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This Is Us

This Is Us – The Pool (1×04)

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We watched Rebecca struggle to be a mom to three 8-year-olds on this week’s This Is Us. 

A broken A/C forced the whole family to head out for a pool day that was anything but relaxing. We saw each of the three siblings go off the deep end as their dealt with their personal struggles, back in the 70s and in the present. It really is interesting to see how your past affects your future and how much of it is influenced by your parents.

At the pool, Rebecca can’t catch a break. Kate is a little thicker than most of the other girls her age but she’s young and innocent and doesn’t think it’s a problem. Unfortunately, other kids are mean, something Rebecca knows all too well. When Kate tries to play with the “skinny” girls, they leave her a note saying they don’t want to hang out with her because she “embarrasses them.”

Those insecurities introduced to little Kate have been with her through her whole life. Since we’ve met adult Kate, we’ve seen her struggle with her weight and not accepting that she’s what society would call fat. She’s dating Toby, who she met at fat camp, and he tries to change the focus but since it’s always been a part of her, she can’t seem to shake it. That becomes even more true when she finds out his ex-wife is a smokin’ hot skinny babe. Why does Toby want to date me she wonder? After obsessing about her Facebook page, she walks into her boutique and pretends she’s there for a job interview. Surprisingly, she finds that Josie is actually a really nice person who was able to look past her weight.

Of course when she tells Toby, he flips a shit. When he tells her she looks good, she doesn’t believe him, but when she gets reaffirmation form a skinny woman, she’s sold. Seeing that Kate won’t back down, Toby breaks the news – Josie treated him horribly. She lied to him, she cheated on him, she left him causing him to gain almost 100 pounds and become sort of suicidal. Despite what Kate believes, the fact that she was “skinny” didn’t make her a better person. And yes, he would choose Kate over Josie any day. Thank god this woman has him in her life!

Back in the past, Rebecca freaks out when she looses sight of Randall. She finds him hanging out with all the African America’s and is upset. One of the mothers tries to tell her that it is okay but Rebecca makes it seem like she doesn’t want her boy hanging out on the “black side.”

The moment is very sensitive for many reasons. We know Rebecca isn’t a racist because if she was, she’d never have adopted Randall. But she has absolutely NO IDEA what it takes to raise a black boy. How could she? It’s nothing she’s ever known. So she’s trying her best and in the moment, she felt like she was being talked to in a condescending manner when in fact, the woman was just trying to help. When Rebecca realized that Randall really did want to be around people who were “more like him,” she went back and asked the woman for some help. I sense a good friendship here!

Randall’s problems of feeling “white” carry over into the present. He’s a successful black man, living in a white community. His biological father goes for a walk in the neighborhood and gets confronted because someone claims he’s loitering. This is what innocent black men have to go through. Randall apologizes and immediately sees his father’s judgement. Sure his dad isn’t perfect but he did fight for African American rights and integration’s in schools – what does he think of Randall.

In a very powerful moment, Randall explains that he’s not immune to being black and being treated like a black man just because his adopted parents are white. He goes through the same motions, just lets them go because they aren’t worth his battle. It’s really eye-opening to see him in this light, acknowledging the racial injustices based solely on his skin color, when his whole childhood experience was the same as his white families.

That leads to a beautiful moment between him and William. He calls him son, apologizes for abandoning him and even tells him he’s proud of the way he’s raised his two daughters, who thought there was NOTHING wrong with being cast as Snow White in the play.

As for Kevin, his feeling of being “not good enough” also stemmed from his childhood. During that pool day, Kevin tried everything to have his father notice him but both of his parents were too preoccupied with keeping Kate’s weight under control and making sure Randall felt like a real part of the family. When he ventured to the deep end and almost drowned, he was furious that no one even noticed. (And seriously, where were the lifeguards, hello?!)

Knowing that, it’s no surprise that Kevin always needs his siblings around for reaffirmation. He calls Kate at least 15 times a day so she can tell him how great he is. But this time, Kate’s dealing with her own demons and he’s all alone in New York, headed to his first theatrical play audition, which goes horrible, horrible bad. His reading partner invites him out for a drink and gives him some “friendly” advice which can be summarized as “go back to LA pretty boy and get some training if you’re serious about this.” But right as she’s finished speaking, she realizes the world is cruel cause Kevin got the part only because the director’s think his “Manny” fame will sell tickets. It’s a cold world we live in.

So Kevin packs up his bags and pays his brother Randall a little visit. Everyone is pretty shocked to see him but not as shocked he is to find out William has been staying with him. Maybe if he wasn’t so self-absorbed, he would have known that? He really doesn’t get off the hook just because I know his parents did give him all their attention.

Who knew one day at the pool could be so enlightening? After all of that though, Rebecca finally got to finish her book and it was far from “Misery” as everyone fell asleep on top of each other, tired from the days activities. No matter what how bad things get, you’ll never be lost or alone with family.

Now seriously, where is Jack in the present day? We haven’t seen him, there’s been no mention of him. I’m really hoping that my theory of him dying in the line of duty at work isn’t true…

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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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