While This Is Us is synonymous with making you sob until your heart just can’t take it anymore, there’s a beauty in the simplicity of what this show is able to accomplish. This Is Us is representative of a world that we can relate to. A world where we experience hardships and triumphs, whether they’re significant or mild in scope.
“Vegas, Baby” was the kind of episode that reminds you that this show is so good at the little things. At prioritizing the character dynamics above all else. About knowing these characters and their relationships so well that it allows for creative and compelling storytelling that, while it doesn’t leave you sobbing, leaves you feeling something.
After two of the show’s most emotional hours, which dealt with Jack’s death, this was the kind of episode that we needed. We needed a release, so to speak. Needed to have a little fun while also learning from these characters and their experiences.
Enter Las Vegas.
This episode was a reminder that you really don’t know what’s happening in a person’s life. That even the people you think are the strongest or the most upbeat have their moments of struggle. We saw that with Randall. We saw that with Kevin. We saw that with Kate. We saw that with Beth. We saw that with Toby. We saw that with Deja.
There were so many desires in this episode that led to really vulnerable and raw character moments. Whether it was Randall and Beth’s blowout or Kevin’s continued struggle or Deja’s personal struggles or Kate’s fear about losing her brother, her friend.
But it also reminded us about the beauty of life; the beauty of love; the beauty of the simple things. While we’ve had to deal with the loss of Jack in these previous two episodes, getting an episode that celebrates Jack and Rebecca’s love on an annual occasion was exactly what we needed. Just like a meteor, we might not always see it. But when we do, we learn to truly appreciate it and its beauty.
Let’s discuss the latest episode, which includes some deja vu (hehe) with Randall and Beth, bachelor and bachelorette parties, and the perfection that is Jack and Rebecca’s love.
What Happens in Vegas…
Is there anything good that happens in Las Vegas? Besides residencies featuring Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys, I mean. So it wasn’t really a surprise that Vegas sort of brought out the drama in our favorite characters.
As Kate and Toby prepare for their upcoming nuptials, the pair hit Vegas with some friends and family for their respective Bachelorette and Bachelor parties. Booze, strippers, and fun. That’s what you expect at these kind of things. And that’s what we got. Until things turned south.
Randall was distracted by Deja, whom he was worried for after she showed up asking for money for heat. It spawned this massive blowout between Randall and Beth — something we had yet to see — as the two did not hold back about their feelings. Randall didn’t feel like Beth was putting her heart into it. Beth just needed a release from all of the stress. Both were misunderstood and there was a ton of miscommunication, which led to a blowout at the Magic Mike Experience (or whatever it was called.) Eventually, the pair realized that they can’t hold each other against the other. They are who they are. They’ve both been affected by this foster situation. They both needed to vent. They both needed to talk to each other.
Kate found herself missing her brother, her friend. Kate seemed to be having a great time at her Bachelorette party, but when Beth was mentioned she seemed to freeze. Not only have the ladies not spent a lot of time together, we learned that Kate felt like she had lost her brother; that Kate wasn’t the most important thing to him anymore. Kate realized what she said, but we also learned that Kate and Randall are a lot closer than we’ve seen. After Jack died, the two were nearly inseparable. Damn, Randall even watched Sex and the City with her. Now that is love. But Randall was there to remind Kate, as she sipped cosmos and gambled her money away, that there’s no way she could ever lose him. It was a reminder to tell those you love how much they mean to you every now and again.
The Deja Issue
It feels like forever ago that we last left This Is Us — on that post-Super Bowl Tuesday — with Deja standing on the Pearson’s front door. So many questions went through my head. Why was she back? What did her mother do? Is she okay? Please tell me she’s back for good?
As we learned early on in “Vegas, Baby,” Deja was “getting by” with her mother. But apparently “getting by” includes reaching out to the Pearsons for money help to put the heat on in their place.
This is something a child shouldn’t have to deal with. A child shouldn’t have to take care of the adult. A child should just worry about being a child. But we’ve known Deja’s story. We know the rough history she’s had to endure. She’s a fighter.
But considering the home that the Pearsons built for her in her short stay, it hurts. They wanted to be a family. They were Deja’s source of support, love, and safety. The only thing she had to worry about were science projects and sister bonding.
Deja was a hot-button issue in this episode, which actually led to a blowout between Randall and Beth about how this is being dealt with. Randall has always been an open book when it comes to his emotions. Beth hasn’t been. Randall didn’t think Beth cared or worried as much as he did about Deja. But the opposite couldn’t be more true. Beth was struggling in her own way. She brought this child into her home, into her life, and into her heart. And then she lost her. And she’s had to worry about her every day.
Just when we thought there was some closure with the Deja issue, Beth took Randall to Deja’s mom’s place for a visit. Only they were told they didn’t live there anymore. Turns out they’ve been living in her mother’s car, which finds Randall and Beth coming face-to-face with Deja and her mom. Things are about to get emotional.
The Perfection That is Jack & Rebecca
When you’re hurting, it’s important that you try to focus on the good. The first week of February was not kind to fans of This Is Us as we had to endure two of the most difficult episodes of television (rivaled only by the previous season’s “Memphis” — I’m still not over that.) We had to watch the how and the why and the aftermath of the death of a great man. It was painful. It was real. It was, frankly, sad as hell.
So this episode was just the thing I needed to remember the good times with Jack, not the sad. And what an episode to do so by celebrating the anniversaries of Jack and Rebecca’s love story. It was a reminder that, even though Jack is gone and his loss has left a permanent mark, that the time he spent on Earth was satisfying and he was loved.
Jack and Rebecca are what ships are made of. Their love is so pure. Their relationship so realistic in its ups and downs. Their love reminds us that there is goodness in this world.
Jack was the perfect man. The perfect husband. The perfect father. Not perfect perfect, but perfect in every way an imperfect person can be. His intentions were always pure, even when he made mistakes. He fought for redemption. He survived hardships. He loved with every part of himself. And he was able to make Rebecca — and us — swoon with his beautiful words.
“You are my daily meteor shower.”
Jack wasn’t perfect. He didn’t have the best upbringing. But he found love, and he lived his fullest life because of that love. He was reminded every day about the beauty of life. Of waking up to the sun shining through the blinds. Of waking up to his beautiful wife. Of waking up to his three children. Of just how lucky he really was to wake up to these and other things. He knew to cherish it. Just like we know to cherish the times we get to see Jack on this show.
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on NBC.