It's been a long time, but This Is Us is finally back!
A double episode means twice the drama and twice as much to discuss
Our TV Fanatics Christine Orlando, Carissa Pavlica, Sarah Little, and Jack Ori debated Kevin and Randall's awkward reunion, Randall's decision to change therapists, and what was the best scene of This Is Us Season 5 Episode 1 and This Is Us Season 5 Episode 2.
How satisfying was the awkward semi-polite frostiness between Randall and Kevin when they finally came face to face?
Christine: It was realistic. You don’t come back from the things Kevin and Randall said to one another in one conversation.
It’s going to take a long time for things to feel normal between them, even if they are both missing their former closeness as we saw in the texts they didn’t send.
I think a deeper, more meaningful conversation is necessary between the two of them but I’m not sure they’re ready for that just yet.
Carissa: As Christine says, it was realistic. But if there is one thing we can learn from their actions, it's that, almost always, if you're holding back, so is the other party.
Even in text messages, each of them wanted to embrace the other. But something got in the way.
Whether fear or pride, life is too damn short to allow that to happen. We need to be better!
Sarah: I agree with Christine.
It would've felt unnatural if they had a big, emotional conversation about their feelings during their first face to face interaction after the big fight.
It's obvious that they both have some regrets, but they were also extremely hurt by what the other said. It's going to take some time for them to resolve things, and they can only do so when they are both ready. I'm just happy they didn't have another fight.
Jack: It's unanimous!
This was really the best way to handle the aftermath of that big fight. Randall didn't come to the cabin to make up. He came to check on Rebecca, and he and Kevin were cordial but cool to each other, for the most part.
My favorite part of it was the scene at the car where Kevin asked Randall for advice about parenting. I think that was his way of trying to bond with Randall again.
As everyone else said, it's going to take time to resolve this rift. But this was a great first step.
Laurel regained her pulse and seemed to be breathing again after William took off. React!
Christine: I actually suspected it when the paramedics seemed to stop the CPR too soon and William took off with Randall near the start of the episode.
If Laurel survived, it appears she never tracked down William or her baby. If she’s still alive, does she even know what happened to either of them?
There are so many questions to answer.
We have to assume that Randall will find her, or else why bring this up?
I just hope she doesn’t show up as Randall’s new therapist because that seems a little cheesy and unrealistic.
Carissa: Christine, that's EXACTLY what I thought when Randall said he was going to change therapists.
And I think that whether she is the therapist or not, making that change will lead him to answers about his mother.
I wish I was more interested in his mother's story, but I'm more interested in him realistically dealing with the fact that he never met her and never will. It's likely that I won't get that wish.
Sarah: I was shocked!
I know a lot of people suspected Laurel was still alive when we saw the future scene where Beth told one of her colleagues that they were going to see Randall's mother, but once that was ixnayed, I never assumed she'd be brought up again.
I'm interested to see where this leads, but I believe she's still alive because, like Christine said, why show us this otherwise?
Jack:I'm glad I'm not the only one that was shocked. I was all in on William's grief over losing Laurel and it never crossed my mind that she was still alive.
I'm curious to see where this leads, too. I'm sure Laurel will cross paths with Randall one way or another, and it'll be interesting to see how this unfolds.
Have your feelings about Kevin and Madison as a couple changed since seeing them deal together with the potential loss of one of their babies? Why or why not?
Christine: Well, they weren’t really a couple before; they were just a hook up with consequences.
Now, they’re a couple and I find it really sweet how they are getting to know one another while navigating this pregnancy.
Kevin and Madison are both good people with big hearts who already love their children. I think they’ll make great parents, and as backward as it may be to conventional norms, their story may be perfect for them.
I’m definitely rooting for them.
Carissa: I always liked the idea of Kevin and Madison.
It made so much sense to me from the beginning since Kevin also chose Sophie, another close friend of Kate's.
Going into anything with that level of trust has a chance even if it begins on strange footing.
