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This Is Us

This Is Us- The Trip (1×09)

THIS IS US -- "The Trip" Episode 109 -- Pictured: (l-r) Justin Hartley as Kevin, Sterling K. Brown as Randall -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC)

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In the aftermath of the horrible Thanksgiving dinner, Randall, Kate and Kevin go up to the family cabin one last time before their mother sells it.

Being outdoors is supposed to help Randall calm down after just finding out that his mother knew his birth father since he was born but refused to tell him. And oh does Randall calm down. He accidentally drinks some of Ash’s mushroom juice and starts tripping. Usually, drugs are bad but in this case, they led Randall on his own sort of Christmas Carol, where he was scrooge, upset with his mom and his late father is the ghost of Christmas past.

Randall’s anger is understandable – Rebecca knew how much finding his birth parents meant to him as a boy and withheld that information. However, Jack is here to show Randall just how good he had it and how hard all of this was for Rebecca. She wasn’t just holding all of this back to be mean – as a mother she had her reasons. Fist off, William gave him away because he was a drug addict. No mother is willing to let her child around a drug addict. When she visited him again 9-years later he was clean and too eager to meet his son. She worried that he’d try to take him back or worse, that Randall would like him better than his real parents.

And while she definitely considered the option of letting them meet, she opted against it when they finally took Randall to karate class so he could have black males to look up to. Part of the exercise consisted of Jack doing push-ups with Randall on his back as a sign that he would always be there for his son, lead him and pick him up despite the pain. Then, a community of other father’s did the same for Randall. He had everything he needed and a father who would give it all to him. If you ask me, that’s pretty bold and it shows just how much she loved her children, every single one of them.

Randall finally forgave his mother, coming to tell her that he understood how hard it must have been to be alone in this secret. But forgiving isn’t forgetting and Randall couldn’t bare to give her a hug, instead saying he’ll see her at Christmas.

And while Randall was tripping on shrooms, the cabin was filled with drama. First off Kevin invited Olivia to what was supposed to be family day and Kate did not like that. Olivia, being the entitled brat that she is, brought Ash and Sloane. Did we mention Ash is her ex? Because he is. Since Kevin likes her so much, he tried to brush it all off but the pompous attitudes drew a wedge between him and his sister.

After seeing Ash and Olivia get a little too close for comfort as they made fun of Kate when she was a preteen, he had enough. Kevin called out Liv for being fake and hiding behind her facade and never experiencing anything real. Of course she left with tears in her eyes but really, someone had to stand up to her. I thought their Thanksgiving kiss would change things but she’s just a disturbed individual who let a great guy go. The next morning we found Kevin in bed with Sloane, the playwright and from the previews, it looks like she’s the one.

Meanwhile Kate fessed up to Liv being right about one thing – she’s scared to death of the surgery. If you recall, at the end of that twisted, messed up dinner, Kate announced she was going to get gastric bypass surgery. Kevin tried to convince her that it was too dangerous but she knew she couldn’t let the fear get in the way – this was her last change at leading the life she’s always wanted. And really, it does mean a lot to her considering she broke up with Toby. I’m honestly not even surprised he’s been ignoring her calls. I like Kate, I sympathize with Kate but sometimes, she needs to get it together.

Is there ever an episode that doesn’t make you cry? This week, it was literally seeing Jack speaking to his present day son but still looking like he did when the kids were 9. I dare say, does this mean Jack died when he was young since that’s how Randall remembers him in his dream state?

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This Is Us

This Is Us – The Dinner and the Date (4×07)

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This is Us The Dinner and the Date Review

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.

Other Thoughts

  • 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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This Is Us

This Is Us – The Club (4×06)

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This Is Us The Club Review

What did all the storylines have in common on This Is Us Season 4 Episode 6?

Golf and sex.

Yeah, you read that right.

When an episode starts with Kate asking Toby to “promise her they’ll always be hot for each other,” there are valid reasons for concerns especially with break-up rumors constantly circulating around the couple.

The snippiness was a direct result of not making love to each other for precisely 9 months and 23 days. Tobe’s been counting.

Here’s the thing about getting in the mood — you cannot force it.

No matter how much Toby wanted to make love to his wife, a little incident with his much-too-big pants threw him off his game.

And until he confronted Kate about why she asked him to hang onto the pants (was it because she thought he’d gain the weight back or because she wanted him to gain the weight back), he couldn’t get in the mood.

Of course, this led to Kate asking if she was the problem, which Toby was already trying to avoid.

As much as I understand Kate’s insecurities, she’s her own worst enemy. Toby’s weight loss had nothing to do with her body and didn’t somehow translate into disgust for her body all of a sudden.

