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'This Is Us' Season 2 Episode 8 Recap: We Need to Talk About Kevin


Tonight’s episode of This Is Us was all about Kevin—with one monster twist at the end. Read on for more details (spoilers ahead).

We open with Jack and Rebecca filming baby Kevin’s first steps. It’s cute, but then Jack keeps calling him “number one,” which is probably foreshadowing their competitive, toxic relationship. Jack is 2,000 percent the unhinged father at soccer games loudly criticizing his child.

But oooh, this is cool: We’re finally seeing some real action with the high school-aged Pearson Three. Teenage Kevin is, naturally, the worst. He refuses to wear a nice outfit to the dinner the family’s throwing for his prospective football coach and insults Jack’s Alcoholics Anonymous program.

The coach comes to dinner, and Kevin’s an absolute jerk to him. When he leaves, Jack chews Kevin out, but Kevin isn’t remorseful in the slightest. He hits back at Jack with the most infuriating attitude and low-key insults Jack’s alcoholism. God, Teenage Kevin sucks, but I would have been swooning at 16 years old. Later that night, Jack apologizes to Kevin, which he shouldn’t have done. Teenage Kevin is the one who’s flopping, not him! A few minutes later, Kevin catches Jack on the phone with his AA sponsor, and it’s emotional.

But it’s short-lived: Randall and Jack have to miss Kevin’s game to tour a college, and Kevin makes some joke about how he has “enough fans” in the stands cheering him on and won’t miss them. What a douche.

Cut to Adult Kevin, popping pills and drinking beer. He has a beard now, which I think we’re supposed to interpret as him being sloppy. That’s personally offensive to me. I have a beard, and I’m fabulous. He’s literally just drinking all day and sleeping and popping pills and eating junk food. This would all be more effective if some sappy acoustic song wasn’t playing in the background. I’m feeling for Kevin in spite of it, though, which is odd because my recaps aren’t subtle about my dislike of him. Maybe he does need to shave his beard!?

PHOTO: NBC

Now he’s drunkenly ranting at the poor maid cleaning his hotel room. (Oh yeah, Kevin’s staying at a hotel, even though he lives in Los Angeles. What is he, 2008 Lindsay Lohan?)

Oh my God, Kevin’s so out of it he doesn’t even know what day it is: He’s supposed to attend an alumni event for his high school the next day and completely forgot about it. Nevertheless, he begrudgingly agrees to go, and the maid makes a joke about how the people at the alumni event should clean him, too. New favorite character.

Now Kevin’s back East and in an Uber making inappropriate comments about painkillers. He stops by the old Pearson house and gets emotional, but it reads as creepy when the guy who now lives there comes outside and is like, “WTF are you doing on my lawn?” It’s very clear Kevin has unresolved issues with his father/childhood/that mysterious fire.

We’re now in front of the high school. Kevin’s downing more pills and looking despondent. He mistakes one of the students for young Sophie and creepily stares at her. Then he walks the high school halls like a legitimate weirdo. My only defense of Kevin is this: People keep insulting his damn beard, and they need to stop. Beards are fine! I stan beards!

There’s a shrine to Teenage Kevin in the high school—something I feel happens in TV shows and movies but never in real life. Like, did your high school have a random trophy case filled with photos of some kid who graduated in 2003? Nope! Because that’s weird!

And, yup, Kevin’s going to get wine drunk at this alumni event honoring him. Not just wine drunk: He starts talking with a woman, Charlotte, at the event and asks her for her wine. Then he pours his old glass of wine into his new glass like a 23-year-old nabbing a stranger’s beer at a bar. Charlotte, who we learn is another alumni being honored and hardcore crushed on Kevin in high school, looks at him horrified.

Yikes, he has to give a speech, apparently, and his old football coach (who’s a silver fox, low key) introduces him. Kevin pictures his father giving him the award, which is genuinely heartbreaking. He gives a very depressing, sweaty speech about how he’s not worthy of the honor and basically demands people stop clapping for him. He abruptly walks off, which causes people to applaud even more. Ugh.

Now, Kevin is lamenting about how he’s always felt pressure to be “number one” (an unsurprising tie-in to that baby walking scene). He drinks wine straight out of the bottle on his old football field. This is all getting old very fast.

Oof, this is just sad: Kevin, completely alone, starts playing football on the field and weaving in remarks about how he can’t go four hours without having Vicodin. Turns out, he’s actually telling the story of when he hurt his knee in high school, and (surprise) it was at the game Jack and Randall missed. He’s now crying—sobbing, actually—on the field and recounting his failed marriage to Sophie and burying Jack. He straight-up admits to screwing up his life multiple times—quitting The Manny, cheating on Sophie, etc.—but never facing any real consequences. People idolize him even when he tells them he’s garbage.

This Is Us - Season 2

PHOTO: NBC

So what does he do now? Hazily sleeps with Charlotte, the woman from the alumni event. He’s sweating like crazy—and it seems like it’s because he hasn’t downed pills in a few hours. Kevin tells Charlotte to go cook them food; when she’s gone, he raids her bathroom for pills. He finds none, but because she’s a surgeon, he finds a blank prescription pad. He steals a page and leaves before telling Charlotte, who’s cooking, goodbye. Again, what a monster.

We’re back to Teenage Kevin now, who’s finding out it’s unlikely he’ll ever play football again. It’s only now that he starts to soften. He tearfully apologizes to Jack for being a devil, and Jack gives him the necklace he now wears as an adult.

The same necklace that Adult Kevin left at Charlotte’s house when he dipped out as she was cooking. He rushes back there and begs her to let him in. She won’t, so he starts sobbing on her lawn, repeatedly begging for help and saying he’s in pain. I’m not going to lie: This got to me. All my “I hate Kevin” jokes aside, this is a terrific performance from Justin Hartley. (Still hate Kevin, though—well, most of the time.)

Kevin goes to Randall’s house in desperation and says he has something to tell him. Randall says he already knows what he’s about to say: that Kate lost the baby…which is absolutely not what Kevin was going to say. This twist came completely out of left field. What?! Kate lost her baby?!?? Kate’s not even in this episode!

That’s how we end things, by the way. Next week’s episode is all about Kate, and we need some explanations.

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