‘This Is Us’ Review: “The Fifth Wheel”

This Is Us - Season 2
Ron Batzdorff/NBC

The Pearson’s returned last Tuesday and they didn’t waste any time tackling Kevin’s issues. Finally! After months of us knowing he had a problem, Kevin’s addiction has finally been revealed to his family. Also, in true This Is Us fashion we took a trip to the 90’s to see Jack surprise his family with a weekend in a log cabin.

Kevin has been in rehab for a month after his DUI arrest and the family has been invited to visit him and meet with his therapist. Upon arrival the family learns that the therapist only wants to meet with Rebecca, Kate, and Randall. Beth seems relieved as she wasn’t too excited about being around Kevin anyway and she, Miguel, and Toby leave the rehab facility and head to a bar, naturally.

This Is Us - Season 2
Ron Batzdorff/NBC

The therapy session begins with Kevin apologizing for his behavior and the arrest. Everything is very civil until the therapist, Barbara, keeps pushing him to tell his family what he has been telling her in their sessions. Kevin tells his family that he felt like he didn’t get a lot of attention as a child. Kate was close to Jack and Randall was close to Rebecca, be always came in second to the both of them. Kate and Rebecca quickly chime in to say that was not the case as Rebecca insists she loves all of her children equally. Barbara tells them that it’s Kevin’s turn to talk about his feelings and that they will get a chance to speak later. All the while Randall is quietly looking on but his eyes are saying everything.

Kevin mentions that addiction runs in their family and brings up Jack’s alcoholism as well as Kate’s addiction to food. Rebecca gets upset as Barbara mentions Jack’s alcohol addiction and asks Rebeca if she ever told her children they were at risk of addiction. Rebecca explains that since her children only have 17 years of memories of their father she doesn’t spend time talking about him negatively. She also mentioned that Jack has missed many moments in their lives like their graduation, the birth of Randall’s children, and he won’t be there for Kate’s wedding. Barbara points out that Rebecca only mentioned specific events in Kate and Randall’s lives, not Kevin’s. Kevin comments that he’s not surprised at all because it’s what he’s used to. Randall finally speaks up, defending his mother. This sets in motion the most realistic family argument I’ve ever seen on television.

Randall calls out Kevin for saying he didn’t get enough attention and reminds him that he was there too and he remembers it a little differently. Kevin keeps pushing Rebecca to admit that Randall is her favorite child. She finally admits that Randall was just easier because he let her hug him and didn’t move away after Jack died. You could feel the pain Rebecca felt as she said it. I felt like I had just finished a therapy session by the end of the scene as tears rolled down my face.

This Is Us - Season 2
Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Meanwhile in the 90’s, we see that during the vacation in the log cabin Kevin did feel left out. Randall had just gotten his glasses and Rebecca warned Kevin about making fun of him. Rebecca also worries about Kate’s obsession so she talks to Jack about cutting back on the daily trips to the ice cream shop with Kate.

While throwing the footabll with Jack and Kate, Kevin struggles to get his dad’s attention so he throws the football at an unassuming Randall who was reading a book next to Rebecca. Rebecca gets on to Kevin for trying to hit Randall in the head with the football. From our view it’s obvious that Kevin was feeling left out and felt this was the only way to get his parents to notice him.

This Is Us - Season 2
Ron Batzdorff/NBC

After the intense therapy session the big three quickly reconcile. Randall mentions that it would be great if their entire childhood would have been documented so they could solve any argument by showing the footage of what really happened.

Rebecca clears the air with Kevin and explains to him that although she might not have specific examples, she know that they shared special moments together when he was a child. In a flashback to the cabin we saw Kevin wake up in the middle of the night to find that his siblings had climbed in bed with their parents. Kevin falls asleep on the floor next to the bed since there isn’t enough room for him. Rebecca wakes up and joins Kevin on the floor, putting her arm around him. This is where we have the advantage. We are able to see how their childhood actually played out while they each have different perspectives.

It was a nice ending to an emotional episode. The reconciliation between the siblings to happen pretty fast so I hope it lasts.

This Is Us airs on NBC Tuesdays at 9/8c.

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