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This Is Us - The Trip / Last Christmas - Double Review: “Nothing Bad Can Happen”

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The Trip

I really enjoyed this episode and seeing Randall and everyone else cope with the news of Rebecca’s lie. I loved how Randall-focused this episode was and although he worked through his emotions in a very unusual way, it also still felt very authentic and natural, which I thought was very well done.

The Trip picks up a few hours after Thanksgiving dinner and Randall has not cooled down at all. He’s still very upset, and now that he’s had some time to think about everything, he’s made a list of all the reasons he’s mad at Rebecca. Instead of letting him wallow in it, Kate and Kevin decide that the three of them should go on a trip to their family’s cabin. They just found out that their mom is selling it, so it will probably be the last time they can all go there together. I almost didn't even realize that we finally had our first in-person sibling scene during this episode because it was just so casual. When they were all talking about going to the cabin and convincing Randall to go, that was just an everyday interaction. But that’s what family is all about, it's about those little, seemingly insignificant moments that can sometimes be taken for granted. That’s what I love about this show. The storytelling and characters themselves are so extraordinary, yet the show seems to stay so grounded in normalcy because they don’t try to make something out of nothing. I loved all the scenes between the siblings during this episode and I’m looking forward to many, many more.

The trip to the cabin doesn’t go exactly as planned, however, because Olivia and some of her friends show up. One of the friends brings a mushroom smoothie and Randall ends up drinking it and hallucinating conversations with Jack. On most shows like this, this would not work, but somehow This Is Us makes it believable, interesting, and not completely ridiculous. There were so many great moments from these scenes between Jack and Randall. A couple of my favorites were the disturbing sequence with Rebecca, frantic and trapped alone in the cabin, and Randall’s heartbreaking line about being a replacement for their dead baby and trying so hard to be perfect because he thinks if he lets up everyone will remember he's unwanted. That line just broke my heart.

Meanwhile, in flashbacks throughout the episode, we see how the letter that Randall found came to be. At 9 years old, Randall takes an interest in finding his birth parents. Jack is all for it but Rebecca isn’t and Jack can’t figure out why. Rebecca goes to visit William and tells him that Randall has been asking about him and suggests that they might be able to meet one day. William can’t contain his excitement about this possibility and starts planning all the things they could do together. When his back is turned, Rebecca just walks out and I was devastated for him. I can understand how she’s feeling and it’s a complicated situation, but William just completely has my heart at this point so it’s hard not to side with him. It only gets worse, though, when she sends him the letter and picture saying he’ll never meet Randall, he breaks down sobbing. This scene made me feel for him more than ever and every week it gets harder and harder to see him, knowing he’ll be gone soon.

By the end of the episode, Randall has come to terms with what Rebecca did and he goes to her house to tell her that he understands how lonely it must have been for her, keeping that secret. However, when she breaks down and goes in for a hug, he denies her and says he’ll see her at Christmas. I’m happy that they’re making Randall’s experience with this news a process and not trying to unrealistically clear everything up in a couple of episodes. In other news, I’m back to not liking Olivia. I didn’t like how she talked to Kate or how she treated Kevin. Although Kevin’s words to her were harsh, I think she deserved and needed to hear them. With Randall being my favorite character, I’m glad there was a minimal focus on everyone else so we could really go through his experience. Overall, this was another great episode and I’m starting to think this show can do no wrong.

Last Christmas

I was not prepared for this episode at all. I believed everything they suggested and I was fooled. It doesn't happen often, but they got me. I came into this episode so scared that Dr. K was going to die and I never even imagined that Toby was the one I should be worried about.

As usual, this episode effortlessly switched between past and present with both timelines focusing on the most wonderful time of the year - Christmas! However, Christmas isn’t so great for a young Kate and family. She starts feeling sick on Christmas eve and it turns out she needs to get her appendix taken out. At the hospital, Rebecca sees Dr. K in a treatment room and he tells her he’s been in an accident and probably won’t make it through the surgery that he needs. Everyone is already waiting at the hospital for Kate so they decide to stay with him because his family can’t make it. When they tell Randall that Dr. K is responsible for their family and why they adopted him, Randall does the cutest thing ever and uses some of his Christmas money to buy Dr. K a snow globe. As if that wasn’t enough, they also have a really touching and emotional scene when Randall gives him the present. I knew it was going to be a rough episode when I was already crying before the first commercial break. Thankfully, everything turns out all right for Dr. K but if it’s not him, it had to be someone else.

When we pick up in the present day, we find out that Olivia has been gone for a month and Kevin is now interested in Sloane, the playwright. I like Sloane way more than Olivia. I think she’ll be a good influence on Kevin and she seems a lot more normal and nice. Kevin’s storyline in this episode was probably one of the most cliche things this show has done, with Kevin going to Hanukkah dinner with her family, pretending to be her boyfriend. However, nothing about it felt cliche. They didn’t turn it into some big disaster or game and the whole situation felt very normal, which I appreciated. It was also really cute how after the play got canceled, Kevin convinced her to take a chance and put it on themselves. I hope it works out because I would love to see more scenes with them.

Meanwhile, Randall is at a holiday party for work. He tells Beth that he bought a boat from one of his coworkers and she tells him he has to return it. However, things aren't that simple. When he goes to get his money back from his coworker, he stumbles upon him about to jump off of the roof. It turns out his life has been really difficult lately with his wife leaving him and financial troubles and he wants to end it all. Randall quickly realizes what’s happening and talks him down. It’s a pretty dramatic scene and it really kept me on the edge of my seat.

We also learned something new about William in this episode. When he goes to one of his meetings, we find out that when William left to go stay with Randall, he left behind a boyfriend. This was kind of surprising but I think it will be really interesting to see a new side of William in the episodes to come. Up until this point, we’ve really only seen him interact with the family and I’m looking forward to learning even more about him as a person.

Two of my favorite parts of this episode involved Kate. After Kate’s gastric bypass appointment, Kate and Rebecca have a conversation in the car where Rebecca sort of realizes her role in Kate’s problems. I think the meeting was a real wake-up call for Rebecca that she’s very out of touch with Kate’s issues. It was nice to see her start to address that and hopefully their relationship will improve. Another great moment was when Toby randomly showed up at Randall’s house and surprised Kate by saying he’s back on the diet because he can live without junk food but he can’t live without her. It’s really romantic and I’ll always have a soft spot for them. As soon as they’re back together, though, tragedy hits. Later in the evening, Toby collapses and we see him on the operating table. The episode ends with Toby’s fate up in the air and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

This episode was everything I love about this show, it was emotional, dramatic, uplifting, and exciting. My favorite thing about this show is what a strong family the Pearsons are. Even after everything that has happened between them, they still come together and find a way to love each other, which is really beautiful to see. Although it was great to see the whole family together at Christmas, it was bittersweet because it wasn’t really the whole family. It felt like something was missing to see everyone there except for Jack. It was kind of an interesting feeling to see all these joyful scenes of Christmas but also the sadness of not seeing Jack in those scenes. Overall, this was a beautifully done episode that really brought the Christmas spirit.

What did you think of these episodes? Let me know in the comments and thanks for reading!

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