They eventually found their groove just before the grandparents brought baby Jack home.

There wasn’t any mention of the new mystery of This Is Us surrounding a possible abusive relationship in Kate’s past.

It’s unclear how they’re going to bring the storyline back up, but know it’s coming eventually.

One of my pet peeves with this show is how they introduce something and then leave us hanging for weeks on end. It’s frustrating.

During the last episode, Milo Ventimiglia got behind the camera in his biggest role yet as a director of the episode.

And despite comments that we may start seeing less of Jack, there was plenty of story development around his character.

Even in the past, Jack’s an intricate character that has layers upon layers to peel back.

The lessons he learned while playing golf with Rebecca’s dad came up while he was teaching Randall to play golf and then again in the present when Randall was wooing the councilman on the turf.

The best twist of the episode was the revelation that Randall was a damn good golf player thanks to his dad.

After listening to his concerns about being a young black man, Jack taught young Randall to play so that he’d always be able to find himself in any situation.

And Randall utilized that to his advantage by pretending not to know how to play so that the councilman would take pity on him, feel responsible for teaching him something, and then agree to talk about his plans for a grocery store.

Honestly, Randall’s too smart for his own good. Jack knew that he was going to become somebody important one day.

Seeing Jack struggle with Randall’s identity is giving us a whole new storyline for the patriarch and deepens his connection with his adoptive son.

While Jack may not see color when looking at Randall, it’s a fact that cannot be overlooked.

Randall’s response telling Jack that he “doesn’t see him” was powerful and may have just changed the course of Randall’s relationship with his parents.

Randall is forcing them to confront his race head-on alongside his teacher, Mr. Lawrence, who Randall has sort of adopted as a role model.

You can’t blame him. Since he was a young boy, Randall wanted to find people who looked like him. He’s always wanted to deepen this part of himself.

All of Jack’s past storylines with Rebecca’s father fill me with anger while simultaneously making me so damn proud of our boy.

Jack was obviously intimidated, which is why he took down all of those G&T’s, but he also had the backbone to fight for himself and for Rebecca.

Jack’s comments about marrying his daughter, having a good job, a nice house, and a yard full of kids were almost prophetic,  but the cherry on top was his redirected question: “do you see yourself there?”

In the modern-day, we’d call that a sick burn.

As we know, the wedding Rebecca’s father had in mind for her wasn’t the wedding she and Jack had at all.

Thank god.

Her father was a pompous ass who pitied Jack but played it off as trying to “help him.”

And then, the moment we’ve been waiting for between Kevin and Cassidy finally happened, and it was a huge turning point in Kevin’s storyline.

Right after having the kids talk, Kevin and Cassidy hooked up adding fuel to the theory that she’s the woman he has a family with in the future when Rebecca is lying on her deathbed.

It would also explain why Nicky is there holding Rebecca’s hand in her final moments.

Nicky played a huge role in Kevin and Cassidy’s meeting, and he’s developed a very important relationship with Kevin.

As much as he wants to deny it, he needs Kevin and enjoys having him just a trailer away.

I’ll also say that I’m so glad Cassidy swung by Kevin’s trailer when she did because having him hook up with Donna would have been a grave mistake.

Everything that Kevin has gone through — trying to make amends with his uncle, meeting Cassidy, dealing with his addiction head-on — has given him purpose and made him a better man.

The advice he dished out to Cassidy about “seeing things in the war” and “being human” was impressive. He’s noticed something in Cassidy that her husband, who was there for her struggles, failed to see.

He’s hands down the best character on the series right now and living up to his full potential.

What did you think of the episode?

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This Is Us

This Is Us – Storybook Love (4×05)

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This is Us Storybook Love Review

A family dinner ties This Is Us “Storybook Love” together.

Family dinners can either bring people together or tear them apart.

Thankfully, in this case, they brought the Pearsons closer together despite a few hiccups.

But these two family dinners varied wildly from each other.

In the first, Rebecca and Jack were moving into their new house. She was pregnant with the triplets.

Instead of making the first dinner at their new home special, she burned the lasagna, Jack knocked it over while hilariously fighting a bird, and they embraced the night for what it was — a fond memory to look back on.

The second dinner found the family reuniting for the first time after Jack’s death.

Rebecca once again wanted everything to be perfect because this was the start of their “next chapter,” and just like before, everything went sideways.

She tried her hardest to keep her composure but seeing Kevin and Sophie’s “quickie” wedding wasn’t easy for her.

Beth and Randall didn’t present too many problems that night, although Beth’s housewarming gift, a bottle of hot sauce, stirred up emotions as Jack loved to eat hot sauce on everything. Has this always been a thing? Or did they just add that in now for emotional texture?

