out, but it seems like they’ve got big plans and it’ll be worth it. 

There were moments when the series made it seem like she was still alive, but if she’s not, at least maybe Randall will be able to learn more about her by connecting with someone who knew her well. 

Also, it’s great that Randall and his family have such a great sense of humor and can laugh about the whole ordeal. It’s even better that the angle of the camera was really great and Randall looked that good! 

Kate’s adoption storyline took a somber note when she confronted her past demons and vocalized them to Toby for the first time ever. 

The series circled-back to her tumultuous relationship with Mark and revealed some interesting things about their explosive breakup.

At first glance, it seems like Kate found out that she was pregnant with Mark’s baby and possibly aborted it.

However, upon closer inspection, in the scene, Kate is actually holding an ovulation test, which would indicate that she wanted a baby with Mark. 

This Is Us/ NBC

Obviously, that’s troublesome for many reasons considering Mark was toxic and treated her poorly. 

Did she stay home from New York to try to get pregnant with him? Did she succeed? 

Did she give the baby up for adoption? There are so many avenues the series can take here. My mind is spinning and jumping to the most outrageous conclusion that Ellie is Kate’s daughter.

If Kate hypothetically had a child at 18 and she’s now 40, that would mean Ellie would be around 22, so I don’t think my outlandish theory holds true because she seems significantly olderm but then again, they never confirmed Ellie’s age either. How crazy would that be?!

All of this makes watching Kate’s journey to motherhood that much more emotional. I can’t wait to see how the series ties it all together.

I’m also a bit peeved we haven’t seen the last of Mark because he was such a tool!

This Is Us continues pulling the rug right from under us. We may think we know these characters as well as we know ourselves, but there are still so many moments in their lives we’ve yet to explore. 

Lastly, may we all have a Jack Pearson role model in our lives who wants us to know he sees our greatness. Even though Jack had his flaws, it’s moments like these where you truly appreciate all he’s done for the Pearson clan. 


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Lizzy Buczak is the founder of CraveYouTV. What started off as a silly blog in her sophomore year at Columbia College Chicago turned her passion for watching TV into an opportunity! She has been in charge of CraveYou since 2011, writing reviews and news content for a wide variety of shows. Lizzy is a Music Business and Journalism major who has written for RADIO.COM, TV Fanatic, Time Out Chicago, Innerview, Pop’stache and Family Time.

Coffee Table News

Here’s When New Episodes of ‘This Is Us’ Will Return

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This Is Us a Hell of a Week Part 2 review

Sorry, This Is Us fans, you’ll have to wait a little longer for new episodes. 

NBC has pulled This Is Us Season 5 Episode 7 titled “There” from the schedule this week. 

The episode was set to be heavily focused on Kevin Pearson (Justin Hartley), who was in a car accident while trekking cross-country to be by Madison’s side as she gave birth to their twins. 

The official synopsis reads: “Kevin embarks on a stressful road trip; Jack and young Kevin go to a football training camp.”

“No new episode of #ThisIsUs tonight – COVID-related production delays in LA have forced us to delay a few weeks,” series creator Dan Fogelman tweeted on Tuesday night. Many Los Angeles-based productions have been shutting down temporarily due to a surge in COVID cases

He confirmed what Google already noted earlier — the new air date is Tuesday, February 2, but that has not been officially announced by the network!

In its place, NBC will air an encore of This Is Us Season 4 Episode 14 titled “The Cabin.”

All the #OneChicago shows – Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, and Chicago Med – have also been delayed a week and will not air on Wednesday, January 20. The network will be covering President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration instead. Episodes will return on Wednesday, January 27. 

However, if you’re looking for something to watch, The Resident will air a brand new episode tonight (January 19) at 8/7c while Nancy Drew and Riverdale will premiere their second and fifth season, respectively, on Wednesday, January 27. We’ll have reviews for all three shows available for you at CraveYouTV.com after each episode concludes! 


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This Is Us

This Is Us Review – Randall’s Birth Story (5×06)

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This Is Us Review Birth Mother Season 5 Episode 6

Things may change, but the one thing that remains the same is that This Is Us continues to make us sob every Tuesday. 