So no, nothing has changed, but I love how they're embracing their new world and doing it together. It feels right.
Sarah: I'm still not totally sold on their relationship, but I do like that they're becoming parents together.
They seem to be navigating this new territory well, and I'm so happy for Kevin.
I'm just not so sure that him and Madison are perfect for one another. I'll definitely need to see more of their growing relationship to be convinced that they belong together.
Jack: I didn't like how last season, Kevin seemed to be willing to jump into bed with every woman he met and thought they were all the love of his life. So I'm thrilled to see him settle down!
I didn't think much of him and Madison at the time. She was just another hook-up. But I like the way they are supporting each other and accept each other.
I especially liked Madison telling Kevin she doesn't see any broken parts in him. That was such a sweet moment, and exactly what Kevin has needed to hear from someone his whole life.
Did Randall make the right decision by choosing to look for a Black therapist rather than continuing with Dr. Leigh?
Christine: Yes. If there are things he isn’t comfortable talking about with Dr. Leigh, for whatever reason, then he needs to find a therapist with whom he can share openly.
I applaud Randal for realizing that he probably chose a white woman as a therapist, in part because he was working through issues about his mother, a white woman.
But now Randall may need a different perspective and he’s self-aware enough to realize he needs a change.
Carissa: Any decision about his mental health is a good one, and he'll have to take many steps to resolve 40 years worth of issues.
It seems like he has been harboring a lot in relation to his race, so visiting someone that can give him that comfort is a good idea.
Sarah: Absolutely, and I'm really proud of him for making that decision on his own and for recognizing just what he needs to better his mental health.
The phone call with Dr. Leigh showed that Randall is ready to grow and work through his issues.
I'm excited to see where his story goes this season since these first couple of episodes showed a lot of promise for his character.
Jack: I agree with all of the above. I think this decision showed a ton of growth on Randall's part.
When I was studying clinical social work, we talked a lot in class about people of color being underrepresented in counseling and related fields, so I was also glad This Is Us touched on this, and curious about whether Randall will have difficulties finding the right therapist for that reason.
How did you feel about This Is Us incorporating current events such as COVID-19 and the death of George Floyd into the story?
Christine: I thought they did an admirable and realistic job of trying to portray all of the different reactions and points of view within the Pearson family.
Randall and Kate’s discussion towards the end was both poignant and heartbreaking.
Randall has held a lot in over the years because he’s wanted to make other people comfortable, or he wasn’t comfortable with their reactions.
On some level, I think Kate realizes that and wants him to be able to talk to her.
They were both stumbling through the divide, trying to bridge the gap, not quite successfully but I thought Kate ended their conversation the best way she knew how when she told her brother she loved him. Sometimes, that’s the best you can do.
Carissa: Honestly, it made me realize how overwhelming this year has been.
It's been one thing after another, leading to so much tension and insecurity.
The one-two punch is just as hard to take on This Is Us as it is in real life.
I'm not sure how I feel about the show veering so fully in that direction.
I'm pleased that it afforded a realistic opportunity for Rebecca not to go into Randall's suggested program, though.
Especially since she might have been in a home that left her subject to dying of COVID since so many Governors made the wrong choice sending COVID patients to places where others were the most vulnerable.
As Christine said, the conversation between Randall and Kate was heartbreaking.
Randall pointed out that Kate never asked him before about how he felt about racial relations, but he also, apparently, never offered his thoughts on it.
And at a time that the world refuses to communicate and slams the door in the face of anyone who doesn't think like they do, we need to use this as a lesson to do what's right.
Open our hearts and minds and listen to each other, no matter what.
Sarah: In a lot of ways, I think the incorporation of COVID-19 and George Floyd made these episodes a must-watch for every single person in America.
I was a little worried at first, but they handled these real life tragedies beautifully and subtly.
Of course, we usually watch television to escape the real world, and while there was a lot of sadness on both of the episodes, there was also a glimmer of hope thanks to Beth.
