This is us
Photo: courtesy of NBC
Last week we watched a whole bunch of Pearson babies be born. Now is the time to bring them home. But it’s not just Frannie, Nick and Hailey along with that exhausting drive home from the hospital: This episode encounters a whole host of Pearsons driving newborns home for the first time. If all of this seems vaguely familiar to you, your mind may be wandering toward an episode of the second season of “The Car,” in which yes, we have multiple story lines that took place in Pearson Wagoneer. That’s not it. Yes, the montage towards the end of the episode was a lot like Wagoneer’s stuff, but where “Car” talked more about the family car being a book of memories and a way to look back and remember life together, “Driving” is about starting a journey together.
Let’s start with Jack and Rebecca leaving the hospital with the Big Three for the first time because it’s the most emotional of the various car rides we have in this episode. And also because I think I decided that the late 70s / early 80s Jack and Rebecca were my favorite Jack and Rebecca. Why? Who to say. It probably has a 73 percent connection to Jack’s beard. 86 percent. Anyway, how scary must it be to leave a warm, painful cocoon of a hospital with three newborns? No one can blame that security guard who sees Jack misplacing the seats, and after learning that Jack has threes, he simply replies “oh, God, God bless you” before walking away. Jack and Rebecca are very brave people and also no one wants to get involved in that situation if they don’t have to.
Jack and Rebecca are also very devastated people. Of course they are! In addition to having to keep three people alive, let’s not forget that Rebecca lost her child in childbirth just a few days ago. She and Jack had barely begun the process of losing. No wonder she looks upset when she realizes she can’t see the babies ’faces from the front seat to make sure they’re well during this ride.
And then the babies start screaming. So Jack, who is trying to prove to Rebecca and himself that he is a capable service provider, is already angrily pushing him down the highway when a true shower driver cuts him off. They get into the same gas station and Jack prepares to disembark at this guy, but Rebecca refuses. To calm down, Jack goes inside, buys a tiny bottle of whiskey and puts it down. Have Rebecca drive the rest of the way home.
When they finally enter their driveway, all three children are sound asleep. They decide to wait for him in the car, which leads them to finally open up about the emotional spirals they both have inside. Oof, this scene is so good. It’s just the right amount of emotion and sentimentality, and it also pushes some character development forward. Rebecca is afraid she will be a bad mother because she will be too sad – she watched it happen to her mother after a miscarriage – and she feels like a completely different person than the one who went to have her babies for only four days. Of course, what just happened to her changed her – how could she not? – but Jack assures her that doesn’t mean she won’t be a great mother.
He cannot offer the same kindness to himself: He is completely afraid that he will be completely like his father. He told Rebecca about the whiskey and how much rage he was willing to release that driver. That’s his father. His father hated being around his family and “sucked air” out of any room he was in. Jack’s relationship with his father was an integral part of the series, but this season it has gained even more focus and I hope This is us goes on. We still haven’t seen what happens to the Pearsons right after Jack and Nicky return from Vietnam. We know that Jack asked Stanley for money to buy his and Rebecca’s dream house and refused to see him when he was dying, but is there anything in between that we should know? There are a few interesting things waiting to be dug up.
Anyway, Rebecca tells Jack she won’t be like her father. “You don’t suck air out of the room they are air, ”she tells him, who is raw devilish, but I love him too. They realize it’s going to be good because they have each other and everything is very sweet and maybe we should all sit in cars while the babies sleep in the back so we can feel things again, I don’t know, it’s a weird time.
Meanwhile, today Kevin shows us once again that he is very similar to his father in all the best and worst ways. And he gets angry while driving home from the hospital with the newborns. And his partner has to fire him before he does something he will regret. Kevin’s problem, however, is not the reckless driver, but the paparazzi who follow him to film Manny with his new babies. Madison – who, by the way, is like, the the most peaceful new mother on the planet, who is wild because I think Madison has never been calm for a minute in her whole life – can see that Kevin is wildly sleepless (will we ever talk about how he pulled a man out of a burning car and cheated on a flight without ID cards? So much tracking!), and she takes over the driving duty and forces him to take a nap. Within this nap we get a bit of adult Kevin and Jack interaction.
Kevin dreams of walking on Jack (interestingly it’s a mustache Jack from Kevin’s childhood, not a bearded Jack from Kevin’s teenage years, right?) Holding new grandchildren and ready for an honest heart with his son. Dream Jack tells Kevin that he has to stop trying to fulfill him. You see, Jack has spent so much time worried about not turning into his father, and Kevin is stressed because he’s not like his father, and all they do is waste their time scared. He tells his son to decide what he wants and go get her. Obviously this is all in Kevin’s head, but it seems to be a very useful speech for Jack.
What Kevin wants is his family. Really and forever. So he officially proposed to Madison (well, “officially” with his hospital bracelet). They do it, I guess?
And what about Jack Pearson’s other son? One of our other post-hospital car rides follows Randall and Beth after the birth of our true savior, Annie. All Beth wants is Snickers Blizzard from Dairy Queen. All Randall wants is to talk about a third child. Randall is SO MUCH. I know we already know that, but sometimes we need to be reminded. Beth is like “another man recently came out of my body, just get me a fucking blizzard, man” and Randall commits, knowing there are SO MUCH, but she also explains where she comes from with this extremely untimely request.
The nurse at the hospital commented that Annie has her father’s eyes and this is a big deal for Randall, who never looked like his family. There is a difference between knowing your family and knowing where you come from. It’s, of course, the same thing we watched Randall tackle today. He wanted to be attached to something bigger, he wanted to understand his roots, which is why the search for his own parents was so important to him. As for the children, he wants to build a family tree full of branches. The guy likes plant metaphors, okay? Randall hopes that even if he and Beth will no longer have children, his daughters will have babies and that his family tree will continue to grow.
That’s where the flash comes forward. We meet adult Deja and adult Annie, who drive together to Uncle Kevin’s house to join everyone to say goodbye to Rebecca, and Deja is secretly pregnant! Annie knows, but no one else. Our tater tot has its tater tot! Randall will be so excited that his tree gets a new branch. But even better: we find out that Deja is becoming a doctor. We are all so proud!
• Kate and Toby’s plans are thrown out the window on the way home from the hospital when a visibly upset Ellie tells them she knows they agreed to openly adopt a lot of visits and photos, but she just can’t be a part of Hailey’s life right now. He wants to say goodbye and move on. Kate is devastated, especially after seeing what Randall went through without knowing her birth parents, but Toby tells her that everything will be fine. And who knows, Ellie might want to meet Hailey at some point in the future. They have this. Remember how messy Toby was when Jack was born? He is so soothing and enduring now! What a turn.
• It’s an intense day at the Pearson-Damon house because Toby also has to inform his wife that he’s fired. Then it’s Kate’s turn to be soothing. The two of them seem to be in such a good place right now.
• All right, just as Old Randall is about to enter Old Kevin’s house with his adult daughters, another car stops, rings, and Old Randall says “look who it is” as he and adult Deja wave knowledge. Since most of our other main players were taken into account in the close attack (is Miguel still alive? Is Madison Kevin’s wife?), It seems that This is us preparing us for some discovery with Kate. Are the answers in this car? When will we find out? It’s possible I invested excessively in this flash ahead!
• Betta’s deep love for her DQ Blizzard was very good. I mean, she goes after Snickers, and I’m more of a Butterfinger girl, but I really felt seen.
• The knowledge Randall would have on a weekly basis Felicity watching parties with his mom is the most precious gift.