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This Is Us - A Father’s Advice & A Manny-Splendored Thing - Double Review

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A Father’s Advice

NBC’s breakout hit, This Is Us, has returned for season two and it had high expectations to meet. I’m so happy that so far, I’m just as impressed as I was last season. The hype is real with this show and as weird as it is to say, I’m so glad my weekly cry session is back!

We picked up exactly one year after the season one premiere, on Kate, Kevin, and Randall’s birthday. It’s crazy to think how far we’ve come with these characters in just one year. Everything is pretty much as we left it at the end of last season, with Randall focused on adoption, Kate on her singing career, and Kevin on his acting.

Randall has some serious baby fever. He’s so excited about adopting a baby but Beth is clearly not that into it. This all comes to a head at a meeting at the adoption agency, where they get into an argument and it’s super awkward. I really wasn’t a fan of Randall’s “get on board, or else” attitude towards Beth. I expected a lot more from him and it seemed a bit out of character. However, he’s still dealing with a lot, so I understand. I was happy that by the end of the episode he turned it around and was more like his usual self. He told Beth that if she wasn’t on board, he would find some other way, like volunteering, to help a child in need. Beth takes him to William’s favorite spot at the park and gives Randall a bound copy of the poems William left for him. She also suggests that instead of a baby, they adopt or foster an older child who may not be given many more opportunities. I loved this scene because it really highlighted what a strong marriage they have and their willingness to compromise for each other to make it work. It was really beautiful to see. I also loved the return of William during this episode. His voiceover was beautiful and I really enjoyed the flashback scene between him and Beth at the park. I’m happy we got to see him again because I’m still not over his death.

Meanwhile, Kate and Kevin are living in LA, each pursuing their dreams. Kevin is working on the movie opportunity from the end of last season and Kate is auditioning for the lead singer spot in a band. They’re also both trying to balance their relationships. Kevin is doing long distance with Sophie, and Toby and Kate are living together. Even though Toby and Kate are now living together, Kevin seems to always be around and it’s obviously getting on Toby’s nerves. At first, I was loving how close Kate and Kevin are, but as the episode went on, it really became apparent how problematic it is for Kate’s relationship. In this episode, Kate gets her first audition and although she’s excited, when she gets to the audition and sees all the other beautiful women she’s up against, she decides to leave without trying. Later, when she goes out for a birthday dinner with Kevin and Toby, it comes out that she told Kevin the truth about leaving and lied to Toby. This leads to a much-needed fight between Kevin and Toby over their roles in Kate’s life. It’s great that they’re communicating about their issues but I agree with Kate, she doesn't need either of them to take care of her and she can support herself. This fight ends up being really great for Kate because it encourages her to go back and audition. When she gets there, she learns the harsh reality of the industry when she barely starts the song and is immediately dismissed. Even though the audition doesn't go the way that she imagined, she still put herself out there and stood up for herself, which is a huge step forward for her.

As always, throughout the episode we frequently flashback to the past timeline and it picks up right where we left off, with Rebecca and Jack picking up the kids from the party the night before. They bring them to a restaurant where they break the news that they are going to be taking some time apart. As expected the kids did not take it well. Randall is really upset but he’s very close to Rebecca and in the following hours, he’s the only one who treats her with any kindness. Kate and Kevin are really blaming Rebecca for the separation but I can’t blame them for their reaction, they are teenagers. Later, it’s revealed that Randall left the party early and came home in the middle of Rebecca and Jack’s fight. He heard most of it, so it makes sense that he’s more understanding, although I feel like even if he hadn't, he still would have shown a compassionate response.

Rebecca goes to Miguel’s house, where Jack is staying and tells him that he should come home, that it was wrong of her to make him leave, and they need to work through things together. He then drops a bombshell on her. He confesses that he's an alcoholic and says that he needs to get better on his own before coming home to their family. Rebecca gathers herself and moments later knocks on the door again and tells him that he needs to come home and they’ll work it out together. She is not giving up on him and it’s a beautiful and touching moment. She tells him that in a few months everything will be fine, but in the closing moments, we see that in a few months Jack is going to die. In the biggest reveal we’ve seen so far, Rebecca pulls up to their home and we see that the house is completely burnt and destroyed, so it seems like Jack is going to die in a fire. I found this very shocking because I did not expect that to be the way that he dies. I’m very curious about what happens and I think the show made a good move by surprising everyone like that. Last season there was a lot of build up to Jack dying in a drunk driving accident so if they had remained on that path, the story would have been a bit overdone. I’m curious how far in advance they had Jack’s cause of death planned and if the small clues we’ve been given so far will fit in with the story when we finally find out.

A Manny-Splendored Thing

I absolutely loved this episode and I think it’s one of their best. As always, when the whole cast comes together, the chemistry is perfection and the whole episode is elevated. On top of that, I thought the flashback scenes were particularly engaging and emotional. Usually, I enjoy the present-day scenes the most, but this week I think I preferred the flashbacks.

