This is Us tosses another twist as we’re surprised by more than one set of brothers
Our hearts aren’t going to be able to take more of the surprise endings on This is Us as apparently Jack has a younger brother who was with him in Vietnam. Of course we found out about that as young Jack was left in the car while he dad was drinking in a bar instead of taking his sons fishing. Stark contrast to Jack’s camping trip with his own young sons and his attempt to get young Kevin to treat young Randall a bit better. They’re able to hash some stuff out too because there was some good interaction between their younger and older selves this episode.
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Kevin is spiralling further into drug issues and disappointing Sophie at her benefit by trying to score more pain pills instead of being auctioned off. Deja and Randall finally had their first moment of bonding which was really sweet. And who could forget Kate and Toby? Kate fessed up that’s pregnant but with reservation until later a confrontation at her Overeater’s Anonymous meeting lead to an epiphany and some Kate-Toby bonding time.
As usual our roundtable had a lot to say! Let’s do this!
Danielle (@dani_pitter): Couch potato, dreamer, writer, and recent college graduate! Also needs many tissues during This is Us, among other amazing shows. Danielle’s book blog, PoetryBooksYA, Danielle’s fansite, ParamoreRKLife.
Jake (@Jake_Lester): Disney World addict, comic book fan & Film and TV fanatic. Contributing Editor to Comicbookmovie.com. I’ve written some things you might have read… probably not though.
Monica and Dani (@ThisIsUs__Now): Monica and Dani host the “This Is Us…Now” podcast. Each week they spin their theories, recap the episodes and argue their way through the puzzle pieces, trying to put the story together one episode at a time. The podcast has quickly become a fan favorite and can be found on iTunes!
1) Alright the ending threw us so hard we have to start with the end. Jack has a little brother who was in Vietnam with him? How surprised were you? And do tell us your predictions about what happened to him.
Danielle (@dani_pitter): I completely “awww”ed at the fact that we could have known Jack’s little brother. Maybe he died in the war and Jack couldn’t save him? He seemed to have a mental disability, I’m not sure. Maybe it was just the way he didn’t look into the photo Jack was holding? It’s obvious that Jack’s brother’s disappearance/death left a hole in his life, by his longing face at the end.
Mel (@musiccitymel): Ummmmm SO SURPRISED. I’m actually kind of stumped. Are we to assume Nicky didn’t survive? I need ANSWERS!!!
I’m guessing they had a tumultuous relationship and I’m wondering if there will be some parallels with the Randall/Kevin dynamic. Perhaps we will find that Kevin and Jack had even more in common than we originally thought? But how much y’all wanna bet we will be waiting a long time to figure this one out?
Jake (@Jake_Lester): I was surprised, for sure. I mean something traumatic had to happen to him for us to get this far into the series and Jack never mention him. Something so bad that it would send Jack down the alcoholic path that his father, who he obviously despises, was on.
My best guess for what happens to him is that Jack loses him while they’re in Vietnam. One or two things happened, Jack held him in his arm when he died, or he was nowhere around, and feels guilty about it.
Nicole (@NicoleBlades): I literally said TWIST! out loud when that happened. Did not see that coming at all. But now thinking about the fact that the episode was called “Brothers,” I was like: Ah, pretty sneaky, sis. I think he was killed in Vietnam where the two brothers served. and something tells me that Jack blames himself for the death, that’s why he’s basically erased him from his mind/memories/life.
Monica and Dani (@ThisIsUs__Now): We’re still trying to pick up our jaws off the floor. I think we’ve frozen into looking like Kevin from Home Alone. Our big question is what happened to Nicky? We think he made it out of Vietnam alive, but his current status is up in the air. We have plenty of theories though!
2) We were kind of predicting Kate’s pregnancy announcement to Toby would be bigger and then his initial reaction was weird. Come to think of it, her initial instructions to him were even weirder. What is their deal with this? And were they able to redeem it in the coffee shop later?
Danielle (@dani_pitter): Yeah, it sounded like Kate wasn’t excited for the pregnancy at all, she’d wanted to keep it on the down low. I initially had thought that she didn’t want the baby. But then she’d brought up her weight (sigh… again), and her age, which doesn’t make sense. Tons of women have babies in their 30’s, isn’t that the best time to start having them?
