‘This Is Us’ Review: “The Fifth Wheel”

THIS IS US — “The Fifth Wheel” Episode 211 — Pictured: Justin Hartley as Kevin — (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC)


Here’s the thing about life.

We all see it in different ways. The same things may have happened, but your story, the way you interpret the things that happen to you, that is your truth. And on this weeks This Is Us, we learned that The Big 3 have different interpretations of their lives, BUT they are all valid.

Lets break it down.

As you may recall Kevin got into some issues in the season finale. And by issues I mean he was extremely irresponsible and high and intoxicated got behind the wheel of the car and it turns out that his niece was stowed away in the back seat.

He didn’t know. But that’s not an excuse.

We learn that Kevin got sent to court ordered rehab. Which hey, he needed so bad. But, I will be the first to say that I have felt like Kevin has always gotten a short end of a stick and has tried to find attention everywhere that he can because he doesn’t get it from the people he wanted it most from – his parents.

Now I am not saying that the Pearsons were bad parents. They weren’t. But seeing this episode, from both sides, made me feel like Kevin was only seeing things from his side.

But then again – when you are in pain – I think that’s normal.


THIS IS US — “The Fifth Wheel” Episode 211 — Pictured: (l-r) Milo Ventimiglia as Jack, Mackenzie Hancsicsak as Kate — (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC)



So as usual – Jack Pearson is the fun parent and comes home to tell the family, except Kevin, cause he’s at football camp, that they are going to a cabin for the week. The kids are excited, Kate and Randall can’t wait for the opportunity to have a vacation.

Now Rebecca doesn’t see this in the best way and of course she’s doing the one thing that we don’t want her to do – she focuses on Kates weight. I know, I know, as a parent you are always going to worry about your child, but Rebecca is giving Kate a complex.

See as an overweight child I will say this – it’s great to encourage your kids, to build self esteem for them – but to give the a complex about their weight – they get enough of that from the outside world.

So while Rebecca is harping on this, Jack agrees to try to make her more active – Kate that is.  Kate can’t help but pick up on it and she doesn’t want to do it. She already feels inferior, because of the way that the kids treat her. And as she runs off from her father, when he’s trying to make her play football, your heart breaks.

But somethings happen at the cabin that make us see things in a different light for all the Pearson kids. You see how one moment can mean so much more.

Because Kevin, once again feels like no one see’s him. He wants attention. He wants to feel just as important as his brother and sister. Randall feels comfortable with his Mom, and you see how Kevin can feel like Randall means more, because Kevin acts out and it’s his Mom’s instinct to protect Randall versus listening to her child. You can see that Kate just wants to feel like who she is – well putting it frankly, is enough.

It’s weird, how we all have these moments in life that we see in a certain way, but when we look at the big picture it’s more.

Kate tells her Dad that one of the boys called her fat and she’s upset over it. She’s searching for acceptance and he gives it to her. Like I can’t ever find a reason to hate on Jack because he does something beautiful – he accepts his kids unconditionally. Does he show it perfectly? No. But he tries.

Back at the cabin, Randall’s glasses go missing and Rebecca automatically blames Kevin. You can’t help feel bad for the kid. He actually didn’t do it. He gets mad and reacts. Silent treatment.

Now I don’t know about you, but the silent treatment is one of the deadliest forms of emotional retaliation ever. And I frequently use it – so I can’t hate on it. But it takes awhile for Rebecca to realize she was wrong to blame Kevin. Only at that point, it’s done for him.

But he finds Randall’s glasses later that night, and wants to go show his Mom. Only he see’s his brother and sister in bed with his parents and he feels alienated again. So he pulls up a pillow and lays on the ground to sleep.

Rebecca wakes up and sees him there and goes on the ground to sleep next to her child. It’s the moment where I feel like she was a little bit redeemed. She wasn’t so alienating of love.

Now you may not agree with me on Rebecca and the way she’s parenting – but I get that. I also feel like she’s doing the best that she can with the way that she was raised. She’s showing love the only way she knows.

Parenting is a harsh truth. It’s not easy. I don’t envy those that do it, but I respect those that do. And the heroes of the world – well, those are the ones that do it well.

THIS IS US — “The Fifth Wheel” Episode 211 — Pictured: (l-r) Justin Hartley as Kevin, Chrissy Metz as Kate, Sterling K. Brown as Randall — (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC)



The family has made their way to visit Kevin at rehab and at first look – it would be like nothing has changed. Kevin is himself, feeling like he has to put on a show for everyone involved.

Feeling like that’s the only way for the world to give him love.

I will fast forward a bit to the therapy session. Here’s where This Is Us always excels – digging right into the feels and making you realize that even though you thought that you were emotionally dead, you aren’t even close.