The episode begins right after Jack’s confession and Rebecca asks him how he was able to stop the first time she asked him to quit drinking. It feels like we have come full circle and are right back at the beginning, and then we literally are. We flashback to many scenes from last season, when the kids are about eight years old and she first tells him to stop drinking. We see him come home with the crescent moon necklace and wait all night in the hallway. We also get to revisit the beautiful hallway scene (the moment I fully fell in love with this show) where the kids come out and everyone is all together laughing on the floor. However, this time around we get much more context and we get to see Jack’s side of the situation. At this point, he’s having a really hard time at work and he’s under a lot of pressure, it gets to the point where he's even putting alcohol in his coffee at the office. The day after he agrees to stop drinking, he goes to a meeting but doesn't make it past the doorway. Instead, he goes and sees Kate at school. I love Jack and little Kate’s relationship and this has to be one of my favorite scenes on the show so far. She asks him about work and he asks her about the upcoming talent show, you can really tell that they listen to each other and care. Even though Kate is so young she already has such a beautiful and loving heart. When she reaches out and grabs his face and tells him that everything is going to be okay, I melted. Later in the episode, when Kate is a teenager, Jack tells her about his alcoholism and he's so ashamed. However, just like before, she takes his face in her hands and comforts him, letting him know it will be okay. I loved all of Jack and Kate’s scenes in this episode, they were really the highlight for me. Afterwards, we see that with the support of his family he’s able to start going to meetings and although I’m proud of him, it’s tough to watch because I know even if he does get sober, his story doesn't have a happy ending.

We also saw more of Kate and Rebecca’s relationship in this episode, both in the past and present timelines. Eight-year-old Kate had a big talent show coming up, where she was going to be singing. Rebecca was helping her out and even made her a new dress from the material of the first dress she wore to perform. However, Kate feels a lot of pressure to be as good as her mom and it just isn't fun for her, so she pulls out last minute. Meanwhile, in the present timeline, there are a lot of parallels. Kate finds out she just booked her first ever performance and she’s thrilled. She spent most of the episode feeling stressed about Rebecca coming to visit so it was nice to see her back to her old self and feeling excited about something. However, when Toby heads over to the show, Rebecca asks to come with him and he agrees. They walk into the bar just as Kate is about to start singing and at first, she freezes up but then she gets right back on track and sings a beautiful rendition of “Landslide”. This whole sequence was so moving and it was integrated beautifully with all the other clips they cut to throughout. I especially loved seeing the pride on Rebecca’s face. Unfortunately, when the show was over, the bubble burst and Kate and Rebecca almost immediately got into a fight. Rebecca did make a little quip about learning how to power through a crowd and I think everyone can relate to hearing a comment like that from their mom. Kate does not take this well and the argument gets pretty harsh at times, with Kate even saying that the thing her mom did to make her feel bad was her just existing. After airing all of this out, they still seem to be okay at the end of the episode, however, I’m really looking forward to seeing their relationship grow and get better hopefully. I also loved when Toby told Rebecca that he will always be on Team Kate for forever and to not put him in the middle, it was really cute and actually a nice bonding moment for them.

Meanwhile, Kevin is stressed because he's back on The Manny for an episode. It was fun to see him back on that set but my favorite part of Kevin’s storyline this episode was Sophie. I like her a lot. She's so supportive and she really gets him. Even in their childhood, it was obvious and I loved when no one but her laughed at his Mr. T impression at the talent show. It seems like they’ve always been meant for each other and I really hope he doesn't mess it up again. She really makes me like him way more. It's like when she told him that his worrying, need everyone to like me side is his most unattractive side. I feel like that's just Kevin all the time and he can be a bit annoying but when they're together she makes him way more tolerable. His brief time back on The Manny was great and with Sophie’s support, he was able to make it through, even if it was embarrassing.

Randall and his family are headed to LA to see Kevin’s big performance and Beth’s disinterest is hilarious. I find the vibe between her and Kevin to be really interesting and funny and I want more. I want to see more of it and I want to know more of their history. I’m sure it has something to do with Randall and Kevin’s complicated relationship in the past but I would love to see how that affected her and Kevin’s relationship as well. Although in the season premiere, we saw Randall and Beth agree to foster an older child, Randall seems to be dragging his feet a bit. He’s avoiding filling out his paperwork and it’s really aggravating Beth. They get in a big fight on The Manny lot where Randall confesses that he’s not sure they can handle a child who has serious issues or trauma in their life. However, Beth is confident that they can handle it and wants him to feel the same way. She finds advice in an unlikely place - Kevin. After missing the whole show taping, she winds up in Kevin’s trailer and he reminds her that Randall really struggles with taking risks. He shares a cute story about how the only time Randall ever took a chance on something that might fail was when he asked Beth out for the first time. Plus, it turns out that Kevin was helping him come up with lines the whole time. I loved this story and scene, not only because it gave us some adorable Randall and Beth backstory, but also because I really enjoyed seeing Kevin and Beth bond. Afterwards, she goes and assures Randall that they can handle it and they tell the girls about their plan to foster a child. They finally seem to be on the same page and I’m looking forward to seeing this new chapter in their lives play out.

Overall, this episode had heart, comedy, and drama, and there’s nothing more I could have wanted. I actually preferred this episode over the premiere because it felt like it was more emotional and I liked having everyone together. The quality of This Is Us and the characters just keep getting better and I’m really looking forward to what the rest of the season is going to bring!

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

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