And Toby sweeping everything off the desk to think they’d have sex in the office……ew. EW. EW!! I’m not a fan of office sex, no matter how nice and sexy it sounds. Get a room to do all of that. I don’t think of Toby that much, still. I found it weird how he’d turned their happy moment into a moment about himself in the coffee shop. Like, I understand celebrating, but why do it in a room full of strangers, in a musical-type of format? Toby is just… embarrassingly weird. Lol.
Mel (@musiccitymel): The whole dang thing was weird. I’ve accepted that Toby is just a weird dude though. With Kate, I understood where she was coming from. She is well within her rights to be concerned. However, it’s also unfair of her to tell him how to feel or act about becoming a dad. I can understand not wanting to share with everyone and being extremely cautious. I honestly thought he handled that part well. But the coffee shop/one man flash mob? He can keep that. I would have gotten a Lyft right outta there. 😂
Jake (@Jake_Lester): The first telling of it was typical Toby and Kate. She’s super morose and brings down the happy news, which I get she has her concerns, and he smothers her in his excitement even though she is obviously concerned.
The coffee shop scene was a breath of fresh air for the characters where she is let loose a little bit, and the two of them were happy together. However, in typical Toby fashion, he may have taken it a bit too far. She didn’t seem to mind this time though.
Nicole (@NicoleBlades): The dramatic desk-clearing moment in his office brought what will undoubtedly be the first and last laugh (it was more of a guffaw, really) from me because of something Toby did. It’s well established how I feel about that character, so I’ll leave it there. As for Kate’s instructions to him, I get it. She’s so untrusting of things like hope after everything that’s happened to her (and losing her dad), that she doesn’t want to set herself up for what could potentially be a devastating disappointment if something were to go awry with the pregnancy.
Monica and Dani (@ThisIsUs__Now): Kate and Toby have been the oddballs since the beginning. Their initial reactions were actually surprisingly normal for them. But we got back to the Kate and Toby version of normal when he turned into Jennifer Beals. We’d watch the Chris Sullivan remake of Flashdance any day.
3) Jack’s relationship with his father has always been lousy. The juxtaposition of him giving his sons so much love on their camping trip while his own dad left him in the car before their trip to get drunk was just heartbreaking. What did you think about Jack’s double flashback? And given what we know about Jack in the 90’s, what did you think about his decision not to go see his father on his deathbed?
Danielle (@dani_pitter): I was soooo here for Jack not seeing his father dying. Why go back to all of that pain and trauma when you’ve worked so hard to go against it? When Jack said to Rebecca when she’d asked if he wanted to come back and see his dying father, he said, “No, that man’s been dead to me for a long time.” That gut-punched me!! To have an abusive, alcoholic father and to grow up to be an amazing father, Jack has it all. Granted, Jack has had his share of problems with alcoholism, but I think if he did go back that trauma would have made him go back to alcohol again. That’s why I was so proud of him for staying with his fighting boys in the woods. Haha!
Mel (@musiccitymel): It’s so heartbreaking. Though Jack has long since grieved the dad he had, I don’t think he’s ever truly allowed himself to mourn the dad he would never have. Knowing his dad was dying kind of took away that last glimmer of hope he may have had that his dad would realize the error of his ways and try to have some kind of reconciliation.
Jack might have some regret about this decision but he did what he felt he needed to do. I think in that moment, loving on his boys was exactly where he needed to be.
Jake (@Jake_Lester): Just as the question states, it’s heartbreaking, but it’s also inspiring as well. Coming from a situation where his father left him in the car as kid to go get drunk and to be the father he is is nothing short of what Rebecca called it, a miracle.
As far as Jack not going to see his dad on his deathbed, I’m not entirely sold on the fact that he won’t eventually. It’s maybe one of those things that keeps progressing. And if his father asks for forgiveness (more than likely in front of Jack’s kids) it will be a real test of character on whether Jack chooses to accept that forgiveness or not.
Nicole (@NicoleBlades): That whole thing was very telling. We knew that Jack’s dad was horrible, but the flashbacks and the juxtaposition really underscored it and highlighted how not-like-him Jack was determined to be. The scene over the walkie between Rebecca and Jack was great. So much was said in what was not said and the look on Jack’s face before telling his wife that he would be staying in the woods with the boys and not coming to his father’s deathbed. Well written and acted.