The story of Randall’s birth mother, Laurel Dubois, was one of season 5’s strongest and most profound episodes due to its impeccable storytelling. 

For years, Randall has struggled with his sense of identity, which has caused him pain and anxiety. 

Meeting William eased that anxiety a bit, but it still didn’t paint a full picture for Randall as he never truly got to know his mother… until Hai filled in the missing pieces.

And wow, I did not know how badly I needed to know Laurel’s story because it was equally as fascinating as it was tragic. Leave it to This Is Us to pull off dedicating a whole hour to someone we’ve never met and managing to captivate audiences as if we’ve known them forever. 

Given the little that we knew about Laurel from William, I went into the episode with certain expectations but was instead, blown away by the experiences in her life.

Laurel came from the most distinguished family in New Orleans, which meant that she was under a lot of pressure to be perfect.

That pressure compounded into her rebellion. The first was her “forbidden” love affair with the Vietnamese fisherman while she was set to be married to a “dud” named Marcel. Surprisingly, their romance was even sweeter than Laurel and William’s. And while it wouldn’t be realistic to call Laurel lucky in life, she was lucky to have found love not once but twice.

I especially loved that Laurel and Hai’s relationship blossomed despite the language barrier proving that love knows no bounds, race, or color. This Is Us excels in writing diverse stories that are touching and relatable. 

Her second act of rebellion kickstarted her journey to Pittsburgh and her chapter with William.

While the story definitely gave off The Notebook vibes, Hai warned us that it was far from it. And the second half of the story took quite a heartbreaking turn after Laurel overdosed on drugs while self-medicating after giving birth. 

This Is Us Review Birth Mother Season 5 Episode 6

THIS IS US — “Birth Mother” Episode 506 — Pictured in this screen grab: (l-r) Jennifer C. Holmes as Laurel, Anthony Hill as Marshall Winston — (Photo by: NBC)

Laurel was a victim of a broken system that we continue to see destroy lives to this day. It also serves as a good argument for decriminalizing minor drug offenses and increasing the need for treatment and recovery services. 

Instead of being offered help with her addiction, which falls under the category of mental health issues, she was punished and taken to prison. The nurse’s disgusting comments about her being a junkie and a bad mother were infuriating, but sadly, representative of what everyone else thought of her.

And at her lowest, she was kicked down even further with a five-year sentence despite it being her first offense, which likely had to do with her skin color. 

Due to these circumstances, Laurel never had a fighting chance of finding her son or letting William know she was alive. 

While hearing Laurel’s story is heartbreaking, it’s also comforting for Randall to learn that his mother loved him and wanted him. She was always such a huge question mark in his life, and when he learned that she died just a few years ago of cancer and not in 1980, he wondered why she never came looking for him. 

The devastating answer is that she wanted to, but she couldn’t. 

Laurel may not have been able to tell her son her story, but Hai was, and that was the next best thing.

The story came full circle as Randall was able to let go of the pain in the same way Laurel did all those years prior thanks to the guidance of Aunt Mae, one of the only people who ever understood her and accepted her for who she was — imperfections and all. 

Personally, I wasn’t a huge fan of Randall seeing his mother’s ghost in the water as it seemed like a bit of a stretch for the series. I would have preferred to see him simply go into the lake alone and scream it out at the top of his lungs, though, in retrospect, I can see why it was a poetic moment that offered up some much-needed closure.

Or maybe it was a side-effect of that absinthe?

Also, does NBC stand for Naked Booty Club now? If you know, you know. 

With a weight lifted off Randall’s shoulders, This Is Us embraced a more uplifting tone, which can only mean one thing: something bad is around the corner.

And that was underscored by Randall’s statement about life being too short to focus on the bad.

When Randall called him, Kevin was frazzled as he was speeding to be by Madison’s side after she went into (early?) labor with the twins. And while nothing happened in those final moments, the teaser trailer for the upcoming episode reveals our concerns were valid as Kevin’s car ends up totaled on the side of the road. 

It was so predictable and that’s slightly disappointing since it’s not what we’ve come to expect from the series. However, I have faith that the writers have a larger plan! 

