Randall's mid-life crisis is definitely the most adorable of the siblings.
My favorite family had to suffer through dad singing and banging away on a piano in front of the entire elementary school on This Is Us Season 1 Episode 6, because he thought explaining his job in song would not only help the crowd to better understand, but show off his (nonexistent) artistic side.
As Beth told the kids, "Look away, just look away."
Let's just get this out of the way. All the praise for the cast. Again. Standouts for "Career Days" were the men in the family, Sterling K. Brown, Lonnie Chavis, Milo Ventimiglia and Justiin Hartley. Good show guys!
As usual, pretty much anything Randall said as an adult was gold. His suffering as he realized how talented William is in comparison to himself made him rethink his life.
(As an aside...WTH was that scene at the end of This Is Us Season 1 Episode 5 of Randall packing up William's clothing, smelling it and crying?)
Maybe I've had an artistic side in me all along, but nobody knew to empower it.Randall
So Randall is having a hard time fitting into to his new family. We learned from the earlier years that he had a hard time fitting into his family at age eight because he was gifted, but he was afraid his brother and sister would hate him if he earned As and got ice cream as an award and they didn't. So cute.
It seems Randall has been in a no-win situation his whole life, or at least he's felt like it. He was a math genius from the get go, but by the time he grew up, he couldn't play the piano.
It's hard to pick one or the other, but it's easier to get a job with one than the other. And if doing math can give you that much joy, why not embrace it?
He was ready to write it off as if his family chose his future in cubicles and a big, beautiful glass office for him, but that wasn't the case. Jack was terrified he was committing his son to a life he wouldn't like.
But when he got into the office with Randall and saw how naturally math came to him, it was hard to imagine not giving his kid the chance to take that wherever it could go.
You're adopted, and we don't talk about that enough. Because to me, you are every part my son. And maybe I don't want you to feel like you stand out. But I need you to know something. I want you to stand out. I want all of you to be as different as you can possibly be, in all the best ways. I love you as much as a human heart can, kiddo. You are an exceptional young man. So don't let your old man's poor choices make you feel afraid to be different, OK? OK.Jack
That conversation was beautiful from so many perspectives. Not only from a father to a son, but from a white father to a black son, whether he was adopted or not, and then add in the adoption and there's so much to take away from that moment.
It was also lovely when Randall finally realized he was where he wanted to be in his life, not living the life someone made him live, but that he still has room to grow, too.
I have something to say. My dad put on a tie everyday because he had to. I put one on because I want to. It's important you know that. Maybe I don't run into burning buildings for a living, but to me, it's challenging and exciting. I will not apologize because it's hard to explain to people.Randall
So he's decided to take up the piano. I've always believed being mathematically gifted somehow correlated to musical talent, so I have high hopes for Randall.
But he's not going let William teach him how to play, because they're probably not in the best place in their relationship to take on such an endeavor. That made me laugh. My dad taught me to drive, but knew better than to teach my sister. Evaluate each relationship on its own basis!
Through Kevin's story, we learned a bit more about Jack's death. I'm not sure that I like it.
First of all, we have to talk about Olivia and her "cunning" ways to rip an emotional performance out of Kevin. She's a real piece of work. Does anyone else think she's going to fall hard for Kevin whether she wants to or not?
Kevin wasn't getting into the emotional side of his character, and that was pretty important given what we've learned about the play so far. Life, death, ghosts and grieving would imply he might need to dig on in there.
It's unclear exactly what Olivia hoped to accomplish by taking Kevin to a memorial, but there's no way she expected him to break as he did. She could have had a conversation with him instead of playing games. Kevin doesn't play games, and that's what makes his Hollywood character so interesting.
He's normally laying out on the table exactly what he thinks at any given moment. For instance, that line to the director, "It's not my job to get you to believe me," in response to not believing he has ever lost anyone. Actually, it is! Another instance of great writing.
The way things come together on This Is Us tends to feel so natural, not as if we're watching characters on a screen, but instead poking our noses in where they don't belong.
Learning Kevin built the model planes, the more difficult the better, to ensure he got time with Jack was very sweet. Not so sweet when he noted he threw every one of them away when Jack died in protest. All he has left is the necklace he wears that he can't bring himself to take off.
Olivia pushed him, wanting to know what happened.
Olivia: What happened to you?
Kevin: What happened is my dad died. That's what. And I hated him for it. And I couldn't eat for a month. And I used to wake myself up crying, so I could cry myself back to sleep at night. That's what happened.
When Kevin was talking to the mom in the kitchen, he mentioned 15 is a rough age. I can't imagine the behavior he's talking about happening to anyone much older than 15, can you? I think describing how he acted when Jack died is an indicator they were still kids when they lost Jack.
I can't remember (and I don't have time right now to go back and watch) if Jack was working for himself in any of the previous episodes. Have we seen an indication of Big Three coming to life? Oh how I hope he didn't spend the rest of his life doing a job he hated for the people he loved the most in the world.
It's a very good reason, yes, but to know there were dreams never realized is something I struggle with because of my own dad's death. It's a really tough one.
No, we're not forgetting Kate! I'm still at odds with Kate and her perpetual fat stories. I don't want this to be our world. Is it our world? Is a person who is very overweight forced to think about it, be driven by it, get jobs because of it or not at all for the same reason?
If that's the case, I need to understand why people aren't doing more medical research into the time people have in a day, how difficult it is to lose weight, etc. Why there aren't advocacy groups out there just like there are for every other type of person making sure this doesn't happen?
Nonetheless, Chrissy Metz is going a great job with the material she's given, but I'd really like to see her challenged a bit.
Kate pushes back and gets what she needs, and I love that about the character. She doesn't allow people to use or abuse her because of the weight, but that it's always there speaks to the issue itself.
We also learned Kate took out some of her issues on Rebecca, and now has a strained relationship with her mom. Maybe it's worse than that. I'd like to find out more about that going forward.
The best part of Kate's storyline during this hour was the lack of Toby. She was standing on her own, and that proved the character doesn't have to be attached to one of the others to have great story. Kate's stand out moment was letting Gemma out of the car to walk to her friend's house.
Honestly, if she didn't do something to put that little girl in her place, I was going to scream!
There is no show on next week because we're going to be watching a real tragedy that I don't even want to talk about. I don't even know when This Is Us returns. As much as I love my Hallmark movies (all Christmas, all the time!), messin' with my TV makes holidays a little less savory.
Will you guys talk to me? I feel this show deserves more comments than it gets. More conversation. Do I talk too much? Should I cut my reviews so you feel like you have more to say? Tell me about your families. What are you like? Anything in your life match this life?
Also, watch This Is Us online if you're new here and join US.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.