Welcome to my weekly review of This Is Us. Today: Season 2, Episode 12, Clooney. (The reviews will include spoilers, so don’t read if you haven’t watched and don’t want to know what happens!) My reviews are based on a single viewing. If I were to watch several times, as I can obsess over my favorite shows (I’m looking at you, True Detective, Season 1), I might be even more insightful (or over-Randall-ing it all). But I’d rather write my initial impressions than take time dissecting after many views. So….
Oh My Pearsons. Where do I begin?
I could peel this episode apart for years, there’s just. so. much. But, the highlights.
Present day Kevin snarks at Miguel about his Dad being Mom’s husband, and blah blah blah. Teen Kevin is snarking about he can’t dance with a broken leg so why get a suit for the formal… blah blah blah. I’m wondering now if even Baby Kevin was this annoying.
Anyway… In the beginning of the episode, the family banters. I wonder why, though, Rebecca says as one of the last sentences in that scene, “Remind me we need batteries.” You know, (good) directors and writers don’t include things without a reason. I put that file in the back of my head and watched the rest of the episode.
Past Pearsons take a trip to the mall. How very 90s of them. The dress Kate really likes doesn’t fit, so she throws one (a fit) instead and leaves the story without telling her mother, whom she asked to take her there. They finally reunite and Kate tells her that the dress didn’t fit; Mom suggests looking for another, but Kate’s not having that. Present Kate tells the anorexic/bulimic girl from her weight support group, who’s helping her to find a wedding dress, about how she got really skinny right before her dad died. Lots about weight loss and gain, comfort, addiction, how people see themselves here. Good stuff. Tied together well.
Meanwhile, Randall, whom we saw tinkering with what looked like a homemade Magic 8 ball — and turns out to be a homemade Magic 8 ball! — attempts to ask The Red Haired Girl From the Night of The Fire out, and doesn’t. He eventually does, after a trademark Jack pep talk about decisions. The writing was so small on the Magic 8 ball, though, I’ll have to watch the ep again to see what it said.
Teen Kevin and Past Miguel were whining about heartaches of different kinds. Jack tries to pep talk them, and they’re like, “Can we just sulk?” So he lets them, for a bit. But he eventually tells Kevin he’ll have to find another passion besides football, since his broken leg ended that dream. Miguel tells Kevin and Randall about Jack’s dream of his own construction company that he gave up for his kids. Later, Kevin suggests Jack follow his dream, and apparently Jack’s pep talk got through — maybe Kevin will find another dream, too, and chase that.
Adult Randall, in the meantime, is chasing William’s ghost, trying to figure out if a poem he wrote about a Lady was about a female lover. William is gay (or at least bi) and unemployed and without foster child Randall is bored and open to chasing ghosts. Beth has had enough, though and tells him to get a job. He goes on an interview and the interviewer asks if he’s interested in what they do there, and of course he says yes, LIKE WE ALL HAVE while secretly thinking something else in our heads like “My wife made me come here,” like Randall. Or “I need the money.” Or a million other non-passion-filled answers that must be given sometimes. Until! The phone rings and one man at William’s building thinks he may know who the poem is about. Turns out he’s wrong, though, and the poem’s about Billie “Lady Day” Holiday, a mural of whom William could see out his window — the window of the poorly taken care of building. Everyone who lived there mentioned how cold it is because there’s no money to fix it and then Beth said her pet work project site to help people was bought by Costco — both of those things told me early in the ep that Randall will buy the building and THAT will be his new calling.
People! I’m not even scratching the surface of so many things that happened! But let’s wind down with the really important parts revolving around the story that matters most to me (besides anything having to do with Randall): The Story of Jack.
The Red Haired Girl appearing means Jack’s end is near — she was in the episode revealing Jack’s death. Kevin’s leg is broken this week, which was also in that episode. And this week, Kate called the dog to follow her, the dog from the Jack’s death episode. And then there are the batteries… from the beginning of this week’s episode. And the final scene.
In the final scene, Jack reveals to Rebecca that he wants to try to start his Big Three Homes construction company again (Jack was apparently inspired by Kevin being inspired by him). She agrees. As the camera pulls away, the image of the couple blurs and it takes a few seconds for your eyes to focus.
On the ceiling.
On the smoke detector.
On the detector’s open battery compartment.
On the batteries dangling out of it.
… … …
The audible gasp you heard from the couch was me.
In that moment, so many things ran through my mind, but mostly:
- Jack was probably asleep when the fire started and no alarm went off. Jack, having decided to again follow his dream, would have that taken away, as well as be taken away from his family, and he never saw it coming.
- And the suit Jack helped Teen Kevin to buy at the mall is probably the suit he’ll wear to his dad’s funeral.
- William’s cat was named Clooney because he was ugly. I like the ying/yang of it all, a reminder of how with good there’s bad, etc. And also, is it just me, or does it look like Clooney the cat had been through a fire (might be reading too much into that…)
- Randall will call his building/real estate company Big Three Homes, the name of his dad’s would-be company. If he doesn’t, I’ll be disappointed/surprised.
- Kevin told Mom (present day) that he lost the Vietnam dog tags Jack gave to him. Mom mentions that she can’t take the half-moon necklace Jack gave her off, and it’s been 20 years. I predict Mom will give Kevin the moon necklace as they both decide to move on, finally.
- I thought an episode without Toby would be like a day without sunshine. Not when the episode is this freakin’ good. I missed ya, buddy, but damn…
4 stars out of 4 for an exposition-filled episode that flew by and tied pieces together flawlessly, while preparing us even more for the reality we know is coming. Kudos to the writers for piecing this one together. It’s an amazing group of people who can keep me coming back week after week when I know I’m going to be sucker-punched in the gut at least once, with the biggest gut-punch to come… and soon, I think.
Tune in here after the next episode for another This Is Us: Review for You. Read all of my reviews for season 2 here.