This Is Us is a show that constantly throws up surprises after all these weeks while continuing to pull at the heart-strings. Acting as the second act to a three-part story, This Is Us delivers a Kevin-centric plot, one that shows his week from hell, with some sprinklings of shots from the previous episode tying into this and leaving plenty of questions hanging over the third and final part featuring Kate.
We begin with a short recap on what happened before, as Randall’s mental breakdown caused him to phone Kevin where a mystery girl is in his bed. Before we get there though, we begin at the exact moment Randall confronts the robber in his house. Kevin receives a call from Sophie who tells him her mother is now dead. In the past, Kevin arrives home to a flustered Rebecca who didn’t see his big performance on TV as she assumed with his lines cut, he wasn’t going to be on the small screen. Hiding how disappointed he is with this, Kevin heads to Sophie’s instead where her mum announces that she did see him.
Sophie’s Mum announces a surprise trip but Sophie isn’t having any of it and leaves. Alone, Kevin asks her about the wedding he’s planning for her daughter and questions about her grandmother’s ring. They sit down together and she tells a story about the significance this has but unfortunately she won’t give him the ring just yet; he needs to earn it.
Kevin takes his seat in the church as Sophie gets up and gives an emotional speech about special moments in time. As she looks set to cry, she locks eyes with Kevin and she continues on and finishes her speech, given extra courage from him being there. As Kevin thinks about heading over and speaking to her after the service, he notices her locking hands with her husband and decides otherwise.
Instead, he gets some doughnuts and phones her from outside the house she’s using for the wake. She heads out with him and as they get in the car together, he spies her Grandmother’s ring on her hand. He drives them to the campsite where they hold a lot of memories together and they talk. It’s here he flashes back to the time they were together, sleeping in the car while unbeknownst to them, Kate happens to be at his car window.
They both share a history surrounding Good Will Hunting – having never finished the film during a date together thanks to an issue in the cinema – and after all these years, neither of them finished the film. As a tribute to those times, they sit together and watch Good Will Hunting’s emotional ending. Kevin drives her back where he hands over a picture of Kevin her Mum was keeping given she was his biggest fan and he holds back tears. As Sophie heads inside, Kevin visits the church again and speaks to Claire via the beautiful memorial left for her.
He admits to messing things up with Sophie and begs the heavens for another chance. “Goodbye Claire” Kevin says with more than a hint of sadness and regret, and leaves the graveyard. He then heads over to see Kate but she’s not there. Instead, she finds a girl looking after Audio for her. This girl talks about her past, prompting Kevin to give her some words of wisdom, including sticking around and fighting for what she wants.
As the episode closes out, Kevin picks up the phone and answers it to Randall in the midst of his breakdown, agreeing to meet at the cabin and invites Kate along too. In the past, Rebecca tells Kevin that Kate’s in trouble and phoned her crying. Just to re-emphasize this point, in the timeline with Jack looking after the kids, Kate arrives and says “Dad, we have a problem”, where we end things.
With the entire episode matching the timeline in Randall’s story and some really clever interwoven segments, This Is Us delivers another strong episode and proves just why it’s one of the best dramas on TV. This bond the Big Three have is something that’s been explored before in the past but seeing how all three of these characters share in the same hellish week, as we explore each of them individually, is a really clever narrative tool and allows each of these actors the opportunity to shine in their own episodes.
There’s some beautiful camera work this week and whether it be Kev’s reflection in the window as he looks at Sophie inside or the way the camera panned up from Sophie’s interlocked hands up to Kevin’s face, there’s a conscious effort to inject some artistic imagery in here that’s certainly welcome. There’s plenty of questions left hanging over this one though and quite what will happen in Kate’s timeline next week remains to be seen.