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This Is Us

This Is Us – The Big Day (1×12)

THIS IS US -- "The Big Day" Episode 112 -- Pictured: (l-r) Mandy Moore as Rebecca, Milo Ventimiglia as Jack -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC)

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The prequel to the very first episode of This Is Us aired yesterday and that meant, a whole 45 minutes of non-stop ugly crying. Thanks a lot guys.

The writers took us back to the very beginning showing that miracles exist and everything happens for a reason.

We know what happened when Rebecca went into labor but now we got a deeper look at how the day played out and all the key players involved that made the Big 3 come to be.

Rebecca was nearing the end of her pregnancy and with three kids inside her, she was not in the best mood. She was hot, her shoes didn’t fit and her hormones were all over the place, going from one extreme to the next. She eventually kicked Jack out of the house vowing to clean up the mess and make room for the babies.

But sometimes… things don’t go as planned. She quickly realized that she was a “monster” because he’s the best guy and she’d forgotten all about his birthday. To try to make things right, she set her mind on baking a cake… until she realized she had absolutely no ingredients. Now my first thought was “just go to the store and pick some up… or order on Amazon Prime” however I quickly realized that we were in the 70s and things were a lot harder back then… definitely not as convenient as they are now.

So 9 months pregnant with 3, she trudged along to the nearest liquor store where she picked up a banana muffin cupcake, frosting and a Terrible towel. IT was all pretty terrible, but the love and literal sweat she put into it was enough to make it the most memorable birthday to date. 

Jack, who needed something to do while kicked out, caught up with Miguel, who tried to introduce him to the most hated game on Earth – golf. We know Jack isn’t just “one of the guys” but dang, he really set the bar high for men out there when he told the guys who complained and “needed to get away from their families” that that was exactly where he wanted to be… no matter how pregnant or how moody she was, he wanted to spend time with his wife. In fact, he even wanted to freeze time just to have amore because you just never know… A key lesson on this show and definitely a pinch of foreshadowing.

The rest is what we saw – Jack got home, requested the sexy Marilyn Monroe dance and as thing were “heating up” Rebecca’s water broke.

Dr. Nate Katowski woke up that morning and went about things just like every other day – talking to his wife, who we know passed a year ago from cancer. He’d been so affected by her passing, he couldn’t even bring himself to throw out any of her things.

But today wasn’t just any ordinary day, it was the day his nephews came to visit and he vowed to his wife that he would never be the boring grandpa, so he made his way to the store to buy some junk cereal. As he walked down the aisles, he ran into a widowed female friend who saw that he was still hurting from the loss of his wife. She invited him over for dinner but he politely declined since working an on-call 60 hour shift is a pretty legit excuse.

Turns out, others wanted him to “get out there” again too. His son and his wife were visibly worried about him, trying to encourage him to move on. But after 53 years of marriage, that’s a hard thing to do. Instead, Nate visited her grave and broke down crying, explaining that he didn’t want to continue living like this. That’s when his miracle came – he got called in to cover for a doctor and helped the Pearson’s deliver their 3 beautiful children, one of whom passed away during birth.

Then we have Joe – we first meet him at a confessional in church asking the priest and god for a miracle. His relationship with his wife has been strained for some time and he’s not sure if it will ever get back to normal. Miracle’s work in mysterious ways though and a few hours later, he opens the door at the fire station and finds a baby on the doorstep. Since his wife couldn’t have kids, he takes this as a sign and brings the baby home to her. “This baby won’t fix us,” she tells him as he leaves to take the baby to the hospital.

That’s where he meets a distraught Jack, who just found out he lost a baby. When he sees the child Joe brought in, he takes Nate’s advice to heart. “I feel like we were meant to have three,” she says to him through tears. “What if we still are,” he tells her.

The baby, who we later come to know as Randall, was definitely a miracle for Joe, whose wife realized that his intentions and his heart were in the right place and that they needed to save their marriage.

However baby Randall wasn’t just a miracle for Joe, he was a miracle for everyone looking for a bit of hope during a bleak time. In fact, Randall’s parents didn’t want him and he himself needed a miracle, which he found in several different people, all of whom were there to care for him when he needed it. It’s a gentle reminder that life is often times unpredictable – it can bring you joy or pain but you have to persevere and you have to take the sourest lemon that life has to offer and turn it into something resembling lemonade. In a way, everyone on that show is making lemonade.

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This Is Us

This Is Us – Unhinged (4×03)

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This is Us - Season 4 Unhinged Review

There are always hidden lessons tucked away in every This Is Us episode.

