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This Is Us

This Is Us – Waiting Room (3×15)

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Who knew a waiting room could make for such a compelling and emotionally driven scene.

The writers behind This Is Us are talented at taking regular moments and turning them into something that makes you laugh, cry, and scream at the TV all in one take.

The Pearson clan has a lot going on at all times.

There’s never a dull moment, especially when they are all cooped up in a waiting room with tensions running high as they wait with bated breath for news about Kate’s early labor.

Kate’s pregnancy may have brought them all together but their unresolved issues took center stage.

We didn’t really learn anything new from the episode, but having everyone in an intimate setting for the full 45-minutes pushed them into a space where they had to address all the elephants in the room.

Kevin had to address his alcoholism in front of the family; everyone picked up on Beth’s shrewdness towards Randall; and Kevin and Randall went at each other with the same rehashed allegations — Kevin made Randall feel guilty for being so perfect while Randall was worried about Kevin’s freakouts.

And, per usual, Miguel, the most kind-heart member of the family who tries so hard to fit in while remaining neutral and easing tensions, got treated like he didn’t belong.

Can we just get some justice for Miguel?

Distracting them with the ranch or chocolate game was brilliant, and he’s kept the promise he made to Jack about taking care of his family.

Surprisingly, Madison took the “you don’t belong here” torch from Miguel, and frankly, I’m disappointed that no one stood up for Kate’s best friend.

She was supposed to be there, she made a promise to her friend, and she was treated like absolute crap.

When is the family going to stop letting Kevin get away with these antics?

Acting better than everyone else and flaunting his wealth around isn’t a good look.

Kevin is dealing with plenty of unresolved issues dating back to his relationship with his father that came to the surface when he found Nicky.

That paired with the realization that he’s relapsed, the fact that he doesn’t want to lose Zoey, and Kate’s early labor have become too much for him and so he copes with even more alcohol.

At this point, Kevin is a classic alcoholic. He’s done such a good job at hiding it, he’s convinced himself that he has it under control.

And he’s trying to convince everyone else around him that it isn’t a problem.

Except we all saw Zoey take a swig, and I immediately knew that there wasn’t water in the water bottle.

Kevin’s deceiving his loved ones while getting drunk right in front of them.

Zoey’s been understanding but at what point does she put her foot down? When do they get him into treatment?

Kevin’s relapse is frustrating to viewers because he was on such a good path. He seemed happy, his movie was a success and finally, things were looking up for him.

Beth and Randall bickered about their dreams interfering with childcare. Beth understandably held a grudge after Randall asked her to set aside her dreams for now, but as I mentioned in last week’s episode review, he made the commitment first.

Randall also underlined the fact that he isn’t asking Beth to give up teaching completely, their budget simply doesn’t allow it on a full-time basis.

The way Randall and Beth assured each other that “they would figure it out” makes me think that they absolutely don’t figure it out and this eventually leads to the demise of their relationship.

The most powerful moment of “Waiting Room” came on the heels of Rebecca reliving her final moments with Jack.

Her behavior — pointing out the shocked expressions on electrical sockets, noticing the waiting room chair designs, and counting the odd number of chairs — may have been odd at first, but the moment Zoey mentioned the Michelin starred “Vending Machine,” it dawned on me that Waiting Room’s are a trigger for Rebecca.

She didn’t want to eat because that’s what she did when Jack passed away; she was grabbing something out of the vending machine.

Sitting there in that airless room reminded Rebecca of how terribly wrong things can go.

She didn’t care about Beth and Randall’s marital woes or Kevin’s drinking or Miguel’s spat with her son’s because all that mattered was Kate, the person they were there for.

Thankfully, Kate’s emergency C-section went off without a hitch. Baby Jack — of course, they’d name him after the beloved Pearson patriarch — was born premature but if he’s anything like the man he’s named after, he’s a fighter.

This baby honors Jack’s legacy in such a beautiful way.

I always get overcome with emotions at just how easily Jack is woven into storylines even though he hasn’t been around for years.

