‘This Is Us’ 4×01 Review: ‘Strangers’

America’s favorite crying show has returned! And with an aptly titled episode ‘Strangers’, This Is Us has somehow managed to mimic their own 2016 series premiere. The entire episode was an introduction to three new characters and their very complex stories. At first, they did not seem to have any connection to the Pearsons. But creator Dan Fogelman wants fans to remember this is us and patience is a virtue. Good things come to those who wait. We’ll talk about the new faces we met last night but for now, let’s pick up where we left off with Jack and Rebecca’s love story.

Jack + Rebecca 4Ever

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In the last season, we dived deeper into the beginnings of Jack and Rebecca’s love story. After meeting at a bar, the pair set off across the country to California. Now that they’re back home, reality has seemingly set in. Jack can tell that Rebecca comes from money and he knows that he doesn’t. That doesn’t stop him from trying to pretend though. He ends up at a store trying to buy a sport coat for a dinner with Rebecca and her parents. There, he meets his future B.F.F. Miguel for the first time.

I admire the show for still working on making us like Miguel. But I don’t hate the guy anymore. We’re in season 4. You don’t need to make him a saint all of a sudden just because season 1 Miguel was a total douche. We’ve moved past that and it’s time to move on.

The dinner doesn’t go as smoothly as you’d hope. Rebecca’s parents are trash. But Jack stands up for himself and I’m pretty sure that’s what makes Rebecca fall in love with him even more. The night ends where their story began. At a bar, with Rebecca singing.

If this is the full beginning of their story, it’s one that has already come full circle. It’s also a heartbreaking one because at one point, Jack really was super supportive of Rebecca’s singing. And then the 90’s happened and we all know how that went. But still, it’s the 70’s right now and fans are allowed to enjoy these moments for the time being.

Give Jennifer Morrison the Emmy Nod She Deserves

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I know I am not alone when I say my mind was bending over backwards trying to figure out her connection to the Pearsons. At first, we meet Cassie overseas stationed in the Middle East. She’s attempting to video chat with her husband back home, who also happens to be a complete stranger to us. So no connection there yet. The bulk of her story-line involves her mission in a small village until she comes home. Then the back half of the episode focuses on her readjustment period back into society.

She can’t seem to find a job and she’s starting to drink more and more. Still, we’re not really seeing the connection to the Pearson Clan.

Sadly, in a moment where she loses the little control she has on her emotions, Cassie hits her son by mistake. This is what leads her to separating from her husband and gets her into AA for Vets. It’s at one of these AA meetings that her connection is made obvious.

Nicky Pearson literally crashes into the scene by throwing a chair through the window of the AA meeting. As soon he and Cassie lock eyes, you just know that her story will be completely intertwined with his. Then it is revealed that upon being arrested, Nicky has given police his nephew Kevin’s phone number for the bail money.

The last we saw him, Kevin was purchasing a plane ticket back east to bail his uncle out of jail. Now the question is, will Cassie’s story intertwine with Kevin’s as well? And is it a good idea for two recovering alcoholics to embark on the potential journey I think everyone is expecting to unfold this season?

Make way for another awesome dad on this show

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We meet Malik on the basketball courts in his neighborhood. Again, there doesn’t seem to be any connection between him and Pearsons yet. I loved all three introductions but I found this one to be the most endearing because Malik is a teenage father. Usually, on TV, the narrative likes to focus on the teen mom. I like that they’ve decided to go the teen dad route. Of course, that leaves us with so many questions. The first one being, who is his baby’s mama and is she still in the picture?

Malik’s a good kid though. Not because he’s raising a daughter on his own. He has his parent’s help but ultimately, this is his responsibility. We know he’s a good kid by the way he takes care of his family. He loves his parents. There’s no animosity there at all despite the circumstance that he clearly got someone pregnant very young. And his parents are super involved in their granddaughter’s life. Overall, it’s a pretty great home life.

Of course, Malik almost jeopardizes that by trying to get in with the local gang to make money for his daughter. But his dad quickly catches on and steers his son in hopefully a better direction. I’m already super invested in this little family but there doesn’t seem to be a connection to the Pearsons at all at this point.

That is until Malik ends up going to his friend’s barbeque at the end of the episode.

There, while grilling burgers, he’s introduced to Deja! And there it is! It looks like it’s love at first sight for those two because Malik is taken aback by her and Deja can’t stop smiling all the way home.

So Malik lives in the same neighborhood that Randall is now a City Councilman for. It’s going to be interesting how politics plays with this story line because that could be where the drama lies for Malik and Deja. Especially if it turns out that Malik’s parents don’t actually like Randall.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

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The most apparent aha! moment came at the very end when the final stranger’s identity was revealed. While the other two are connected to the Pearson’s through secondary means, this guy is fully one hundred percent the most connected to the family. The first clue should’ve been that he’s a struggling musician. But by the end of the episode, he’s writing the best damn song that I need to download on iTunes.

When we first meet this mysterious stranger, he’s making breakfast and his dog drops his food to the ground. That’s when we realize he’s blind. Rather than make breakfast again, he ends up at a diner that morning where he meets a sweet waitress. The two obviously hit it off because time goes by and now he’s proposing to her and she’s telling him that she’s pregnant in the back of a car.

It turns out that they’re on the way to a gig on the biggest stage in the world. It’s heavily implied that this is Madison Square Garden. So he’s made it. He’s got the career and he’s got the girl. So what is his connection?

He is Kate and Toby’s son Jack Damon!

Carrying on the Pearson women’s musical legacy, Jack actually makes it in the business as a professional singer/song-writer. A dream shared by his mom and his grandma. Honestly, for me, that was the biggest moment of the episode. I can already see that Jack is going to be a fan favorite. We’re going to watch him grow up in the present but the show is ready to slingshot into his future and I am okay with that. He’s a miracle baby so watching him chase his dreams and actually achieve it is going to be incredible to watch. I can’t wait! And I already love him and his fiance. The man framed the broken plate that led him to the diner that morning for crying out loud! He really does have a lot of his grandfather, Jack, in him!

Highlights

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  • Jennifer Morrison’s acting for one. She’s come a long way from her Storybrooke days. That’s for sure!
  • Asante Blackk is incredible. He was great in When They See Us and he’s going to be great here! Keep your eyes on this kid!
  • I need that song that Jack D. sang at the end. I hope it gets released soon.
  • Jack P. stood up for himself. Yes! That’s my boy! Rebecca’s parents still suck.
  • For obviously reasons, we’re going to refer Toby and Kate’s Jack as Jack D. from now on while Papa Pearson will be known as Jack P.
  • I liked Jack P. and Miguel’s first meeting. It wasn’t a big moment in the episode but it was a sweet one.
  • I really loved how they did Jack D’s reveal because the juxtaposition of him walking on stage and his parents finding out that he was blind really drew me in.
  • Deja is so smitten! Oh girl! I have been there! I can’t wait to see this little love story evolve. Hopefully, their parents get along but I am terrified that they might not.
  • Kevin jumping on a plane to save his uncle is admirable. He’s obviously going to meet Morrison’s Cassie this season. I don’t mind if later, down the line, it’s revealed that she’s the one he ends up with. I just don’t want them to have a romantic storyline yet. I’m still mourning the loss of Zevin from last season. Give me time to heal guys!

Well, there you have it! This Is Us is back with a few new faces. And these are characters that we’re definitely going to see grow and evolve. This is Phase 2 of the Pearson Family’s Story and I am already loving everyone that we just met. Who else liked their introductions?

Make sure you tune in every Tuesday at 9PM on NBC to watch it all unfold! And check out the trailer for next week’s episode below!

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