Over in the "TV Shows I Am Binging" thread, I noted that I got hooked on This Is Us, which led to a quick discussion over the show's merits and a pledge to talk about the latest episode. We threw out the idea of having that conversation in the "What Are You Watching Right Now?" thread, but I decided to start one dedicated to the show. Although I titled it "Season 4," I'm not going to limit my observations to that season alone,

So far, it's just been me and Jeff, but I welcome anyone else to join in -- especially Tracy! We've seen too little of you here in the Comics Cave!

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ClarkKent_DC said:

Randall's family watching the news, and the reactions, and the protests? That was real. Tess asking her dad if they can watch something else made me think of a running gag in Candorville: Clyde watches TV, flipping channels from one bad news story after another until he finds something soothing, "... Gilligaaaan, the Skipper toooo, the millionaire, and his wiiiiiiiiiife ..." But what does Annie choose, when she gets the conn?

Family Feud

Man, was that a symbolic choice.

Randall and Kevin haven't cleared the air, and that estrangement is real. More than that, it's true. Kevin is gingerly offering overtures, and Randall is oh-so-politely shooting them down. My wife said* it was a huge olive branch for Kevin to tell Randall he was having a boy and a girl -- something he hadn't told anyone -- and Randall congratulates him, but is unwilling to go further. 

When Randall first comes to the cabin, Kevin defensively explains Rebecca was lost but that could have happened anyway, even if she had gone to St. Louis, Randall doesn't want to pick a fight (or continue the existing one); he just wants to see Rebecca.

Interesting staging of their conversation. She's sitting on the bed, just awake from a nap, and he's in a chair across the room, with a standing mirror in the corner. When Rebecca speaks, the reaction shot of Randall shows her in the mirror over his shoulder, and she's fuzzy and indistinct. Nice camera work there.

* She didn't watch it; she relied on my description right after I saw it.

Kevin and Madison, still feeling their way through their new status quo. I appreciate that Kevin proposed during Madison's health scare, and the awkwardness of her letting him off the hook and him refusing to be let off the hook and her not insisting was endearing. Does it mean they're together for the long haul? I doubt it, because I doubt either of them are built for that. But it'll be interesting to watch. 

And there's Kate. 

I must admit, I can relate to Randall during his final scene with Kate.

Why is Kate sorry over George Floyd when she was never sorry over Jonny Gammage? Or the other people similarly victimized before and since? How could she not know Randall was hurting over Jonny Gammage when it happened? 

Because she never had to.

Randall is a Black man who is always acutely mindful of what that means, and part of that is managing the dynamics in a family who love him, mostly (there's Kevin), and who mean well, mostly (there's Kevin).

Randall and Beth and Deja and Annie and Tess and Malik and his mom and dad always have to be acutely mindful of what that means ... and Kate doesn't have to. 

And Randall loves Kate ... but for her to want him to hold her hand and guide her out of her cluelessness was, simply, far too much to ask. That was real. And more than that, that was true.

And then there's the Big Reveal, the mic drop, the Everything You Know Is Wrong moment, and boy, it's a doozy!

Laurel's NOT dead?

Or, rather ... the EMT's revived Laurel? 

There are SO many questions here.

  • She's revived, but for how long? Did she relapse and die later?
  • She was unconscious for a long time; is there brain damage?
  • Is she alive today? Where is she?
  • What's the state of her health?
  • Did William know she was revived? Did they get back together?
  • Why didn't William tell Randall about Laurel?
  • What does Laurel know about Randall? Did she try to find him?

And on and on and on ...!!!

"Why is Kate sorry over George Floyd when she was never sorry over Jonny Gammage?"

I'm not making excuses for Kate here, but it's not so much she was sorry about George Flyod and not Jonny Gammage, but rather she's sorry she didn't empathize with Randall over Jonny Gammage. The anser's the same, though: she never had to.

"Is [Laurel] alive today?"

Well, yes, because that's the way fiction works. It would be pointless to pull such a HUGE EYKIW and then do nothing with it. You're right, though: lot's of unanswered questions.

It strikes me, did they have this planned from the beginning? When were these scenes shot? At the same time as the first episode and they sat on the footage all these years, or did they re-stage it all? Nice match-up if it's the latter!

Jeff of Earth-J said:

It strikes me, did they have this planned from the beginning? When were these scenes shot? At the same time as the first episode and they sat on the footage all these years, or did they re-stage it all? Nice match-up if it's the latter!

I don't know. I have the sense they re-stage the scenes as needed.

Mandy Moore is pregnant, so this season we may be circling back to Rebecca in the hospital delivering those triplets a few more times, said showrunner Dan Fogelman. Conversely, we may be seeing less of Old Rebecca on her deathbed "because she would have some really complicated explaining to do."

I have opinions on certain matters which Tracy, although she understands them, has warned me never to express in public. On of those issues came up this week and I will honor her wishes.

This week's "mysterious beginning/suprprise-reveal-at-the-end" is that Randall apparently has a half-Vietnamese half-sister. Hmm.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

I have opinions on certain matters which Tracy, although she understands them, has warned me never to express in public. On of those issues came up this week and I will honor her wishes.

"An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm."

-- Proverbs 31:10–12 (English Standard Version)

Congratulations.

Ain't it the truth? 

This week's This Is Us had its patented twists:

We definitively learn that the Vietnamese man we saw last episode is in the here and now. The way this show bounces through time, that wasn't clear in his first appearance.

Kate tells Toby a Dark, Dark Secret: After she broke up with Jerk Boyfriend Marc back when she was 18, when Rebecca takes Randall and Beth to visit Kevin in New York for his appearance in an acting showcase and Kate stayed behind, she takes a home pregnancy test.

And doesn't like the result.

But the biggest, worst, shockingest shock of all?

"This Is Us returns January 5th on NBC."

Another story in the episode: Malik follows Randall around at the office for a school assignment. But he missteps: he shows up seven minutes late to the Pearson home, and he nods off during a meeting Randall has with his chief of staff Jae-Won. Worst of all, he takes a phone call about his baby daughter when he's supposed to be monitoring Randall's daily video newsletter to his constituents. Thus distracted, Malik doesn't hit the "off" button ... 

... and the camera catches Randall stripping to his shorts in preparation for a jog, and doing a dumb little Dad dance -- shirtless.  

Fortunately, Randall (and Sterling K. Brown) is in Men's Health cover-model shape (see here), but it's still plenty embarrassing. And it goes viral. Later, Jae-Won notes that Randall's daily message averages 5,000 hits; this one is over a hundred thousand. And it likely will make the news, and not just the local stations. And it spurred numerous dumb memes.

Before we learn this, Randall, of course, has a talk with an apologetic Malik. He was late because he got up a half-hour earlier -- at 4:30 a.m. -- to prepare for the day, including making meals and setting out clothes for his baby daughter. Getting up that early was why he fell asleep. And, well, I'll do anything for my baby's well-being.

Impressed, Randall gives Malik some fatherly advice: Don't shrink your dreams for your daughter, keep them large for her. Malik responds that his plan is to graduate from an Ivy League school, get a business degree, go to culinary school and open a restaurant that gets a four-star rating on day one. Even more impressed, Randall agrees when Malik asks for an internship at City Hall. Later, an incredulous Beth asks, "You're going to give him an internship after what that boy did?" Smiling, Randall responds Malik will never allow himself to screw up again. "Trust me; I was that boy." 

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