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This Is Us

This Is Us – The Game Plan (1×05)

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Whenever Tuesday rolls around I brace myself fully knowing that This Is Us is going to make me cry. This week was no exception – I was weeping like a baby.

We finally got a look at Rebecca and Jack as a couple without kids. In fact, Rebecca didn’t actually want kids and that revelation ruined a perfectly good Super Bowl night at a local bar. Jack thought the perfect time to have the “kids” talk was during the game. He’s in his 30s, he wants to expand his family with his girlfriend and she keeps saying “I don’t want kids.” It’s understandable but totally a buzz kill.

 

But you can always make a bad situation good again and their fight is a turning moment in their relationship. They might not be celebrating the Steeler’s like the rest of Pittsburgh but Jack realizes that kids aren’t a deal breaker for him and if she doesn’t want them, he’s okay with it. She realizes that she’s the only one out of her friends that doesn’t have kids and even though she wants to have a family with him, she likes the way things are now and she’s scared of change. This all leads to makeup sex in the bar bathroom and thanks to present day Kate, we know that’s the moment she and her brothers were conceived.

And since she was conceived on the biggest sports day of the year, sports obviously play a huge role in her life. Jack never had a good relationship with his father so he vowed to be the dad that let his kids watch sports and talk and spend time with him. It really meant a lot to Kate, which is why she tells Toby she wants to watch Sunday Night Football alone. Toby thinks it’s another one of Kate’s insecurities, so he throws a little “football party” and invites her. She comes out of courtesy so he doesn’t think she’s weird, but flips out a little when the guys keep talking and even pausing the game.

Toby is seriously confused and confronts her about what happened and she explains that since she was a little girl, she’s always watched sports with her dad. It’s kind of their thing. In fact, they still do it now, every Sunday. That’s when she pulls out the urn with her dad’s ashes and Toby is so touched, he stays for the game with her and her dad. Literally, waterworks. The moment is so emotional because even though we all knew Jack was dead, when reality sets in, it’s hard to process.

Of course this raises so many questions – when and how did Jack die? Is this why Rebecca is with Miguel? There’s some comfort knowing that their real love never died and they didn’t actually divorce.

I’d say present day Randall is the one kid who has it all together… that’s why everyone keeps coming to him and just extending their stay at his place. First William permanently crashes in his spare bedroom and then Kevin shows up basking in the “family” dynamic.

Randall decides to leave the girls to spend some quality time with their uncle while he and Beth spend an “adult” night in his expensive suite. But what Randall had in mind was the complete opposite of what happened. Instead of hot bathtub sex and room service, Beth told him her period was late and she thought she was pregnant. After a trip to the drugstore and a few fights, they were thrilled to find out that it was just a scare. But something tells me these two are going to actually want another baby after all of this.

Meanwhile Kevin wasn’t doing to hot with the kids – he made them read lines and then got cornered into a convo where he told them everyone was going to die, including mommy and daddy. Harsh dude. However with some sound advice from William who told him to stop doubting himself, Kevin seemed like a new person, analyzing the play in a way that defines what This Is Us as a show. There’s no beginning or end, there’s just people who are living in the then and now, who create more life and continue on for infinity. It’s actually a beautiful analogy… and Kevin is a lot smarter than we give him credit for. And William, he’ll definitely be a missed character.

Were you shocked with the heartbreaking revelation about Jack this week?

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This Is Us

This Is Us Review – An Open Dialogue to End the Stigma Surrounding Mental Health (4×11)

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This Is Us A Hell of a Week Part 1 Review

On this week’s installment of This Is Us, Randall reminded us all that self-care is important.

Randall deals with anxiety on a regular basis, but as the stress of his job, his mother’s illness, and the break-in at his home piled on, Randall was crumbling, as any human would be.

As Beth pointed out, it’s a lot for anyone to handle.

Randall put on a brave face and tried to bottle it all inside and ignore the warning signs, but eventually, that anger, fear, resentment, it all had to go somewhere.

It ended up being channeled to thwart a snatch-and-grab, which wasn’t the worst way to cope, but it wasn’t the right way either.

Randall saved a woman, he was hailed as a hero, but he felt far from that and he wasn’t okay. He was screaming internally and no one could hear him.

He hasn’t been for a while, he’s just good at covering it up.

It may not have been the best episode of This Is Us because it wasn’t loaded with feel-good moments, dramatic reveals, or Jack saying all the right things, but it was one of the most important episodes to date.

