And it all comes full circle. Not only in the Pearson clan but in general for the fourth season of This Is Us, which kicked off last September by introducing a handful of new characters. Some became more pertinent to the storyline then others, and similarly, “Strangers Part Two” plays out similarly.
At the top of the hour, we meet a man attempting to tame his horse, who gets some assistance from his daughter, Sadie. We’re also introduced to Hailey (Adelaide Kane), a young woman working in a museum who turns down her best friend and co-worker, Zach’s, advances for a date. I’ll get to those two a little later in the review, but keep them in mind!
The season finale had it all — a number of celebrations, a bombshell reveal, the Pearson blow-out of 2020, and a cliffhanger.
With so many timelines blending cohesively into one unified message, I think the easiest way to tackle this episode is to break it down into three: the past, present, and future. This ensures that I give all of them equal attention.
PAST: The past finds Rebecca and Jack gearing up to celebrate the Big Three’s first birthday. Birthday’s are the overarching connection in the finale. Rebecca’s mood quickly takes a turn when she gets emotional about Kyle, Kate and Kevin’s triplet who passed away during birth. Bec reveals she struggles to talk about him, and Jack agrees that he usually pushes the thoughts from his mind because they make them sad. The Pearson’s are never ones to wallow in that sadness though especially since Jack always has the perfect solution that’ll cheer them up. They pay Dr. K, the obstetrician, who gave birth to Kate and Kevin, for some advice, and since he also lost a child once before, he knows just what to say (he always does). The advice that happiness and sadness should co-exist is one that rings through much of the episode as happy moments are filled with heartbreak. That’s life, isn’t it?
PRESENT: Everyone gathers at Kate’s home for Jack Jr.’s first birthday. It’s a momentous occasion filled with some underlining tension, as any gathering with the Big Three is. Randall and Kevin haven’t spoken since their squabble in New York, plus Randall hasn’t exactly gotten around to telling his siblings that he forced his mother through methods of sheer manipulation to agree to the 9-month long clinical trial in St. Louis.
Honestly, we’re all like Beth in this episode, just bopping around the house, going back to the car cause we forgot something, and sippin’ our tea while minding our own business.
When Rebecca finally makes the announcement to her kids, Randall immediately offers support. Kate and Kevin aren’t as on board with it and their curiosity leads them to what may be the final Big Three conversation for a very long time. There, they question what could have happened to change Rebecca’s mind and still, Randall says absolutely nothing because he knows it won’t land well with either of them.
Kate lets it go and goes to her “surprise” event with Jack Jr. and Toby, but Kevin’s still not convinced. He goes to check in with Rebecca who echoes the same explanation as Randall just mere moments ago: it’s an investment in her future. Ding-ding. Kevin realizes that Rebecca is not acting out of her own free will but on the behest of Randall. He confronts his brother, who pretty much attempts to avoid the confrontation because he’s sooooo convinced he’s doing his mom a solid.
Listen, Randall, if everyone including your mother, your siblings, and your wife think that you’re overstepping and the tactics you used aren’t kosher, maybe consider that you aren’t seeing clearly. Randall has always considered himself as the alpha in the family, but really, Randall’s character hasn’t made nearly the amount of progress as Kevin’s.
Rebecca changed her mind about the clinical trial, which Kevin wasn’t fond of, but he accepted it because he figured it’s what she wanted. Kevin had a rational reaction because he trusted that the best thing to do was to let his grown mother make her own decision. Randall could never, and he proved it by the stunt he pulled on Season 4 Episode 17. It’s crazy for me to say this, but I don’t think Randall is as emotionally mature as Kevin.
Randall said that “when her good time inevitably comes to an end, everyone will be grateful” he made the call for the trial, but this thinking hinges on so many variables. For instance, does the trial work? Does she survive the trial (we know she does, but they don’t at this point)? It also ignores the obvious point that there’s no cheating death. Eventually, Rebecca will die and it’s something he has to come to terms with. There’s a great argument for prolonging life, but not if it isn’t what the patient wants.
