I hope no one is expecting season 2 of This Is Us to be anything less than emotional torture because you’d be wrong. The first episode, “A Father’s Advice”, is proof of that. Heck, even that title makes you feel all the feels. The themes of the hour: being imperfectly perfect and how dreams can change as life changes. We even get a lovely voiceover and appearance from the late William to tug on our emotions. While the whole episode is a bit mellow with just enough emotion to pull at your heartstrings, it’s the very end that leaves your heart shattered.
Much like the season 1 premier, season 2 kicks off with the siblings’ 37th birthday. They all have plans, but of course, the day doesn’t go exactly as planned for any of them. Hence, the themes of the episode.
Randall has baby fever and is super pumped about adopting a newborn to honor his fathers. He even wants a newborn boy like how Jack and Rebecca adopted him. The problem is, Beth isn’t as excited about this idea. In fact, she doesn’t like it at all. When Randall states that she’s just going to have to get with it, she doesn’t hesitate to tell him that they only ever talk about what he wants.
So, he goes to his mother for advice. Surprisingly, or possibly un-surprisingly, she’s on Randall’s side in believing that sometimes one half of a couple may have to push the other. When asked, Rebecca confesses that Jack had to push her to adopt Randall. She ends the advice by saying that no one is perfect, but his father was as close to it as anyone could get. – Cue me crying!
In a turn of events, Randall doesn’t take his mother’s advice of pushing Beth to do something. In his marriage, they make decisions together. They’re “perfectly imperfect.” Beth then takes Randall to William’s favorite spot where she offers a compromise. She shows him a young boy being influenced by two older guys to drink. The compromise is to adopt an older kid that no one else would and give him a better life. It may not be what Randall initially wanted, but it’s just as satisfying, if not better.
Three’s a crowd?
Kate and Kevin are also continuing to pursue their dreams. Kevin is still working hard on his movie with director Ron Howard. Unfortunately, his girlfriend has to cancel on the double-date birthday dinner with Kate and Toby. Now, it’s just the three of them for dinner. But first, Kate walks out on a big singing audition when she gets haunted by her childhood of not being accepted because of her looks.
Toby’s already feeling a bit of jealousy about how close her and Kevin are. When he learns that she told Kevin first about skipping the audition, he’s fed up with it and storms out of dinner. He wants to be her person, not Kevin. He feels that she needs to be pushed, not coddled. Kate is done with all of that, though. She realizes she shouldn’t have to pushed or coddled, and decides to go back to the audition.
While they wait, Kevin and Toby have a heart-to-heart. Kevin confesses that Kate is the one that told him of their dad’s death, so they have a special bond that can’t be let go of so easily. Toby understands that, but he also feels that Kevin needs to let loose the reigns a bit. Kevin understands that, but by the look on his face, he knows it’ll be difficult.
Fortunately, they give Kate a shot, but it doesn’t last long. She stands up for herself, though, by saying she’s tired of being written off because of her weight, and she refuses to do it anymore. After her speech, the agent calls up one of the girls and has her sing the same song. She’s really good, but even she’s just the back-up singer because she isn’t good enough. He tells Kate that it’s not about what she looks like or what she weighs, she’s just not good enough. Kate is okay with that reasoning because with enough hard work, she can be good enough.
Picking up almost exactly where season 1 left off with Rebecca telling Jack to stay at Miguel’s for a while. When she picks up the kids from the party, they wonder where their dad is, but she doesn’t tell them. Instead, they tell the kids over breakfast, and the kids aren’t too happy about it, especially Kate. When Jack tries to talk to Rebecca after the kids leave, she says she still not ready, and they’ll talk soon.
Jack turns to Miguel for advice, but he doesn’t have much besides that they make each other better. Jack is so adamant that Rebecca will call and tell him to come home before the day’s end, that he doesn’t even want sheets on the pull-out couch at Miguel’s. Meanwhile, Rebecca’s so hellbent on getting her and the kid’s minds off what’s happened, that she takes everyone to see the new Tom Hanks movie. It’s there that we learn Randall actually saw his parents fighting when he walked home from the party the night before. Of course, they didn’t see him, and I’m assuming he walked back to the party.
The movie must have really made Rebecca think about her marriage with Jack because she soon shows up at Miguel’s door. When Jack opens the door, she confesses that she never should have let him leave and pours her heart out to him. He listens, but doesn’t mutter a single word until she’s done and tells him to get in the car. It’s then that he confesses he’s drunk and has been for weeks. He’s been keeping it from her and his family. He thought he had it under control, but he doesn’t and he’s in no condition to go back home. He needs to take care of his problem by himself. But when he closes the door on her, she knocks minutes later, and says that his problem is their problem. They’ll get through it together.
Get ready for your hearts to shatter. As Rebecca is driving Jack home, it cuts to a flashforward (not sure how far ahead) of Rebecca driving alone in a Steelers shirt and a baggie of Jack’s belongings in the passenger seat. Cut to Kate and Randall sitting with a friend as they cry on Miguel’s couch. Kate states they need to find Kevin who is elsewhere in a leg cast making out with a girl. The final shot is what sends chills down your spine. Rebecca pulls up in front of a house and looks at it. As the camera pans out, we see that it’s the Pearson’s home… completely torched. Rebecca cries out in agony.
Clearly the fire is what killed Jack Pearson, but what exactly happened?? Was he still fighting his demons of addiction? Was this just a freak accident? Did he die a hero saving his family? I need answers!
This Is Us airs Tuesdays on NBC at 9/8c!
GIF credit: bigthree & myself.