This Is Us Begins To Examine The Sins Of The Father

Al Lowe has questions, like who is 'Jack Pearson's Son'?

So, the cracks in the Perfect Jack façade are finally beginning to show. (Or, "finally began to show"? Can we just agree that my tense usage will never quite line up when timehopping? Your patience is appreciated.) It was mentioned early on in the series that Jack had a bad history with drinking, but he seemed to have been in recovery for a while by the time his kids were teens. With said kids jumping into and out of high school's most notorious pitfalls -- sex, academic pressure, eyeliner -- and Rebecca's desire to fulfill her frankly very medium-sized dreams with a month-long band tour, Jack's coping skills appear to have reached their limit. How he could possibly be jealous of a smarmy keyboard player Rebecca dated for two months nearly twenty years ago, I have no idea. Good God, sir, don't you know anything about the hierarchy of who pulls what in bands? It's singer > guitar > drums > bass > whatever's left. I'm not saying there's any justice in it; I'm just saying that lamé vest has no chance with your hot wife and never did.

Speaking of alllll that, regarding "Jack Pearson's Son," I have a few questions:

Can Mandy Moore not try to be Sam Cooke when she sings "Bring It To Me?"

Moore has a beautiful voice, and I have enjoyed several of her records, particularly "Coverage." Also, she killed it as Rapunzel and I will fight anyone who wants to take Frozen v. Tangled, because if you really listen to the songs, there is no contest. Oh, yeah; I said it! But sometimes she tries too hard to, like, put some kind of sauce on it and affect an inflection, and that's not necessary. I know I'm writing a whole paragraph about what amounted to three seconds of the show, but I feel like she is vocally underappreciated and that her natural talent remains untapped and this is why.

Ron Batzdorff / NBC

Ron Batzdorff / NBC

One of these days, when Moore's ready, I hope she goes from "likable" to "DAMN, GIRL, YES, WHERE YOU BEEN?"

I get letting off steam about marital frustrations, but shut up, Jack.

I know it's not a question. Screw him and his little Janis Joplin joke with Miguel. And screw Miguel for encouraging him to make that joke and then turning around and marrying Rebecca down the road, I assume to continue steamrolling her personal fulfillment.

So, who is really being "Jack Pearson's Son"?

Is it Kevin when he heroically puts his brother's needs ahead of his own? Or, taking the sadder and more worrisome angle, is it Randall, when he lets the many personal pressures he is juggling collide with his insecurities? I've known some Randalls in my life: perfectionism is a tough gig, and seeing Randall at the top of his very steep meltdown is a frightening thing. Is this what happened to Jack? Did he fall apart and die, as Randall suggested in his admonition of William, alone where no one could see him?

Did Kevin have to ruin Sloan?

All props in the world to Kevin for finally, finally being the brother his brother needed. It shows real maturity and personal growth in a character who thus far seemed to possess less depth than a Dixie cup. But, dang, did he have to literally humiliate and possibly ruin our girl, Sloan, in the process? Like, with the New York Times there to review the play, he couldn't have sent a quick text to Kate in the audience that said "go help Randall NOW" and called 911 and then confirmed everything during intermission? I see the need for the big gesture, and I was, of course, moved to tears by it...but there's that nagging reality that Kevin threw over everyone else to finally do the right thing, and then kind of a sub-nagging that it might have been somewhat easy for him to do it because he was terrified of going on stage anyway. I don't really believe that, but if I were Sloan, I might hurl it in his face, along with whatever heavy objects were handy.

How much longer does William have?

And will Randall have himself together by the time the end comes?

Ron Batzdorff / NBC

Ron Batzdorff / NBC

I strongly hope Randall's breakdown results in some self-imposed leave -- let Sanjay do some work, for Lord's sake -- and that he uses the time to be with William and his family.

While we're here: ten thousand shouts-out to Ron Cephas Jones and his beautifully touching, highly convincing portrayal of a cancer patient at the end, and the many indignities and frustrations to be faced thereof. This man is causing me to go fully Terms Of Endearment all "GIVE. THIS FICTIONAL BIO DAD. HIS COCA-COLA."

Did I sort of like Miguel for a second there?

I don't get Jon Huertas's deadpan delivery sometimes, but Miguel talking about the greatness of Jack and how he can look at Kevin and remember his friend touched me on a personal level. When my father died, after his best friend, Dennis, told a story at his funeral about my dad surreptitiously vomiting into his tux sleeve at a fraternity party, Dennis turned to me and said, "So, whenever I really miss Bill, all I have to do is look at you, Al, and it's just like he's here with me." Yes, you really had to be there. The point is, I suppose, that none of us can avoid being our parents' children. Jack, despite his best efforts, was still a little bit his father's son and, for better or worse, his own sons walk in his footsteps.

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