For the first time since the beginning of THIS IS US, all three siblings are finally together, and it rings vaguely hollow. The stakes of this episode seem to be all over the place, with Randall’s life-changing discovery being placed at the same level as whatever’s going on with Kevin’s love life. Though Randall and Jack carry the emotional weight of “The Trip,” the unevenness of all the siblings is more than apparent.
“The Trip” is called that for two big reasons. First of all, the triplets are having one last hurrah at a cabin we just found out abou,t but apparently holds all the memories for the Piersons. The other reason, of course, is the accidental mushroom trip that Randall finds himself on. It’s been a tough day for Randall. He just found out that his mother has being lying to him his entire life about knowing his birth father, and he has a full list of reasons why he’s mad at her. On top of that, his brother and sister take him to the old family cabin and then care more about their petty-in-comparison worries than this insanely huge revelation.
He accidentally ingests mushrooms from Kevin’s kind of girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend hipster playwright guys who is there for some godforsaken reason. He puts a mushroom smoothing in the fridge and poor Randall just wants to try some. It’s a very roundabout way to arrive at the old hallucination for character development trope. Randall’s trip obviously deals with the recent betrayal in his life, manifested in a hallucinated Jack. I get it Randall, if I was tripping, I would also want to see Milo Ventimiglia. Of course, the whole point of this experience is twofold: to start Randall down the process of forgiving Rebecca, and also showing what a great dad Jack was. The two of them work very well together, and though their story is heavy-handed, the chemistry between the two of them tether the genuine emotion of the characters. Sterling K Brown plays Randall’s fresh wounds masterfully, while Ventimiglia is in his element as a sturdy beacon of support, even if he is just a hallucination of his son.
Jack’s commitment to do anything for his kid is more than just a drug trip, as it is showcased in the flashback portion of the episode. Knowing that Randall doesn’t have enough black male role models in his life, Jack wants to track down Randall’s birth parents. Rebecca is not for this turn of events as it would expose her lies, and she has always been afraid of Randall not thinking of them as her real parents. She almost has a change of heart and goes to see William, but when she sees how excited he is about meeting his son, she bolts. She is so insecure about her motherhood, that she won’t let anyone else be involved in his life. Even though the episode is clearly building up to a big forgiveness arc between Randall and Rebecca, it’s hard to sympathize with a mother who keeps her son from his birth father for selfish reasons. If William was still an addict, or did not care about Randall, that would be another story, but he is sober and eager now, and he won’t get the opportunity to be with his son for almost 30 years.
With all the heavy emotional stuff going on around Randall and his parents it is hard to muster up sympathy for Kevin and Kate who are both caught up in their own romances and insecurities. Kevin is less than happy that Olivia brought her buddies up to the cabin, and Kate is less than happy Kevin invited Olivia to the cabin. And Randall just found out his mother had been lying to him his entire life. It’s all relative. Kate is still trying to go ahead with the surgery, which Olivia tells her is a bad idea. A good point from an otherwise annoying character, but Kate does not take kindly to it, as the two women spat. This scene is one of the few in This Is Us that pass the Bechdel test, so there you have it. At least Kate hating the girl her brother’s seeing is something that doesn’t have to do with her weight, even though it is shrouded in the ideas of her weight loss. Also she misses Toby. I don’t.
In the past, it’s worked when there were different tones to the storylines, but it made sense for Kate to have a less emotional plot than Randall when she was in LA, for example. Now though, this is the first episode the three of them get to spend time together and they are all wrapped up in their own problems. The siblings in the cabin is the perfect opportunity for some juicy togetherness or familiar arguments or anything with the three of them, but instead we were given a third of that with only Randall, once again, getting all the good stuff.
Season 1, Episode 9 (S01E09)
This is Us airs Day at 10PM on NBC
Raina spends most of her time watching television and trying to find the perfect bagel and lox, because she likes being emotionally distraught.
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Raina Deerwater | Contributor