If they left it alone, this argument didn’t have to end a brotherly relationship, but Randall couldn’t let it go. He came back to fight with Kevin — at a very, very, very bad time when Kevin was getting overwhelmed from every direction — to bring up that he was there for Rebecca and taking care of the family while Kevin was pursuing his acting career. Clearly, Randall holds a lot of resentment for his brother making something of himself and continues to try to guilt him into thinking he abandoned the family or something similar. For the first time ever, I found myself wishing Kevin would just punch Randall, but I was impressed with how he managed his emotions and remained calm and collected. This is yet another example of Kevin’s growth as a character. He didn’t break down, he didn’t rush to grab a bottle, he simply digested what was happening.
Kevin challenges Randall’s beliefs that he “took care of the family” by bringing up the night of the fire. Randall retorts that they’ll never know if Kevin would have saved their father like he believes he would have because he wasn’t there, once again, and then throws the punch: “and dad died ashamed of you.”
At this point, my jaw was on the ground because Randall Pearson, how dare you? He’s obviously hurt and in defense-mode, but this was a gut-punch unlike any other and said to a man who has already carried so many demons.
He continues in such a harsh manner that it’s best I just leave you with the full quote: “I think that’s the part that really gets you, isn’t it? The shame that he felt for you and the pride that he felt for me? You’re not even chasing Dad’s shadow, Kevin, you’re chasing mine. But you’ll never be him, and you’ll never be me.”
And, if that’s not enough, he tells him that he’s never cared about anyone but himself. Everything else was just a “tired, stale performance…. like all of your performances,” once again proving that Randall is not here for Kevin’s acting career.
Whoo, thank god Beth made Rebecca, Miguel, and the girls leave because it would be heartbreaking to witness this fight.
Kevin has a simple yet effective comeback to all of this, and again, he says it without even getting upset: “Hand to God, Randall: The worst thing that ever happened to me was the day they brought you home.”
I’m going to need a minute…
That was harsh, but it also felt like it was a long time coming. That’s not a rift that either of them will bounce back from anytime soon because a lot was said that cannot be taken back or forgotten.
Randall clearly feels some type of way about the situation and there’s no convincing him otherwise, whereas, I think Kevin is at the point where he’s done prioritizing his brother and living in the shadows and is ready to focus on himself.
Right before the second wind of this fight kicked off, Madison rang the doorbell after going to the obstetrician’s office to confirm she’s pregnant. Pregnant with Kevin’s baby. To echo Beth, “Mh-hhhm.”
Remember when I mentioned a man with a horse and a daughter named Sadie at the beginning of the episode? Well, that’s Madison’s doctor, who listens to her say that the father of her baby deserves a great love story and tells her not to write him off just yet. It’s unclear why we needed to know so much background about the doctor’s personal life. Is he going to be more involved? Is he going to be the Dr. K to Madison and Kevin? I read a wild theory that the doc is actually Kyle, the triplet that Dr. K stole from Rebecca and Jack, and while that would be a twist with a capital T, I can’t see the show taking that direction. So, for now, we have to wait and see.
Back to Madison, though. We don’t know what Kevin would have said to Madison had it not been for that explosive fight that made him want to care about someone, make something of himself, and prove his brother wrong. However, seeing Kevin’s face while she tells him the news and says she doesn’t want anything from him makes me think he was going to be on-board regardless. After all, he wanted a child by his 40th birthday, remember?
Madison was so quick to write herself off from Kevin’s life, but who knows, maybe she will become his great love. Then again, the writers gave us glimpses of BOTH Cassidy and Sophie, so it’s not 100% certain that Kevin’s wife and Kevin’s baby momma are the same person.
Still, Kevin tells Madison he’s all in and he wants this baby more than ever. Madison then corrects him that it’s not just one baby, it’s twins. Full-circle, friends, full circle.
While all of this is going down at Kate’s house, Kate, Toby, and baby Jack pay a visit to the NICU where they spent a lot of time praying and hoping for Jack’s survival. It’s incredible how the passage of time offers up a different perspective in the same place. Toby suggests that they have a second baby, which Kate immediately shoots down because of how hard her first pregnancy was, but Toby reminds her that the Pearson clan has a good track record with adoptions. Both of them weigh their options and consider whether or not it’s a good idea, and honestly, none of that matters because they both do really want a second child.