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The series devoted a whole episode to addressing mental health and the stigma around asking for help specifically as it relates to men of color.

Many people, Randall included, saw his anxiety as a weakness. He didn’t feel that he could talk about his problems or be open about them until eventually, he couldn’t keep them bottled up inside.

His psyche was damaged by the intruder more than he was letting on and as we found out more about the break-in and that the man was upstairs where the girls were sleeping, it became harder for Randall to cope.

When Randall finally reached his breaking point, he called Kevin, the one person who has become his rock overtime and has lifted him up when he was down and held him when he needed to cry. We saw it happen on This Is Us Season 1 when Randall had a panic attack at his old job, and it happened again at the end of the episode.

Kevin’s a good brother, and it’s important we have that person we can turn to when things get hard, but it’s also important that we understand that sometimes, it pays to talk to someone that’s a trained psychologist that can help us solve our problems and walk through our trauma; someone who can begin the healing process.

It’s also important to note how strong their brotherly love is here compared to the fractured relationship that was shown in the future. Could they have fallen out because Randall kept his mother’s diagnosis a secret at her request? Or was it something more? Maybe something to do with Randall’s refusal to seek professional help for his issues.

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There were a few people throughout the course of the episode that tried to help Randall including Darnell who stopped by to let him know therapy is nothing to be ashamed of. He encouraged Randall to seek help and told him how he used to be a tripwire until he found someone to talk to about his issues.

He informs Randall that it’s a weight lifted when you can just open up about everything regardless if you talk about what’s hurting you, upsetting you, or making you happy. But that doesn’t resonate with Randall who brushes him off and assures him running is good enough therapy. That is until he turns a corner and witnesses a robbery.

Since This Is Us expertly plays with multiple timeless, Randall’s anxiety is layered in both the past and present as they intertwine to show us that Randall’s nightmares have consistently been a byproduct of his stress and something he’s learned to live with but never learned to manage.

In his college days, Randall has nightmares following Jack’s death and asks Beth to sleep over countless times. When she encourages talking to someone rather than torturing himself, he refuses.

When she’s finally able to convince him to seek out some counseling in the form of a grief group, Randall is unable to attend because his problems and worries keep piling on, this time with Kate, which seems to be the third part in the Pearson trilogy.

We also see scenes of a young Randall who keeps finding comfort in his father’s arms because he’s scared of monsters and cannot fall asleep in his new big boy bed. However, Jack’s response to Randall telling him that he’s scared may have been the start of a harmful pattern. Jack, the ever-exhausted father who just wants to watch “The Shining” in peace tells his son to be “lowkey” and essentially to “step it up” because there’s nothing to be scared of.

This teaches Randall that his fears and anxieties aren’t warranted and shouldn’t be brought to anyone’s attention.

We see him try to deal with his anxiety in low-key manner in college when he’s having nightmares and again in the present. His father’s words are constantly echoing in his subconscious as he downplays his fears and emotions to Kevin. Jae Kwon, Darnell, and even his own wife.

Jack’s rhetoric continues to create bad behaviors for Randall as his father tells him to “be brave.”

It’s certainly admirable that Randall can stand his own against an intruder to protect his family, but he doesn’t have to be brave all the time.

To his credit, Jack did thank Randall for being brave enough to voice that he was scared, which is an important lesson and one that hopefully, Randall remembers soon enough.

This Is Us was also brave as they attempted to change the dialogue surrounding mental health. It may not be the cure-all, but it’s a start just as Randall reaching out to his brother and acknowledging that he has a problem was a start.

As we continue, the series is tapping into some of the issues that have very obviously been plaguing the Big Three but have never been fully addressed. The siblings may have had the perfect parents, but they’re far from perfect and most of the time, they’ve been running from their issues instead of addressing them head-on.

The second part of the trilogy surrounds Kevin, who answered Sophie’s call and was on his way to her father’s funeral when he picks up Randall’s first phone call. By the second call, Kevin’s laying in bed with Sophie and acknowledging that he may have made a mistake, which is where we start tapping into all of Kevin’s deeply buried issues with commitment and more. The teaser for Kevin’s episode seems to be all about “true love” and Sophie, the one that got away.

It’s a promising cliffhanger as we all anxiously (for lack of a better word) wait to see who Kevin’s pregnant wife is in the flash-forward scenes.

Not to dismiss Kevin’s moment, but I’m deeply interested in Kate’s storyline. It’s been hinted that things with her older boyfriend Marc got pretty dark in previous episodes, but the series never followed up on it until this week when we had a brief snippet of Kate’s phone conversation with Marc where she was asking him why he was so angry.