Monica and Dani (@ThisIsUs__Now): We really enjoyed the double flashback, even though it messed with our brains a bit. But of course we’re going to eat up as much of Jack’s story as we can get. After a lot of discussion and nitpicking, we think it makes sense that Jack didn’t go see his dad, given their history.
4) Rebecca going to meet Jack’s father was a particularly interesting twist. And then him asking about Kate was really sad as well. Is this the last we’ve seen of Stanley? Will he meet his grandkids?
Danielle (@dani_pitter): I think it will be. I kinda hope this is the last we see of Stanley. When he saw Kate come in I was a little worried. I don’t want her to succumb to Stanley’s manipulation, especially on his deathbed. I’d like him as far away from the grandbabies as possible. Rebecca seeing him was interesting though. I didn’t even know they hadn’t met before. Though I don’t wonder why considering Jack and his relationship. I love how even when he wasn’t saying anything his body language had said it all. Who rolls their eyes about their son on their deathbed?! Only Stanley.
Mel (@musiccitymel): I’m thinking there’s a little more Stanley to be had. I hope he does get to meet the kids. Maybe, just maybe, all hope isn’t lost with his dad. There’s no way he could ever make up for everything that happened. But an apology and some closure could make a huge impact on Jack.
Jake (@Jake_Lester): Even though it was addressed or presented as such, I really felt bad for Rebecca and Kate’s girls night getting ruined. They both seemed really excited about it.
Rebecca going to see Jack’s father when she couldn’t get a hold of Jack was sweet of her to do. As I said in my last answer, I do not think this is the last that we will see of Jack’s father, and I think that The Big Three will play into that as well.
Nicole (@NicoleBlades): It kind of felt like that was the last we’ll see of Jack’s dad. (I didn’t even remember his name… guess that tells you how much investment I have in that character. Exactly: zip, zero.
Monica and Dani (@ThisIsUs__Now): It’s probably not the last of Stanley, since This Is Us is great at keeping people alive through flashbacks (*cough* We love you William *cough*). But there’s no way he’ll ever meet his grandkids – Rebecca already went full Mama Bear when he saw Little Kate.
5) Kevin and Randall’s relationship has been pretty charged from the beginning. In fact it seems like their patterns of behavior (Kevin’s tendency to completely shut down and Randall’s deep desire to control everything so everyone loves him) began really early. Talk to us about your thoughts about young Kevin and Randall here, and then how that changed and translated when they grew up.
Danielle (@dani_pitter): I got so annoyed at Kevin practically prodding and poking at Randall for no reason, even as a young kid. I know kids are kids, but still; Kevin was a bit of an asshole growing up, haha! Randall reminds me of me sometimes, how we use our introvertedness to make everyone like us even if it comes across as overbearing. That’s why Deja as so upset. Randall tries so hard because he feels everything at once, and it hurts when it doesn’t work out.
But back to young Randall and Kevin. When Jack wanted to talk about why Kevin treats his brother the way he does, Kevin shut down. I don’t know if it’s because he has no reason, or if he’s just a whiny baby who needs attention.
Mel (@musiccitymel): Young Kevin was jealous of Randall. I mean, Randall was (and still is) incredibly intelligent, thoughtful, and a-freakin-dorable. Young Kevin (and grown Kevin) seem to have a laser focus on the things they don’t have or perceive themselves not to have. I think Kevin is still envious of Randall, but is (a little) less bratty about it. Randall has a beautiful and amazing wife and these wonderful kids. Randall’s focus has always been outward and how he can better the things and people around him, whereas Kevin’s focus is very internal. It’s no secret that I think Kevin is mostly a brat. But, I believe he does have the ability to be sweet and generous. We’ve seen glimpses of that before. If he could focus on his own gifts and turn his focus outside of himself, I think he may be a much happier person and have a better relationship with his family.
