Tuesday, October 30, 2018

REVIEW: 'This Is Us' - Randall Earnestly Delivers Inspirational Speeches to Draw Up More Support in 'Kamsahamnida'

NBC's This Is Us - Episode 3.06 "Kamsahamnida"

Kate struggles with Toby's depression. Randall makes time for Kevin, who obsesses about Jack's past.

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.

"Kamsahamnida" was written by Vera Herbert and directed by John Fortenberry

Randall's political ambitions this season have been so weird and awkward. Sure, it's a convenient way for the show to tie into real-life events. It articulates the importance of voting which everyone should do a week from today in the mid-term elections. However, this specific race for Randall is so absolutely baffling. The show seems to be endorsing him completely without truly addressing all of the complicated reasons why he shouldn't be doing this. He's essentially abandoning his family to go campaign in the district his father lived in. He sees it as yet another way to stay connected to William. However, that appears to be his only motivation for doing any of this. He believes he can win simply because he is earnest and can deliver one impressive speech. The show plays into that perspective here. It can still be effective. Randall does get a campaign manager out of his time in Koreatown after all. But it's also baffling because Randall seemingly doesn't have the funds to pay for two additional employees, create postures and draw up congressional maps of voting patterns. It seems like Randall is the only person in that office. Moreover, it doesn't seem like he has an actual plan for how to help the people in this district. He's done a nice job at pointing out all the problems and saying how it's all Sol Brown's fault. He goes after another group of voters because he can't change the minds of people who love Sol Brown so fiercely. But he hasn't presented a platform to prove that he can do a better job in this seat than his opponent. The show wants the audience to be engaged with this storyline. But it's much more apparent that it's distracting from what really matters with his family back home. He is absent from their lives. They aren't a part of the campaign - which is another tactic that Sol Brown uses against him. It's more devastating that Beth is spiraling with doubts of her self-worth after being fired and Randall doesn't seem to notice. She doesn't want an inspirational speech from him either. Instead, she wants the freedom to be understood by someone with compassion for her. She doesn't want his pity. That may fuel some of his decision to give her a job on his campaign. However, that could also be used as a convenient way to bring back the spark that has always been present in their dynamic even though the show doesn't explain who is going to be looking after the children when Randall and Beth are spending all of their time in a different city. As such, this entire story only creates more questions than answers. Plus, it's also asking the audience to conveniently forget that Randall took up karate when he was young. Now, the story in the past is trying to pull on our heartstrings by saying that he needs to know how to fight. It's mostly just an all-consuming storyline about the Pearsons learning how to box. It does get Jack to open up about his brother a little bit. But again, there is still so much unknown about that time in his life. Kevin believes that the woman in the picture must be someone his father loved. Him believing that though mostly ensures that a big twist is bound to occur in this story. And finally, the show handles depression in a much more nuanced and honest way with Beth than Toby. With Toby, it's the big stereotypical idea of being unable to get out of bed and fearing that no one is capable of loving you anymore. Kate's strength is proudly on display even though she's constantly calling her mother for support and guidance. But it also seems like the show needs to move past this diversion to get back to the two of them as expecting parents sooner rather than later.