This is Us Season 2 Episode 3 Review: Deja Vu

This is Us is delving deeper into addiction issues this week, and much more...

Our This is Us review contains some spoilers.

This is Us Season 2 Episode 3

Life is a series of highs and lows, and some people seem to experience more pain than joy. The Pearsons are almost like us, yet slightly different. They’re almost like us because we all have someone in our family, or a friend, struggling with addiction. It’s best to learn to swim and operate a motorized boat when the waves of life rise and fall.

We are Rebecca and Kate trying to comprehend and compensate for a loved one’s addiction as they stumble in the darkness of uncertainty. We are Randall untethered from what was once a safe harbor and sent adrift in unfamiliar waters. We are Kevin, unable to cope when the ground beneath our feet opens up and wraps itself around a leg and tries to swallow us whole.

Everyone has advice from the outside looking in, however, no one can step into our shoes and right the course for a healthy solution for that week’s or month’s challenge tearing away at our self-esteem.

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Who other than Randall to need to adopt an abandoned child in an effort to retrace and make sense of his formative years? It’d been easier to adopt a newborn or a toddler and raise him or her to their own standards. Easier for Randall because a younger child would represent a blank canvas to be imprinted.

Beth’s no fan of reliving and tweaking what might have gone wrong in Randall’s childhood and youth and prefers an older child who would be in the house for a shorter period of time. Fostering versus adopting might satisfy Randall’s yearning to repay what was given to him. Beth goes along for the ride to appease and support her husband.

Stepping into the time machine again, we see Jack trying to do the right thing for his wife and children. His learned behavior made him into the ticking time bomb he became as an adult. Jack is a product of his time when men didn’t talk about their feelings, but instead suppressed them, or drowned them at the bottom of a whiskey bottle. Most will fight for the survival of the family unit, to keep it business as usual, until they can no longer endure, until there’s an accidental or expected death.

The flashbacks in each episode give us a chance to connect the dots and see how The Pearsons ended up where they are in season two. Randall’s ill-fated search for his birth parents as a teen is the bridge to his successful adult search for William.

Randall’s sense of karmic justice and twisting Beth’s arm resulted in twelve-year-old Deja being delivered to their tony suburban address. She arrived in what appeared to be slow motion as her temporary foster family fussed about the kitchen. Randall was disappointed that Deja didn’t instantly find her footing in their home. Her volatile personality will test their patience because she expected yet another drive-thru foster home.

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Prior tonight’s episode, we hadn’t realized the extent of Kevin’s not mourning Jack. Kate was a daddy’s girl, and I’d venture that Randall occupied a different a place in Jack’s heart and mind than Kevin. On the set of a Ron Howard-directed battle film featuring Sylvester Stallone, Kevin can’t handle the onslaught of memories and emotions about his youth before Jack’s passing. He was left raw and vulnerable as Sly talked about his kids and what they meant to him.

It doesn’t help that Ron Howard unknowingly piles fatherly anxiety on Kevin moments before filming a rescue scene with Sly. He collapses under the weight of his unresolved feelings and dislocates the same knee he injured as a high school jock. The last shot of Kevin knocking back painkillers sticks in the mind. Will he begin to self-medicate in upcoming episodes? We’ll have to tune in next week to see if his grief is too much to bear.

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4 out of 5