Towards the end of the episode, college Randall gets a call from Kevin that something happened to Kate and they’re on their way to pick him up. Is this a case of domestic abuse?

Alright, so the few takeaways from this episode:

  • Mental health matters — be sure to check on your loved ones today.
  • Therapy is nothing to be ashamed of and is encouraged. It’s incredibly brave to seek help and work towards becoming the best version of yourself.
  • Alarm systems are a priority. It’s hard to believe Randall didn’t have one considering his anxiety, his concern for his family, and the fact that they have the means and can afford it.

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This Is Us

This Is Us Midseason Premiere Review – Rebecca’s Diagnosis Triggers Randall’s Biggest Fears (4×10)

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This Is Us Light and Shadows Review

This Is Us returned after it midseason hiatus and couldn’t wait to throw plenty of curveballs at us.

Rebecca’s diagnosis was the key part of the episode as it brought upon the cliffhanger that puts Randall in a life-or-death situation.

Or does it?

Randall flew out to LA after hunting down a neurologist for his mother.

While his persistence and insistence didn’t sit well with Miguel at first as he told Randall he is perfectly capable of taking care of his wife and that small memory loss happens, by the end, Miguel knew Randall was right and he didn’t want to admit that something was happening to Rebecca.

The test results indicate that Rebecca has a “mild cognitive impairment,” which could either mean she’ll continue to forget this occassionally or it could mean she’ll begin to deteriorate.

We’re all hoping for the former, but given that we saw a glimpse into the future that showed Rebecca’s older, frail body nearing the end, I assume it’s going to progress more rapidly.

Seeing Rebecca accept the news as memories of her and Jack’s first “I love you” exchange brought me to tears.

Hearing “don’t you ever forget it” has never been more somber than at this very moment.

As we watched Rebecca go through simple tests like drawing a clock and repeating phrases, the moment was juxtaposed with young love between Rebecca and Jack.

A young love blossoming into a great love story, one for the ages.

Rebecca’s dad got to Jack during the disastrous golf-outing where he hammered home the point that he was “good enough” for his precious princess, so Jack broke up with Rebecca.

It crushed her, but eventually, she found out it was all her daddy’s doing.

We’ve touched upon Rebecca not having a good relationship with her mother, so it was nice to see her tell her daughter to go after Jack if she really was in love with him.

Jack proved to be the dependable, loving, thoughtful, epic love story that her mother wanted for her with or without the money and status.

Randall was the only one on hand for Rebecca’s tests because Kevin and Kate didn’t even know anything was wrong and that’s how Randall wanted it, which makes me think that it’s the reason why Kevin is not in attendance for the big three’s 40th birthday.

Randall doesn’t think that Kevin and Kate can handle it, but as it turns out, he might not be so equipped either.

He kept it mostly together during the appointment and looked strong for his mother, but once he came home, something happened.

The scene showed him checking in on all three of his girls plus Beth, who were all sound asleep without a worry in mind, but I couldn’t help notice how much time was being dedicated to Randal checking in on his family in the final moments of an episode.

As he walked down the stairs, a feeling of concern grew over me. And then, we saw it. A man standing in his kitchen pointing a knife.

But is this real or is it a figment of Randall’s imagination?

It’s not unbelievable that someone would break into a house in the middle of the night, but I’m inclined to believe that Randall Pearson, of all people, would have an alarm system.

Paired with the teaser for next week which taps into all of Randall’s former anxieties and fears, and I think that Randall is having a hallucination based on stress.

If you recall earlier in the season, Beth encouraged her husband to get therapy but he refused because he claimed hew as “fine” and could handle everything being thrown his way.

In this episode, Randall commented about his job as Councilman and said that he’ll get one thing done and six more pop-ups. That’s enough to stress out even the strongest of people.

And now, add on Rebecca’s condition.

One of the nightmares in the teaser shows Randall panicking that something is going to happen to his mother.

It seems to be one of his biggest fears and now, that fear is coming to life.

Therefore, it could be that Randall is going to be going through something entirely his own as he deals with crippling anxiety and stress.

Randall is the man who makes sure everyone is okay, but who is making sure that he’s okay?

On the other hand, it could be an intruder that requires Randall to protect his family. Since we’ve seen an aged Randall, Beth, and Tess in earlier flash-forward timelines, we know nothing happens to them.

And truthfully, when has This Is Us ever been that straightforward about anything?

