How “This is Us” Holds Up After the Pilot’s Big Twist (REVIEW)

If you’ve heard anything about fall TV this year, you’ve probably heard about This is Us. There was a ton of  buzz surrounding the new NBC show, starring Milo Ventimiglia, Mandy Moore, Chrissy Metz, Justin Hartley and recent Emmy-winner Sterling K. Brown, before its Sept. 20 premiere. The pilot started out strong, giving the audience plenty of laughs, tears and, of course, twists. SPOILER ALERT: At the end of the pilot, it was revealed that Randall (Sterling K. Brown), Kate (Chrissy Metz), and Kevin (Justin Hartley) are all siblings, and Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca (Mandy Moore) are their parents. It was quite a lot for audiences to take in, seeing as Ventimiglia and Moore’s scenes are set in the 70s, while the rest of the show takes place in today’s world.

It’s a unique concept for a show, but time will tell if it keeps audiences tuning in each week.

Episode two certainly had a lot to live up to, but for the most part, it held its ground. The episode, appropriately titled, “The Big Three,” mostly centered around Randall, Kate and Kevin. The three siblings continued in their individual struggles: Kate trying to lose weight, Kevin trying to quit his show and Randall trying to mend his relationship with his dying father. Note: If you’re expecting this to be a show where the characters’ problems are solved within one or two episodes, you are sorely mistaken. This show doesn’t follow a typical formula. Instead, it’s creating a journey that audiences can invest in.

Courtesy: Ron Batzdorff/NBC
Courtesy: Ron Batzdorff/NBC

One thing’s for sure: it’s easy to become invested in the characters. At this point in the show, the characters are genuine. They are flawed, yet easy to love and once you watch, you’ll find yourself relating to at least one of the characters. There isn’t one actor who can be pointed out as the weakest link. It’s clear that everyone on This is Us has passion for the story, and they are giving it their all. With that being said, the second episode did raise a few tiny red flags.

First off, the episode introduced a time change the audience was not prepared for. Jack and Rebecca’s timeline has moved forward a few years, and their story is definitely not as cheerful as it seemed to be at the end of the pilot. Rebecca is struggling to raise three kids, while Jack is spending his evenings at the bar. They are at a tense point in their marriage, but by the end of the of the episode, Jack vows to stop drinking and things seem to be looking up. While it’s clear that this will not be an easy journey for the couple, it makes us wonder how we’re going to feel about these characters as the show goes on. Will Jack, who was the strong and reliable husband in the pilot, be someone we start to turn against?

Courtesy: Ron Batzdorff/NBC
Courtesy: Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Speaking of Rebecca and Jack, there was another shocking twist at the end of this episode. Rebecca came to visit Randall and her grandchildren with her husband by her side. The problem is, her husband in present day isn’t Jack; it’s his best friend Miguel (Jon Huertas). If anyone else was a tad frustrated about this, you are not alone. Isn’t this totally against “bro code?” It makes us wonder if Miguel was there for Rebecca when Jack wasn’t, or if Jack was the one who got hurt. Hopefully the next few episodes will be heavy with flashbacks so we can start putting the pieces together.

While the present-day story lines were pretty consistent after the pilot, they raised a few questions. Will Kevin’s life finally progress next week? This episode mostly consisted of him still trying to figure out how to quit his job and move on from being “The Manny.” On the plus side, his storyline brought in some great guest stars, including Katey Sagal as his agent and Brad Garrett as the head of his network.  After having an emotional conversation on the phone with Randall, Kevin finally decides to move back to New York and pursue theater. Here’s hoping this move will add some momentum to his plot. On the other hand, Kate’s storyline is still compelling, as her struggle with losing weight and all of the emotions that come with it is something that many people can connect to.

Courtesy: Ron Batzdorff/NBC
Courtesy: Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Randall and his family are quickly becoming a major highlight of the show. The love Randall and his wife Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) have for one another definitely helped heal the wounds we felt from Rebecca and Jack’s issues this week. It’s still unclear whether or not Randall’s father William (Ron Cephas Jones) can be trusted, but after Rebecca’s blunt conversation with him, it seems like his heart is in the right place. During their talk, one slightly confusing shocker was revealed: Rebecca told William that Randall previously woke up one morning and couldn’t see, but he “pulled himself out of it” and “self-corrected.” In all honesty, should something like that be added to Randall’s back story if it can be explained away so easily? It’s a possibility that this will come back into play in future episodes, so hopefully there’s a reason for the twist.

All in all, the show is still off to a solid start. There were plenty of sweet moments in episode two to combat the stressful ones, and it definitely left us wanting more. And there was even a Gilmore Girls reference thrown in, which was a nice little treat for anyone who’s Team Jess. This episode certainly didn’t wrap everything up in a nice bow at the end like the pilot did, but that’s life. It will be interesting to see how the time jumps in the flashbacks will work for the audience. When This is Us comes back Oct. 11, the show will flash back once more to when the kids were babies and Jack and Rebecca were new parents. Will the audience be willing to follow a storyline that’s not chronologically consistent? We’ll just have to keep watching to find out.

Here’s a sneak peek of episode three: