Looks like we got off a little easy this week, folks! After last week’s gut-wrenching cliffhanger, it was nice to kind of take a step back and really dig into the other issues that the Pearson family is going through outside of the mystery about Jack’s death. Here are our top 5 moments from this week’s episode, “A Manny Splendored Thing”.
5. “You existed”
Mothers and daughters were a huge theme throughout this episode. We learned fairly quickly last season that there was some tension between Kate and Rebecca. In the past timeline, we saw Kate beginning to notice the difference between her and her beautiful talented mother and in the present day timeline she was often still doing whatever she could to impress her. Well, tonight a lot of that came boiling to a head. Young Kate (yay! the kid actors are back!) is practicing for the talent show where she’s going to be singing “Lean On Me” but slowly Rebecca’s comments, which are meant to helpful and not malicious, start to wear on Kate and when she later hears Rebecca singing that same song beautifully in the shower she decides not to perform.
This is something that Kate has always let fester and steer her internally. The jealousy that she feels for her mother’s perfect figure and perfect pitch has always left her super sensitive around her. Well, this all came to a boiling point tonight when Kate gets the call to fill in for the house band that she had sent her demo to. Naturally, Toby is going to support her first show, but Rebecca, who is in town with Miguel for Kevin’s taping of The Man-Ny, wants to go too. Knowing it’s a bad idea he still allows her to tag along with him, mainly because his main goal of the evening is to get Rebecca to like him and not think of him as the guy who had a heart attack. Afterwards, the two have an argument where Kate totally unleashes all of this animosity she’s been holding in, telling Rebecca that the thing that she did wrong was just simply exist. That she spent Kate’s whole life trying to make her like herself or the version that she wanted to be. The two end the evening on an okay note
The two end the evening on an okay note, but there is still a lot to explore. I think a good chunk of their story will take place with younger Kate and I am looking forward to seeing that play out because I think that it’s something a lot of girls can relate to.
4. “We made them great”
Honestly, I love my Jack and Rebecca, but there are not two better humans on this show than Randall and Beth and not two better actors than Sterling K. Brown and Susan Kelechi-Watson. They knock is out of the park every single week and it’s a total joy to watch. This week the two have sort of flip-flopped from where they were last week. Last week, Randall was the one that was super motivated and excited about adopting and Beth wasn’t, but this week Beth is the one who has completed her paperwork and is ready to start the process and it’s Randall that’s stalling. When she finally confronts him at Kevin’s show, he admits to being terrified that they wouldn’t be able to handle fostering a kid that had serious issues. He thinks that their two girls were just born great and that bringing in a troubled kid would prove that they weren’t cut out for it.
An annoyed Beth finds some answers in an unexpected place – Kevin. She goes to his trailer for some air and he tells her that Randall doesn’t do anything unless he knows that he can 100% succeed. Except, there was one time when he took a risk, one time, and that was when he asked Beth out on a date, which clearly paid off for him. She takes this knowledge all the way to Randall’s arms where she kisses him and says “Our girls came out good, but we made them great.”
Also, loving the fact that Beth has coined the term “Randalling Out” for when he gets all flustered.
3. Be George Clooney
Kevin is clearly the easiest sibling of The Big Three to push off to the side, but this week he had a really great story and it was another reminder that Justin Hartley can put out a heartfelt performance just like the rest of them. He’d been invited back to film a special episode of The Man-Ny and while he was determined to be like George Clooney coming back for the finale of ER, his old writer was determined to make sure there was not one cool thing about his return. Kevin’s secret weapon? Sophie.
You see, young Kate wasn’t the only one who was participating in the talent show, Kevin had some pretty hilarious Mr. T impressions that he was planning on doing. Well, when it was Kevin’s turn, his impressions fell pretty flat with the crowd except for one person, you guessed it – Sophie. Her laughter is what propelled him to finish his talent and in the present day timeline, as he’s crawling around in a diaper, it’s her pure laughter and joy that keeps him going.