He was still a major part of the baby’s birth and Kate had a little chat with dad to keep baby Jack safe.

We know This Is Us tends loves to hit Kate and Kevin with the tough storylines, but I do believe little Jack is going to survive.

She went through way too much to get to this point only to suffer yet another loss.

What did you think about yet another heavy This Is Us?

Will Kate’s baby survive? Will Kevin finally get the help he needs to overcome his addiction? Will Beth and Randall find a way to make their schedule work?

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This Is Us

This Is Us – Don’t Take My Sunshine Away (3×16)

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This Is Us Don't Take My Sunshine Away

‘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.

Other Thoughts

  • 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?

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This Is Us

This Is Us – The Graduates (3×14)

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This Is Us the Graduates

I’ll echo Kate’s sentiments at the end of tonight’s episode: “this baby cannot die you guys.”

This Is Us never allows anyone to have a happy moment without overshadowing it with something devastating.

Kate waited 16-years to graduate and Kevin’s relapse and her premature labor.

I’m going to go with what Rebecca said about timing and the idea that you should trust the timing of your life even if it doesn’t make sense to you.

Maybe this baby was supposed to come early for a reason.

At least, I hope so.

Kate and Toby tried so hard for a baby; she wouldn’t be able to pick herself back up if she lost this one as well.

Kate’s graduation coincided with the Big Three’s graduation back in 1982, just a mere four months after Jack’s passing.

It’s safe to say, it wasn’t easy for anyone.

Randall and Kevin just trudged on, Rebecca needed a helping hand from Miguel, and Kate skipped graduation entirely.

The latter making her delayed college graduation all the more special.

Though Jack is still woven into each episode, I definitely do feel a void for his character.

I guess we’re all going through the same thing now.

Kate and Kevin were always inseparable when they were young. Kate soothed Kevin and that bond has remained until the present.

Kevin’s excessive attitude at the graduation party let Kate know something was wrong.

Even Zoey didn’t pick up on it.

Kate was so concerned, she left her own party to check up on him and found that he lied about his big-time meeting to drink in his hotel room.

Given the hell Kevin has been through with his addiction, his relapse is really difficult to watch.

Kate insisted on a meeting right away, but from experience, a meeting will only help if the addict wants to go.

Sadly, they didn’t even make it to a meeting because Kate went into labor at 28-weeks.

She promised to keep his relapse a secret, but when he called Toby, he had to confess that he couldn’t drive because he had been drinking.

Blaming Kevin for not being able to help his sister when she needed it is the last thing he needs.

He’s already feeling guilty enough.

I think Zoey is going to be very supportive of Kevin even if he did lie to her. She’s had a troubled past, sure, but she also understands that he’s had his fair of hardships.

Beth and Randall hit a wall that surely all couples with children have faced: time management.

Deja, who felt betrayed by her teacher when she posted her personal and private essay, told Randall she didn’t want to skip a grade because she’d finally felt stability in her life with the Pearson family.

Despite knowing that skipping a grade would be beneficial to her, Randall understood because of her past.

However, when he suggested Beth put her dream of teaching dance on hold it didn’t sit very well with Beth.

Why is Randall getting to live out his dream while she can’t?

There is no right or wrong answer here, at least not when that will satisfy both parties.

And based on our glimpse into the future, we know this may be what rocks the boat in their otherwise happy marriage.

If I’m being perfectly honest, Randall followed his dream first by running for Mayor. Beth supported him for the most part and only after did she realize she wanted to teach dance.

He’s already made a commitment to the public that he cannot break. What would that say to the girls?

Beth can still teach dance during hours that don’t affect the time with the girls.

It’s not ideal, but it’s a solution. And sometimes in relationships, you have to make sacrifices.

But again, based on our quick glimpse into the future, Beth didn’t put her dreams on pause which is why she opened up her own school.

What did you think of the episode?

Will Kate lose the baby?

