Ron Batzdorff / NBC

Did This Week's This Is Us Twist Surprise You?

And other questions heating up after the tearjerker's second episode.

I can't say I was as impressed by "The Big Three" as I was by the pilot of This Is Us. I appreciated the twist in the first episode so much -- in fact, I was so completely taken in by it that I didn't want to say anything in last week's post for fear I would accidentally spoil someone else -- that I had very high expectations for the second outing. It certainly had its moments but, wow, there's some ham and cheese being served in large portions in a scene or two, and it makes me nervous for the ongoing premise. Thus, I have a few questions:

What do we think happened to Jack?

Did he call Rebecca "baby" one too many times and she stabbed him? Did he become a full-blown alcoholic and die from it? Or was he forced to leave his family, thus falling short of Dr. Crinkle Eyes's admonition to make lemonade out of lemons? Any scenario pains me to contemplate. Those are some damn cute kids, those eight-year-olds. If we're only going to see Jack in the past, won't they run out of things for Milo Ventimiglia to do? I don't know if my heart can take week after week of Bad-But-Lovable Dad, I really don't. I'm older than the triplets, but I'm only just now coming to grips with the fact that my parents' humanity and human failings contributed to my development as a person, and that the same will be true of my child. I'm saying all of this just recently hit me like two years ago. I'm not ready to have more truth bombs raining down on me about the inner lives of Reagan-era adults!

Being a mom is hard, isn't it?

Rhetorical question. It is. And Rebecca seems pretty good at it, but she's still bad at it.

Will The Big Three continue to age in the past?

I am trying not to spoil myself for future episodes, but I have to wonder how long those eight-year-olds will stay eight. Like, how is the flashback stuff going to continue to develop and flow? I'm already too attached to eight-year-old Randall -- to all of them, really. But the fact that Current Kevin and Kate are shades of messed up and Randall is struggling with his own demons, seeing how their issues were all shaped into reality might actually kill me. I didn't cry while I was watching the episode, but as I write this I'm crying because, I don't know, childhood is rough even when you have it pretty good? And adults make missteps or commit intentional crimes that can mess up a kid's life for the rest of his or her life? Why do they all feel so desperate to be perfect?! Let me get out of my feelings for a minute, damn.

Is Kevin the worst?

The most egregiously offending fromage of the hour occurs when Kevin, alone at his Hollywood party, calls Randall for support and, within thirty seconds, seeks -- and receives! -- back pats for being a terrible brother. Shut up, Fratty! I liked him with Kate last week, but now I wonder why she would remain devoted to this needy Knit Cap. I suppose we'll find out he's secretly great now that he's due to be humbled by destitution when the network sues him for breach of contract. I can only hope so, for Kate and Randall's sake.

Does Toby have ulterior motives?

I'm a little bit nervous for Kate now that Toby is making his "showbiz!" love known. His jokey-jokes are good for her to a certain degree as she struggles to lose weight, but this spiral Kate is in has been going on for so long, one has to wonder if she can get out. If it turns out that Toby's in it for her adjacency to The Manny and not for Kate, I will hate that. Then again, if he is, in fact, the charming goof he seems to be, will he eventually be worn down by Kate's food addict symptoms and behaviors and move on? Because I will hate that, too.

Ron Batzdorff / NBC

Ron Batzdorff / NBC

Who will be the show's breakout star?

Of course Sterling K. cannot be topped, but right now the runoff for my favorite member of the cast is between Beth (the fantastic Susan Kelechi Watson) and the obesity support group's body dysmorphic member, Madison (Caitlin Thompson). Rounding out the list are William's unseen cat, Clooney; Randall's insanely adorable daughters; and none other than the legendary Katey Sagal, who I hope and pray returns as Kevin's perfect agent.

Will there be a twist every week?

Daaaaamn, were ya'll surprised to see Mandy Moore come in that door? After I put in a call to the Wig Cop for that Old Lady Look she was sporting, I had to admit they got me again with her -- I had assumed Rebecca was no longer living -- and, of course, with the revelation that Miguel is referred to by Randall's kids as "Grandpa." Miguel! Lying in wait like a snake in the grass, or merely a shoulder to cry on that turned into something more when whatever happened to Jack, uh, happened? Are we going to learn next week that Miguel killed Jack?! No, I know, but this show, for all the corn it doles out, is very good with a twist, so I'm eager to see what's up next.

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