Jake (@Jake_Lester): I’m not sure if it was the chemistry that Justin Hartley and Sterling K. Brown displayed in the first season or what, but they seem to be moving away from Kevin and Randall not getting along. They didn’t just completely abandon the story, which was great, although my heart broke for little Randall writing his list of how to get Kevin to like him. On the flip side of that I softened a little bit to little Kevin when he came out of the tent and made an effort to establish a relationship with his brother.
Now that the boys are grown up, it’s nice to see them interact and help each other through situations that the other one isn’t comfortable with. One of my only complaints I have going about the show right now is that I don’t get enough of the adult Big Three (namely Randall with the other two) interacting with each other.
Nicole (@NicoleBlades): The scene with Young Kevin reading Young Randall’s notebook was just awww. But it’s interesting to see how the dynamic kind of changed as they got older. We found out in an earlier episode that Kev helped Randall with his mackin’ game back when he was courting Beth, and the teenager versions of the brothers seemed closer too. Now, as adults, it doesn’t seem like Randall is trying to get Kevin’s approval at all. And after Kevin came to Randall’s aide during his panic attack last season, it’s clear that things have shifted between them and they are closer.
Monica and Dani (@ThisIsUs__Now): Aside from their relationship with each other, literally nothing has changed with them. Kevin continues to shut down, while Randall is still trying to be “Alicia Keys cool.” This is something we definitely want to see change, but right now it’s adding some much needed comedy.
6) It wasn’t all a cry fest this episode. Kate and Madison were clearly intended for a few laughs. What were your thoughts?
Danielle (@dani_pitter): Kate and Madison were hysterical!! I forgot about Madison and her nonexistent skinny-girl-fat-girl problems. And I love how Kate hates her and thinks she has no problems. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Madison say she had anorexia? Doesn’t that count as a reason why she should be in support groups? Anyway, their car scene was hilarious, but it made Kate admit her pregnancy….to the wrong person! Oh, Kate!
Mel (@musiccitymel): I thought this was fantastic for a couple of reasons. It was a nice comedic relief, but also a solid reminder that you can’t judge a book by its cover. Kate looks at Madison and thinks she doesn’t have any ‘real’ problems. From the outside looking in, she seems like someone who would have this perfect life. But we find out that Madison actually envies Kate and her relationship with Toby. It’s easy to see people that have something you want and think they live in this perfect existence. We often forget those same people still face their own battles. In fact, they may just envy you too!
Jake (@Jake_Lester): Kate is such a basket-case sometimes, it was nice that Madison was able to pull her out of that. I immediately started having fun with Kate’s character after the interaction with Madison happened. Especially when she realized the joy of being able to tell someone that she’s pregnant. I’m hoping for Kate’s mental state, that there are no issues with her pregnancy (I know there will be scares, I mean it is This Is Us after all) that would cause her to lose the baby, because I’m just not sure how she would handle it.
Nicole (@NicoleBlades): I do get why they needed that scene so that Kate can let her shoulders relax about the pregnancy, but I thought that it went on a little long. Then again, I’m always like BRING BACK RANDALL AND BETH NOW PLEASE about everyone who isn’t Beth and Randall, with Jack and Rebecca coming in second.
Monica and Dani (@ThisIsUs__Now): With how dark this season has been, any and all comedy is welcome. We’ve been focusing so hard on Jack’s end, so the Madison/Kate Smackdown 2k17 was awesome. We’re ready for Round 3. Bring it on Fogelman!
7) Kevin is spiraling. And Sophie is kind of oblivious! He’s really getting desperate for more drugs, too. When is rock bottom for him?
Danielle (@dani_pitter): Kevin missing his turn at Sophie’s auction was a total asshole move. And for what? Just to get some more pills from his doctor?! He’d already went through three refills, and wants more to numb the pain of not only his knee, but everything else going on. I was screaming for Kevin to get off the damn phone and go support Sophie, as irrelevant as she’s become. Rock bottom is coming, I don’t know when, but it’s coming. And Sophie not realizing it is killing me!!
Mel (@musiccitymel): Maybe next week because this escalated quickly. The more I’ve thought about it, I’m already not feeling this storyline. It feels rushed. Sophie is completely oblivious to basically everything. I think she’s so happy to have Kevin back that she’s willing to overlook a lot.
