You’ve been waiting for months, and it’s finally here: This Is Us season two! Yes, America’s favorite form of catharsis is back (and weepier) than ever. I’m still reeling from all the info revealed in this premiere, so let’s just dive right in, shall we?
The episode opens with some familiar—but, damn it, so effective!—emotional pull tactics: Randall’s late father, William, is writing a book of poems for his son as Rebecca drives the teenage Big Three to a diner where Jack (and his goatee) are waiting. Remember, Rebecca and Jack got in a huge fight last season because that random dude from Rebecca’s “band” kissed her. Well, it turns out they didn’t resolve their differences because Jack’s temporarily moving to Miguel’s remote cabin, which is only just a little bit creepy.
The kids are (rightfully) pissed. Teenage, hickey-covered Kevin asks Rebecca and Jack if they’re getting a divorce; they say no, which I don’t exactly believe. The Pearson family is in complete shambles at this point, and I’m sad about it. I’m also bored. This episode is kind of dull so far?
At the cabin, Jack’s complaining to Miguel about the state of his marriage while making a depressing futon. He tells Miguel not to put sheets on his bed because “sheets are for long-term guests.” This is both gross and unnecessary. Jack insists Rebecca will call him to make up, but I bet $1,000 that she doesn’t call until episode five because this show loves to Drag. Things. Out.
Cut to Rebecca eating breakfast with the Big Three teenagers alone. No one’s talking, so Rebecca suggests they go see a Tom Hanks movie because…that’s the answer to all family disputes? I mean, maybe she’s right? Should I go watch Terminal the next time I fight with my mom?
In a flashback from last season, we learn teenage Randall—the best teenager by a mile—knew about the fight Jack and Rebecca had. He warmly offers Rebecca some candy during the Tom Hanks movie, and Kevin made a sick incest joke about this that I’m just going to blaze past. Teenage Kevin is low-key the worst, but I definitely would’ve had a crush on him in high school because I’m a masochist.
“We’re gonna give ourselves over to Tom Hanks,” – Rebecca
As always, the adult Big Three stories are more interesting. Randall, Kate, and Kevin are all turning 37 this year—this show loves a good birthday theme!—and their issues are more intense than ever. Randall wants to adopt a son, but Beth isn’t here for it. In fact, she’s so not here for it that she reads Randall for filth inside the adoption agency, saying that he only wants to do this to rectify his own childhood. Honestly, I lived for this shade. RuPaul would’ve been proud.
Sharing a cigarette in the parking lot, Randall says his adoption bug isn’t going away and Beth needs to get on board. Hmmm, not the best communication strategy, Randall (but he looked hot AF in this scene, so I’m good).
“I’m not throwing down with you in an adoption parking lot,” – Beth, living icon
Adult Randall visits Grandma Wig Rebecca to learn more about his adoption. Rebecca says she originally wasn’t down with adopting Randall, but she came around. She frowns approximately 6,000 times in this scene, which is strange because her monologue is supposed to be hopeful. Either way, I’m crying, so this friggin’ show is doing its job.
Meanwhile, Adult Kevin is in L.A. filming what looks like the worst movie alive. I think he’s proposing to a robot in it? His girlfriend, Sophie, was supposed to come out and visit for his birthday, but she can’t because of her mother’s M.S. Sophie seems more upset about missing potential Kardashian sightings than seeing her boyfriend, which I understand 100 percent. Kevin then makes some eerie joke about Sophie not sweating missing this trip because the Kardashians are like “Gremlins.” “By next week, they’ll be a bazillion more of them,” he says. This is very ironic given, ya know, this week’s news.
Adult Kate wants to sing, and, honestly, the world needs a pop star like her. I want her to release an electro-pop banger and have it climb the charts. She has to start small, though, so she attends a minor singing audition on her birthday but bails when she sees the skinnier, more conventional-looking competition. A totally understandable reaction—but for some unacceptable reason this angers Toby when she tells him. He has no right to police her emotions! And, more importantly, he’s ruining the fancy L.A. dinner Kevin planned for the two of them. He rented out an entire restaurant! That’s some fancy-people shit!
Toby and Kevin get in a huge, cringe-y fight about who should be “taking care of” Kate. It’s gross, and thankfully Kate steps in to proudly announce she doesn’t need any scrub to push or coddle her. She then goes back to the audition to “wipe the floor with those bitches.” Yes, that’s a literal line she said, and I’m squealing.
“The sexiest thing about you is how sexy you make me feel,” Kate, on Toby (aww, but also meh)
She goes to the audition, sings, and the male director blows her off. At first, Kate thinks it’s because of her size, and she claps back at the director with an incredible monologue. But he then lets Kate hear the backup singer for the gig, and she’s, like, a million times better than her. So, no, she didn’t get the job, but it’s because of her ability—not her size. TBH, I’m here for this twist.
Kevin explains that he has a hard time letting go of his sister because being a great brother is the only thing he’s naturally good at. This is sweet, but a little weird because he’s 37. Also, he was brilliant in The Manny, so this is a straight-up lie.
In the plot twist everyone saw coming, Beth finally comes around to the adoption, but she has one request: They need to adopt an older kid who the world has turned its back on. Honestly, this is such warm, surprising development in their storyline, and I have nothing snarky to say about it. Beth and Randall are the best.
“We’re perfectly imperfect,” Randall, on his relationship with Beth
Meanwhile, back in the ’90s, Jack goes to the bar Rebecca used to sing at and asks if there’s any room in the lineup for a solo female act. The bar owner says no because it’s the ’90s, but honestly if he heard Mandy Moore’s “In My Pocket,” he’d change his mind.
Then, Rebecca actually goes to Miguel’s sketchy cabin to talk to Jack. She says she’s upset and shouldn’t have let him leave. Apparently, Jack’s been drunk for “weeks,” and he admits he has a problem that he needs to handle before coming home. He says he needs to fix this on his own and slams the door—but Rebecca says they’ll fix it together. OK, this is a genuinely poignant scene, and I’m tearing up. Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia have amazing chemistry.
But wait…we just panned to the teenage Big Three at a later date, and Kevin’s wearing a full leg mask. WTF?! And the Pearson house is completely destroyed from a fire! WTF again?! And Rebecca’s crying! What’s happening? Does this mean Jack…died in the house fire? The episode, of course, fades to black before answering anything. And just like that I’m hooked again. Ugh, Dan Fogelman and his tricks.
Parting thoughts: They’re really going to drag out Jack’s death, aren’t they? Whatever. I’m here for it.