Strangers – | Review Score – 4/5
The Pool: Part Two – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Unhinged – | Review Score – 4/5
Flip a Coin – | Review Score – 4/5
Storybook Love – | Review Score – 4.5/5
The Club – | Review Score – 3.5/5
The Dinner and the Date – | Review Score – 4.5/5
Sorry – | Review Score – 4/5
So Long, Marianne – | Review Score – 4/5
Light and Shadows – | Review Score – 4.5/5
A Hell of a Week: Part One – | Review Score – 4.5/5
A Hell of a Week: Part Two – | Review Score – 4.5/5
A Hell of a Week: Part Three – | Review Score – 4/5
The Cabin – | Review Score – 4.5/5
Clouds – | Review Score – 4/5
New York, New York, New York – | Review Score – 4/5
After the Fire – | Review Score – 4.5/5
Strangers: Part Two – | Review Score – 4.5/5
This Is Us has been a consistently great series over the years, managing to juggle important themes with a healthy dose of melodrama. While the first two seasons did well to introduce some intriguing ideas into the fold, Season 3 felt a little disjointed and lethargic by comparison. Although the season was still enjoyable, it also spent an awful lot of time in Vietnam and on Randall’s run as Mayor that teased a will they/won’t they break up with Beth. Season 4 though is a whole different ball game.
This Is Us delivers some of its best bursts of drama across the entire show’s run and it does so by effortlessly bridging the gap between the past and future flashes. Promising in the promo to subvert our expectations, the opening episode does just that by introducing us to various new characters who we follow alongside the Pearson family. Without spoiling too much, there’s echoes of season 1’s pilot here with a big twist at the end and a lovely foundation-setter for the season to follow. This is then followed up by The Pool: Part 2, which again feeds back into season 1’s episode of the same title, one that feels like a much more mature echo of that.
The past events we’ve seen sprinkled through so many of the previous episodes are expanded or elaborated on this year, with particular emphasis on a traumatic event that occurred in Kate’s past. Speaking of Kate, her turbulent mental health is put under the spotlight this season in both her relationships closer to home and the distance she’s been feeling with Rebecca. A shock reveal with he sees the events at the end of Season 3 start to make more sense and it ripples across to each of The Big Three in how they deal with their Mother’s newfound situation.
The biggest storylines this year though are reserved for both Randall and Kevin. These two have had quite the turbulent relationship over the years and this is explored in much more detail during season 4. The first half sees Kevin tackle issues with Uncle Nicky and a new face on the scene while struggling to find his real purpose outside Jack’s shadow. By comparison, Kate sinks back into familiar territory as she worries about her weight, further exacerbated by Toby’s obsession with the gym.
Randall meanwhile sees his rock-solid facade start to crumble and show some of the unpleasantness lurking beneath. When it comes to character arcs, Randall has arguably the most devastating and there’s a few incredible episodes here that highlight this in all its glory. I won’t spoil too much here of course but one sees an alternate-past play out in the penultimate episode, aptly titled “After the Fire.”
Unfortunately Rebecca finds herself smack bang in the middle of these bubbling conflicts that spill over in dramatic fashion late on. Emotions are high and all of this crescendos into an absolutely devastating argument that changes the fortunes for all involved.
These pockets of drama are much stronger and heartfelt this season too and there’s some excellent individual episodes that match up to “Super Bowl Sunday”; one of the best episodes of the entire four season run. “The Cabin” in particular is a heart-wrenching and devastating slice of drama while the aforementioned three-parter sees the same day play out but from three different perspectives.
Sterling K. Brown delivers some tour de force acting this year too, but this time he’s matched blow for blow by Justin Hartley. Some of his moments really shine and it’s great to see him step up and manage to juggle these complicated emotions with such ease and believability.
What’s particularly great about this season though is the way everything seems to come together organically. There’s so many incredible individual moments that it’s hard to pick out a few to highlight in this full season write-up. There’s a consistent feel of everything moving forward to an ultimate end, with the glimpses of the future starting to come into fruition now.
The finale certainly sets things up for a very dramatic fifth season to follow and given we’ve got two more seasons of this to come, This Is Us is certainly not going anywhere any time soon. And that’s good, because when it comes to familial dramas This Is Us is a tough one to beat and easily one of the best shows this year.