They love to mess with us and make us think one thing is happening and then surprise us with a twist out of left field.

Case-and-point: Toby and Kate’s marriage.

They wanted us to think that Lady Kryptonite was a threat, that Toby would develop feelings for Kara, and that when he said he was going to the gym, he was actually going to meet up with his new lady friend.

Kate thought it and we thought it. But we never should have. That’s not the guy Toby is and he’s never given us a reason to think otherwise.

Toby admitted that he was distancing himself and spending less time at home with Kate and Jack because Jack’s blindness made him sad.

It was a crushing confession that will likely have a ripple effect on their marriage going forward despite Jack’s new ability to see lights and shadows.

This Is Us quickly gave us a sweet, touching moment as baby Jack began reaching for the pineapple lights. Though, as we also know from the flash-forwards, Jack doesn’t regain his eyesight.

Toby’s concern and feelings are valid, but hopefully, Kate doesn’t get upset with him for being unable to control how he feels and instead, shows him that baby Jack can still have a happy life despite his illness.

A family trip for blind children could help Toby understand his son more; Jack will still be able to hear and feel the ocean and he’ll be able to watch and understand sports just in his own unique way.

Now that we can breathe a sigh of relief that there’s no cheating involved, we can move on to Kevin whose dating life is all over the place.

After stating that he wanted to have a wife and child by the time he’s 40, Kevin is really hunkering down to make it happen. He hired a matchmaker and all.

But the girl that caught his eye wasn’t from a set-up or some girl from a dating app, it was a woman named Lizzy (played by Sophia Bush) that he spotted in the coffee shop.

Lizzy and Kevin had immediate chemistry and after their brief meeting, he pulled out all the stops to give the Chicago girl (an obvious nod to Bush’s time on Chicago PD) the full L.A experience.

He even called up his buddy John Legend to give them a private concert at the Hollywood Bowl. Who knew Kevin had that much pull?

While Kevin thought he was quite possibly staring into the big beautiful eyes of his future wife, she was looking at her hall pass.

Yep, Lizzy was married and Kevin Pearson was the one famous person her husband would let her sleep with.

I’ve never felt more played in my life, so I can’t even imagine how Kevin felt putting himself out there only to find out he’s some “prize.”

And then, he got a phone call from Sophie, which likely means she’s his pregnant wife from the flash-forward.

Why are we going back to Sophie?

She may have been the love of Kevin’s life at one point, but he’s changed and grown so much. Which, yes, could make him a better fit for her as the problem was always that Kevin wasn’t confident and secure enough, but they’ve tried this relationship twice already without any success.

I’d much rather see Kevin figure it out with Cassidy or meet a new soulmate.

And yet, considering we’re less than a year away from the birthday scene, whoever this girl is, she has to already have an established connection with him.

The teaser for next week also mentions that it’s the first of the big three trilogies, so maybe we find out what happened with Kate’s ex-boyfriend? Maybe he’s the intruder stalking the Big Three?

What did you think of the midseason premiere?

Was it worth the wait? Is the intruder real or a hallucination?

Can Toby and Kate move past this?

Who will be Kevin’s wife?

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This Is Us

This Is Us Fall Finale Review – So Long, Marianne (4×09)

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This Is Us So Long, Marianne Review

How is it possible that This Is Us manages to make holiday episodes more emotional every single time?

Thanksgiving has always been a huge deal for the Pearson family, and just like Nicky mentioned, Jack Pearson traditions are the backbone of the shindig.

The series does an incredible job of keeping Jack’s memory alive even though he’s been gone for years now.

And it’s done in the smallest of moments that could be glossed over if not for the beautiful parallel that they offer the present-day storylines.

Traditions like 5 pounds of shrimp started with Jack and Nicky ditching their less than joyous Thanksgiving celebrations at home to watch a game at the bar. When Nicky won a good sum of money from a deal he made with a friend, they splurged by ordering an obscene amount of shrimp.

As Nicky attended his first Thanksgiving with the Pearson clan and tagged along with Randall and Annie as they picked up some left-behind belongings from their old house, he realized that despite “erasing him,” his brother never forgot about him.

He’d quote Leonard Cohen’s song and call it a “poem” just like Nicky did, and he’d explain the song to his kids the same way his brother explained it to him.

Nicky was then inspired to honor his late brother and introduce the family to a tradition they didn’t know about just as they’d introduced him to Pilgrim Rick.

As he brought out a platter of 5 pounds of shrimp, I lost it. Again, such a small moment but it has so much power in the context of their storytelling.

