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This Is Us

This Is Us Season 4 Premiere – Strangers (4×01)

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“Who knew that a complete stranger could become such a big part of your story,” is one of the opening quotes from a young Rebecca after arriving home from her trip to LA with Jack.

Truly, he couldn’t have summed it up better.

Not only does that encompass her relationship with Jack, which at this point, was only three weeks old, but it also rings true for all the new characters introduced in This Is Us Season 4 season premiere.

Everyone starts off as strangers at the beginning of the hour.

As the episode progresses, there are moments of doubt about who these new characters are and how they fit in.

There’s minimal flow to the episode as we switch back back-and-forth between getting to know this new array of folks and between young Jack’s first meeting with Rebecca’s parents.

There wasn’t a single scene with the Big Three up until the very end, so there were moments where I wondered if I was even watching the right show. Had it not been for Jack and Rebecca’s inclusion, I wouldn’t have been so sure.

And therein lies my lesson for the night — never doubt the great minds behind This Is Us.

Towards the end of the episode, everything began to flow together cohesively and all those ten new characters were almost essential to the progression of the series. Because let’s face it, that’s life.

We meet new people all the time that influence our lives and change them in ways we never thought possible.

There’s always room for someone new to make an impression.

And the one thing that makes This Is Us so special is that they aren’t confined to any one timeframe.

Every scene in this episode existed in a different time period — past, present, future — yet they seamlessly flowed into each other.

So, here’s our 4-1-1 breakdown on episode highlights and who these new faces are in terms of the bigger picture:

1. Jack Damon – We’re introduced to a blind man who drops a plate of breakfast accidentally and decides to grab some breakfast at the local diner. What would normally be an uneventful moment is pivotal because he meets Lucy, the love of his life. Their storyline is explored at an accelerated pace. We see their first hook up, we see Jack propose, we see his dog, Sammy, grow older, we see them open up a restaurant together, we see Lucy tell him that she’s pregnant, and we see Jack reach success in his music career.

Now, Jack Damon is actually baby Jack, Kate and Toby’s son. Towards the end of the episode, we see the couple receive the news that although baby Jack isn’t completely blind, he won’t ever regain his eyesight. The full-circle scene cued the waterworks because it’s comforting to know that despite his setback, Jack had a pretty successful life. We’ve only seen the outline as of now, and hopefully, as the season progresses, we’ll see the storyline get filled in. Toby and Kate weren’t present in any of adult Jack’s scenes, which does worry me a bit, but it was probably done with the intention of not ruining the big reveal.

And just think about it — the magic that is This Is Us will now allow us not only to get to know adult Jack but to also meet his future child. The possibilities here are endless.

 

2. Cassidy – Plenty of people assumed that Once Upon a Time’s Jennifer Morrison would become Kevin’s future wife and we may be onto something. We’re introduced to Cassidy when she’s serving in the Army Corps. She’s missing her family, her husband Ryan (Revenge’s Nick Weschler) and her son, Matty. Her time serving is traumatic and she’s responsible for the death of a village aside from her informant. When she arrives back home, the PTSD takes its toll on her life and her marriage.

She accidentally hits her son while recalling that the price of a water heater in America is how much they paid families for killing their loved ones. Eventually, she seeks out help and while she’s sharing her trauma, Nicky, Jack’s brother, throws a chair through the window. As he’s being arrested, they call Kevin to bail him out and last we see he’s purchasing tickets to fly over there. So, while Kevin and Cassidy’s relationship isn’t promised, it seems like the most logical storyline especially since we saw Kevin with a child in the flash-forward that could have been Matty or another child with Cassidy.

 

3. Kelly, Darnell, and Malik – This family was predicted to be Randall and Beth’s new neighbors, and while that isn’t totally the case, they are going to be involved with that side of the family.

Malik is introduced as a junior high kid with a little baby daughter, Janelle, at home. His parents are both supportive of him and help him take care of the baby as he’s presumably a single father. Malik attempts to get into some shady business to make money to support his daughter explaining that a good preschool runs upwards of 10K but his father warns him against it since he knows how messy that lifestyle can be from previous experience.

He also offers to watch Janelle so that Malik can go to a barbecue with his friends where he meets the new girl in town: Deja. The two are immediately smitten and Randall and Beth can’t help but cheese seeing Deja at home with a huge smile on her face.

 

4. Young Rebecca and Jack – Though we mostly know how Jack and Rebecca’s life turned out, there’s still so much to be explored with this couple in any given time period. My personal favorite version of them is when they first met. It’s so fun and light to watch them get to know each other, fall for each other and explore this innocent relationship that they have no idea is going to turn into this whirlwind life. Everything, all the families and characters, it all starts because of Rebecca and Jack.