FUTURE: Which finally brings us to the future aka Rebecca on her death bed at Kevin’s house, the one he built by the cabin from his father’s renderings. He arrives at his mother’s bedside. Randall and Nicky are already there. Though Randall and Kevin seem estranged, the fact that Kevin puts an arm around his brother means that there’s some hope that they patched things up eventually.
Kevin also says “hi” to Nicky, and the camera pans to his hand, which has an engagement ring. Who did Nicky marry? Miguel’s absence and the fact that Nicky is sitting by Rebecca’s side makes me think that maybe Rebecca married Jack’s brother, but that’s kind of weird. The other theory is that Nicky married Cassidy, but again, that’s also weird. So, for now, much like Madison’s obstetrician, this remains a mystery.
We also see Kevin’s twins — a boy and a girl, though no Madison.
Also in the future, Jack Jr. and his wife are waiting to meet their child. Finally, she goes into labor and they deliver a beautiful baby girl whom they name Hope. It’s fitting considering all this family has overcome.
And remember Hailey, the girl from the museum that we met at the kickstart of the episode working in a museum? She’s Jack’s sister, who rushes to the hospital to meet her niece. We assume that she’s the adopted daughter, but there’s a theory here that Kate and Toby run into some trouble adopting — they have a lot on their plate and a special needs son — so they have a second child and Kate doesn’t make it. It could be why in the present, we never see Kate and the focus is solely on the Kevin and Randall.
Alright, that was a lot. What did you think of the finale?
Are you glad Madison is pregnant? What did you think about the fight? And whose side were you on?
Why do you think we got so much insight into the doctor’s personal life?
This Is Us Review – Adding to the Family Tree (5×09)
This Is Us Season 5 Episode 9 tackled the hardships and joys of parenting while painting it as a rewarding yet terrifying and difficult journey, no matter where you are in life.
Regardless of how many books you read or how many shows you watch about parenting, absolutely no one is prepared to be a parent, especially not a first-time parent. The series makes that very clear as it tackles three different timelines over the span of an hour.
And surprisingly, all the action happens during the car drives from the hospital.
Who knew they could be so illuminating?
Given the car setting, it would be understandable if the episode was boring and uneventful, but it was the exact opposite; it gave audiences a glimpse into the lives of the characters as they started a new chapter in their lives with their respective families.
We’ve seen the magic that is the Pearson clan, but now we’re seeing the magic from the families of the Big Three.
It’s the first day of the rest of their lives, and This Is Us captured every feeling and emotion brilliantly.
The series has a knack for making profound television, and it doesn’t even require the characters to exit the vehicle.
During Jack and Rebecca’s drive home from the hospital, the new parents felt overwhelmed with the idea of taking home three newborn babies.
A road rage incident triggered Jack, which led him to down a bit of a spiral as he secretly purchased and chugged a small bottle of whiskey at the gas station. While the scene was initially concerning, he eventually confessed what he did to Rebecca. What a relief.
And he explained his concerns that he was going to be an alcohol father just like his dad was.
Rebecca reminded him that he’s nothing like his dad because he doesn’t suck up the air in the room — he is the air.
Instead of focusing on the negatives and what-ifs, the duo just embraced the moment for what it was: the moment they became a family.
When you look at it as a moment of celebration, your whole mindset changes.
Parents have a huge impact on the kind of people we become, for better or worse.
In Jack’s case, he didn’t want to be like his old man, but in Kevin’s case, he wanted to live up to his father.
The Big Three have a tendency to put Jack on a pedestal and view him as this perfect father, but it was nice to see that notion grounded a bit.
Jack and Kevin both struggled with the idea of becoming fathers.
The car seat scene was a nice touch showing just how similar their experiences were — neither of them read the dang manual and decided to wing it on the spot.
However, Kevin couldn’t exactly get any advice from his dad, which is where the dream sequence came into play.
Kevin was worried that he would fail, and Jack let him know that he’s capable and he’ll figure it out.