And Kate’s date, Marc, surprised everyone by arriving unannounced after looking up her address and showing up at the house. Again, nothing concerning until a scene later in the episode raises a few eyebrows.

The Big Three had a lot to say to each other, but Rebecca wasn’t interested in seeing any of them argue and made it very clear as she went off on them in the kitchen.

It was awesome.

We’ve never seen Rebecca’s composed exterior crack, but I’m kind of digging this side of her.

At least, when it’s necessary.

By the end, Rebecca admitted the night was a failure and salvaged it by ordering pizza and being present in the moment.

It helped that Miguel was there offering up some advice alongside a glass of wine: stay patient.

Admittedly, Miguel felt slightly out of place at dinner, but it’s a testament to the man always being there for the family.

Kate even mentioned that he’d been hanging around the house frequently.

Seeing him involved so early on defines his relationship and allows us to see how it naturally turned from being there for his best friend’s wife to something more romantic.

Miguel promised to take care of Rebecca and that’s what he did.

While nothing seemed too out of the ordinary about Kate’s boyfriend, it does seem like we have something to worry about.

The episode didn’t elaborate on what transpired between Kate and Marc, but it did allude to something horrific happening as Kate found pictures of that night in the piano that the Pearson men sent over (another grand gesture) and became visibly triggered.

Rebecca then made a comment about wanting so badly to believe the kids were happy that she ignored what was right in front of her.

Did Marc abuse Kate?

Did he take advantage of her?

Following this final scene, Kevin’s “bad feeling” about Marc and the fact that he was 23 suddenly worries me.

It’s possible Kate was so eager to fit in or have a significant other that she too ignored the signs that something was wrong.

But did anyone pick up on Marc being too pushy or weird?

I’m not entirely sure I like where this storyline is headed especially since it has never been brought up as something that happened to Kate or formed her character.

Randall’s anxiety was prevalent during the family dinner, which Beth used as a reference in the present day.

Making lists was just one of the ways he stayed in control and coped with the anxiety, the same anxiety that took a toll on him back in season 1, and the anxiety that was now affecting Tess.

Randall’s storyline feels the strongest simply because it’s been developed from the beginning.

It’s not being added in out of convenience — this has always been something he’s dealt with and suffered from.

Now, Tess is overwhelmed with her sexuality, her new school, and new friends and it’s manifesting in panic attacks that Randall is all too familiar with.

Surprisingly, Beth finds a solution by remembering a conversation she once had with William, who also suffered from anxiety.

Boy, was it nice to him again!

Just like Randall, William hated that the one thing he passed onto his child was the thing he liked least about himself.

Yet, Beth found a way to spin it into a positive. Her three favorite people in the world are all affected by anxiety and panic attacks. It doesn’t make them less than and it’s not something they should be ashamed about.

Instead, they have to just let the bubbles fizzle out. As someone who suffers from anxiety, I enjoyed that metaphor.

But while Randall was able to identify the problem in Tess, he believed he had it all under control despite Beth picking up on the warning signs that he was on a verge of another mental break.

If Randall doesn’t see someone soon, it’s not going to end well.

Many shows tackle mental health and mental health stigma in an exaggerated way for ratings but that isn’t the case with This Is Us. They broached the topic with sensitivity and with the intention of informing.

When storylines are handled with such care, they’re better and stronger.

In the present day, Kevin continued being a support system for Cassidy and his uncle Nicky.

He wasn’t as helpful as he wanted to be. Nicky was annoyed of him and didn’t want to stick around for the hockey game because there were too many triggers.

Meanwhile, he made the wrong assumption about Cassidy’s husband and when he called him out for looking down while she was being honored as a vet, Ryan checked him by saying that he couldn’t watch her get honored by the very thing that broke her.

So yeah, not a great day for Kevin, but his heart was in the right place.

Ryan even told him to “stay away” from his wife, which is highly unlikely since there’s a definite connection forming between Kevin and Cassidy though neither of them sees it just yet.

In fact, Kevin’s been the only support system for Cassidy. Ryan may “still like her,” but he hasn’t been there for her and alienating her is pushing her onto those darker vices.

I’m warming up to the idea of Kevin and Cassidy as a couple, which is exactly what they looked like when they met up with Ryan before the hockey game.

As for Nicky, he seems to be around to keep Jack’s memory alive as Kevin looks back on their upbringing and shares a slice of ice cream with his uncle.

There were plenty of generational callbacks that tied the whole episode together. Despite originating from a terrible Pearson (Jack and Nicky’s father), the men turned out okay.

What did you think of tonight’s episode?

Sound-off in the comments below!

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