In the premiere episode, we explored Jack meeting Rebecca’s pompous parents for the first time. Jack tried to make a good impression on them because, after the trip to LA, he realized he truly liked Rebecca. But making a good impression on them wasn’t an easy feat.

He bought a suit to hang out at the country club, which was sold to him by Miguel, yes, Jack’s best friend and Rebecca’s future husband. Not only do we get to see Jack and Rebecca’s humble beginning, but we get to see Jack and Miguel’s also and turns out, he was always a stand-up guy even when he didn’t know Jack that well.

At dinner, Rebecca’s parents disregard all of her requests and grill Jack about Vietnam and his parents. Jack excuses himself to wash off that lobster juice from his new suit and then launches into a typical Jack Pearson speech about how haunting Vietnam was, how he lost his brother and other loved ones to the war that was “very real” to the soldiers fighting on the front lines, and how his parents fight.

Then, he promised that he wasn’t going to “go anywhere” so they’d all have plenty of time to get to know who he really is.

And while that may have impressed Rebecca and all of us Jack Pearson fans, it wasn’t good enough for Rebecca’s father. He told Jack that while he was a good man, he wasn’t a good enough man. He saw that he was more haunted than he was letting on and believed his daughter deserved better. And with all due respect, I have to disagree with him.

With all that we know now, there is no better man than Jack Pearson. The good news is that after catching more than a few glimpses into the future, we know that nothing Rebecca’s father says actually stops the relationship.

Jack for the win.

 

Now that your done balling your eyes out — it’s a good sign, it means This Is Us did its duty for the week — let us know what you thought of the This Is Us Season 4 premiere.

Were you impressed with the new characters? Do you wish they spent more time focusing on the Big Three?

Are the new additions necessary?

I think now that we’ve established the who’s who of these new faces, we’ll have more time for our core cast of Pearsons.

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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.

This Is Us

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

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This Is Us Review Honestly Season 5 Episode 4

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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This Is Us

This Is Us Review – I’m Going Through Changes (5×03)

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This Is Us Changes Review 5x03

Parenting is hard. 

That’s the key takeaway on This Is Us Season 5 Episode 3. 

Even the best, most connected parents like Rebecca and Jack missed so many things when it came to Randall, Kevin, and Kate. 

In the past, the scenes explore how moments in their childhood shaped who they are in the present-day. 

In the present-day, we see the Big Three dealing with their own fears and struggling with parenthood. 

Randall and Beth learn that Tess has been making mock videos online to stand up for herself. On one hand, Randall finds it admirable that his teen daughter has a better grasp of her self-identity than he does at the age of 40. However, he and Beth both agree that her actions need to be punished. 

While it may not seem like it to Tess at the moment, there’s a way about evoking change and making a statement. Unfortunately, telling your teacher “screw you” on the Internet — where things live forever, is not the right way. 

It’s an interesting moment, nevertheless, that allows the audience to get a deeper look into Tess’s teenage years.

It also proves that no matter how much parents try, children will carve out their own path, which is a lesson Kevin and Madison could use about now. 

Their breakfast interactions were very, polite, for lack of a better word, and it was clear that they were both putting on a front to make this new-age engagement work. 

But the truth is, neither of them was really being honest and upfront about who they were. They were tiptoeing around reality, which is no way to go about life. 

Madison, who we know struggled with an eating disorder her whole life, was triggered by Kevin’s excessive working out, his rock hard abs that he puts fully on display, and the fact that he skipped breakfast and stated he would be going on a diet for his upcoming role. 

For Madison, these were all reminders of her bulimia, but she couldn’t even blame Kevin for it because he didn’t know this side of her. 

She also assumed that Kevin was behaving confidently when, in fact, these were all signs of Kevin’s own insecurities that he’s built up since he was a pre-teen hitting puberty. 

Kevin has always put his worth in his looks, but that stems from his very own addictions and eating disorders. 

It serves as a reminder not to judge a book by its cover because we never know what someone else is going through. 

When Madison and Kevin began to open up, a true relationship and trust was established between them. Madison even confessed that she’s the type of girl who goes to conventions for her favorite TV show. The horror!

The truth is, Madison isn’t the kind of girl audiences would have envisioned for Kevin, but she’s exactly who he needs. And vice-versa. It’s nice to see them pull back the curtains and be real, especially Kevin, who has always lived up to this image he’s concocted in his own mind.

Kevin’s body image issues were also rooted in his daddy issues, and we learn that he’s been hitting the dingy garage gym because that’s where he bonded with Jack. 

Jack tries to help his son bulk up for the school football team and takes him to the garage to “pump some iron” as his old man did. Unlike his dad, however, Jack tries to make the lifting session inspiring, but the effects seem to be one and the same. 

On his quest for a therapist, Randall pinpoints a memory from his young adult life that may have shaped his future and sense of self. 