Kevin tries to be polite in telling his family that he’s got issues and they are all trying to be PC at it too. But it goes back to the way the Pearson kids interpret their lives. Kate thinks that it’s because Kevin won’t talk about his father. Randall wants to protect his mother. But the both of them piss me off because they don’t see something so obvious – they need to shut the fuck up and listen to their brother.

I have mad respect for the therapist, who tells Kevin that he’s being awfully polite. That’s the thing about fixing things. You need to be harsh. You need to be real. And Kevin, well – he’s spent his whole life internalizing his feelings.

But things turn harsh when he gets real. When he tells them that he’s basically also felt like he didn’t matter, that Kate and Randall were more important. And I know that wasn’t easy for him. It’s not easy to be honest about the people that you are supposed to love the most and unconditionally. It’s hard because what did Kate and Randall do? Nothing. They just were born and they had their own issues.

But they each had the knowledge that unconditional love was there. Kevin didn’t feel that.

When Kevin starts talking his truth, Randall jumps to protect their Mom. And I get it. But I will admit it made me a little angry. Your brother needed you. Let him spout his truth and let him come to terms. But then what happened next, when Rebecca keeps getting pressed, I broke for Kevin.

She admitted that the other kids – that Randall was just easier than Kevin. Now, I know, I know – I am talking about accepting peoples truths, but it pissed me the hell off. Just because your kid is not easy, doesn’t mean that you desert him in anyway. It means you fight harder. You don’t give up. Like – I get it – it’s maintaining your own sanity too, but like – WTF.

Now, this whole review feels like I am down on Rebecca, but again – I am not. I know she’s doing her best. But I’m angry that she thinks that her best is being comfortable.

My heart broke for Kevin. Because this whole therapy session – in my opinion reaffirmed that feeling that his thoughts, his ideas, didn’t matter. He was always going to be last place. Sure, he’s fucked up, but who amongst us hasn’t?

I do love that in this show, no matter what happens to the Pearson kids, even when they are angry – they are there for each other. And as Kevin is sitting at the pond, Kate joins and then Randall. The talk that they have – the way the two realize that they were out of line, I forgive them. I can only hope that they will maintain that forgiveness and love for Kevin and help him with his journey.

When Kevin returns to his room, his Mom is waiting. She needs to talk to him, she couldn’t leave with things the way that they were. And they talk, and you know that they see things in a different light. She saw her son as fearless, he saw himself as afraid. But she feels that they had moments – and they did. Kevin may not be able to see them right now, but I have a feeling as he grows and recovers, he will see those moments.

But what all these people need is the thing we all need – unconditional love and honesty. The truth is harsh, but sometimes necessary.


The new big three. I mean, I get why they called themselves that, but I also don’t think that there will ever really be a new “big three.”

Beth, Toby, and Miguel came to Kevin’s rehab with their significant others and they all have their issues. The therapist suggests that they aren’t in on the family session. Now, this could be both a positive and a negative. But I think that right at that moment, Kevin needed to deal with his mom, sister, and brother. So I get why they aren’t in there.

Beth is passive agressive about it. She wants to punish Kevin for driving with her daughter. Toby wants to protect Kate (he caught her hiding junk food), and Miguel has always fought for Kevin’s approval.

The 3 head to a bar while everyone is in therapy. Now alcohol makes some people blunt as f*ck, and here is no exception. They need someone to bitch to about the others. They need someone to understand how you can’t approach the Pearson kids, because they are so protective of each other. They need someone to understand their anger.

Beth is pissed. She knows Randall is going to protect his brother, but she’s upset that she doesn’t feel like she can be mad about what happened with her daughter. I mean I get Randall’s point – his brother was there for him at his lowest, so he wants to be there. He’s balancing that father/brother thing.

Beth’s anger is valid. She should be able to be angry. She should be able to yell and scream – cause once again – this was her daughter.

Toby’s worried about Kate – which one can’t blame him for. She’s gone through so much and she’s trying to remain strong for her brother, but like really – she doesn’t have to. Just because someone is having a crisis, doesn’t make your crisis any less relevant.

Miguel brings up the elephant in the room. He’s married to his best friends wife. And to me this is important – because we know then that it’s going to come up and I think it’s about time. I want to know how that came to be. I want to know about that relationship. Cause I just have always been like WTF.

I think that it was good for the three of them to have time to spend together. They needed to vent to each other. They, like the Pearson kids, needed to feel less alone.


  • This episode made me really angry, but also really confused as to why I took it so personally.
  • I need to invest in kleenex, cause this show fucks me up.
  • I really need to know how Miguel and Rebecca got together.

This Is Us airs on NBC.

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