Her conversation with Randall at the end was beautiful and had me crying happy tears.
Jack:I thought these stories were so powerful and important.
It's also risky. There's two types of viewers in the world. There are those who like seeing their favorite characters struggle with the same crises they're dealing with in real life and there are those who watch TV to escape real-world stress, especially now with multiple crises going on.
So some people might have turned off the TV because the Pearsons were dealing with COVID and racial unrest, but I hope they didn't!
Like Sarah, I found Beth's conversation with Randall incredibly inspiring and touching, and I think that her message of determination and strength was something a lot of people need to hear right now.
Anything you want to discuss that wasn't covered here?
Christine: Is it wrong of me to say that I’m over the Jack and Rebecca baby scenes?
I know it was juxtaposed against the story of Randall’s mother, but it felt like well-worn territory we’ve seen several times now and I’d like to move past it.
I also appreciated Jack’s brief conversation with his father on the phone.
People are complicated. The man may have been a horrible father and husband in many ways, and I’m not forgiving that, but in rare moments you could see that he cared.
Carissa: No, Christine, it's not wrong.
I felt like we were watching a best of montage half the time. Been there, done that.
With so much of their lives left to cover in two truncated seasons, I don't want to play The Affair and revisit the same stuff over again from a different angle. I just don't.
Sarah: Kate and Toby are -- hopefully -- getting another baby!
I'm hesitant to be excited for them because we have all seen the adoption storyline where the mother decides to keep her baby after she gives birth, but I truly hope that's not the case here.
And maybe this will bring Kate and Toby closer together!
Jack: I third what Christine and Carissa said above. I felt like the Rebecca birth scenes were a rerun, though I did like Jack's phone call with his father and that he passed William in the halls several times .
That coincidence showed that the Pearsons and Randall's birth family were connected from the beginning, which was kind of cool.
Also, who else is up for more Toby/Miguel? Toby's support of Miguel was hands down my favorite scene!
What was your favorite scene, story, or quote from this week's This Is Us?
Christine: I know we all saw it in the previews, but Toby’s reaction to Kevin’s news about the twins was epic. “What are these words that you’re saying right now?”
I also like that Toby shared how he handles his depression with Miguel.
One day at a time may sound cliche but sometimes it's all you can do.
And they were absolutely right; you don't cancel Rita Moreno!
And as always, I love Beth. She is Randall’s North Star. She makes sure he doesn’t lose himself.
“We fight on. This pain is not forever.” Perhaps that’s something we all need to hear right now.
Carissa: Toby's conversation with Miguel stood out for me, too.
So many people turn to physicians for treatment and then fail to heed their advice, going on and off of meds. Toby's realization that it was a lifetime solution hit home for me.
Sarah: There were so many great moments, but I'm going to pick one that I don't see a lot of people talking about -- Jack's scene in the chapel.
First of all, why doesn't Milo Ventimiglia have an Emmy yet?
Secondly, when he told God to take him instead, there were chills all over my body and I was weeping like a baby. It was a standout moment that I know I will be rewatching all week.
Jack: Toby and Miguel's conversation was the stand out moment for me too. After all the tension between Toby and Kate last season, it was great to see this other side of Toby.
And when have we ever seen this much of Miguel? As several of us discussed before the premiere, Miguel needs to be more central... and this time he was.
Another moment that gave me chills: Rebecca's discussion with Miguel about her fear of losing her memories of ordinary moments with her family more than anything else.
It was so realistic and emotional, and I loved the way Miguel put aside his own fear of losing her to this disease and followed Toby's advice to take one day at a time.
Your turn, This Is Us fanatics!
Hit the big, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and let us know what you thought about Randall and Kevin's frosty politeness, Rebecca's memory struggles, and the way This Is Us incorporated COVID-19 and racial unrest into its stories.
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This Is Us continues to air on NBC on Tuesdays at 9 PM EST/PST.