And then, they took it even further later showing Kate and Toby’s son, adult Jack, hosting his own Thanksgiving with his pregnant wife and bringing out 5 pounds of shrimp.

Jack’s impact has spanned decades, and even though his grandchildren have never met him, they still honor him because of how important he was to their parents.

Rebecca’s deteriorating memory storyline was front and center as she attempted to ignore the ugly truth until she no longer could.

Can I just say that Mandy Moore is such an incredible actress. The whole time, I could feel her confusion and her fear in her body language and movements. The camera angle making it seem like we were sometimes looking through her disoriented POV also helped drive those emotions.

When she finally made her way back home from the movies, she admitted to Randall that she needs to see a doctor, which immediately put a damper on his holiday.

But surprisingly, what we saw of Rebecca’s forgetfulness including the scenes where she thought she saw a young William and when she lost her phone and panicked at a Chinese restaurant didn’t take place on Thanksgiving.

Those scenes were happening in a future timeline, 9-months in advance.

The police picked her up and returned her home to the log cabin where Miguel, Kate, and Kevin were waiting to celebrate their big 4-0!

And this flash-forward revealed a whole lot.

For starters, Randall wasn’t there because “they aren’t on speaking terms.” Does that mean just him and Kevin? Or Randall and the whole family? And what could have changed so drastically in 9 months? Was Kevin upset that Randall knew about Rebecca’s deteriorating state and didn’t say anything to them?

Toby wasn’t seen at the party and neither was baby Jack, which isn’t a good sign at all.

But someone else was there, though they remained off-screen: Kevin’s pregnant fiancee!

Okay, I guess a lot really can change in 9 months! When Kevin told Randall he wanted to start a family by 40, Randall told him to find a girlfriend first, but Kevin just proved that he’s capable of doing whatever he sets his mind to.

So, who is this mystery fiancee?

The fact that it’s only been 9 months makes me think it’s someone Kevin already knew and that points to either Sophie or Cassidy. I can see either happening, honestly.

But 9 months also means it could have been a quick relationship and the woman is someone we’ve never met before. It would be less exciting, sure, but maybe that fresh start is exactly what Kevin needs.

Other Emotional Moments at Thanksgiving Dinner

  • Shauna is doing great. Actually, she might be doing too well. Beth felt intimidated by Deja’s birth mother because they had all these inside jokes and she knew she could never replace her. But that didn’t mean Beth wasn’t a valuable person in Deja’s life. She was the mother who stepped in and filled that void when Shauna wasn’t able to. She gave Deja a great life, a good chance at success, a stable home, and plenty of memories. Deja will always be grateful for that. Deja wished her mom well, but she too was a little triggered that things were going so great. I guess my only concern was why Shauna never invited Deja over to her new apartment with a fireplace? Were they told that they couldn’t see each other? If she’s in such a good headspace that she’s hosting potlucks with her co-workers, why can’t she include Deja occasionally?
  • Kate is not a fan of CrossFit Toby and truthfully, neither am I. Don’t get me wrong, it’s awesome that Toby is taking his health so seriously and wants to better himself, but honestly, that’s all he was talking about. How off-putting on a day where people just want to enjoy some damn turkey. Kate didn’t bring it up to him because she didn’t want to upset him, but that text message she saw on his phone spells trouble. I’m guessing LadyKryptonite is his CrossFit trainer or nutritionist that’s supposed to keep him on track, but he’s clearly talking to other people about his marriage and isn’t happy with how Kate’s responding to his new lifestyle. Like Beth said, talking to other people about what’s happening between you two is how you enter dangerous territory. These two need to get brutally honest with each other even if it hurts if they want to salvage their relationship. Though, again, seeing as Toby isn’t around for their 40th birthday, it’s safe to say their relationship doesn’t overcome this.
  • Kevin proved he’s ready to become a dad when he helped his favorite niece Tess with feeling comfortable about coming out. It’s awesome how he applies what he’s learned in AA to other aspects of his life, and his lighthearted approach to having her just say it to a plastic clown at the drive-through was adorable. And the best part is that when Tess finally pulled the trigger, people were supportive and loving. As we know, not all coming out experiences are this positive, but it’s nice that This Is Us showcases that in 2019, there are people and families that are open and accepting.

What did you think of the emotional fall finale?

What was your favorite part?

Who do you think Kevin’s fiancee is? Why is Randall not speaking with his family?

And what’s happening with Toby and Kate?

We’ll meet back here on January 14, 2020, Cravers!

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