Flash-forwards have revealed that Kevin survives, but this is definitely not the kind of stress Madison needs while she’s in labor! 

Is the accident as bad as it seems? How will it impact him? Will it influence his decision to give up his career and be there for Madison and the twins? Will he prioritize family moving forward?

Sound off in the comments and let us know what you thought about the episode!


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This Is Us

This Is Us Review – Kate Deals with Teen Pregnancy as Randall Learns the Truth About His Birth Mother (5×05)

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This Is Us A Long Road Home Review

This Is Us kicked off 2021 with a powerhouse episode that included the conversation between Kate and Toby about her teen pregnancy. It also gave fans some much-needed insight into Randall’s birth mother and put Kevin at a crossroads that forces him to prioritizes what truly matters. 

Throughout the seasons, flashbacks have felt forced at times simply to include Jack in the narrative. However, the flashbacks in “A Long Road Home” were necessary to help present-day Kate confront her demons. And it was exhilarating. 

There wasn’t a second throughout the hour that was wasted or didn’t serve a greater purpose, which makes this episode one of the strongest in my book. 

Let’s dig in!

 

Kate Pearson

Right off the bat, This Is Us Season 5 Episode 5 debunked the theory that Kate was holding an ovulation kit in order to get pregnant with Marc on purpose. Thank god! It was a solid theory and really speaks to how passionate and detail-oriented fans of the show are. Even prior to the episode, the producers explained that the ovulation test was supposed to be a pregnancy test and blamed the mix-up on being a “casualty” of making TV in the COVID-era. Everyone’s having babies these days, so maybe Walgreens was low on pregnancy tests?!

In the present day, Kate came clean to Toby about the pregnancy, and he was just as flummoxed as many of the viewers. His concerns were valid considering he’s been on this journey as long as we all have and it was never mentioned. It wasn’t even hinted at throughout the whole time Kate was trying to get pregnant!

Even if it was a last-minute plot by producers, Kate’s explanation is likely something many who have endured trauma can relate to: talking about it forced her to confront her darkest and lowest moment. It was easier to not talk about it and pretend it didn’t happen. 

Unfortunately, not talking about it meant that it was eating Kate up from the inside. She couldn’t truly let go of the past without confronting it head-on, which is what prompted her to track down Marc and pay him a visit in San Diego. 

Leave it to Toby to break up an intense moment by commenting on the fact that it’s creepy that Marc still uses Myspace. He’s not wrong. 

Kate’s encounter with Marc was necessary for a few reasons. Most importantly, she finally mustered up the courage to say all the things she was too afraid to say back in the day. You could feel the weight being lifted off of Kate’s shoulders as she told him that he took advantage of a grieving and vulnerable child. For him, it was just a six-month fling, but for her, it was a life-altering experience that crushed her self-esteem and affected her for years to come. Marc was such a tool and caused her so much pain that I was, quite literally, cheering for her when she told him he’s the one that’s broken and the “disease.”

And she wasn’t wrong. He was and still is broken. You always hope that the people who hurt you grow up and change for the better, but Marc didn’t change in the slightest. He was still a low-life who made excuses for his actions.

Seeing him proved that Kate dodged a great bullet and really put into perspective how much she was better off now with a man who loved her the way she deserved to be loved and a beautiful baby boy.

Good riddance, Marc. 

I know we’re all glad to close this chapter once and for all. 

Abortion is a controversial topic, but This Is Us did a great job of acknowledging that not only is it a reality for so many young women, but it’s necessary and not something that they should feel ashamed about. Seeing Kate go through the process alone was heartbreaking and yet, also serves as a testament to how resilient she is and has always been. She was never a victim, and I’m glad Toby didn’t make her feel like one. Even at 18, she identified that this wasn’t the kind of life or man she wanted to be with and she owned her tough yet necessary decision. 

Hopefully, Kate’s healing process has finally begun and we’ll see happier days on her horizon. 

Also, can we just shout out Toby for being fantastic? He trusted Kate and gave her the space to handle this the way she needed to. A+ for being a supportive husband.

