This Is Us s1 ep 4

“You’re so busy making sure Kate’s not eating too much and Randall’s not too adopted, and meanwhile, where’s Kevin? Oh, he’s dead!”

Ouch. Watching everyday life continue to unfold during a family visit to the pool in the past timeline, it makes a poignant sort of sense that the young Kevin, desperate for attention, grew up to seek the spotlight as an actor, while the young Kate, desperate to avoid it, grew up to hide behind him as his PA, and the young Randall, conscious of “otherness”, grew up to strike out on his own, away from both of them.

In the present timeline, meanwhile, the same themes continue to resonate. Randall and William disagree on how to deal with issues of race and class. Kevin heads to New York to leave The Manny and its particular spotlight behind, but it follows him there. And Kate’s self-absorbed self-loathing continues to infuriate me, this time taking form in her stalking Toby’s ex-wife.

As the weeks go on, it’s become clear that This Is Us is much more complicated than its sweet happy families exterior, exploring difficult themes with a deft, sensitive touch. The pool scenes are particularly brilliant – although we know Kevin makes it to adulthood, his near-miss somehow still terrifies, and Kate’s pain over that stupid, cruel note is piercing. But in both timelines it’s Randall who breaks my heart with his tally of black people and his million things he has “to choose to let go every day, just so (he’s) not pissed off all the time.” Lonnie Chavis as young Randall is wonderful, Sterling K Brown as adult Randall is a marvel, and this show? This show is just terrific.

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3 thoughts on “This Is Us s1 ep 4

  1. Kay20 January 3, 2017 / 11:27 pm

    This episode made me cry at the end. Kevin’s ask for attention explaining so much (there is a scene in an upcoming episode where Justin Hartley is SO GREAT) it gave me an appreciation for his character. I’ve grown to enjoy him and his flaws more and more whereas Kate and Toby in episode 5 make me want to rip my hair out. Toby’s need to be with Kate ALL THE TIME drives me nuts. I’m hoping they fix this stat.

    But the mom/son relationship in this episode with Randall, and Kate and her dad was so precious and really made you realize how odd man out Kevin could be at times.

    Good stuff show.

    P.S. The Kevin moment was my hardest blubber yet. Bring tissues.

  2. Jed Bartlet January 4, 2017 / 1:42 pm

    Great yet again. SKB continues to be the MVP – I loved the ambiguities in the Snow White bit, and the way in which he explained to his father how he gets through the day.

    I actually sympathised with Toby this week. Kate’s cyber-stalking of Toby’s ex was normal enough (I understand…), but actually applying for, and getting, a job with her? No wonder he hit the roof. There’s reasonable accommodation of someone’s insecurities, but that? Yeah, no.

  3. Bill January 4, 2017 / 2:10 pm

    I think the shine is beginning to come off for me. I had such high hopes for Kate being more than just a bundle of insecurities about her weight, and sadly it seems like those hopes have been dashed. Which just doesn’t make for very interesting television I’m afraid. I will continue to watch, but I can’t see me being emotionally invested in any of the characters. Kate is annoying, Kevin is entitled, and only Randall is in any way watchable for me at the moment. Here’s hoping things change and I will get into this show like I thought I would.

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