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 Review – Childhood Traumas in the Present Day (5×04)
This Is Us delivered some truly great moments on “Honestly,” which is a good thing as this episode is supposed to hold us over until January 5, 2021.
It doesn’t seem fair that we had to wait almost all of 2020 for new episodes only to be given four and then forced to wait again, but maybe, like Kevin, we have to learn to tough it.
That’s what I’m telling myself anyway.
The Big Three continued to struggle with their past traumas that affected them into adulthood.
In the past, we see Rebecca and Jack struggling to sleep train Kevin, who wakes up crying every night. Jack assures Rebecca they have to let him cry it out, but she can’t fathom letting her child “suffer.”
Her behavior carries over into their pre-teen years as Kevin struggles with his team as the quarterback of the football team.
Rebecca isn’t a helicopter in the same way we see modern-day parents, but she’s definitely always ready to step in to make life easier for Kevin, which isn’t helping them or teaching him any grit.
But that’s the great thing we see in Kevin when he’s an adult. Instead of backing down when things get tough, he pushes even harder.
Seeing him use his notecards in the present — a method Randall taught him when he was younger and struggling to memorize plays — was heartwarming.
They may not be talking right now, but they’ve impacted each other’s lives in major ways.
Seeing Kevin navigate his own path to success also proves that sometimes, it’s okay to let your kids figure it out for themselves.
The director seemed to come into the reading with a preconceived notion about Kevin, which wasn’t fair to him. I’m wondering if he didn’t like Kevin’s performance or wasn’t pleased that Kevin was cast?
Either way, it’s fantastic that Kevin didn’t just give up or lose his temper. I hope he blows the director away.
And maybe this is the push to truly break out in his career with a performance that’s “less tired.”
Fingers-crossed he gets that Oscar-moment with Rebecca!
Randall saw himself in Malik, who was shadowing him in his City Council position for a school class.
Malik committed the biggest flub when he didn’t turn off the live stream and accidentally broadcast Randall’s striptease dance to everyone in Philly and beyond.
Note to self: always double-check a stream is off, especially with Zoom meetings.
The situation seemed rough initially, and Randall was pretty hard on Malik, a few good things came out of it.
First, Randall got to know Malik on a deeper level and realized that Deja’s boyfriend is a standup and ambitious kid.
Malik explained his tiredness by giving Randall the tea – he wakes up at 5 a.m. to take care of his daughter and puts her needs before his own.
That being said, he’s still trying to make something of himself as he wants to go to an Ivy League school, open up a restaurant and become the first Michelin-starred place in Philly.
You’ve got to admire the drive and the hustle in a young kid like that. He has his head on right, and Randall recognizes himself in Malik, which is why he gave him that internship even after the live stream flub.
This bromance may be the best thing to happen in 2020!
The other good thing to come out of it is that it’ll bring Randall closer to his birth mother… or at least his birth mother’s boyfriends/husband.
Going viral on the Internet meant that the Japanese man from This Is Us Season 5 Episode 3 saw the clip and heard Randall talk about his birth father William Hill.
The series is drawing this storyline out, but it seems like they’ve got big plans and it’ll be worth it.
There were moments when the series made it seem like she was still alive, but if she’s not, at least maybe Randall will be able to learn more about her by connecting with someone who knew her well.
Also, it’s great that Randall and his family have such a great sense of humor and can laugh about the whole ordeal. It’s even better that the angle of the camera was really great and Randall looked that good!
Kate’s adoption storyline took a somber note when she confronted her past demons and vocalized them to Toby for the first time ever.
The series circled-back to her tumultuous relationship with Mark and revealed some interesting things about their explosive breakup.
At first glance, it seems like Kate found out that she was pregnant with Mark’s baby and possibly aborted it.
However, upon closer inspection, in the scene, Kate is actually holding an ovulation test, which would indicate that she wanted a baby with Mark.
Obviously, that’s troublesome for many reasons considering Mark was toxic and treated her poorly.
Did she stay home from New York to try to get pregnant with him? Did she succeed?
Did she give the baby up for adoption? There are so many avenues the series can take here. My mind is spinning and jumping to the most outrageous conclusion that Ellie is Kate’s daughter.
