Emotions are running high for the Pearsons in season 2 of This Is Us. For fans hoping for more insight into Jack’s death, they will just have to wait, as his drinking problem recovery takes center stage in “A Manny-Splendored Thing.” In present day, everyone is on edge as all the Pearsons head to Los Angeles to see a taping of the 100th episode of The Manny, in which Kevin has been asked to make an appearance.

This Is Us Season 2 Premiere: Breaking Down the Clues to Jack’s Death

Do It Like the Last Time

As Rebecca and Jack arrive home after she picks him up from Miguel’s, Jack admits that he’s been drinking again for the past few months. She asks him how he stopped before, which forces him to remember his past.

Jack flashes back to the first time she told him to sober up and gives her the moon necklace. He remembers the day of the kids’ talent show. Before, at work, he has a particularly hard day, so instead of having a drink with a co-worker, he takes a drive to try out an AA meeting. He doesn’t stay long, and then he heads to the kids’ school and has a chat with Kate. She says she’s worried about singing in the talent show because Rebecca always treats Kate’s singing like it’s a job. When she asks Jack about work, he gets flustered, so she puts his hands on his face and says everything will be okay.

Back at work, Jack does reach for the bottle but throws it out and then heads to a boxing gym after work. He lets out his frustration on the bag and has some memories of his father drinking as well as his time in the war. And he does manage to make it to the school in time for the talent show.

However, at the talent show, Kate doesn’t want to sing. She tells her mother it’s because her throat hurts. But she doesn’t want to sing because earlier in the day, she heard Rebecca sing and was sad, as she fears she won’t live up to her mother’s expectations.

Back in 1997, Jack tells Rebecca that he kept it to himself the last time, and he doesn’t want to do that again. She agrees. So Jack then goes to see Kate and confesses that he has a drinking problem. Once again, Kate puts his hands on his face and consoles him. Shortly after Jack tells all the kids about his problem, Rebecca drives him to AA.

Her First Gig

It seems like Kate’s insecurities from childhood have spilled over into adulthood. She freaks out as she cleans her apartment before her mother and Miguel arrive, as they are flying into Los Angeles to see Kevin’s guest appearance on The Manny. She says she doesn’t want to hear her mother’s criticism.

Later on, before the show’s taping, Kate gets a call from a bar’s house band that needs her to fill in for its lead singer. She’s ecstatic, but as Rebecca overhears, Kate’s enthusiasm seems to wane. Rebecca makes a comment about when she used to sing, and Kate gives her a snarky reply. Kate then leaves Toby to sit with Rebecca and Miguel.

During the taping, Toby excuses himself to go watch Kate perform, and Rebecca insists on going too, making it awkward for Toby, who knows that Kate doesn’t want her there. They both arrive, and Kate sees them before she performs. But she doesn’t give up, and she gives the performance her all. After the show, Rebecca congratulates her but then makes a comment about how Kate will eventually be able to “power through the crowd.” This sets Kate off, as she tosses insult after insult at Rebecca, even suggesting that Rebecca always wanted Kate to be the person she never became. Rebecca is left speechless. Kate does apologize but then walks out to her car.

Rebecca tries to rationalize things with Toby, but he respectfully tells Rebecca that he’s on Team Kate and that he won’t side with her, so she shouldn’t even ask. And this comment from Toby is all Rebecca needs to win her approval, as the three awkwardly head home.

Randalling It

As Randall and his family get ready to head to Los Angeles, Beth confronts him about not filling out the forms to foster a child. She says he needs to stop “Randalling it” and just get it done. He promises to fill out the papers on the plane, but he never does.

Once they get to The Manny set and get settled in their seats, Beth asks Randall to fill out the paperwork. He makes up an excuse and walks away, so she runs after him. In the studio lot, Randall finally confesses that he’s worried about taking on a child with issues. He is so happy their two girls turned out perfect that it seems they didn’t need to put in too much work to raise them. But he fears that by taking on a child with issues, it could mess up the dynamic of the family, or he just won’t be a good parent.

Beth storms off when Randall suggests they are biting off more than they can chew. He follows her and keeps pushing by saying she’s reckless. She tells him she wants to table the conversation until after they get home, but he keeps pushing. So she walks away again.

She heads to Kevin’s dressing room and vents about Randall. He tells her that Randall never does anything he won’t be good at. However, he says, the one time he put himself out there thinking he would fail, he didn’t. And that was the time that Randall asked Beth out for the first time in college. Kevin then reveals he was listening on the phone call and feeding Randall lines to tell Beth. This story puts Beth in a good mood as she heads out to find Randall.

Beth finds Randall and the girls on the studio lot, and she jumps into his arms. He assures him that they can raise a foster child. They can do anything. And he finally agrees, as they tell the girls what’s been going on.

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His Clooney Moment

While his siblings are dealing with their problems, Kevin is dealing with issues of his own. He tells Sophie he wants his return to The Manny to be like George Clooney’s return on ER. She tells him he’ll be fine.

Once on the set, the old director catches Kevin and Sophie goofing around and re-enacting his on-set freakout a year ago. This doesn’t sit well with the director, who eventually rewrites the ending of the episode, which Kevin finds humiliating. It’s Sophie who convinces him that he do the best he can and this will be his Clooney moment. And even when he comes out in a diaper as part of the last scene, it’s Sophie’s laughter that allows him to just enjoy the moment.

Emotions Running Deep

Emotions really are running deep. Now that we’ve all gotten to know the Pearsons, season 2 is diving right into the tough stuff. We always knew that Kate has had a strained relationship with her mother, but just how deep those emotions run wasn’t really clear until “A Manny-Splendored Thing.” The way Kate speaks to her mother after the gig, those are fighting words. But I’m glad that she sticks up for herself, instead of hiding her emotions as she did as a child.

I love Toby. His comments about how Miguel gets no love, and him being Team Kate, are what makes him such a great character. And he’s just what Kate needs to keep her strong and motivated so she doesn’t spiral down into that little insecure girl she once was.

Kevin’s insecurities must come later in life as an adult, as he is a huge ham as a kid. And it’s cute that Sophie has always been his biggest fan.

Randall just needs to relax. Now that he’s a stay-at-home dad, these issues he creates for himself are too much. It’s like he always needs something to dwell on. He’s fixated on adopting but can’t wrap his head around helping an older child, as Beth wants to do. He needs pushing from Beth to take those risks.

It’s interesting to see not only how Jack gets sober the first time but also how he at least attempts to get sober a second time. I just have to wonder if he actually does get sober a second time. Or maybe it’s drinking that leads to that fatal fire?

Are you happy with the high emotions of season 2 so far? Did you like learning more about Jack’s drinking problem? Were you proud of Kate standing up to Rebecca? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on NBC. Want more news? Like our BuddyTV Facebook page.

(Image courtesy of NBC)


Contributing Writer, BuddyTV