This Is Us Season 2 Episode 2 Review: A Manny-Splendored Thing

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Can you believe This Is Us Season 2 Episode 2 was the first episode that didn't make me cry?

The series is focusing less on those gut-punching scenes and more on building a backstory to that heartbreaking death reveal, whenever it may come. 

After Rebecca finds out about Jack's alcoholism, they are faced with the question of  "what's next?" How did he overcome his demons before?

Curbing a drinking problem is hard the first time around, but can you imagine if you're doing it a second time? Knowing that you're once again disappointing the love of your life and your children probably isn't the best motivation, which is why he needed all hands on deck. 

This Is Us alcoholism

During his first drinking episode, his road to recovery was a solo mission. His motivation stemmed from the inside; from his time in Vietnam and not wanting to be like his father. 

This time, Rebecca drove him to rehab because that's what "till death do us part" is all about. You're there for them when they're healthy and when they fall. Despite this setback, they still found a way to be "relationship goals."

When he fell off the wagon again, he went so far down the rabbit hole, it took more than just Rebecca. He needed his whole family as a support system, and that involved being completely transparent. 

Children, especially daughters, always look up to their father as this strong man who will always protect them.

That's why the scene with Jack breaking down and being so vulnerable in front of Kate was so raw. Here's this 'ideal' father, literally asking his teenage daughter for help. 

There were many wonderful moments that contrasted Kate's strong bond with her father and her convoluted relationship with her mother. 

It's no secret that Kate was a daddy's girl. In her eyes, Jack could do no wrong, even when he confided in her about his drinking problem. She was understanding as she grabbed his face in between her hands, Pearson family style.

This Is Us Season 2 Episode 2

But with Rebecca, no matter what her mother did, despite her best intentions, she resented her for it. 

And it's actually something that was ignited in her when she was just a little girl.

During the talent show, she heard her mother sing in the shower and chose not to perform because she thought she could never be as good. Did her mother say that? Of course not. Rebecca even made her a dress for the performance. But still, that's what Kate thought. 

When Jack came home after being kicked out for a while, Kate put him on a pedestal and called her mom the "queen" who let him back into her castle. She didn't know the full story, but she immediately thought her mother was the villain.

And all of it came to light when Rebecca eagerly tagged along for Kate's first singing gig. When Kate saw her mom in the crowd, she looked so disgusted and disappointed that Toby let her come. Seeing how excited Rebecca was, it was heartbreaking. 

Now, no mother/daughter relationship is ever perfect, but you'd think Kate would be grateful that she still had a parent around who was there for her, even if Rebecca wasn't 100% proud of the choices she'd made. 

Instead, Kate just blamed her mom for everything that was wrong in her life; every little hiccup.

And so all of those pent-up memories resulted in word-vomit when her mother tried to compliment her and add in some criticism. 

I cringed as Kate blamed her mom for making her feel like a "stupid fat kid," for overcompensating for her and wanting to make her be woman she could never be.

This Is Us Kate

It got worse when Kate said she resented Rebecca for existing, for being skinny, and being the perfect singer. Part of me even thinks Kate hated her for scoring a guy as great as her dad. 

It would also explain why she's keeping Toby at arms length. Maybe she doesn't want to let Toby full in because she believes no one will ever be as good as her dad. Although now that her mom officially "approved" of him, maybe she'll finally embrace the relationship. 

While I can understand that some of the comments Rebecca makes/has made about Kate's weight and her singing abilities could come off like she's not proud, I don't think that was ever her intention. Not consciously at least. All she's ever done was dedicate her life to this family and these kids! 

If my daughter ever told me all of that, I would not be as calm and composed as Rebecca. 

I also feel bad for Toby for getting stuck in the middle of a mom vs. daughter showdown but commend him for standing up for his girl. Mother's can be intimidating but saying he's "Team Kate for life" proved that he was worthy of her daughter's heart. 

Kevin's storyline didn't serve much purpose except to bring the whole family together in one place again and prove that Sophie truly is a gem. Oh, and to show off his abs. Seriously, do people really count those things?

And we got to see him be the Manny again so "winning."

When Sophie's around, he seems more grounded. She has a positive effect on him, even helping him channel his inner Clooney when the director tried so hard to sabotage him. Old Kevin probably would have thrown a fit and stomped out. 

There's a lot we don't know about Beth and Randall's relationship, but we're starting to peel back the layers a bit, and it's getting all types of exciting! Have you ever just stopped to think about how sweater-vested Randall landed a goddess like Beth? She's edgy, witty, and unapologetically herself. I respect that. 

This Is Us Beth and Randall

And she's not afraid to get into it with Randall when he's being such a Randall. 

When he started bugging out about whether or not fostering a child was a good idea, she was confident that it was because they raised two good kids and could do it again, even for a child with previous issues. 

And while I'm sure seeing them struggle to parent a child who isn't as 'perfect' as Annie and Tess will add on more layers, I also want to explore some flashbacks to when Randall asked her out! Dreadlocks... Kevin's pickup lines... it's almost too good to be true.

Beth has always been a little distanced from Kevin so it was nice to see them bond and realize that if it wasn't for him, she wouldn't have met the love of her life. And that's surprising considering these two never acted like brothers before, let alone brother who could pick up chicks together!

What did you think of the episode? Remember, you can watch This Is Us online and comment below to chat about it! 

A Manny-Splendored Thing Review

Editor Rating: 4.2 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (45 Votes)

Lizzy Buczak is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and read her personal blog at CraveYouTV.

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This Is Us Season 2 Episode 2 Quotes

Y’all been sleeping on my boy Miguel. Miguel gets no love.

Toby

Rebecca: Kate, sweetheart, you sang incredibly, beautifully. You should be so happy right now.
Kate: Incredibly, beautifully? Why do you do that?
Rebecca: Do what? I'm complimenting you, I'm proud of you.
Kate: No, you feel sorry for me.
Rebecca: What on earth would make you think that Kate?
Kate: You overcompensate for me, mom, and you always have. And here I am a 37-year-old woman and you still me like a stupid fat little kid.
Rebecca: I'm sorry, what have I ever done to make you feel like that?
Kate: You existed. It's everything about you mom. It's not just that you're beautiful or thin or that you have perfect pitch even when you talk. It's everything. And you wanted a daughter like you. And I was never gonna be you.
Rebecca: I never wanted you to be like me, Kate.
Kate: Oh no, you wanted me to be the you that you never became.