If Kate hypothetically had a child at 18 and she’s now 40, that would mean Ellie would be around 22, so I don’t think my outlandish theory holds true because she seems significantly olderm but then again, they never confirmed Ellie’s age either. How crazy would that be?!
All of this makes watching Kate’s journey to motherhood that much more emotional. I can’t wait to see how the series ties it all together.
I’m also a bit peeved we haven’t seen the last of Mark because he was such a tool!
This Is Us continues pulling the rug right from under us. We may think we know these characters as well as we know ourselves, but there are still so many moments in their lives we’ve yet to explore.
Lastly, may we all have a Jack Pearson role model in our lives who wants us to know he sees our greatness. Even though Jack had his flaws, it’s moments like these where you truly appreciate all he’s done for the Pearson clan.
This Is Us Review – I’m Going Through Changes (5×03)
Parenting is hard.
That’s the key takeaway on This Is Us Season 5 Episode 3.
Even the best, most connected parents like Rebecca and Jack missed so many things when it came to Randall, Kevin, and Kate.
In the past, the scenes explore how moments in their childhood shaped who they are in the present-day.
In the present-day, we see the Big Three dealing with their own fears and struggling with parenthood.
Randall and Beth learn that Tess has been making mock videos online to stand up for herself. On one hand, Randall finds it admirable that his teen daughter has a better grasp of her self-identity than he does at the age of 40. However, he and Beth both agree that her actions need to be punished.
While it may not seem like it to Tess at the moment, there’s a way about evoking change and making a statement. Unfortunately, telling your teacher “screw you” on the Internet — where things live forever, is not the right way.
It’s an interesting moment, nevertheless, that allows the audience to get a deeper look into Tess’s teenage years.
It also proves that no matter how much parents try, children will carve out their own path, which is a lesson Kevin and Madison could use about now.
Their breakfast interactions were very, polite, for lack of a better word, and it was clear that they were both putting on a front to make this new-age engagement work.
But the truth is, neither of them was really being honest and upfront about who they were. They were tiptoeing around reality, which is no way to go about life.
Madison, who we know struggled with an eating disorder her whole life, was triggered by Kevin’s excessive working out, his rock hard abs that he puts fully on display, and the fact that he skipped breakfast and stated he would be going on a diet for his upcoming role.
For Madison, these were all reminders of her bulimia, but she couldn’t even blame Kevin for it because he didn’t know this side of her.
She also assumed that Kevin was behaving confidently when, in fact, these were all signs of Kevin’s own insecurities that he’s built up since he was a pre-teen hitting puberty.
Kevin has always put his worth in his looks, but that stems from his very own addictions and eating disorders.
It serves as a reminder not to judge a book by its cover because we never know what someone else is going through.
When Madison and Kevin began to open up, a true relationship and trust was established between them. Madison even confessed that she’s the type of girl who goes to conventions for her favorite TV show. The horror!
The truth is, Madison isn’t the kind of girl audiences would have envisioned for Kevin, but she’s exactly who he needs. And vice-versa. It’s nice to see them pull back the curtains and be real, especially Kevin, who has always lived up to this image he’s concocted in his own mind.
Kevin’s body image issues were also rooted in his daddy issues, and we learn that he’s been hitting the dingy garage gym because that’s where he bonded with Jack.
Jack tries to help his son bulk up for the school football team and takes him to the garage to “pump some iron” as his old man did. Unlike his dad, however, Jack tries to make the lifting session inspiring, but the effects seem to be one and the same.
On his quest for a therapist, Randall pinpoints a memory from his young adult life that may have shaped his future and sense of self.
It’s a rather cringe-worthy moment as Kate’s friend, Tanya, tries to make a move on Randall by puckering up with root beer flavored chapstick, which is only made worse when she utters this line when Randall refuses: “I always wondered what it would be like to kiss someone like you.”
Well, that’s a buzzkill.
It’ll be interesting to see Randall unpack that with the therapist, Vance, as it may have something to do with his decision to marry a strong, confident Black woman. After all, in his brief chat with the therapist, he went out of his way to emphasize that his wife was Black as if he had something to prove.
There’s always the thought that Vance is somehow related to Randall through his mother, especially as Randall points out that they’re “very similar” when talking to Beth. Introducing Vance’s daughter, April, could just be an innocent and cute moment, but we know that’s never the case with This Is Us.
