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This is Us: There’s More To Life Than Death

THIS IS US -- "A Father's Advice" Episode 201 -- Pictured: Milo Ventimiglia as Jack -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC)

Was is a drunk driving accident? No. Did Miguel put a hit out on him so that he could take over his life? Unlikely. Was is a house fire? Hmm… maybe. Two episodes into Season 2 of This Is Us and the guessing game continues as to how Jack died and how is was supposedly Kate’s fault. As an avid viewer of the show, I’m here to tell you that if you are watching solely for this reveal, you should stop.

Twin Peaks

Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Kate and Kevin have always had a special bond. Not everyone understands it and not everyone likes it. Season 2 opened much like season 1. With two-thirds of the Big 3 celebrating together and ending with a phone call to the other. In the midst of Kate and Kevin’s birthday celebration, Toby’s jealousy once again reared its ugly head. Full disclosure, I don’t like Toby. Try as I have, I am simply not a fan. But I did find myself siding with him for a brief moment at his annoyance with Kevin being first in Kate’s life and not him. Then I remembered that Toby just got to the party recently and Kevin has been there since gestation. So maybe he should calm down the hysterics before her strokes out again. If he doesn’t like feeling like the third wheel, maybe he should have a talk with Randall who has lived in that position for 30+ years.

Speaking of positions, Kate’s position as Rebecca’s competition instead of her daughter is an interesting one. For the longest time, we were led to believe that Kate’s disdain for her mother was due to the way Rebecca treated her growing up. Come to find out it was all in Kate’s head. I’m sure others will see this differently, but from where I’m sitting Kate has let her own insecurities strain her relationship with her mother. To tell Rebecca that her fault as a mother was that she simply existed was possibly the dumbest, most immature thing said on this show yet. And that says a lot considering Kevin walks around with his foot in his mouth on a weekly basis.

Fostering Doubt

Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Randall Pearson has scripted his life down to the punctuation. So imagine my surprise when he ended season 1 with the revelation to Beth that he wanted to adopt. As season 2 opened, it was clear that Beth wasn’t exactly on board with Randall’s family altering decision. And halfway through episode 1, I was left wondering if Randall had even asked Beth her feelings on the matter let alone, cared. My answer was pretty obvious when he told her to basically wrap her head around the idea in the parking lot of the adoption agency. Randall is, for me, the most perfect human being on this show. Yet in that moment, I was kind of hoping Beth would wrap her hands around his neck. Instead she simply walked away and left Randall to seek counsel from his mother.

Rebecca explained to Randall how she initially didn’t want to adopt him and that it was Jack who pushed. Luckily for us, Randall knows his wife and knew that approach wouldn’t work. Beth eventually did wrap her mind around the idea of expanding their family, but with an older child. Not an infant. As noble as it sounded at first, Randall and I both had some major reservations about bringing a teenager into their home. Beth and Randall fought about it but like always, came together in the end. I have a feeling we’ll find out soon which one of them was right. My money’s on Beth.

Get In The Car

Not to be overshadowed by the lives of the present day Pearsons, the flashbacks of times past continue to peel back the layers of the final moments of Jacks life. We found out that Randall walked in on the epic throw down Jack and Rebecca had at the end of last season. We also found out the sad truth that Jack was failing to control his drinking yet succeeding in hiding it from his family. And then there was the torched Pearson family home. At last, we know how Jack died… or do we? There was no real follow up to that reveal in episode two but it seems the likely cause of Jack’s demise. And if it is, so be it. But if it’s not, that’s ok too.

Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Remember when tv shows used to tell well-fleshed out stories that took the audience on a journey? When the characters had depth and the dialogue had impact? That’s is exactly what we have in this show. So why can’t we let that be enough?

Recently I read a critique of This Is Us that essentially accused them of drawing out the reveal of how Jack died to string viewers along. This critique was after episode 1 of season 2. Far be it for me to say that someone else’s opinion is wrong so I will simply say that it was shortsighted. I have watched Game Of Thrones since the first episode. I have been watching soap operas since I was 2 years old. You can’t convince me that This Is Us is dragging out anything.

What you can convince me of is that the average TV viewer is changing. They have given into the shock and awe of some of primetime’s most popular shows. They no longer care about the trip as much as the destination. That’s a shame because this show has so much to offer outside of the “big reveal.”

I can’t say that I love every storyline or character, but I also can’t say that I am sitting on my couch every Tuesday night waiting for the next piece in the “How Did Jack Die” game of Clue. It’s just not as important as its been made out to be. Yes, it is something that needs to be answered, but after 2 episodes, if not knowing is taking away your enjoyment from the rest of the show, then maybe it simply isn’t for you. I, however, am strapped in and determined to enjoy the ride.

This Is Us airs Tuesday nights at 9:00 PM on NBC.

Ashley Dionne
Ashley Dionne joined the TV Source Magazine team in December 2014. She served as TV Source's deputy editor from 2016-2019. In 2021, she resumed hosting duties on the TV Source Podcast.

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