The dream also provided fans with a rare look at Justin Hartley and Milo Ventimiglia in a scene together.
While they may be father and son to all of us, they rarely get to share scenes since Jack is long gone by the time Kevin is an adult.
Their dynamic is so effortless that it’s hard to look away.
However, you always need your dad, and Jack’s “visit” gives him perspective and guidance.
Kevin realizes that he’s going to be fine because he sees just how strong Madison is. She’s a boss who is handling this whole “new mom” thing without any stress.
Not only does she birth twins, but she offers to drive them all home after several sleepless nights and even handles his paparazzi situation.
She’s a super mom.
All of this puts makes Kevin realize that what he wants most at this point in his life is a family.
So, he proposes to Madison in a heartwarming moment using the hospital band as a ring. Could it be any more perfect?
The series has been slowly inching towards the idea that Kevin is no longer enchanted by the entertainment industry as prioritized the birth of his twins over the movie, picked a fight with a fan, and even confronted the paparazzi.
So much of Kevin’s self-worth has been tied up in his career that I’m really interested in seeing him in this new chapter in his life.
We also see Randall and Beth’s post-delivery ride home with Annie, who is described as an angel on Earth.
It’s clear that taking home the second child is much less stressful than the first child. They even make time for a DQ run!
However, Randall makes the mistake of broaching the topic of a third child. Of course, he wants a boy, but Beth’s not interested in any of it because well, she just destroyed her insides and pushed out a child.
I love how real Beth is about every damn thing in life. She’s my spirit animal.
Of course, it’s fun to watch knowing how life unfolds for Randall, who eventually adds a third child to see his family that isn’t a boy!
The whole scene comes full-circle when Randall has a heart-to-heart with infant Annie and explains that his desire to have more children is because Beth and the girls are the start of his family tree. At that point in time, Randall didn’t know anything about his birth parents, so his comments make sense, but in the present, we know that he’s added quite a lot of branches to that tree.
Regardless, it’s a sweet moment that’s only made sweeter with the flash-forward that shows Deja and Annie arriving at Kevin’s house to say goodbye to a frail Rebecca.
Prior to that moment, we find out that Deja is working at a hospital. When Annie picks her up, she gifts her a teething giraffe and informs her that she can’t keep this pregnancy a secret for long.
More babies — more branches! So many generations in one short hour!
And how incredible is the casting for all three of Randall’s adult daughters?
The flash-forward is yet another tease, and we’ll hopefully see everyone in the same room in the near future.
Wouldn’t it be great to see Randall’s kids interacting with Kevin and Kate’s kids?
In the present-day, we also see Kate and Toby make their way home from the hospital after welcoming Hailey.
However, their car ride is a bit different as they drive Hailey’s birth mother, Ellie, home from the hospital.
Kate was really excited about making plans with Ellie in the future considering their open adoption agreement, but you could tell the whole ordeal was very difficult for Ellie.
Eventually, she made the conscious decision not to be in Hailey’s life for the time being, and it was valid. She thought she could handle it but upon welcoming her daughter, she realized it wouldn’t be as easy as she thought to let go and watch from a distance.
Kate’s sadness was also valid as she truly wanted Hailey to have a bond with her birth mom after seeing how difficult it was for Randall to grow up without knowing his birth parents.
My guess is that Ellie will eventually come around to the idea once she has enough time to process it all and isn’t hurting as much.
Maybe that’s who Randall is referring to in the flash-forward when he says “they’re here” as we see a car pulling up?
Toby also informs Kate that he was laid off, which seems like terrible timing but for the first time ever, Kate doesn’t spiral.
She’s hopeful as she holds her new baby, a baby that she didn’t think was possible based on her earlier diagnosis.
It’s a moment where she believes they will be okay because they are together. And I hope that’s also the case.
However, it does worry me that maybe this is the beginning of the end for Kate and Toby? What if money and career woes lead to a divorce? It’s been a popular theory as to why they aren’t together in the flash-forward.
Could Kate and Jack be in the car? Are they with Hailey and Ellie? What’s the deal here?
I can’t wait till we get an episode that gives us just a bit more about the flash-forward scene!
