Tuesday, October 2, 2018

REVIEW: 'This Is Us' - Kate, Kevin and Randall Maintain Their Search for Identity and Acceptance in 'A Philadelphia Story'

NBC's This Is Us - Episode 3.02 "A Philadelphia Story"

The Pearsons gather to support Kevin at his movie premiere. The teenage Big Three make college decisions.

In 2018, it has become very difficult to keep up with every television show out there. It's even more difficult to provide adequate coverage on this site about the episodes that air every week. Not every show can get full coverage because of my busy and hectic viewing schedule. As such, some reviews will now be condensed to give only some summary thoughts. But it also affords a space for me to jot down my thoughts on the various episodes. And so, here are my thoughts on this week's episode of NBC's This Is Us.

"A Philadelphia Story" was written by Kay Oyegun and directed by Chris Koch

This episode feels much more grounded than the premiere because it revolves entirely around the Pearson family members trying to figure out where they belong. It's told through the context of their professional lives, within their own family and to the outside community. Kate has long seen herself as a mother. It's something she really wants in her life. It was always inevitable that her doing IVF would come out during this family gathering for Kevin's premiere. And yes, it's so annoying that the disagreement that erupts between Kate and Rebecca once again revolves entirely around weight. Sure, that's the thing that makes this so risky for Kate. However, it doesn't have to be the sole thing dominating the conversation. When the story shifts to Rebecca talking about how she's afraid whenever one of her children does something dangerous after Jack's death, it resonates in a profound and powerful way. It helps that the story in the past is actually set in the aftermath of Jack's passing. That makes it feel like the season is telling something new instead of a story that has already been done before. Rebecca is struggling to get out of bed in the morning and be a good influence on her kids. And yet, the audience is already aware of just how pivotal this time is in the development of all of the characters. It's really when they became the people they were at the start of the series. It's important to see that transition. But it's also just as devastating watching young Randall call Howard University to tell them that he won't be attending in the fall because he has to stay at home to support his family. He doesn't need to do that. He certainly feels the obligation to do so because he can see clearly just how much everyone in the family is struggling. He sees Rebecca barely making an effort, Kate overeating and Kevin getting drunk all of the time. But it's also fascinating to see how all of this connects back to the present day. In the past, Randall makes this sacrifice for his family believing it's what's best for everyone. He is sacrificing his future to care for his family. He continues to present as that person as well. He wants to fix the world around him. He is willing to stand up and fight for what he believes in. It's a very admirable quality. And yet, he is called out for always seeing the problem instead of just witnessing the joy of a community. That may be a quality significantly lacking in his life. It actually presents though an engaging story about William as well. He befriended this new neighbor, Gigi, who still lives in this community and is now interacting with Randall. She delights at seeing so much of William in him. But she also sees a guy who has to constantly be moving forward and improving himself and the world around him. He can't just relax and accept the beauty amongst the dysfunction. That's difficult for him to hear. It's even more so when he eventually makes it to Kevin's premiere. It's only then that he briefly gets caught up on all of the drama happening within the family. So once again, he feels like an outsider looking in without the perspective necessary to understand what's going on. Kate made a comment in the heat of the moment about being the only sibling who can pass along Jack's genes. That connection has always meant so much to her. It is going to be so moving when she has a baby boy. He will resemble Jack no matter what. And yet, Randall is absolutely right to be annoyed with Kate because genetics aren't the only way in which a person is passed down through the generations. The lessons that Jack taught his children have always been very important to all three. As such, Tess and Annie reflect Jack's life and spirit as well despite no biological connection. And so, all of this could be stirring up even more conflict. Kate is just so focused to do things this way. She is looking to her family for support. She gets some but she is also not seeing the trouble brewing on the horizon either.