I wasn’t sure what to think of Sophie when she was first introduced, but I have to admit that she grew on me so much this episode. She knew that Kevin was capable of having another meltdown on the set, telling everyone off for making him do such a humiliating thing, but instead she encourages him to have his Clooney moment and makes the best of it, which he does. Kevin has a lot of growing up yet to do, but Sophie may be the perfect person to get him there. I was a little more interested in seeing how the rest of the Pearson family reacted to Sophie being around. I thought that last season they were going to be setting up some sort of rift between her and Kate, but everyone seemed to be pretty chill with her being there. Maybe they will get more into that this season.
2. “Team Kate, forever”
If you read my recaps last year then you probably recall that I was not the biggest fan of Toby. I always felt that he was controlling and didn’t really want was best for Kate unless it was what was best for him. However, my feelings towards Toby drastically changed in last night’s episode. First, he was super cute when he cooked little pigs-in-a-blanket for Miguel and talked about how badly he wanted for Rebecca to like him. After Rebecca and Kate’s fight in the bar, Rebecca tried to find some validation in Toby that Kate was wrong, but he shut her down really quickly, respectfully, of course.
He makes sure that Rebecca knows that no matter what he will always be on Kate’s side, forever. It’s in this moment that Rebecca starts to really like Toby too because in the “awkward car ride home” she makes sure to give her approval to Kate, which excited the hell out of Toby.
1. “It’s Going to Be Okay”
This episode touched a bit on Jack’s journey with alcoholism. We picked up right where we left off after last week’s “get in the car” with Rebecca asking Jack how he fought it the last time. Remember last season when Jack bought Rebecca that moon necklace and slept outside the door and then this happened:
That was the last time she was referring to. Jack never made it to an AA meeting though, instead, he decided to take his desire to drink and channel it into boxing. On a particularly rough day at work, Jack went to the kid’s school where Kate got in the car with him and immediately picked up on his stress and pain. He tried to lie to her, but their connection was just too strong and she pulled out the ol’ Pearson family signature move of putting her hands on his face and telling him that everything was going to be okay.
Years later we see this moment again when Jack decides that if he’s going to get back on track he needs to do things differently than the last time, he has to tell the kids. The first one he goes to see is Kate and as he breaks down, telling her the hardest thing he has ever had to say she greets him with that same reaction. That everything will be okay. The words just weren’t necessary in this moment.
This is a moment that recurred twice in the episode. In the earliest flashback sequence, we saw Jack when he was first dealing with, and hiding, his drinking problem. Kate was always the intuitive one and when he went to see her at school, she could read the pain on his face. She held his face in hers in the Pearson family way and told him, “It’s gonna be okay.” Years later, on the heels of Rebecca bringing Jack home, he finally sat Kate down to reveal his weakness to her, admitting he was an alcoholic. Silently this time, she did it again, holding his face in her own and looking at him. The words were unnecessary.
This Is …The Rest
- A little over halfway through the episode Kate sings ‘Landslide’ and the show takes us through a montage of clips from the show that we’ve seen before, but also some very telling scenes for Jack. We see him beating the crap out of a punching bag and a very brief glimpse of him when he fought in the war, which I would assume means we can expect to see more of that down the line.
- There was something so gut-wrenching about the blending of Kate’s performance and Jack showing up late to the talent show because we know that Jack will never get see all that Kate has accomplished.
- I discovered what that notebook that was from in the bag of Jack’s belongings on the seat next to Rebecca last week. It’s a notebook from his work.
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Having studied Media & Writing at James Madison University, I always knew that I wanted to do some type of creative writing, but being able to write about zombies, Starks, and superheroes on a daily basis for Fan Fest is my actual dream. While I probably shouldn’t be as proud as I am to be so similar to Nick Miller, I do hope to one day write my own “Pepperwood Chronicles’.