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This Is Us

This Is Us – Pilgrim Rick (1×08)

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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?

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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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This Is Us

This Is Us – R&B (3×17)

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This Is Us R&B review

Beth and Randall’s fight on “R&B” was long overdue. The tension bubbling right on the surface came to a major head, and it’s unclear if there’s a way to bounce back from this.

In my heart, in my ‘Beth and Randall are forever’ hearts, I believe this fight is normal, healthy even, and that they will bounce back stronger than ever.

Much like Randall, I’m also a woman with anxiety and realize that too much has been said, lines have been crossed, that may make this a definite turning point and irreversible.

My mind keeps going back to that flash-forward in This Is Us Season 2 in which we saw future Beth and Randall on bad terms. It wasn’t clear if they were divorced, but their relationship didn’t evoke the same passion and happiness as the earlier days.

This Is Us has crafted two of TV’s most perfect couples in Jack and Rebecca and Beth and Randall.

We idolize them because they’ve figured out this whole marriage thing and make it seem effortless.

But they’ve also peeled back the layers to reveal that no marriage is perfect.

Marriage is fickle; it’s a teeter-totter where one person is always slightly above the other. One person is always giving more while the other one is giving up more.

And when that teeter-totter doesn’t ever find balance, things start to crumble.

The explosive episode of This Is Us took us on a journey through Beth and Randall’s life together right down to their first date.

As expected, Randall planned the perfect date at a nice fancy restaurant with a nice suit and tie, but Beth wasn’t impressed.

I was a little thrown by how much attitude Beth was serving Randall who was a perfect gentleman and clearly smitten with her.

Looking back at their whole relationship, it was just Beth’s skepticism which has carried throughout her whole life.

She didn’t want to become her husband’s shadow, she didn’t want to get lost in his orbit, or become less than, and that’s understandable.

But then, that’s exactly what happened. At least, according to her.

As their fight wages on and surprisingly doesn’t wake any of their children — how soundproof are their walls? — Beth has an epiphany that she’s always been the one bending over backward by giving up her job to raise the kids, working overtime when he quit his job and embracing his wild dreams as her own.

Never has it been about her.

And on some level, I can see it. Randall is a lot to handle and he does consume you.

But, she also knew that going in.

Randall doesn’t see any of the flags Beth does because he’s always tried to be the best person he could be to his queen.

He thought he loved her enough to give her the love, life and respect he thought she deserved.

I’ll agree that Randall made some pretty rash decisions in his heyday, but I don’t think he ever compromised Beth or asked her to give up a dream to achieve it.

My issue with this episode was that it felt like they were trying to insert moments of Beth losing herself during flashbacks that we’ve been present for and never witnessed this was a problem.

Did we ship Beth and Randall so hard that we were ignorant to what was happening or was it never made clear that Beth bent over for Randall so much that she’d eventually crack? It seemed forced simply for the sake of the storyline.

There’s no right or wrong solution here because well, they’ve both done what they thought was best.

Randall may have overstepped on This Is Us Season 3 Episode 16 after leaving Beth a rather belittling voicemail when he thought she didn’t have his back so it was fair that Beth wanted her issues to be heard first.

But eventually, Beth overstepped by calling out Randall’s panic attacks, which was a low blow and sent him back all the way to Philly.

Randall has generally been cool, calm and collected, so for him to exit because he couldn’t be around Beth was really telling.

Who knows what will happen between these two now that they’ve finally talked it out honestly, something Randall believed they’d been doing throughout most of their relationship.

Is it Randall’s fault that Beth bottled up and repressed all these emotions? Maybe if she’d been more honest about what she wanted instead of trying to appease Randall they wouldn’t be in this mess.

Should Randall have assumed Beth would always be his ride or die? Maybe he should have asked her if she’s genuinely happy in her life or seen some of the warning signs like when she secretly booked a hotel to get away for 24-hours?

The episode had the potential for being really depressing giving the explosive nature but the sweet moments held it all together.

Susan Kelechi Watson and Sterling K. Brown delivered powerful performances that, in true This Is Us fashion, made us cry and laugh at the same time. Even the younger versions of themselves did a good job.

Seeing Beth and Randall’s first date, their proposal, their wedding day, and how tired they were after having their first baby not only strengthened them in my eyes but proved that they are just like any other normal couple with ups and downs, good moments and bad ones.

Much like Jack and Rebecca, Beth and Randall’s relationship has balance romance with realism.

In fact, Randall is a lot like Jack. Their fight even reminded Randall of the only true fight Jack and Rebecca had which coincidentally was about Rebecca feeling like she’d lost a part of herself and that she couldn’t have a career.

Maybe Rebecca and Beth have to sit down and have another heart-to-heart. Rebecca has always admired Beth and seeing her praise her for not being a “wallflower” only contributed to Beth being “the one” for Randall.

So yes, the fight was bad. Things got ugly and people’s feelings were hurt.

But if you look at their vows and their whole journey together, you’ll see a couple who is better together despite any hiccups. They are a couple who has always figured it out. When they look at each other they see an eternity together, and they promised to work things out no matter what came their way.

Careers come and go but family and first loves, man, those are forever. Sacrifices will need to be made, but I believe they have what it takes.

I hope they may good on those vows because like I said, if Beth and Randall can’t make this thing called marriage work, who the hell can?

Other Thoughts

  • What is that thing on Kevin’s face? Get it off!
  • College Randall with his polo and khaki’s is everything.
  • Seeing William again was a pleasant surprise!

 

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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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