This Is Us, the NBC gentle ensemble dramedy, continues its low key approach to story telling. “The Big Three” follows the extended family of Jack and Rebecca as well as the couple themselves.
The season pilot cleverly left its biggest reveal till the very end. All these people celebrating their birthday on the same day were related. Kevin the actor, Kate who is battling weight issues and Randall; a man looking for his biological father all share the same parents.
The opening episode saw Rebecca go into labor and her “replacement” doctor delivered two of three babies. Gerald McRaney, in a brilliant cameo, almost managed to steal the show with his performance.
What did make the show special was the plot device of Randall’s being left at a fire station by his father and taking the place of the triplet that did not make it.
Watching the first episode left the viewer with a big sappy grin and an appreciation for the writers of the show. They continue their good work in the second episode of This Is Us.
Last week, Randall’s biological father is found and moves in temporarily with his son’s family. The man is dying and Beth is afraid that William is taking drugs.
Kevin, who underwent a nuclear meltdown in front of a studio audience in the last episode faces the consequences of his actions this week. Kate and Toby go on another date, this time to the party thrown by Kevin’s agent Laine.
The audience is given a look at the three siblings’ childhood, “back in the day.” We also see that things are not perfect between Jack and Rebecca. He spends too much time drinking and she feels alone. Her husband’s friend Miguel sees that Jack spends too much time at the bar and not at home. He tells his friend this at the bar.
Later, Rebecca tells Jack how she feels and he promises to stop drinking. Glimpsing the young versions of two brothers and their sister shows that Kate has always had weight problems. It also shows a reluctance by Kevin to stand by his brother.
Because Randall is black and his family are white, the kids at school call him Webster. Even Kevin does it and Rebecca has to intervene. Years later, when Kevin walks off of his hit comedy television show, he calls Randall.
His younger brother recites “The Big Three” mantra that their father made up when they were kids and Kevin feels better. The actor then formally quits his show and talks of moving to New York.
At the end of the episode, as William enjoys time with his son, “Grandma and Grandpa” arrive. The kids are excited and as the door opens we see Rebecca and Miguel. Something has obviously happened to Jack as he is no longer, apparently, in the picture.
This Is Us, such a low key, enjoyable and well written show, manages to shock us with this scene. It also fills the viewer with dismay. The short time we have spent with this family has endeared each of them to us.
That something has gone wrong between the couple who started this extended family is upsetting.
Kudos to all on the show. There has not been one misstep by anyone. The first episode introduced the characters and the show’s concept. The second has cemented our relationship with them both.
This Is Us airs Tuesdays on NBC. Tune in and get wrapped up in these people’s lives. Fogelman has given us an endearing group of characters that we have become immediately attached to. This one, as they say, is a keeper.