Saturday, October 7, 2017

What I’m Watching: This Is Us

This Is Us: Season 2, Episode 2 “A Manny-Splendored Thing” (B+)

The Manny is hardly the most sophisticated plot point on this show, but I actually found its central focus in this episode to be among the more compelling things the series has done. Kevin acting out his infamous rant upon his return to the set wasn’t the smartest way to start things off, and of course he was going to have to atone in some way for what he said. It was sweet to see that, after crawling out wearing a diaper with an embarrassed look on his face, all it took was the sight of Sophie smiling to make him realize it was okay, just like years earlier when his Mr. T impression failed to impress most of the crowd but worked on her. It was also really nice to see Beth and Kevin bond when she learned that Randall’s famous pick-up line was actually provided by Kevin, and it helped to get Beth to the right place in terms of seeing why Randall was obsessing so much about their forthcoming adoption. Watching her run into his arms and kiss him passionately in front of their shocked children was a wonderful way to say that they’re ready to power through this next step and shape their newest kid regardless of what his or her background is. Kate’s complicated relationship with her mother came into focus in this hour as we saw Jack confront his drinking problem and even tell Kate about it, and it’s easy to notice the subtle hints of unintentional criticism in the compliments that Rebecca gives Kate. Fortunately, Toby won the episode with his fierce declaration of loyalty to Kate and his refusal to betray her to get Rebecca to like him, which, fortunately, managed to get Rebecca to like him after all. Because of this show’s format, we know that one conversation won’t fix a broken dynamic, but at least things in the present are looking up for the moment.

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