This Is Us Presents: A Tale Of Three Families
Can one Randall save them all?
As if we needed another reason to elect Randall to sainthood, we discover this week that his birth, abandonment, and rescue led to the alleviation of intense pain for not just one family, but three. Never forgetting that these miracles emerged from the devastation of sweet William, let us rank down the other revelations gleaned from "The Big Day," from a-ha! to boo-hoo.
- This was a filler episode. But...
Can we just call it what it is? Don't get it twisted: I still cried. But while the hour did answer a few questions we've had smoldering as the season has progressed (the Big Three were conceived during bathroom sex), it didn't exactly move anything forward.
Or, did it? We got extensive emotional backstory about the fireman who found Baby Randall; that was an unexpected journey. Did we need to take it, if we'll never see him and his mean wife again? Surely not. But if he comes back, what possible role could he play down the road in the lives of the Pearsons? I see one possibility -- that the couple was encouraged to adopt a child, maybe? And that child and Randall grew up to know each other? (OMG, I just had the most amazing thought: what if it's Beth?! I can make this theory work, but maybe I shouldn't because it's probably 100% crackpot.) Or, might Jack's life end in an emergency situation, and this guy is there? (Don't let it be that. I will die of tears.)
- All babies love Stevie Wonder
This is a natural fact. If yours doesn't, there are early intervention programs available at your local record store. The sooner you can get that baby some help, the better.
Otherwise, your child will grow up to be Eric Trump. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Science.
- Pregnant ladies ain't here to play
I loathe the -- if you'll pardon the pun -- infantilization of pregnancy. Yes, I made up this term, but it's a real thing. Whatever evolutionary process that occurs to make us treat pregnant women the way we do has gotten hella messed up in the modern day with all the Bump Watch and Body After Baby and designer nursery decor magazine nonsense assaulting us from every angle. Pregnant women are going through some stuff. Like, it's not a joke that Rebecca has three people inside her body. There are chemical reactions going on. Life is hanging in the balance. Someone who is pregnant with triplets should be allowed to do and say whatever she wants, free of all birthday obligations regardless of the level of husband hotness -- which I will admit, in Jack's case, is high. I've acted jerkier to my husband (don't feel sorry for him) when I had a hangnail, and she's got three-fifths of basketball team in there? Let's acknowledge the real martyr in this situation. It's Rebecca.
- A liquor store can solve a lot of problems
How Rebecca thought that "Liquor & More" meant a corner booze store would sell eggs and butter, I don't know, but I admire her resilience and ingenuity. I knew she had it in her when she taped those flip-flops on her feet, but it took the culinary mastermind of Teddy to come up with the life hack of Twinkie goo frosting on a banana muffin.
Angels come in many forms, and Rebecca happened to find this latent dessert MacGyver who saved the day. Bless.
- Jack is the best/Miguel is the worst
We already knew, but every reminder is painful. Of course Miguel and his terrible friends took up golf to get away from their wives and children. Now, is Jack kind of a Pollyanna acting like no matter how hard it gets at home, he'll still always rather be there? Of course. Parenting is sometimes very stressful, even with one child, and can test the bonds of any adults. And, I suppose golf is a better alternative than day-drinking in a bar. Still. Miguel sucks and no explanation is going to satisfy me for why Rebecca ends up with him.
Jack's loving, forgiving nature warms my heart so deeply. We know his childhood was an emotional hell, and watching his attempts (and perhaps his failures in the future) to stay on top of that sad past fills me with intense sympathy. Milo Ventimiglia is playing it very real.
- Grief is the monster standing in the doorway
Even Dr. K, who deals with life and death on a daily basis out as practically as possible, cannot escape the heinous necessity of grief. As it did with him and with the fireman and his wife, it can get in and stay for a while.
It takes you hostage, and then doesn't even really do anything but sit there and stink up your life and try to convince you that everything on the other side of the door is not for you anymore. The only way to live is to acknowledge that the monster is only telling half-truths. Whatever the creators consider the message of This Is Us, the insidious and unavoidable nature of grief is something they're successfully getting across.
Sometimes, as in the case of Dr. K's lost first child, all you can do is step around that monster. I don't know how people live with something like that, but they do, and that's a miracle. Dr. K's inspiration to move on after seeing Jack decide to make lemonade from the sourest lemons is moving in the extreme. Damn you, Gerald McRaney and your straight-shooting manliness. When the wall comes down, the emotion is too much! The fireman and his wife are grieving their own dashed expectations. It's easy to see how the arrival of Randall on the doorstep would trigger new hope. As filler-y as their presence seemed, I do want to know what happens to them, and I hope it's only good things.