Jake (@Jake_Lester): Rock bottom is usually what it is for everyone, hurting someone you care about and love. It’s already started with him bailing on Sophie’s auction. My fear is that with writers setting up him and Randall coming together during the camping trip, and getting along so great at this juncture, he’s going to do something to strain that relationship. Although this is Kevin we are talking about and rock bottom could come in the form of him getting fired from his movie as well.
Nicole (@NicoleBlades): I was cringing and nervous from the moment Clammy Kevin popped up on my banquet scene. He just looks off, tense and like he’s about to melt away into a large puddle of angst. But the bad thing is, I feel like he’s got to drop even more before he approaches rock bottom. And I don’t what that’s going to look like. Just yikes!
Monica and Dani (@ThisIsUs__Now): Sophie was giving a lot of sass and side-eye, so we don’t think she’s totally oblivious. When it comes to rock bottom, we’re still arguing. It could be if/when his family finds out, it could be something with Sophie, or even the potential loss of his movie. Whatever causes his rock bottom, we’d be happy to sit in his closet and talk him through it.
8) Isn’t it ironic that Deja, who seemed so emotionally closed off, was the one in this episode who wasn’t burying her feelings? And really, how spectacular was Sterling K. Brown this week?
Danielle (@dani_pitter): Sterling K. Brown is and always will be pulling on my heartstrings. Deja wasn’t a total sulk this week, which is a positive. Her story about her second to last home and the magazines was pretty sad, though. And it wasn’t even her fault; she was just triggered by Randall’s touch. Poor girl.
Mel (@musiccitymel): I think with Deja it’s going to come in waves, but we will begin to see her open up more and more as she begins to trust Beth and Randall. Randall is the awkward, nerdy dad that totally embarrasses the hell out of his kids, but that everyone loves to have at the party. Sterling K. Brown is magical to watch on screen. I maintain that the best thing about this show is the Beth/Randall relationship. Fight me on that.
Jake (@Jake_Lester): It’s nice to see Deja open up to Randall, and I think she realized she overreacted, but wanted him to know why she did and for him to be respectful of that. Slowly but surely, she’s realizing this family is looking out for her well-being, and there won’t be any rolled up magazines in her future.
Sterling K. Brown is always amazing, that guy could read a shampoo bottle and make it entertaining. However, it was great to see the young lady that plays Deja, Lyric Ross, hold her own with Mr. Brown. She really brought the emotion during her speech as to why he couldn’t grab her like that. I look forward to seeing her grow more into the role and her interactions with the rest of the cast.
Nicole (@NicoleBlades): Sterling K is made of spectacular. And the actor who plays Deja is fantastic. Whether she’s speaking or not, or just letting her sad eyes speak for her, I’m riveted. I’m looking forward to seeing how her relationships with Beth and Randall will change as we all get to know more about her.
Monica and Dani (@ThisIsUs__Now): It was about time! We love Deja, but girl needs to keep the story flowin’! We’ll be honest: this storyline is dragging and SOMEONE needs to get through to her. (Preferably two episodes ago, but it’s fine.) As for Sterling K. Brown, we have two words: Cool. Cat.
Final Verdict: Another This is Us twist ending got us again!
Alright so maybe so many twists are getting tired. But honestly when we love the twists so much it’s kind of tough to complain! We’re all on tenterhooks waiting to find out what Jack’s brother’s deal is. Plus we all have our theories about why he’s no longer around!
Kevin’s still a drag but we’re really starting to worry about the impact his addiction to opioids is going to start taking on his life. Will it tank his relationship with Sophie? How about with Randall? Might his entire career be at stake?
Sterling K. Brown continues to really give it to us. We’re all down with nerd dad Randall and his attempts to be cool. 5/5 Roundtable guests agree that our heartstrings are pulled the minute we see him. And the acting chemistry between him and Lyric Ross is building into something truly great.
Kate’s pregnancy is getting really real! We’re interested to see her and Toby come to grips with being new parents. Even those of us who are the most hardened about Toby can agree we did kind of get the feels from his excitement in the coffee shop.
Jack and Stanley split us right down the middle! Will Jack cave and go see his father? Will Stanley ever meet his grandchildren? We can’t wait to find out. So bring your tissues and join us next week as our roundtable breaks down the Halloween episode of This is Us!