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TV Review: This is Us (Season 2, Episode 5)

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Despite the fact that not much of consequence occurred in this week’s episode of This is Us, viewers were once again reminded of the show’s infectious emotion. 

Again, focusing more on the storylines of Randall and Kevin, the show delved deeper into the relationship between the two brothers. From their differences and disagreements to their similarities and support for one another, the parallel scenes examining both men in their childhood and in their present situations really emphasized the lack of change in their characters over time. 

Following on from his potentially career-changing injury, one which tragically echoed the damage to his knee which ended his hopes of a career in football, Kevin has become addicted to his painkillers. With an excellent performance from Justin Hartley, we see Kevin’s decent into panic as he is increasingly unable to obtain the prescription he wants.

This coupled with the stubbornness of a youthful Kevin, reflected how deeply set this problem has become, as unlike his 10-year old self, he is unable to come around. This episode makes it clear that due to his unwillingness to accept failure, Kevin has begun to take increasingly more risks, potentially setting him up for a tragic and undeserving downfall in future episodes. 

As with Kevin, the character traits of 10-year old Randall parallel those of his mature counterpart, although to a lesser extent. As he once did with his brother, Randall strives for Deja’s affection, doing everything he can to form a bond with his foster daughter. Unlike the bonds which he has with his biological daughters, the connection which he hopes to form with Deja will take a lot more time and patience, a quality which it would seem Randall does not possess. In a touching pep talk from Beth, Randall is encouraged to play it cool and take a less intense approach to his most recent opportunity at forming a bond with Deja.

The scenes which take place between Deja and Randall at Kevin’s charity gala make it clear how far this storyline is a test of Randall’s own character. Despite the encouraging warnings offered to him by his wife, Randall is unable to take a step back and allow Deja to form a bond with her new family in her own time. Although his dad jokes, paternal protection and bumbling love is effortlessly endearing, we are reminded that it takes more than these qualities alone to form a parental bond. Nominated for an Emmy award for his role, Sterling K Brown offers up, as always, a stellar performance. 

Following on with the episode’s overarching theme of Brothers, a revelation about Jack’s own fraternal bond sheds a light on the reasons behind his encouragement of his own sons. Previously unknown before, it is revealed that Jack too had a brother, who served alongside him in the Vietnam war. Made all the more poignant with the deterioration of Jack’s father, it will be interesting to hear in future episodes, about the brother who Jack never speaks of. 

This Is Us: Season 2 airs on Wednesdays at 9pm on More 4.

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