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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This Is Us: New Season, Same Problems

[Photo Courtesy of NBC]

By: M.K. Killen

Season two of “This Is Us” premiered Sept. 26, and began in the same fashion as last season: the triplets’ birthday.  Watching each character grow over the past year left fans with a lot of questions and the season premiere did more to pique their curiosity than satisfy it.

The opening sequence was quite powerful.  A poem by William, Randall’s biological father, is punctuated by scenes from both past and present.

The triplets struggle to come to terms with their parents’ decision to take time apart.

Randall, exuding his self-proclaimed baby fever, is thriving in his new role as Mr. Mom, while Beth seems to struggle in silence.

Kate prepares for a musical audition with her biggest fan Toby there to give her encouragement.

Kevin lives the glamorous, albeit lonely, life of an LA actor while his ex-wife turned girlfriend waits back in New York.

Randall’s struggle with adoption and self-identity, while relevant, is recurring and takes a back burner to some of the other developments this episode made.

Continue reading “This Is Us: New Season, Same Problems”

I’m Gonna Leave You Anyway…

Photo courtesy of FX.com

By: M.K. Killen

Season four of FXX’s “You’re The Worst” kicked off Sept. 6, 2017, 10 months after the season three finale which dropped two consecutive bombshells on fans.  The first three seasons of the anti-romantic romantic comedy follow the budding relationship of two unlucky-in-love and all around terrible people Jimmy and Gretchen.

The seemingly self-aware narrative deals with the sordid lives of millennials in Los Angeles, who often serve as their own antagonists.

Covering themes like monogamy, domestic abuse, PTSD, clinical depression and the mystery of the human condition, the show makes use of the dark comedy popularized on the network by “Louie” and “Fargo.”  Though “You’re The Worst” is arguably more tame, it still contains scenes that cross the line from black comedy into just plain morose and bizarre.

Continue reading “I’m Gonna Leave You Anyway…”

The Flash Speeds to Success

By Nate Discavage, @DiscavageSavage

You can add one more superhero TV show to your fall lineup.  The Flash opened to rave reviews last Tuesday night on the CW.  This was the first time that the Flash appeared in live action since the 1990s TV show was prematurely cancelled to the dismay of superhero fans everywhere.

For some of the most diehard DC Comics fans, this is not the first time we have been introduced to Grant Gustin’s (Glee, 90210) portrayal of the Scarlet Speedster.  We first met the hero in the CW’s other superhero TV series Arrow.

After an unexplainable storage robbery in Arrow, Barry Allen from Central City arrives to try and help the investigation.  He is shrouded in mystery until the audience learns that Allen has been tracking down unexplainable crimes across the country in an attempt to solve his mother’s mysterious murder.  He returns to Central City and is struck by lightning after a new particle accelerator malfunctions.  Allen is in a coma at the end of Arrow’s second season.

The Flash opens with Allen’s mother’s murder. A young Allen is awoken to the sound of rumbling downstairs.  He rushes down to see his mother surrounded by red and yellow lights.  His father rushes down to help before the light shifts slightly, and Barry opens his eyes to find himself ten blocks from his house.

Fourteen years later, Allen has become a scientific genius and joins the forensics division of the police force so he can secretly try to discover who or what killed his mother.  After proving himself to the police, he is called on numerous occasions to assist the police department.

Shortly after the episode begins, we are shown the same scene from Arrow where Allen is struck by lightning and goes into a coma.  This time, however, we get to see when he wakes up.  Nine months have passed since the explosion, and Allen has been studied by a group of scientists.  His cells have been altered and his entire body now moves at a much faster rate enabling him to run at super speeds.

After Allen discovers his newfound powers, he decides to use them for good.  He travels to Starling City where he meets with Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell)—the Green Arrow.  Queen instructs him to do what he thinks is right, so he can help save the people in Central City.

Allen soon finds out that he is not the only one who was given super powers by the explosion.  Another man’s intentions are not as keen as Allen’s as he uses his powers for his own personal gain.  Even after the villain is defeated, Allen and the scientists learn that the entire city has been exposed to the fallout from the explosion, and anybody could have new powers.

The biggest moment for comic book readers has to come at the end.  Without giving up too many details, director David Nutter (The X-Files, ER, Game of Thrones) dropped an Easter egg that could span as large as the Crisis on Infinite Earths.  To read more on that, check out (spoiler alert!): http://www.denofgeek.us/books-comics/the-flash/239939/what-the-flash-ending-means-for-dc-superhero-tv-and-movies.

The show’s series premiere was the most viewed pilot episode in CW history with 4.5 million viewers.  It was the most viewed episode of any CW show since Vampire Diaries in 2009.  After such a big debut, could this new spinoff surpass the original, Arrow, in popularity?  Only time will tell as DC continues to build upon their success on the small screen.