Lessons are taught as past, present, and sometimes future experiences that mirror each other.

Kevin, Randall, and Kate are all moving into new phases of their adult lives.

Randall’s making a name for himself as the “unhinged” councilman in Philadelphia after announcing an open door policy for all his constituents.

Randall: He’s a man of the people and his policy reflects that. Unlike most politicians, Randall isn’t in this as a stepping stone to some greater title that gives him more power. His purpose is to evoke change, which is something Berenice, his toxic and moody assistant, didn’t fully grasp. Berenice surely meant well, and she had the experience to offer up plenty of useful insight into Randall’s tenure, but it wasn’t enough to keep her around.

Berenice criticized Randall for not being a typical politician as if that’s something someone should strive to become.

Randall may be taking an atypical approach, but he’s doing exactly what he’s been voted into office for —  to help the people that elected him.

Yes, he’ll need the help of his other councilman to do his job, but he can’t help pass anything if he doesn’t know what the real-life, everyday problems are. Too many politicians nowadays don’t live the life regular people do, they don’t experience the problems, they don’t understand where they’re coming from. Randall is taking a hammer to all of that, and Berenice wasn’t going to bring him down.

She overstepped by suggesting that he fire Jae-Won and keep him strictly as a “friend.” Jae-Won shared the same passion for the work as Randall does. He believes in change, and he believes it’s time to change how they go about ushering in change.

He’s been there since day one, and helped Randall win the election — he deserves to be there.

Randall’s present-day confidence and ability to do what he felt was right juxtaposed his first day of school experiences where he had a panic attack for getting in trouble for being out of dress code.

He’s grown immensely from the boy that followed the rules to a man who makes his own and speaks out against injustice.

Kevin – Kevin’s on a journey to find himself, and it seems he’s been on this same journey since he was in middle school.

Kevin’s storylines are always filled with so much heart and that’s because he’s an emotionally vulnerable human. His ego always preceded him, but when you get to know him, you see that he’s always putting everyone he cares about ahead of himself.

When he was in middle school, he sacrificed his “me day” to help Randall deal with a panic attack despite not fully understanding what was happening to Randall. When he chucked it up to being a phase in “puberty,” I muttered: “I wish.”

In the present, Kevin was extending the same care towards Nicky, who was visibly struggling with addiction.

Kevin is the most underrated character and the one who pulls from Jack’s caring nature.

He never gives up on the people he cares about. Nicky resisted the help, but Kevin never wavered; he stuck around.

It’s amazing that This Is Us can bring me to tears with a summarized montage of Nicky’s up-and-down battle with addiction.  It allowed us to explore Kevin’s more serious side as he put his foot down and told Nicky how all of this would go down.  And, as most viewers have been anticipating, it led Kevin to meet Cassidy, his potential love interest.

Nicky threw the chair because he was driven to drink after losing the only therapist he felt comfortable opening up to.

As Kevin supported Nicky in the aftermath, he befriended Cassidy’s kid in the waiting room.

Although sparks weren’t flying between Kevin and Cassidy during their first meeting, they did bump into each other again at an AA meeting.

Cassidy and Nicky couldn’t keep it together as Kevin was pouring his soul out and it led to a laugh attack from all three.

Sometimes, laughter is the best medicine.

Helping Nicky may have just led Kevin to his next chapter and a new purpose.

Kate – Kate struggled with her weight again in both the present-day and the flashbacks. Though she’s much more confident than the Katie girl who did one work out video with her mother in the 80s and felt deterred after she saw she wasn’t losing weight, the reality of her weight still well, weighed heavy on her.

It was only amplified when she realized how slim and hunky Toby’s been looking. That paired with his client meeting in which she had to admit she couldn’t fit into a booth and needed a table instead really triggered her.

Kate’s anger is expected as she’s always put so much pressure on herself to be thin and gets upset when it comes easily or naturally to others. But the anger wasn’t warranted, which is why it’s good she got over it quickly.

Toby didn’t mean to hurt her by taking care of himself and his health — his motives for doing it for his child were inspiring — he just didn’t want her to feel bad about not doing it also.

No one should ever be blamed for doing what’s best for them, even if it isn’t what others believe you should be doing.

Kate apologized and acknowledge how great his healthy lifestyle was, but there’s definitely going to be some animosity going forward. This isn’t the end yet. Could this be why Kate and Toby aren’t together anymore in the future?

Kate’s neighbor, Gregory, was unlikeable at first, but it teaches an important lesson about not judging people because you never know what they’re going through.

