It really is all in the Thanksgiving traditions isn’t it?
This Is Us wonderfully blended the past and the present in this week’s holiday themed episode. And despite how put together they were as a family back then, they’re pretty dysfunctional now, even as they honor their father with all the traditions he started at the Pinewood Lodge.
As the present day Thanksgiving unfolds, we get a glimpse of Rebecca, Jack and the kids on their way to Thanksgiving at grandma and grandpas house, which was a very dreaded event. Rebecca is stressing out about making the “perfect” cranberries and making the kids look put together and it all goes to hell when Randall and Kevin accidentally knock the cranberries all over their freshly pressed shirts. As they’re running late, they’re tire pops and the car veers off the road into a fence. Thankfully everyone is safe but there’s no way they’re making that dinner on time. They hike 3.4 miles to the nearest gas station only to find out there’s no way of getting a tow truck until the next morning. Rebecca calls her family and almost immediately gets into a screaming match with her mom. “We’re no longer coming,” she tells her, quite frankly making Jack proud.
They opt to stay at the nearest lodge, which is anything but glamorous. But being the good dad that he is, Jack puts on a show for the kids dressing up as Pilgrim Rick, playing the Police Academy on VCR and making cheese and saltine hot dogs on the furnace fire. “I want every Thanksgiving to be just like this,” Randall tells his mother.
And the present day Thanksgiving echoes many of the themes from that very night. In fact, Randall is the most excited to celebrate the holiday, running around waking everyone up. It’s no surprise – this is the first time his biological dad and his birth mother would be spending a holiday together. It’s practically a dream come true for him and the family gets together to go on a 3.4 mile hike and watch Police Academy 3.
Olivia, who wasn’t keen on coming to dinner in the first place, begins opening up to Kevin about why she dislikes the holiday. Her mother always “pretended” things were okay, her dad would take a call from the hospital and skip out on dinner, which really meant he was going to have an affair with a nurse and her mother would get drunk and angry and Olivia would never get to eat the pie. To cheer her up, Kevin offers her a piece of pie. The gesture would be warmly recieved by most, but not Olivia who acts too “cool” and “proud.” Her attitude quickly changed after she chats with William about what it feels like to know you’re dying. “Chase the moments before you’re too old and slow,” he advises her. But the best advice – say thank you when a kind boy offers you pie, which she did with a kiss. Kevin may need help opening up for his role, but she needs help opening up to life and love. They’re definitely going to be good for each other.
Seeing Olivia take the high road also helps Kevin put aside his hate towards Miguel. It seems as though Kevin was such a daddy’s boy that he can’t fathom seeing anyone else take his father’s place. But in the spirit of the holiday’s, he finally lets Miguel take the role of “Pilgrim Rick,” a sacred role which belonged to Jack. It makes sense that something so trivial would be so important to them both, especially Miguel, who was his dad’s best friend. I think Jack would have liked to see his family being taken care of while still upholding his values and traditions, keeping his name and memory alive.
Randall skips out on the movie and heads over to his dad’s house to pick up all the cassette tapes that he was reminiscing about – he would spend his sober Thanksgiving playing music with his friends and recording their jam sessions. “This might be the last Thanksgiving he has,” he tells his wife. Unfortunately, he doesn’t just find the tapes, he finds his mother’s letter to William, before she can even sit down and confess that she’s know who his father was his entire life.
Of course, Randall’s frustration’s come out at the dinner table… in front of everyone… making things pretty uncomfortable. Rebecca is crying, William is unsure of what to say, and Randall doesn’t want to hear it. His reaction is understandable – he’s been lied to all his life by the one person he thought he could trust. His mom knew how important finding his biological parents were. But in his rage, Randall isn’t seeing the other side – Rebecca took in an African American boy as one of her own because an addict gave him up. Even if William became clean, exposing Randall to the truth could potential do more harm than good and she was protecting him and her family. Randall was her son and it’s understandable that she wanted to keep it that way. Sadly, since they were so close and William is dying, this will probably heavily strain his relationship with his mother… possibly making it irreparable.
As this is all going down, Kate finally makes her grand entrance and announces that she’s getting gastric bypass surgery. I wish I had seen more of Kate interacting with her family in this episode – we haven’t seen her really bond with anyone except for Kevin. How will she act around her mother now that they aren’t really “speaking.” Is she the lovable Aunt Kate to Randall’s kids? Will she be intimidated by Kevin’s new GF?
