‘This is Us’ Season two recap of life and death (spoilers)


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The cast of This is Us: Randall Pearson, Beth, Jack, Rebecca, Kevin, Kate, and Toby Damon.

While many second seasons of television programs flop and do worse than the previous season, Season 2 of NBC’s hit drama This Is Us did not fail to continue the roller coaster of emotions in every episode.

This Is Us gives us new information in every episode, and yet does not explain it until following episodes. What sets This Is Us apart from normal episodic television is that it is able to keep the viewer fascinated with what will happen next, as we learn many things that are not explained until future episodes.

As with series that appear on Netflix, such as Stranger Things and 13 Reasons Why is that the episodes are all released simultaneously, and the viewer will not have to wait until the following week to discover what happens. Normally, when viewers receive shocking information, they would be upset, but the show keeps viewers interested by not revealing all information within one episode.

What also keeps viewers interested and what makes the show so good is that everyone can relate in a different but similar way as well as the well-done storytelling and the similarity between each actor of the same character.

Ever since the beginning of Season 1, we learned of Jack’s passing, although we were never given an explanation of how he died. Even through Season 2, we were teased of how Jack dies.

Revelation of information is also shown constantly, as in season two episode five “Brothers”, it is revealed to the viewers that Jack Pearson had a younger brother Nicky, and yet we are never shown him in modern day. Not until the very end do we discover that Nicky died when he and Jack were soldiers in the war when Jack is reminiscing and holds up a photograph of the two during their service.

Also, in the very beginning of season two episode 13, “That’ll Be the Day”, we see an elderly couple cleaning out their garage in order for a younger couple to move in. We presume Jack and Rebecca will be moving in, as before, we have seen them discussing their future plans and what they want to do in their life. But, not until the very end of the episode do we learn that it was in fact another couple, but that the couple did give away their 30-year-old slow cooker to Jack and Rebecca, which eventually causes a house fire.

Also, in season two episode 14 “Super Bowl Sunday”, we start with the Pearson’s house fire and the evacuation. Once all the children are evacuated, Jack returns to look for their dog by request of Kate. Jack re-enters safely through a building, but we are kept guessing of how he dies because he then heroically comes back out of the front door with the dog and other belongings in hand, full of smoke.

One of the biggest themes in season two was “Life and Death”, as we saw Rebecca and Jack’s process for adopting Randall and Randall being a foster parent to Deja. We also experienced William Hill’s death in season one, but in season two we learned of how Jack died and discovered that he had a younger brother who died young, likely before Randall, Kate, and Kevin were born. Many of us can relate because we have lost loved ones, and have adopted children and even might have been orphans.

In season two, we continued the “Big Three’s”–Kate, Kevin, and Randall–journey in life for the future and leading up to their modern selves. We see the Big Three as infants, 10-year-olds, 17-year-olds, and in modern day, as 37-year-olds. With three different actors portraying each character, their chemistry with other characters may not be believable, but what makes the chemistry so believable is that their interactions between characters in each time period is so similar. For example, Kevin and Kate Pearson’s connection and assistance to each other is both shown throughout all ages. Also, we see a bit of Rebecca and Jack’s struggle to hold a marriage together as well as their children, and it is replicated in modern day with Kate’s engagement to Toby and how they are holding themselves together before their marriage, which takes place during the final episode of Season 2.

This Is Us accomplishes really well-done storytelling through specific filmmaking techniques and drawing connections between time periods. What is often used is a shot or pan of a certain room during past-times, and an end shot of its transition to modern times. For example, we see Randall entering William’s old apartment while searching for the “Lady” that William described in a poem after he died, and there are many cuts to William’s cat “Clooney” running through the streets making its way to the apartment. With these cuts in place, many would think that it is merely a stray cat wandering in, but when we finally see Clooney entering his apartment, it is revealed that Clooney in fact was a stray and wandered into William’s apartment while he was still alive.

Another example of this transition between younger characters and modern day was a pan of William getting up out of bed while in Randall’s house and then the pan ending on Kate entering the bedroom to clean out William’s belongings. Since the show is so emotional, many viewers cry because of what occurs in each episode. This Is Us writer Dan Fogel does a wonderful job of creating emotion and making viewers cry. For example, in season two episode 13, “That’ll Be The Day”, right as the fire starts, we see a flashback of a certain object or room and the memories created there, and then a fast-forward back to current day of the fire destroying the room, making the show a lot more emotional.

The reason for Jack’s delayed death is so that the writers could show how lovable Jack is, and while we love him the most, he dies so we can feel relatable to the loss of a loved one. If his death was explained immediately, it would be a lot less emotional, as no one would know Jack that well and no one would really care that much if he died.