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This Is Us

This Is Us – Our Little Island Girl (3×13)

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Beth found her way back to the love of her life. Not Randall, but the other love of her life, dance.

In order for Beth to arrive at this place in her life, we had to revisit her past which I’m not complaining about at all.

This Is Us has proven that they do time-hops really well, and it’s about time we got a deeper look at Beth’s childhood.

Seeing her past helps us understand why she is the way that she, and more importantly, why she loves Randall Pearson.

Beth’s childhood had her laser-focused on ballet, which explains the perfectionist side to her. It’s also why she always strives to be the best. That mindset was instilled in her by a strict mother who didn’t allow for failure very early on.

Sadly, her dream of being a professional ballerina was thwarted by her father’s passing. Abe suffered from lung cancer and passed away when she was just a teenager.

Shortly after, she lost out the part to the only other African American student in the class, Sonya, and when her mother found out, she forced her to choose a new path and college.

You know when mothers aren’t mad, they’re disappointed? That sums up Mrs. Clarke (hey, Phylicia Rashad!) in a nutshell.

She wasn’t upset that Bethany didn’t get the solo part because she had tried her best, but she knew they’d hit the end of the road and she wasn’t afraid to be the bearer of bad news.

While it’s devastating to watch a young Beth be told her dreams won’t come true, it’s hard to be mad at her mother, who simply wanted the best for her children and assumed a proper education was the only.

We later find out Carol’s father believed higher education was a waste for girls which explains why she pushed Beth so hard.

The as a whole was a beautiful depiction of a parents’ sacrifice so that their children can have the best and realize their dreams.

Abe worked extra shifts while Carol took on summer school just so Beth could take ballet classes. Parents love knows no bounds.

As Beth and Zoe embarked on their trip to DC to check up on Carol after she’d injured her hip,  Zoe teased Beth about clamming up and not being able to confront her mother.

And it was true. Beth couldn’t even bring up retirement without squirming in her seat.

But eventually, Beth finally had enough and aired out her grievances starting with telling her mother that she’d stripped her from her freedom and forced her to become a serious adult that wasn’t allowed to dream.

Beth’s honesty doesn’t go over well at first, however, by the morning, her mother acknowledges that while pushing her children to become the best versions of themselves, she may have gotten a little carried away.

This Is Us proves that relationships can be fixed and mended at any stage of life. It’s never too late.

This mother-daughter moment also pays tribute to the men in their lives who keep them grounded, sane, but most of all, carefree. Much like Randall, who gives Beth the space to be her best self, Abe was Carol’s perfect balance and reminded her to stop worrying for just a little; to laugh at the small things.

Beth realizes she doesn’t resent her mother for her upbringing or for forcing her to pick a different path in life because it brought her to Randall and the girls. However, she does miss being that young woman with her head in the clouds.

The trip to do DC didn’t just patch up a fraught relationship, it also gave Beth a new sense of purpose.

After years, she made her way back to a dance studio — with Randall’s support, of course — and found out she still “had it.”

But she didn’t just want to dance, she wanted to teach!

We’ve dived deeper into the Pearson’s childhood many times, but Beth has always been much of an enigma.

After seeing her childhood and getting an in-depth look at the relationship with her mother, I feel like I know Beth on a more personal level now.

And while she still maintains the pride and work ethic, she’s also become the kind of mother to her girls that she wished her mother would have been to her.

We touched briefly upon Zoe’s childhood, which we know from former episodes that she didn’t have an easy childhood, but again, it helps to see how she was growing up and how her relationship with Beth has grown.

And there’s no way I’m ever complaining about these two getting high together.

Even when they’re on cloud nine, they are supportive of each other.

Thoughts on this week’s episode?

This Is Us returns March 5, and according to the promo, we will be getting caught up with the whole Pearson clan.

But don’t get too excited. It seems Kevin fell off the wagon completely with his alcoholism while Kate’s health is in jeopardy as she’s rushed to the hospital.

Please don’t let there be anything wrong with the baby!

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