This Is Us offered viewers a glimpse into three stages of Kevin’s life, while Kate bonded with birth mom Ellie and Randall got caught on a live webcam dancing shirtless.
Plus, Kate revealed a huge secret to Toby!
Our TV Fanatics Christine Orlando, Sarah Little, Carissa Pavlica, and Jack Ori debate who was right about Kevin’s future in football on This Is Us Season 5 Episode 4, along with discussing Malik’s mistake and what we want to see when This Is Us returns in January 2021.
Who was right about Kevin and the football team: Jack or Rebecca?
Quitting whenever something gets difficult is never a good strategy. Still, I hate the way kids in high school and even younger are pushed to take sports so seriously, to where it can eclipse everything else in their lives because that’s not healthy.
In that case, Rebecca was right to call out the almost obsessive, single-focused goals that Jack was setting for Kevin.
Jack was dealing with his issues with his own dad by pushing Kevin to be the best.
Was Kevin pushing himself to remember those plays because he really wanted to excel at football or because he’d overheard that his father considered him “soft,” and he didn’t want to be a disappointment?
In the end, memorizing those plays and keeping in top physical shape has translated into Kevin’s career as an actor, which is a positive, but it also may have helped fuel some of Kevin’s self-esteem and addiction issues.
Sarah: I agree with Christine. Both Jack and Rebecca were right, but they were also wrong.
They needed to find a happy medium between their two extremes, but Jack’s pushing — that came from a place of love — won out in the end.
And there were good and bad side effects of it on Kevin’s life.
As we saw, it’s sort of shaped him into the person he is today, for better or for worse.
Carissa: I’m not sure.
I can only speak from my experience as a child, and I hated feeling forced to do something. It led to migraines and a lot of anxiety.
Given Kevin’s penchant for drinking, it’s pretty clear he feels the same way. And I particularly didn’t like how Kevin’s director led to him feeling less than, a feeling he probably gets from the dueling way his parents handled the issues early in his life.
So, I think that having both parents probably helped more than hindered, but I wish there had been more gray for the Pearson kids.
Jack: I agree with all of the above.
I felt that in general, Jack was right — Kevin needed to see things through and not quit at the first sign of trouble.
But I also felt that football was more Jack’s dream for Kevin than it was Kevin’s dream, and that put a lot of pressure on Kevin to succeed to please Jack.
And I also thought Rebecca was right that football was no longer fun for Kevin. When an optional after-school activity becomes a chore, something’s wrong somewhere.
Eighteen-year-old Kate discovered she was pregnant after finally excising Marc from her life. React!
Christine: Ugh. Poor Kate.
There’s way too much guilt piled onto young women when it comes to sex, and I’m sure realizing she was pregnant by her abusive ex-boyfriend just added to Kate’s fragile emotional state.
If Kate felt the need to hide Marc’s abuse, then this pregnancy probably made her feel even more isolated and ashamed.
It sound like she hid it from everyone in her life, and I’m wondering if this is what pushed her food addiction over the edge.
I am curious to see whether or not she told anyone else, including Marc, and how this plays out.
Sarah: I was very curious as to why her mood shifted so suddenly towards the end of the episode, and when all was revealed, I was completely shocked.
How the writers still continue to surprise us with secrets from these characters’ pasts is beyond me, but I love every second of it, no matter how tragic.
I feel so bad for Kate, as I’m sure we all do. I can’t imagine keeping that big of a secret for so long from all the people you love, but I’m proud of her for telling Toby.
I’m just really not looking forward to seeing Marc again.
Carissa: These things happen. It stinks, but it happens all the time with women from all walks of life.
I empathize with her and think that she must have handled it admirably if she’s doing so well as an adult.
Jack: I agree with Carissa about Kate’s strength and resilience.
I was shocked when she took that pregnancy test. I was expecting Kate to take her secret stash of candy out of that drawer to kick off her eating disorder after Marc’s abuse.
How did Kevin’s difficulties with the director he had to work with relate to the way Rebecca always seemed to rush in to protect him when things got tough during his childhood?