This Is Us a Long Road Home Season 5 Episode 5 Review

THIS IS US — “A Long Road Home” Episode 505 — Pictured in this screen grab: (l-r) Mandy Moore as Rebecca, Hannah Zeile as Kate — (Photo by: NBC)

Kevin Pearson

Kevin found himself at the same crossroads he did when he was 18 – should he choose love or his career? 

I hate that there even has to be a choice at all. Why can’t he have both? We live in a time where women and men don’t have to just pick one. 

We know that he prioritized his career at 18, which cost him his relationship with Sophie, but Kevin has also worked his butt off for the past 20 plus years to get to where he is now. And it’s tough making it an industry that’s all too eager to break you down!

Amidst all the highs and lows, he also gained his other desire: a family with Madison. He shouldn’t have to give all of that up, and it’s unfair of Madison to ask him to do so. 

At the beginning of the episode, I was impressed with how supportive Madison was about his career. Kevin was willing to ditch his upcoming movie role to be there for her and the twins, which shows that he’s serious about his commitment to being a father. He’s being a responsible adult and stepping up.

And, in turn, Madison encouraged him to follow his dreams and finish up the movie in Vancouver before the babies arrived. Everyone wins. 

However, their dynamic took a weird turn when they began to disagree about what the future looked like. Apparently, Madison was only supportive of him wrapping up this one movie and then assumed he would just become a full-time father?

I’m with Kevin on this one – how is she confused about the logistics and realities of his career? She knew going into this that he was an actor, which obviously comes with travel to shoot and promote his films. While that may not be the life she envisioned for her ideal family, it’s the reality. And it’s a reality where so many others have made it work. 

Sacrifices will need to be made, but they shouldn’t just come solely from Kevin. 

I’m rooting for Madison and Kevin because they seem good for each other, but I hope he doesn’t lose himself in the process or give up on his dreams. 

C- on the supportive girlfriend/ fiancee front.

This Is Us a Long Road Home Season 5 Episode 5 Review

THIS IS US — “A Long Road Home” Episode 505 — Pictured in this screen grab: (l-r) Justin Hartley as Kevin, Caitlin Thompson as Madison — (Photo by: NBC)

Randall Pearson

Randall was just as relieved as the audience to finally get some answers about his mother. For starters, Laurel is dead, but she didn’t die of an overdose after giving birth to Randall. According to the letter Randall received from Hai, her friend from New Orleans, she passed away from breast cancer in 2015. 

The news understandably rocked Randall’s world as he tried to digest and make sense of it. Initially, he was torn apart by it because he believed that it meant that William lied to him about his mother, which crushes the memory of his late father.

The whole time, I wanted to tell Randall to have a little faith because it was so obvious that William never knew that Laurel survived, which is both reassuring and deeply heartbreaking if you think about it. He lived his whole life feeling guilty for what happened to the mother of his child. 

And all along, she was out there! 

Once Randall connected with his therapist and realized that he owed it to himself to continue this journey of finding out more about himself and his roots – which he’s always wanted – he gave Hai a call and learned the truth about his mother’s survival.

The episodes that uncovered the past about certain characters, including William and Jack’s time in Vietnam, have always been my favorite, so I’m excited to learn about Laurel’s backstory. What happened to her after she gave birth? Why did she never reconnected with William again? 

Next week’s episode is going to be emotionally heartwrenching, so get those tissues ready! 

And speaking of loving supportive relationships, I love that Beth was there for Randall and chimed in when he was overcome with emotions while speaking to Hai. She’s always had Randall’s back and is a true gem. A++ for being a supportive wife! 

This Is Us a Long Road Home Season 5 Episode 5 Review

THIS IS US — “A Long Road Home” Episode 505 — Pictured in this screen grab: (l-r) Susan Kelechi Watson as Beth, Sterling K. Brown as Randall — (Photo by: NBC)

There were a lot of heavy moments throughout the hour, so you have to appreciate the moments of levity like when Jae Won and the rest of Randall’s team made fun of his “strip dance.”

No other show can make us laugh and cry simultaneously quite like This Is Us. 

What did you think of the episode? Let us know in the comments below!


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