It’s a rather cringe-worthy moment as Kate’s friend, Tanya, tries to make a move on Randall by puckering up with root beer flavored chapstick, which is only made worse when she utters this line when Randall refuses: “I always wondered what it would be like to kiss someone like you.” 

Well, that’s a buzzkill. 

It’ll be interesting to see Randall unpack that with the therapist, Vance, as it may have something to do with his decision to marry a strong, confident Black woman. After all, in his brief chat with the therapist, he went out of his way to emphasize that his wife was Black as if he had something to prove. 

There’s always the thought that Vance is somehow related to Randall through his mother, especially as Randall points out that they’re “very similar” when talking to Beth. Introducing Vance’s daughter, April, could just be an innocent and cute moment, but we know that’s never the case with This Is Us. 

Fans were scratching their heads with the interlude of a Vietnamese grandfather and granddaughter fishing. The scenes may have been frustrating as they were thrown in randomly throughout the episode, but again, nothing is ever random. In the final scene, the cute young girl Lin asks her grandfather if he cooks for the woman in all of the pictures to impress her. He nods and the camera pans to a photograph showing the grandfather with Randall’s mother! 

It doesn’t give us much to work with, but it means that answers about Randall’s birth mother are coming — and yes, it seems like she survived. 

Could this scene somehow be related to the scene with Vance? Time will tell. 

Lastly, there was Kate and Toby, who met with a potential birth mother and hoped to make a good impression. It seemed like things went well with Ellie, despite their little squabble about diapers. I agree with Ellie that seeing how a couple bounces back from a fight is a good assessment of their marriage. 

Through flashforwards, we know that Kate and Toby eventually adopt a daughter, but will it be Ellie’s daughter?

Or will she realize she wants to keep her child from a one-night stand? Also, leave it to This Is Us to make every single storyline heartbreaking, even Ellie’s backstory of why she’s giving up the child (her husband died of cancer, it took her a long time to move on, and when she finally agreed to a date, she had a fling and ended up pregnant).

What did you think of the episode?

Are you excited about the new possibilities for the Big Three?

Which storyline excites you most? Let us know in the comments below.


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Is Randall’s Birth Mother His New Therapist on ‘This Is Us’ Season 5? Here’s What the Writers Said

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This Is Us Theory About Randall's Mother

For several seasons, Randall (Sterling K. Brown) has struggled navigating life as a Black man raised in a white family. 

Tensions really escalated when he found out that his adoptive mother, Rebecca Pearson, had known his biological father, William, his entire life and kept him a secret despite knowing how much he wanted information on his biological family. 

After years of dealing with identity and anxiety issues, Randall eventually went to therapy to deal with the stress brought on by his mother’s illness, his run for City Council, and the burglarization of his home.

There’s a stigma that follows seeking out therapy, especially when it comes to Black men, so Randall’s decision was bold and important. 

It wasn’t easy at first to open up, but eventually, the therapist was able to break through his tough exterior. When This Is Us Season 5 premiered, Randall seemed in a much better place mentally — the tremors were gone! — as he continued virtual therapy amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

He also dealt with racial relations brought on by yet another heinous murder of a Black man in America prompting protests known as the Black Lives Matter movement.

Important and difficult conversations were had with his family, specifically Kate, which led him to realize that he needed to change therapists. 

While he initially made the conscious decision to pursue a therapist that was a white woman, just like adoptive mother, as he grew more secure in his identity, he realized he needed someone that he could fully open up with and not hide the “Black parts” from.

He needed a Black therapist.

Randall’s realization happens at the same time as the shocking twist that his biological mother, Laurel, (who audiences thought died shortly after birth due to an overdose) was actually resuscitated and likely survived. 

This Is Us is such a meticulously planned show that the writers managed to weave in COVID and BLM into an episode so organically that it was impossible for the audience to tell when or how it was altered. It just fit. 

So, there’s reason to believe that the timing of Randall’s decision and the reveal that his mother may be alive isn’t an accident. 

What if his new therapist is his biological mother? It’s a popular theory and one that the This Is Us writers already debunked, but should we believe them? 

It’s possible that she’s either too old to still be practicing or no longer alive. 

However, that doesn’t mean Randall’s new therapist isn’t a long-lost brother or sister that he didn’t know about?

There has to be some connection. 

Randall has always sought out answers about his biological family, who he is, and where he comes from. Even after meeting William and mending things with him, Randall continues to have a void because he never knew his biological mother. His “mommy issues” stem from the abandonment (which we now know wasn’t intentional as he was wanted) by his biological mom and the deception by his adoptive mother.

For a show centered around family and the importance of family, it would only make sense for them to pursue this avenue and allow Randall to further explore his background on a deeper level.

What do you think, Cravers? If Randall’s mom isn’t the therapist, how does this storyline play into Randall’s overall arc?


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