Christine: Protecting one’s kids is part of being a mom, so it can be challenging to know when to try and fix things and when to hold back.
Like most parents, Rebecca was doing the best she could.
It was clear the other actor was Foster’s favorite and that she got all the praise; I wonder if that mirrored how Kevin felt growing up when it came to being compared to Randall.
The director was maddening because he wasn’t giving Kevin any direction!
However, when pushed, he did tell Kevin he thought he could be a great actor in much the same way Jack saw that Kevin could be great at football
Now, it’s up to Kevin whether he will push himself to follow through, but I hope it doesn’t come at the cost of his and Madison’s budding relationship.
Sarah: It’s hard to fault Rebecca for trying to protect her child from the hardships of life, but our parents leave lasting impressions on us that we take with us throughout our lives.
It’s clear that Kevin is used to getting what he wants, but he has grown so much over the course of the series and he’s more than willing to work hard for what he wants.
As Christine said, Kevin probably feels like he is being compared to Ava which will remind him of his insecurities with Randall and he’ll push himself to be the best that he can be.
Whether that will be in a healthy way, we’ll have to wait and see.
Carissa: ” It was clear the other actor was Foster’s favorite and that she got all the praise; I wonder if that mirrored how Kevin felt growing up when it came to being compared to Randall.”
We’ve watched them grow up, and even during this episode, Kevin could only see Randall and his racial issues through his own lens — Randall got all of the attention, and Kevin felt left out.
Foster couldn’t have been a worse director for Kevin.
It’s insulting to think that an actor can only dig within himself to be great. Uh, then what’s the point of a director?
I didn’t like Foster at all, and I didn’t understand the atta boy basket at the end, either. Was he taking the piss with Kevin or what?
Jack: I didn’t like Foster either.
How is Kevin supposed to do his job the way Foster wants without any feedback whatsoever? And Foster’s favoritism was so obvious and unprofessional.
I also agree with Christine that the way Foster treated Kevin was an exact mirror of how he felt growing up with Randall.
I hope that will come into play more when This Is Us returns.
Was Randall right to give Malik the internship after the way Malik screwed up?
Christine: Yes. Everyone makes mistakes.
I think Randall is right that Malik will likely never screw up like that again.
Malik is an incredibly smart, responsible, caring young man who could do great things if given a chance.
I was proud of Randall for being willing to listen to Malik’s perspective and give him this chance.
Sarah: I absolutely loved that Randall still gave Malik the internship after he didn’t stop the live stream.
We live in a society where perfection is the goal, but as humans, that is highly unrealistic. And if anyone gets that, it’s Randall.
Plus, I love their budding relationship and can’t wait to see more scenes between the two.
Carissa: People screw up all the time. The way they learn not to screw up in the future doesn’t have to be through punishment, but through second chances. That’s how growth occurs.
Randall handled it very well, especially give how personal the mistake was to him and his career.
Nothing about Malik screams screw-up. He’s one of the most responsible kids I’ve ever seen on a show. He gets wiggle room.
Jack: Agreed. I think that Randall and Malik need to sit down and make a plan for what needs to happen in the future if Malik’s parents need help with the baby while Malik is working, since that’s what caused Malik to get distracted from monitoring the livestream.
But that’s all that needs to happen. Malik wasn’t malicious or irresponsible. He was trying to be both a father and an employee at the same time.
I also loved Randall’s giving him advice. Randall and Malik’s burgeoning relationship is one of the best new things on This Is Us Season 5.
What are you most excited for when This Is Us returns in January?
Christine: I can’t believe we have to wait until January for more!
I am happy that Toby and Kate’s adoption story seems to be heading in a positive direction. Sometimes This Is Us can get mired down in the drama, so I’m really hoping for some happy moments for this family.
When Kate pointed out that she and her brothers never really talk about their childhoods, I realized how much I’d like to see the Big 3 actually have a conversation with one another about their perspectives on growing up.
Sarah: I’m excited for Randall and Kevin to, hopefully, have the talk.
It’s going to be awkward and uncomfortable, but after seeing that scene where Randall helped Kevin with the flashcards when they were younger, I need them to be okay again!
