This Is Us Episodes 2 & 3: Call Your Dad

By: M.K. Killen

Episode 2 of This Is Us explores the emotional trauma of alcoholism and the vulnerability people feel when they know someone is looking up to them.  Episode 3 followed up with unresolved trauma from the death of a loved one, particularly a father figure.

This Is Us has consistently done a great job at validating nontraditional families, sticking to the theme that no one is perfect—even the people who seem like it.  The past two weeks they tackled the father figure.

As they delved into the depths of Jack’s alcoholism and the strain it put on his familial relationship, the writers also managed to build up a stronger sense of family.  Jack says he can’t do it on his own, and in one of the most touching moments of the season thus far, admits his failures to his daughter Kate.

A man who in all ways seems perfect, who is immortalized in his children’s memories, this moment of weakness in Jack was powerful.  A father never wants to disappoint his children, to show them he’s not the perfect role model, but that’s not how life works: people make mistakes, people have personal struggles.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Randall tries to account for and calculate everything in life.  His ridiculously type A personality that pushed him into a breakdown last season, is driving him to make changes this season.  Randall’s new role as Mr. Mom, paired with his excitement about bringing a new child into the house is adorable.

His fear for his own family by changing the dynamic—and his own thoroughly considered plans—when Beth suggests fostering an older child is equally moving.

Viewers can see how growing up with a Jack as a father, truly shaped Randall as both a father and a husband.

In episode 3, we get a glimpse into Kate and Kevin’s opposing methods of coping with their father’s death—Kate speaks about him all the time, and Kevin avoids the subject at all costs.  We also see how Randall’s biological father, Walter, influenced his grandchildren and will leave a lasting impact on their new foster daughter, Deja, even after his death.

While the This Is Us cast continues to grow, the looming reveal of Jack’s death casts a shadow over new characters.  With Kevin’s emotional breakdown after the realization he repressed all emotions after his father’s death, viewers can tell discussion of Jack’s death is imminent.

The lesson we can take away is, dead or alive, perfect or perfectly imperfect, if your memories are overall good or bad, you owe a lot to your dad.

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