Until then, I’m content knowing that the Pearson family tree continues to flourish.
What did you think of the episode? Let us know in the comments!
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This Is Us Review – Meet the New Big Three (5×08)
The new Big Three have arrived.
This Is Us pulling at your heartstrings and making you weep isn’t anything new, but these tears were different because we celebrated the newest members of the Pearson clan – Kevin and Madison’s twins and Toby and Kate’s adopted daughter.
The episode detailed giving birth during a pretty crazy time in the world: the COVID-19 pandemic and emphasized the importance of staying connected through cellphones and the Internet.
Initially, the scenes of Nasir from India and Esther from Argentina were confusing. I thought they were flashbacks of Miguel’s parents and that we were finally getting some more backstory about the often-overlooked character, but instead, This Is Us paid tribute to a real-life computer researcher responsible for the algorithm that allows all of us, even the Pearsons, to remain connected.
It’s about time this man got the recognition he deserves during a time where staying connected is so imperative and crucial to our society’s ability to function.
This man is singlehandedly responsible for giving us the opportunity to be part of important and milestone moments in our loved ones’ lives; he paved the way for a future that you and I take for granted daily. Even now as we watch our favorite show on a Tuesday night!
And while Miguel doesn’t get his time in the sun, Rebecca did thank him for being there for her and the family, which was the most acknowledgment he’s gotten in quite some time. He deserves so much more recognition, but this is a good start.
With Kate and Madison both welcoming babies at the same time in different hospitals and the family not being able to be there – including Toby who had an elaborate tailgating set-up in the hospital parking lot – connecting with them via video chat after the births was imperative.
Randall and Beth were on the phone with Madison for hours while Kevin did his best to make it to her. And he did! We never saw how he managed to pull off traveling without an I.D. or how the hospital let him in after he just traveled through an airport, but that’s neither here nor there.
The point is, he made it for the birth of his twins, and while he was gone, Randall filled in by virtually holding Madison’s hand and telling her drunk Kevin stories.
Despite everything that happened with these two, Randall remains the best brother who always puts his family first.
After all the emotions settled a bit, Kevin broached the topic of their big fight, and while it wasn’t the right time to get into detail, at least they’re back on track and have acknowledged that the conversation must be had and apologies must be made.
Kate’s adoption process made me nervous for a bit because it seemed as though Ellie wasn’t going to hand over the baby. I got worried when she changed her mind and asked to hold her and then asked to be alone with the baby.
Based on Kate’s surprised reaction, she also didn’t know what it meant and was trying to be understanding.
Ellie’s emotional goodbye to her daughter hit me in the feels. One can imagine that giving up your baby is the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do, but it’s also so brave of her to acknowledge that she needs to do what’s best for her.
And Kate meeting baby Hailey was pure bliss. Again, in a time when the world is upside-down and downright scary, there’s nothing more reassuring than looking down at an innocent baby.
The waterworks also began flowing when Toby decided to give the baby the middle name “Rose” after the ill wife of the man in the parking lot.
When he mentioned her name and gave Toby a “lucky pig,” it was obvious that Toby would find inspiration for the middle name from their abrupt meeting, but it was still such a genuine moment of human connection — this one in person yet still distanced.
Also, can we celebrate the fact that Rose got some good news after being diagnosed with COVID? Hospitals are a place where you experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, but it was a good night for everyone.
The flashbacks of Jack and Rebecca at the cabin mulling over how their children no longer wanted to hang out with them fit in perfectly. Sometimes, flashbacks don’t jive with what’s happening in other timelines, but that painting was a reminder to always remain present and never miss a thing even if life gets in the way.
Rebecca stayed true to that promise. The montage of them making the painting juxtaposed with the current bundles of joy being boy really hit right in the feels.
And lastly, Kevin paid tribute to Uncle Nicky (and Nic Cage) when he named one of the twins Nicholas. And honestly, good on them for bringing back the Frances. How cute is Franny?
Franny, Nicholas, and Hailey – the new Big Three that will carry on the Pearson legacy. You just know Jack is up there in heaven beaming with pride.
What did you think of the episode? Let us know in the comments below!
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