Their relationship has been so tumultuous, but they are truly at their best as individuals when they are on good terms.
Whether they like it or not, they need each other.
Carissa: I’m looking forward to getting to know the mother of Kate and Toby’s baby. She seems like a great addition to the cast and someone who Kate can really connect with on every level.
I don’t think they’ll let her out of their lives. I like that.
I also agree with Christine that the three Pearson kids talking about their experiences growing up would be welcome.
They need time together to listen and understand without passing judgment.
It’s not easy to do, but they’d be better family and significantly better parents for doing it.
Jack: Kevin and Randall’s childhood interactions gave me hope. They sniped at each other, but when Kevin really needed help, Randall came through.
We’ve seen that before, too. Kevin may find Randall to be a stuffy pain in the butt most of the time, but he was also always the first one Randall turned to whenever he had a panic attack.
Let’s hope that the adult Kevin and Randall realize how much they need each other and find their way through their discomfort to become close again.
Discuss anything else not covered here.
Christine: I don’t expect them to show baby Jack all the time, but the last couple of episodes, it’s felt as though he’s almost disappeared.
Also, I thought it was interesting that young Kevin and Randall bonded over the amount of pressure they were under to succeed and how that pressure shaped both of their lives.
And as much as I related to the sleep training storyline (All parents go through that, and it is physically and emotionally exhausting!) I’m kind of over the baby phase.
I know this story was part of Kevin’s overall arc, but I’d prefer to see more of the adult version of these characters instead of the infant version.
Sarah: Who knew that Randall’s viral video would lead to him, possibly, meeting his birth mother? Or, at the very least, his birth mother’s lover/admirer.
There is still so much that we don’t know when it comes to that elusive storyline, but I am so looking forward to the show uncovering just who that man is and whether or not Laurel is still alive.
Carissa: I thought that, too, Sarah. I’m glad there was a bigger picture for the viral video beyond being silly.
Now, I don’t think it would go that viral that fast, but nothing about social media on television has any real feel to it. It’s exaggerated. But in this case, it worked, and feels authentic.
Jack: I was about to say that it seems the Vietnamese family belongs in the present timeline, but now I’m not sure. Laurel’s lover looked the same as he did last week, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. We didn’t see the little girl.
In any case, I’m excited about the connection and interested to see where this goes.
I also thought it was interesting how everyone’s past was affecting them.
Jack’s childhood informed how he dealt with Kevin, Randall became a city councilman because of William, and even Ellie responded to Kate’s choice of name based on her memories of a girl who bullied her in high school.
Finally, it was deliciously ironic that Rebecca didn’t want to hear Jack quoting Miguel’s opinion about sleep training.
What was your favorite scene, storyline, or quote from this week’s This Is Us?
Christine: Randall’s viral dance video seemed a bit silly until I realized that it will be what connects him to his birth mother.
Sarah: I’m such a fan of the complex relationship between Kevin and Randall, so I loved the scene where Randall helped Kevin study for football.
It’s a rarity that we see scenes of them getting along when they were younger, and this was like a breath of fresh air, especially after that fight.
And the fact that Kevin still uses the color-coded note card method as an adult warms my heart!
Carissa: I liked that Kevin understood his scene only after talking with Kate in the car, when she said, “honestly,” and he understood she was about to lie.
Jack: I cracked up at Beth’s reactions to Randall dancing on the livestream, especially when she wouldn’t let Annie watch.
On a serious note, I agree with Sarah. Randall helping Kevin study his football plays was my hands-down favorite scene.
I especially appreciated how Randall slipped in that he studies hard because he felt he needed to be the best because of being a Black student. It was a small thing that illustrated his feelings about his racial identity perfectly.
Your turn, This Is Us fanatics. Hit the big, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and let us know your thoughts about Kevin’s football dilemma, Randall’s viral video, or anything else related to This Is Us.
Can’t wait til January for more? Watch This Is Us online here on TV Fanatic to get your fix!
This Is Us airs on NBC on Tuesdays at 9 PM EST/PST. It returns from hiatus on January 5, 2021.