TV Reviews

This Is Us Season 2 Episode 2: A Manny-Splendored Thing Review

Last week, we finally learned how Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) dies. A mystery that has been torturing fans since last season was finally clarified in the final moments of the premiere episode (it appears the Pearson family home burnt down). This episode brought to light the ups and downs of Jack and Rebecca’s (Mandy Moore) marriage (especially after the HUGE fight from season 1 finale). Kate (Chrissy Metz) found her inner confidence and is on the path to becoming a singer, just like her mother. Meanwhile, Kevin (Justin Hartley) and Toby (Chris Sullivan) fight over Kate’s attention, only to realize they can both be a part of her life. Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) try to maneuver together over the decision to adopt a child. Oh and also…Happy Birthday Big 3!

Synopsis: The entire Pearson family visits Kevin in Los Angeles for a “Manny” taping. In other events, Jack confronts his demons in the wake of his fight with Rebecca. (TV Guide)

Writers: Dan Fogelman and Bekah Brunstetter

Director: John Fortenberry

Rating: TV-14

Running Time: 45 minutes

Tonight’s episode dove further into each of the Pearson siblings storylines, while paving the road to Jack’s inevitable death. The episode revolved around the entire family flying out to LA for a live taping of, “The Manny”. A show that Kevin used to be a part of, dramatically left, and now is back again for a guest appearance. One thing This Is Us does beautifully is give equal focus and time on each person’s story and purpose on the show. This episode was no different.

Kate landed her very first singing gig. Getting to this point has been quite the struggle for her, one that starts from childhood and one involving her mother. This episode focused a lot on the dynamic between Rebecca and Kate. As we see, young Kate is meant to partake in the school’s talent show, but very quickly backs out when she overhears Rebecca singing. For a young girl dealing with self-esteem issues, this doesn’t bode well and crushes any confidence she has. This feeling of inadequacy stays with her and manifests itself in present day, resulting in an argument where she finally tells Rebecca how she’s felt all this time.

Kevin spends most of this episode preparing (and freaking out) for the live taping. He feels uneasy given how he left the show, and wants give it all he’s got. His day one cheerleader, Sophie (Alexandra Breckenridge), is there to support him and get him through it, just like she did when they were kids. They are #relationshipgoals.

Beth and Randall had their own share of ups and downs this episode regarding the adoption. After coming to a compromise (adopting an older kid versus a baby) last week, Beth is finally on board. However, Randall is having second thoughts about bringing an older child into their home and avoids filling out the paperwork. He is afraid of the impact it would have on the girls and is afraid of failing. This results in an argument between Beth and Randall, with Beth storming away. Everything turns out okay, thanks to a heart to heart Beth has with Kevin. He reminds her how amazing Randall really is, and if he is having doubts, its based on a fear of failing. The only time he didn’t think twice about failing was when he asked out Beth in college (a moment she learns that Kevin scripted out for Randall). This was a wonderful moment to witness between the two characters, as they have never really bonded like this before.

Weaved throughout the episode, was Jack’s struggle with his alcohol addiction. We were taken back to the past when he first struggled with it, and what he did to overcome it. His number one reason for improving seemed to revolve around Kate. They seem to share a bond that goes much deeper than we’ve realized before. She was always his guiding light. The episode ends on this note as well, with emotional Jack telling teenage Kate that he has a drinking problem.  Something he never wanted to tell her, but has to now. The very last scene shows Rebecca dropping Jack off at an AA meeting, with a hope in her eyes that Jack is going to be okay.

This was another solid episode, and one that took its time to explain the story in a different way. We are diving deeper and deeper into each character’s life (past and present) and learning about their intricacies. As the story evolves, it just keeps getting better. I can’t wait to see where it all goes!

Score: 8.5/10

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