It’ll be interesting to see how this major decision will affect her in the future. Kate’s always struggled with her weight so it seems like this will be a smart move on her part. Will she finally be able to accept her life? Will she let Toby back in? Will we start learning more about Kate other than her obsession with the weight?
This Is Us Fall Finale Review – So Long, Marianne (4×09)
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!
This Is Us Review – Sorry (4×08)
We’re getting ready to explore the early stages of Rebecca’s Alzheimer’s, which will eventually lead us to that moment in the future where the family gathered around her bedside.
Just thinking about how This Is Us tackles storylines and how they’ll handle this one makes me emotional.
Randall spent the day with his mom for a little bit of R&R (Randall and Rebecca time), but things were much different than they used to be.
Rebecca wasn’t acting like herself and she was forgetful. The fact that she’d lost her iPhone before meant that this wasn’t the first time something like this was happening.
Randall picked up on it right away, but when he confronted Rebecca, she was defensive and irritable. Refusing to get help is going to lead to Rebecca getting lost on the fall finale.
The R&R of the present-day paralleled that of Rebecca and Randall’s day together when the Big Three was already in college. Randall was still taking care of his mother than and promised to help her find a job.
When he realized she didn’t land the job interview due to lack of experience, he vouched for her to the boss who took him up on the idea and gave her a chance.
Randall has always been the son who connected so easily with his mother.
There was a brief nod to Kate’s relationship with the older record store guy that no one liked, but we’ve yet to explore the toxic nature of their relationship that was teased.
In the present day, Kate struggled with Toby’s decision to put his gym time before the family and then felt guilty about allowing Jack to eat his first solid food when Toby wasn’t around.
Their relationship has been filled with lies for a while now and though the truth eventually comes out, it would have been easier without the lie in the first place.
Will this be what drives them apart?
Or will they overcome all of this and emerge stronger than ever?
Speaking of strength, Nicky found his just in time for his court trial.
When the judge asked him if he regretted throwing the chair through the Veteran’s building, Nicky’s “not really” was classic and brutally honest.
But it was also beautiful.
Nicky wasn’t sorry because it’s the moment that not only made him become sober but also got his life on track and brought him closer to his nephew, Kevin.
In the process, he learned to forgive himself.
Is it strange that I’m really digging the Kevin, Cassidy, and Nicky trio and don’t want things to change?
I refuse to believe Cassidy is going to go back to her husband because her happy ending is with Kevin.
Hopefully, she realizes that he’s the only one to ever see her and she tags along for Thanksgiving with the Pearson clan.
If we have Nicky, Cassidy, AND Deja’s mother, Shauna, coming to Thanksgiving, there’s no telling what to expect.
And can I just say I’m so glad Beth is the kind of foster mother who encourages Deja to see her birth mother? Yes, it took Malik to make her aware that they’ve neglected that relationship, but she was so supportive once she realized the error of her ways.
It seemed like Kevin was surely going to go down a downward spiral once Nicky called him a wrecking ball for sleeping with Cassidy.
Kevin’s always been so hard on himself when he doesn’t have to be. We’re human, we make mistakes.
But Nicky and Cassidy were able to get him back on track rather quickly, which again, speaks to the power of being surrounded by people who understand you.
Cassidy has to be the person Kevin’s is with in the future, right? She has to be.
Seeing Nicky juxtaposed with Jack’s image was so powerful.
Jack passed so many years ago, but he still plays a huge role in Kevin’s life and he looks up to him and wants to impress him.
Nicky has many similarities to Jack, and I think Kevin likes knowing he’s closer to his father if even just for a minute.
What did you think about the episode?
Will Cassidy and Kevin end up together?
Will Toby and Kate split?
How will they help Rebecca?
This Is Us – The Dinner and the Date (4×07)
One day you’re their biggest idol and the next day someone else comes along and becomes their whole world.
This quote summarizes the mindsets of both Randall and Jack on This Is Us “The Dinner and the Date.”
Both Jack and Randall Pearson struggled with accepting that they weren’t the most important person in their child’s lives anymore.
