This is Us 2×02 “A Manny-Splendored Thing”

Big Three Moments of the Week

As human beings, the one thing we need to embed in ourselves is the fact that we’ll never be perfect — none of us. No matter how faultless a person seems to be, there’s darkness in them that neither of us can imagine. We are only ever capable of knowing our own best. And in “A Manny-Splendored Thing”, we finally brought light to the darkness within Jack — for the kids at least. There’s no picking sides on this show, and there shouldn’t be, for there isn’t a single character that’s capable of reaching some sort of unimaginable perfection. There’s no character who’s capable of fighting off darkness and negativity entirely, but these are human being that clearly try, so where credit is due, it should be given. And this episode’s means of dealing with the tainted relationships verses the seemingly perfect ones was enamoring. Who would’ve imagined that Kevin returning to The Manny would result in an incredibly emotional rollercoaster.

Scene I: Jack tells Kate the truth about his addiction.

I don’t even know where to begin with this scene. I don’t even know how to properly do it justice. (I will definitely be talking about it more for our week in review that’s for sure.) It’s been clear from the very start that Kate’s relationship with her father was entirely based off of encouragement and unyielding kindness. But it doesn’t mean that Jack deserved to put on a pedestal, and that’s the thing with human beings, we tend to give people too much credit at times, as a result, that puts a ridiculous amount of pressure on them to be something that they’re incapable of — immaculate. It makes harder for a person to admit to their flaws.

The encapsulating truth is that even those we look up to, our parents, our heroes, they’re capable of falling, and Jack’s fall was the pristine showcase of the fact that love can overcome any darkness. This is such a huge moment for Jack because it takes immense courage to admit to something that could potentially change a kid’s perception. And Milo Ventimiglia brought his a-game in a way he’s never done before — the heart crushing stutter and acute fear in his expressiveness as he told Kate about his addiction broke me. Plainly, simply broke me. In his most gut wrenching performance thus far, Ventimiglia makes it clear that this is the hardest thing Jack has ever had to do in his entire life, and the childlike sincerity of his speech cobbled with his distressed physicality made for a scene I genuinely wish I could forget.

And then Kate put her hands to his face in the same way she’d done in the past to reveal that in spite of Jack’s fears — she wouldn’t look to him differently. He’s still her father, and the unwavering love wasn’t going anywhere. Hannah Zeile delivered the silent understanding with such remarkable poise, I don’t even know why I’m stunned — casting directors knew what they were looking for when she was chosen. There was too much heartache in that moment, too much sadness, and it’s in that moment where we could see that things were about to change drastically. But if there’s one thing we’ve established this, it’s that where there’s vulnerability, there’s always bravery — there’s growth. Can you imagine a father having to tell his little girl that he needs help? Could you imagine how much courage that must take for a man perceived as a knight in shining armor to be in this position? I can’t, and that’s what makes this show so special. It’s not that I can’t imagine men being vulnerable, but it’s the fact that I can’t imagine them being this way around their kids, frankly, it’s amazing. And Kate choosing to help as opposed to shutting him out in shock was everything.

Scene II: Kate sings then confronts Rebecca

This scene. This scene crushed me so hard that I just can’t stop thinking about it. To have adult Kate sing the Dixie Chicks’ “Landslide” while we learn more about Jack’s past in Vietnam and his father’s drinking problem? I’m gonna need a moment. It’s in this moment we’re able to understand what could’ve potentially triggered Jack’s comfort in liquor. But, we’re also able to see that every member of the Pearson family is tirelessly fighting demons others don’t know about, and that’s painfully evident through Rebecca and Kate’s altercation.

Rebecca may have made comments about Kate’s weight in the past with the sole belief that she just wants her daughter to be healthy, but as far as her music goes, Rebecca’s wanted her to succeed. Although people will argue that these are backhanded compliments, we need to understand that Rebecca isn’t like that. Why wouldn’t she want her daughter to succeed? She’s not a monster, folks — let’s stop pinning her as one.

And the fascinating thing about this relationship is the fact that we can’t take sides — there aren’t any. In this moment we have two women, a mother and a daughter, who’ve misunderstood one another in the past without any malicious intentions from either party. I say this as someone who’s experienced the very same thing, but it’s Kate’s own fault for allowing her demons to get the best of her. I don’t sing, but when I was younger, I was always too shy to sing in front of my mom after the realization that she has the voice of an angel. And that isn’t her fault or Rebecca’s, but our own. Sometimes, especially when we’re younger, criticism is hard to take — even the kind that’s merited and kindly addressed. If we’re never told to improve, we’ll go on with the belief that we’re perfect and that isn’t right either. A balance is necessary.  But Kate confronting the issue, as it’s much bigger for her as someone who dreams of having a singing career was the proper way to go.