His callous way of requesting that Toby didn’t block the driveway seemed insensitive and uptight. It was obvious the storage unit was taking up too much space, and there was obviously a better way to go about getting his point across.

But later, we learned that Gregory was recovering from a stroke (guest star Psych’s Timothy O’Toole was also a stroke survivor) and walking a mile was a personal goal, which was being hindered by the car in the driveway.

Knowing that changed our whole outlook on Gregory – he went’ from being the “asshole neighbor” to the funny and slightly cynical one.

There’s potential within this new friendship, and maybe Gregory will be the one to push Kate in a way she’s never been able to push herself.

There’s an emphasis on health here from both Toby and Gregory that I don’t think Kate will ignore.

The first step is just taking that walk around the block.

First Day of School – The first day of school was the connection between young Kate, Randall and Kevin, and Randall’s girls, Deja, Annie, and Tess.

Both Tess and Randall wanted to make a good impression and found themselves misunderstood.

Tess may have come out to her parents and family members last season, but her storyline will echo what many LGBTQ folks know all too well — coming out never truly ends.

Every time you meet a new person, you’ll have to come out to them, which Tess realized is more difficult than she thought it would be.

Deja was having a situation of her own when Malik informed her that he was the father of a baby girl.

Finding out someone has a child is a lot to process for an adult let alone a teenage girl who isn’t prepared for such responsibilities.

But, Deja is more mature than many other girls her age. She’s gone through difficult times and experiences, which have made her stronger, and that outlook on life is why she’d probably be open to Malik’s situation.

And we’re all secretly hoping she gives Malik a chance because we want to see Randall’s reaction.

Will Beth and Randall handle the news maturely? Or will Randall spiral into another bus incident?

Jack and Miguel – Friendship is the key to life. I mentioned that Kevin is just as caring and nurturing as his father, and this rings true in the flashback to Jack and Miguel. Both men had each other’s backs during a difficult situation. If it wasn’t for Miguel, Jack would have lost his job over an accidental mistake.

Both men are/ were lucky to have each other in their lives. I do wonder if this backstory will have some impact on their friendship going forward. Jack seemed to make the mistake because he wasn’t happy in his line of work. Otherwise, the scene felt like they were just inserting it to give us some quality Jack time. I’m never opposed to that, but it isn’t how This Is Us operates.

The fourth season is delivering storylines that exemplify that character’s strengths, showcase their rawness, and propel the plot forward.

Even though fans were skeptical about how the series would move on, at some point, we have to move on from grieving from Jack’s death.

This new handful of characters allows us to do so while still connecting to inspiring moments with our Pearson clan.

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

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This Is Us Season 4 Premiere Review

“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.

If you want to fuel our reviews, you can donate here! 

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This Is Us

This Is Us – Her (3×18)

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This Is US Her Season 3 finale review

Rebecca’s the engine that keeps the family running and losing her is going to be a total loss.

But it was bound to happen right?

It’s the natural order of things.

The episode finally revealed the identity of the ‘her’ everyone was referring to in the future, and though I expected it to be a sickly Rebecca based on how heavy the moment was for Randall, Tess and Toby, it was still heartbreaking to watch.

I’ll tackle the hardest moment of the episode first to get it out of the way mainly so I can finally stop balling my eyes out.

Everyone gathered at Kevin’s HUGE house to seemingly say their goodbye’s to Rebecca.

The scene with a young Randall walking through the hospital halls to visit his mother who was in a car accident mirrored him in the future walking to see his bed-ridden and very old mother possibly on her death bed.

She appears to be senile as Randall reminds his mother who he is.

The surprising part is that the ‘he’ Randall inquires about isn’t Miguel, it’s Nicky Pearson, Jack’s mystery and presumed dead brother.

Does this mean Miguel has already passed?

Has Nicky developed a close bond with the family since their original meeting?

It was obvious that the emotional bulk of this episode was going to surround Rebecca as both the past and the present storylines dealt with how much the Pearson kids and later adults loved and needed her.

At some point, we were going to have to address that she wouldn’t live forever despite being super mom, right?

However, I don’t think I’m ready to bury another Pearson just yet. I’m still not over Jack’s death.

The brief future scenes answered some other lingering questions.

In the present, Kevin and Zoe realized they couldn’t get past the issue of having children. Kevin chose Zoe with the hope that like his mother, she’d change her mind about having kids.

Zoe eventually realized it and the two broke up when she made it clear, again, that she will never change her stance on this.

