Families are complicated, especially during crises
This Is Us Season 4 Episode 14 made that clear. The various events at the cabin demonstrated how serious problems could bring old wounds to the surface and bond family members tighter together.
The Big Three had their issues with each other but were there when it counted, especially when life interfered with their plans.
As it so often does masterfully, This Is Us weaved together past and present, using the cabin as a focal point for the interconnected stories it wanted to tell.
The cabin meant a lot to every member of the Pearson family.
For Jack, it was the first step in making his dreams for his family come true, while for Kate it was the place where she was rescued from a nightmare, and for the adult Big Three, it was a safe haven from which to deal with some heavy stuff.
Jack: Can anyone tell me what this is?
Kate: A lunch box?
Jack: It's not a lunch box.
Kevin: It looks like a lunch box.
Jack: I know it looks like a lunch box, but it's not. It's a time capsule.
The time capsule story seemed lighter than the rest of what was going on, but it ended up being just as emotional.
Jack's insistence on the time capsule was made more poignant by viewers' awareness that he would not be around in five years to dig it up.
Jack kept talking throughout the hour about his dreams for the future and about what he expected his life to be like in five years, and that made it all the sadder that he didn't survive to see any of it.
The recording that he left in the time capsule was a doubly special gift because it was like an extra visit with him after he'd gone.
Had he lived, the Pearsons probably would have played the recording and laughed about the way they were five years ago. Instead, the Big Three was grateful for the miracle of hearing his voice one more time.
It was typical of their marriage that Jack would throw away a drawing of his and Rebecca would save it. Rebecca always believed in Jack, often more than he believed in himself.
Jack, if you say you're gonna build us that house I believe you're gonna build us that house.Rebecca
And it was fitting that of all the kids, Kevin -- who also suffers from self-doubt and feelings that he's not quite good enough -- would want to finish what Jack started and make that house into a reality.
She tried so hard with me and I could never give her a chance. And now that we're finally good, this is happening. [pause] It must have been really hard for you to be the only one who knew what was going on with Mom, but you know you don't have to do this alone, right? I have not always been there, but I am strong and Kevin is strong and we're gonna get through this together.Kate
Kate and Randall's admission that Rebecca was having problems was emotional, too.
Kevin reacted pretty much the way I expected him to react. His shock, disbelief, and grief quickly gave way to anger that he was the last to know when he's the one who lives in Los Angeles.
The whole way it was handled pushed his buttons. Kevin has always felt like the black sheep, the one who is the last to know about everything and isn't trusted with important stuff.
It was Rebecca's news to tell, and Randall was trying to respect that, but that didn't make Kevin's point of view any less valid.
While everyone's desire to both respect Rebecca's wishes and protect Kevin's sobriety was understandable, it wasn't a great way to handle the situation.
Kevin needs to be responsible for his own sobriety, and the end result of Rebecca's attempt to protect him is that he was left out of the conversation and re-experienced old resentments of Randall. That didn't help anyone.
There's clearly a bigger blow-up coming, as this one wasn't enough to make Kevin disown Randall, and we know that by the Big Three's 40th birthday, Kevin and Randall are no longer on speaking terms.
But even though this skirmish was short-lived, the stage was set for the bigger problem. If Randall and Kate don't start including Kevin in their discussions of Rebecca's condition, his resentment will boil over. So chances are, Kevin's going to be left out of something else soon.
Randall: I have to get back to Philly.
Kate: Is everything okay?
Randall: Yeah, it's just I haven't been able to get ahold of Beth in a while.
Kevin: So you have to go back to Philly cause you can't get ahold of Beth while she's in DC?
And that's a shame, because Randall and Kevin need each other.
Kevin encouraging Randall to seek therapy is probably what's going to get Randall to finally take the plunge, and Randall could probably help Kevin deal with Rebecca's illness without jumping into bed with random women.
Speaking of which, am I the only one who doesn't see Kevin/Madison as that big a deal?
Everyone kept referring to the idea of Kevin sleeping with Kate's best friend as this huge, horrible thing. But it's not like Kevin used his relationship with Kate to manipulate his way into Madison's bed.
They were consenting adults who are not related to each other, and Madison isn't Kate's ex.
The drama around this is silly, especially with so much else going on. And there was no reason for Madison to call three times because she felt so guilty about this non-issue.
Of course, Kate overreacts to things a lot, so maybe that was why Madison didn't want her to know about it.
She and Toby continued their poor communication. There was no reason for Toby to feel defensive because Kate asked him what they were doing for fun, but there also was no reason for Kate to press him about that.
Get the hell out of my house. This is the last time you are ever going to see my daughter. You have two minutes. Get your stuff and get out of here.Rebecca
Kate's relationship problems with Toby might be related to what happened between her and Marc, though.
An abusive relationship where you are literally left out in the cold if you say or do the wrong thing isn't easy to get over.
Toby is not abusive like Marc, but part of Kate's fear of losing him and poor communication with him might come from that relationship.
Who knows what might have happened had the Pearsons not shown up to help Kate.
Marc had already locked her out in a snowstorm, causing her to cut her hand breaking into the cabin, but would she have stayed with him until something worse happened?
This may not be the end of him, either. Rebecca kicking him out doesn't mean he's going to give up on trying to reassert control over Kate. Abusers are often persistent, especially when the object of their twisted affection ends the relationship.
Your turn, This Is Us fanatics.
What did you think of the various storylines at the cabin? Are you glad Kevin ends up building Jack's dream house? And do you think this is the last we'll see of Marc?
Hit SHOW COMMENTS and share your thoughts.
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Jack Ori is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.