Perhaps, if I had actually wanted to pursue singing as fervently as Kate, I’d try to follow it when I was younger, but it was also more casual for me. Instead, I chose to write like my father. But all that aside, the reality is that, anytime we feel any sort of emotion, any heartache, it’s valid. And a true showcase of character is understanding along with the willingness to atone in order to make things right. Rebecca was genuinely so proud of Kate, and Moore makes that perfectly clear through the adoration in her eyes. But Kate’s feelings are also valid –though essentially her own doing to allow the negativity to win, but still vital. Therefore, after all was said and done, the choice to accept her mother’s hand in spite of the frustration was once again a brave move on her part.

There’s always strifes between mothers and daughters — we are them and they are us when they were younger, but when both parties love one another, they’re always going to take the necessary steps to overcome the pain they’ve caused one another. I know I’m not the only girl who’s gotten into a harsh argument with my mother, and I know I won’t be the last. Kate and Rebecca Pearson aren’t the last either. The truth is, no matter how close we are, there’s always going to miscommunication, and in the end, love is going to overcome. (I mean, c’mon even Lorelai and Rory had that huge fall out and there’s no mother/daughter TV relationship that’s ever been stronger.)

These struggles strengthen relationships profoundly, and without them there could never be growth. When Kate was younger, she wanted to be just like her mom, and I look forward to watching her become her own woman while learning and growing with Rebecca. That part of her is still there, and I want to see it explored.

Scene III: Kevin and Beth discuss Randall’s personality

Beth Pearson deserves every incredible, amazing thing this world has to offer, and if you don’t agree, you’re wrong. (Once again, I apologize, I don’t make the rules.) I appreciated the fact that as the one person who didn’t actually want to be there, Beth was the only one who went into Kevin’s dressing room to talk to him. And this is how we know she’s as close to perfect as it gets. But I also appreciate any opportunity we get in which we see Kevin talk about his brother and their past, indicating the fact that Randall Pearson only ever took the biggest risk of his life for Beth. In spite the fact that he may have been rejected, it needed to be done because Beth was worth the risk. And Beth learning that she actually thought the Manny was funny once upon a time.

And then coming to the conclusion that her husband’s means of understanding every little detail are his way of ensuring perfection and goodness was just what she needed to offer him the push necessary to tell the kids. Sometimes, the scariest things in life are what we need most in life, and sometimes, the biggest risks have the greatest impact. I cannot wait to see them save a life.

“A Manny-Splendored Thing” was the perfect episode to showcase how flawed families could be. And here’s the thing, there’s not a single person in the world that doesn’t experience these types of situations. In one way or another, we’ve all been there. We’ve experienced it to some degree, and the harsh reality is that the worst thing we’ve done in those moments is point fingers. There’s a lot we won’t be able to understand in life, but if there’s one thing that we absolutely must, it’s that human beings are always going to fall, we’re going to be imperfect. We’re going to say and feel things we don’t mean. We are going to cry, scream, and fall apart. But at the end of the day, we must do everything in our power to understand where the person in front of us is coming from, too — it’s the only way we can grow.

Further Thoughts:

  • Could we please talk about how perfect Kevin and Sophie are. I know I say this during every review, but they’re so sweet, I can’t get enough. And to learn that ever since they were little kids, Sophie was the one person to support his jokes was absolutely adorable. To watch that support only escalate as the years passed was phenomenal. Give me more!

 

  • I loved Toby asserting that he’ll always be Team Kate, but I also kinda wish he said a little bit more to make Rebecca see a different side. But I appreciated the fact that stating that gave Rebecca the comfort to see that her little girl has an amazing partner to go through life with. And I also love the fact that she got up to go.

 

  • Randall’s concerns were so heartbreaking, but at the same time so very human. And I appreciated the show reminding us of the fact that though they’re doing a great thing, it isn’t easy. It’s actually a challenge they’re going to have to face.

What are your thoughts on this week’s episode? If there’s anything you’d like us to discuss, let us know in the comments below.

By: Gissane Sophia
Check us out on Twitter: @MGcircles

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