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TV Review: This Is Us 1.17 “What Now?”
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This Is Us 117-14

This Is Us
Episode 1.17 “What Now?”
Directed by Wendey Stanzler
Written by K.J. Steinberg, Vera Herbert
Created by Dan Fogelman
Starring Mandy Moore, Milo Ventimiglia, Sterling K. Brown, Chrissy Metz, Justin Hartley, Ron Cephas Jones, Susan Kelechi Watson, Chris Sullivan, Jon Huertas, Eris Baker, Faithe Herman, Lonnie Chavis, Mackenzie Hancsicsak, Parker Bates, Alexandra Breckenridge
Air date: Tuesday, March 7th, 2017 9:00pm ET

Warning! Spoilers below for the last 2 episodes of This Is Us.

Last episode ripped our heartstrings as William (Ron Cephas Jones) passed away, after he and Randall (Sterling K. Brown) went on a road trip. Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) finds a letter William left with instructions for his grandkids to plan his memorial. Kevin (Justin Hartley) is ready for opening night of his play: Part 2. His ex-wife, current girlfriend Sophie (Alexandra Breckenridge) convinces him everything will be fine, though she’s not quite ready to be part of the Pearson clan again.

We see Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) coping with Rebecca (Mandy Moore) leaving for her tour with her ex-boyfriend bandmate. He is not handling things well. Despite the tension their love shines through the cracks when discussing Kevin’s dirty ears, and the girlfriend “nibbling” them. After an awkward goodbye, he tries to make a final run to her, but it’s too late. At these moments we wonder if he ever gets to say what he meant to say. We know the sad, inevitable conclusion to Jack’s character… it’s just a matter of when.

Jessie (Denis O’Hare) and Randall talk on the phone about William. Jesse relates a story about William helping a young athlete overcome his addiction. It’s a heartwarming story, and believable based on what we know about William. We see the impact William had on everyone, a touching moment where the mailman breaks down to Randall because William spoke to him during his morning walks. The delivery – a generic box of perishables from his office with a card signed, “The Team.” This doesn’t sit well with Beth, and I have a feeling Randall will come around eventually.

Jack drives the kids around, and Kate is worried about him and Rebecca. He assures her everything is fine, and encourages her to worry about teenage girl thing. Grown up Kate (Chrissy Metz) shows up with Toby (Chris Sullivan) to the memorial, or “FUN”eral as Randall tries to call it. Beth confesses to Randall that she’s distraught. She loved William and everyone else got a special goodbye. When eulogy time comes Randall passes the mic to Beth, and I lose it before she even speaks a word. I turn to my wife, and she’s a puddle of tears from the beginning. Rebecca feels a harsh self-imposed burden, Kate can’t handle it. This show has the unique ability to portray real life and nothing more, and make it absolutely mesmerizing. The people who watch this show are better for it, through the tears. We are changed because of a TV show about a family. That’s reality for you.

The girls lead the Pearson clan for a walk. Randall, perhaps finally feeling a sense of relief, is handling things well. He comforts Kate by discussing his dream of Jack and William meeting (great scene!). His mother tries to ease their tension by confessing her fears about withholding the truth. After their reunion, Kevin heads on stage for his show with Sophie there for him. She ducks out right away as planned, but everyone else celebrated after the show. Randall celebrates Kevin’s play by heading to the office late and quitting his job in a great scene. Sophie meets Kevin after the show. Every character is genuine and real in their own way. This show keeps the tears going but happy tears, sad tears, all tears. Real.

Jack decides to take Kate’s advice and not sit home alone, so he heads to a bar where his pretty coworker gets him a drink. He dismisses her and calls Kate to tell her he loves her, and then stumbles to his car in less than tip-top shape as we fade out ominously, Jack’s fate quickly approaching in next week’s finale.

I simply cannot recommend this show enough. The writing, character development, and acting are inspirational. Other shows on television offer more fun, excitement, scares, and escapism. But there is just something natural about This Is Us. I described it to my brother-in-law and he said, “Why would I want to watch that?” I get it. We watch movies and TV to escape the confines of reality, not to be sucked into another family’s reality, full of the never-ending range of humanity that comes with it. As a man with a family with its own complex web of stories, I guess the easiest way to answer “why watch” is to say it is relatable. Everyone can grasp some aspect of this show and claim as their own. And for that reason, it is perfect in a way few shows have ever been.

The season 1 finale of This Is Us is next Tuesday at 9:00PM ETon NBC.

Image Gallery


This Is Us 1×17 Promo “What Now?”

This Is Us 1×17 “What Now?” Season 1 Episode 17 Promo – The entire Pearson family gathers at Randall’s for an unusual party. Kevin and Sophie’s relationship deepens on the night of his play’s premiere. Kate struggles to open up to Toby about her father’s death. Tensions are high between Jack and Rebecca as she leaves on tour with her band.

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