This week’s episode of This Is Us was a refreshing perspective on many of the issues which have been introduced thus far in the series.
Rather than focusing on Kate’s storyline which has been the main focus of the initial episodes, viewers were instead party to a closer look into the struggles of her twin brother, Kevin.
With much of the episode taking place on Kevin’s movie set, there was more of a chance to get an insight into the workings of his life as an actor. A fabulous cameo from Sylvester Stallone as Kevin’s co-star allowed for a deeper look into the way in which the death of Jack has affected Kevin. Whilst Kate discusses her father’s love for the Rocky movies, and her relationship with him openly to Stallone, Kevin is more guarded with his feelings, becoming defensive and lashing out at his sister.
His behaviour reflects the fact that he has been unable to come to terms with the death of his father, an issue which has not been touched on particularly in the series. The suppression of grief and longing by Kevin was excellently portrayed by Justin Hartley and has set up a potential storyline for episodes to come.
The progression of Randall and Beth’s storyline provided equally challenging viewing. In a touching move by the writers, their present-day storyline was paired with that of a teenage Randall. Parallels were drawn both through dialogue and through the narrative of the episode itself, between the young Randall, and Deja, the girl who the Pearson family have decided to foster. The naivety of Randall in particular, in his approach to the arrival of Deja, highlighted that although the Pearson family unit may be strong, they live in a bubble of relative familial bliss.
The tragedy of Deja’s presence in their home or the difficulty of her adjustment to a new family was not initially realised by her foster family, suggesting their inability to properly realise the gravity of her situation. In a heart-warming moment, Deja received a full welcome into the Pearson family from her two foster sisters, suggesting the empathy which the girls could afford her which Randall and Beth could not. It will be interesting to see how well Deja is able to integrate into their family and the struggles which they all will face.
As we move closer to the fateful episode containing the death of Jack, the family patriarch, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to watch the development of his relationship with Rebecca. Jack’s struggles with alcoholism and his attempts to keep his family together have shown a different Jack from the first season, making it harder to realise that his storyline is one which must soon come to an end.
However, this episode provided a fulfilling tone to this tragedy. In a moving scene, Jack and Rebecca finally reconcile after two episodes of difficulties in their relationship.
Although Jack’s death will leave a dark cloud over the series, the family unit which he leaves behind is arguably that cloud’s silver lining.
This Is Us: Season 2 airs on Wednesdays at 9pm on More 4.