For Jack, it was about being replaced by his teacher, Mr. Lawrence and for Randall, it was seeing Malik become “the man” in Deja’s life.
Much of the episode centered around Deja and Malik.
Though my expectations for this episode were low — frankly, I don’t think is the strongest season of This Is Us — I was surprised by how much I loved this episode.
Deja and Malik are characters that command your attention.
Their storyline is unconventional, but it’s real and emotional and forces Randall and Beth to get comfortable in their uncomfortableness.
Deja’s character development is noticeable and yet, she never forgets where she came from or who she is. Her past was engrained in this episode as she ditched school, explored Philly with Malik, and found a little piece of home on their Ferris Bueller inspired day off.
I’d even go as far as saying that Malik might be good for Deja.
She hadn’t has much exposure to a stable home or good men. Most of the examples of what a proper marriage and family look like have stemmed solely from Beth and Randall.
But Malik is a combination of both parts of her life; his family comes from lesser means, but they’re above all, a supportive family.
His life hasn’t been easy yet he has this confidence about him that draws people in.
He may have come off as a player, but deep down inside, Malik is a romantic who knows how to treat a lady.
When Malik brought her to see the lights that Deja remembered seeing as a child with her mom and grandma, I’m not going to lie, the tears welled up in my eyes.
Malik may be 14 but he’s mature; he listened to everything Deja said and planned the perfect date. I don’t know many middle-aged men who could pull off such an impressive evening.
Family dinners are always slightly awkward, but when you add strangers into the mix, the awkwardness is tripled.
In both timelines, that awkwardness was felt by everyone.
Dinner with the Pearson clan and Randall’s teacher, Mr. Lawrence, was less intense than the meeting of Deja’s parents with Malik’s parents.
In the present-day timeline, everyone had preconceived notions about the other party and Beth’s “open-mindedness” went out the door rather quickly.
Each parent blamed the other child for being a bad influence. Beth and Randall looked down on Malik because he was a father and refused to acknowledge him as anything else when, in fact, he’s also a grade-A student and good father.
Randall is a good and protective father, but Malik’s dad stating that he won’t let them overlook his son was powerful.
At the same time, Malik’s parents judged Randall and Beth by their wealth.
They viewed them as bougie and snide comments about the affordability of the house and his role as Councilman.
The dinner was doomed from the very beginning.
The only good thing that came out of it was that all parties checked each other towards the end and realized that the only solution would be to allow these kids to see each other with parental supervision.
In the past timeline, Jack struggled with accepting Mr. Lawrence out of fear that he was being replaced in Randall’s life.
Competitiveness and jealousy don’t look good on Jack.
Rebecca had to check her husband whose jealousy was making for some tense moments.
She also made a rather good point — Randall was seeking out Mr. Lawrence because he’s a man who looks like him. He could give him what Rebecca and Jack couldn’t.
When Jack became honest with himself and Lawrence, he admitted that Randall needed a role model like Lawrence.
By then, Lawrence realized he was overstepping and helped out by giving Jack the tools he needed to guide Randall’s journey of self-discovery.
Jack’s decision to embrace this part of Randall that they’ve been ignoring mainly because of their ignorance was admirable and important.
It’s this very quality that has always made them the best parents and in turn, made Randall such a great person.
- Dejik is a cool ship name but Malajia takes the cake.
- Malik should have known that skipping class wouldn’t make for a good impression on Randall.
- Annie and Kevin’s commentary was everything. “It’s crazy that you have a baby” would have surely made Beth spit out her red wine had she been drinking some.
- Beth may have gone a little too far but her spitfire attitude is a whole mood. Malik’s mom really tried it by bringing up Deja’s past and saying it “must be hard raising someone else’s kid.” She instigated all of that attitude from Beth.
I’m eager to get back to the Big Three storylines and see them all interact more, but a break from the mold wasn’t a bad thing.
This Is Us has a difficult task on their hands because they have to find a way to appease all fans — the ones who say that Kate, Kevin, and Randall should stop mourning their father already and the people who want the series to continue focusing on the core family and less on new characters.
But there’s only so much the writers can accomplish with the Big Three before eventually adding new faces and expanding the storyline. I think they’ve done a good job at balancing all of it for now.
What do you think?
Did you enjoy this episode?
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