Fans were scratching their heads with the interlude of a Vietnamese grandfather and granddaughter fishing. The scenes may have been frustrating as they were thrown in randomly throughout the episode, but again, nothing is ever random. In the final scene, the cute young girl Lin asks her grandfather if he cooks for the woman in all of the pictures to impress her. He nods and the camera pans to a photograph showing the grandfather with Randall’s mother!
It doesn’t give us much to work with, but it means that answers about Randall’s birth mother are coming — and yes, it seems like she survived.
Could this scene somehow be related to the scene with Vance? Time will tell.
Lastly, there was Kate and Toby, who met with a potential birth mother and hoped to make a good impression. It seemed like things went well with Ellie, despite their little squabble about diapers. I agree with Ellie that seeing how a couple bounces back from a fight is a good assessment of their marriage.
Through flashforwards, we know that Kate and Toby eventually adopt a daughter, but will it be Ellie’s daughter?
Or will she realize she wants to keep her child from a one-night stand? Also, leave it to This Is Us to make every single storyline heartbreaking, even Ellie’s backstory of why she’s giving up the child (her husband died of cancer, it took her a long time to move on, and when she finally agreed to a date, she had a fling and ended up pregnant).
What did you think of the episode?
Are you excited about the new possibilities for the Big Three?
Which storyline excites you most? Let us know in the comments below.
Is Randall’s Birth Mother His New Therapist on ‘This Is Us’ Season 5? Here’s What the Writers Said
For several seasons, Randall (Sterling K. Brown) has struggled navigating life as a Black man raised in a white family.
Tensions really escalated when he found out that his adoptive mother, Rebecca Pearson, had known his biological father, William, his entire life and kept him a secret despite knowing how much he wanted information on his biological family.
After years of dealing with identity and anxiety issues, Randall eventually went to therapy to deal with the stress brought on by his mother’s illness, his run for City Council, and the burglarization of his home.
There’s a stigma that follows seeking out therapy, especially when it comes to Black men, so Randall’s decision was bold and important.
It wasn’t easy at first to open up, but eventually, the therapist was able to break through his tough exterior. When This Is Us Season 5 premiered, Randall seemed in a much better place mentally — the tremors were gone! — as he continued virtual therapy amid the coronavirus pandemic.
He also dealt with racial relations brought on by yet another heinous murder of a Black man in America prompting protests known as the Black Lives Matter movement.
Important and difficult conversations were had with his family, specifically Kate, which led him to realize that he needed to change therapists.
While he initially made the conscious decision to pursue a therapist that was a white woman, just like adoptive mother, as he grew more secure in his identity, he realized he needed someone that he could fully open up with and not hide the “Black parts” from.
He needed a Black therapist.
Randall’s realization happens at the same time as the shocking twist that his biological mother, Laurel, (who audiences thought died shortly after birth due to an overdose) was actually resuscitated and likely survived.
This Is Us is such a meticulously planned show that the writers managed to weave in COVID and BLM into an episode so organically that it was impossible for the audience to tell when or how it was altered. It just fit.
So, there’s reason to believe that the timing of Randall’s decision and the reveal that his mother may be alive isn’t an accident.
What if his new therapist is his biological mother? It’s a popular theory and one that the This Is Us writers already debunked, but should we believe them?
She is not going to end up as Randall’s therapist. #ThisIsUs
— ThisIsUsWriters (@ThisIsUsWriters) October 28, 2020
It’s possible that she’s either too old to still be practicing or no longer alive.
However, that doesn’t mean Randall’s new therapist isn’t a long-lost brother or sister that he didn’t know about?
There has to be some connection.
Randall has always sought out answers about his biological family, who he is, and where he comes from. Even after meeting William and mending things with him, Randall continues to have a void because he never knew his biological mother. His “mommy issues” stem from the abandonment (which we now know wasn’t intentional as he was wanted) by his biological mom and the deception by his adoptive mother.
For a show centered around family and the importance of family, it would only make sense for them to pursue this avenue and allow Randall to further explore his background on a deeper level.
What do you think, Cravers? If Randall’s mom isn’t the therapist, how does this storyline play into Randall’s overall arc?
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