One thing that didn’t sit well with me was how blatantly transparent Kevin and Zoe’s babysitting scenes were to further their own children storyline.

Obviously, Kevin would be a great dad. He grew up with one of the greatest, and he’s been through enough to give Tess sound advice about finding herself despite never going through what she was going through.

But simply because they were doing well with his brother’s kids doesn’t negate Zoe’s feelings or beliefs about kids.

It irritated me that Kevin even thought they would. He clearly didn’t take Zoe seriously, and I’m glad she stood her ground.

Breakups always suck, and this one stung because they were a genuinely good couple, but it was necessary for both of them to grow.

The flash-forward revealed that Zoe was right; Kevin had a son, though the mother remains a mystery. Do you think it could be Sophie? That would be something, wouldn’t it?

Oh, and did I mention Kevin has a ginormous house?

Beth and Randall finally got a chance to breathe after all the marital woes they’ve been experiencing as of late concerning their passions.

Randall was reminded about how lucky he’s been to win the lotto — adoption and Beth — with a very compelling speech from Deja.

She’s learned a thing or two from Randall!

Her personal account of living with terrible parents was truly heartbreaking. It’s easy to forget how much Deja has gone through now that he foster home problems aren’t at the forefront and she’s accustomed to living with the Pearson’s, but it’s sweet that she still knows where she came from and appreciates where she’s at.

Meanwhile, Beth realized that while her dream is to teach dance, she’s not doing it the way she wants by working for herself.

Both of them were willing to compromise, with Randall even assuring Beth he’d resign because his dreams were unrealistic.

But, alas, Beth had a better plan and one viewers have been suggesting all along: they’d move to Philadelphia and she’d open up her own dance studio.

When Beth mentioned the dance studio, I breathed a sigh of relief because I knew that was a good sign for their future.

In the future flash-forwards, we knew Beth had her own place, but we also thought it meant she and Randall had divorced.

Similarly, when future Randall said ‘hey baby’ to Beth, I burst out crying. They survived everything thrown at them and came out stronger!

Though I really did think the lavish house was going to be there’s!

One couple that’s not doing so well is Kate and Toby.

In the present, the two are doing just fine as they wait to take a premie Jack from the hospital.

He’s learning to breathe on his own but needs a little nudge in the right direction from time to time.

Understandably, it’s a very tense time for Kate as she worries about her child surviving and becoming a good parent, but her behavior towards Rebecca, per usual, was annoying.

Kate’s little fit about her mother overstepping drove me to yell at the TV. Why is she always so ungrateful?

Nerves are nerves, but Rebecca took charge, took notes, and saved baby Jack’s life. Not to mention she was just trying to be there for Kate during this tough time.

Kate eventually realized the error of her ways and apologized for overreacting in advance, which was cute.

I know it’s her insecurities getting the best of her, but Rebecca doesn’t deserve any of it. I’m over how she continuously acts terribly towards her own mother.

Rebecca is an angel for being so cool, calm and collected all the time.

Seeing her acknowledge that living up to her mother and that effortless Rebecca-magic was going to be hard was probably the sweetest moment we’ve ever seen between the two.

Rebecca is an angel for being so cool, calm and collected all the time.

In the future, Kate and Toby aren’t together, which is explains why he was hesitant on coming to the Pearson gathering and said ‘she’ wouldn’t want him there.

Marriages are tough and go through many different phases so there could be a plethora of reasons that lead to their divorce.

We’ll have to tune in to This Is Us Season 4 to find out.

Kate and Jack, who isn’t a baby anymore, were on their way to Kevin’s house. It’s a silver lining that at least their miracle baby survived!

We’ll get more involved with this future storyline as next season progresses, but I have to say, I can’t wait to see what older Kate and Kevin look like.

They truly nailed Beth and Randall, not to mention the spot-on casting for older Tess!

Overall, This Is Us Season 3 had it’s better and worse moments.

The delivery of timelines and mysteries has begun feeling slightly manipulative. Maybe it’s always been this way and we were just too impressed with Jack’s charm to notice, but this episode, in particular, showed exactly how contrived the storylines have become.

It wouldn’t even be possible to predict anything in this series because memories are created simply to align with the story the writers are trying to tell in the present and future.

Still, there’s an emotional depth with this finale that the series hasn’t had since Jack’s passing.

Rebecca has had a spark, spunk and light about her that has carried this show during the good times and the bad, and also gifted us with these incredible humans.

Saying goodbye to her probably won’t happen immediately when the series picks back up, but it’s unavoidable.

What did you think of the This Is Us Season 3 finale?

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