I’m pleasantly amused by the fact that This Is Us keeps piling on the twists. Last week we had the pregnant-Kate bombshell, and now there’s the completely unexpected revelation that Jack has (or had) a brother called Nicky. The great thing about this development is that it feels so darn seamless; the show delivers it in a simple moment with little Nicky rising from the backseat of the car as Jack waits for his alcoholic father. Since he went to Vietnam with Jack, I’m assuming that’s where he met his demise. I guess we’ll find out soon and I can hardly wait.
Speaking of seamless, this episode does a tremendous job of weaving together the present day and flashbacks under one theme: brotherhood. Putting aside the Nicky twist, Brothers showcases the fractured dynamic between a young Kevin and Randall, and how Kevin eventually starts to overcome his insecurities and accept his brother. It’s so heartwarming to see a young Kevin find his brother’s notebook with the various tips, and then join him for marshmallows. This is impeccably contrasted with their improved relationship in the present (although it’s sad that Randall can’t quite recognize Kevin’s current addiction). I particularly loved Jack deciding not to see his dying father but instead focusing on the future: his two young boys.
– Props for continuity with the show bringing Madison back from the pilot and her various ordeals. Kate fights with her, they crash cars, and then share some hugs after the pregnancy news. All that love in the end was a bit too cheesy though no?
– Deja has a crush on Kevin. Cute.
– Finally Sophie gets some screen-time again. I still feel like the show doesn’t know what it wants to do with her.
– Parker Bates is so good as Young Kevin. He really feels like a young Justin Hartley with his various nuances and gestures.
– The addiction storyline still feels redundant, but Justin Hartley is selling the hell out of it.
– Deja and the shrimp was cute… until it turned dark. But at least Randall finally knows details about the abuse she endured.
– Toby’s pregnancy dance was hilarious.
– I found Rebecca’s “speech” to Jack’s dying dad refreshingly short. The show could have easily milked this for ten cliché minutes.
Rebecca: And remember, Kevin’s afraid of bears.
Jack: So am I.
Rebecca: You know that, Jack? Coming from your dad and being the dad that you are, you are a freaking miracle.
Jack: Yeah, well, takes one to know one, Bec.
Touching themes and a shocking twist make this an excellent episode.