Get ready for some tough love on This Is Us. Things get pretty ugly in the season 2 winter premiere, titled “The Fifth Wheel,” as the Pearsons visit Kevin in court-ordered rehab after his DUI arrest. A session with his rehab therapist escalates quickly as Kevin opens up about his feelings about his childhood and where he believes his addiction comes from.

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Family Vacation

One summer, while Kevin is at football camp, Rebecca is at home playing games with Kate and Randall, who just got new glasses. Jack comes home to say they are going on vacation to his co-worker’s log cabin in the Poconos. When Kate asks about Kevin, Jack says they’ll pick him up after they get there. Once Kevin arrives, Kate and Randall tell him all the fun things they’ve been doing, and he feels left out.

Meanwhile, Rebecca mentions her concerns about Kate’s weight to Jack, who promises to be more active with her. However, during a playful football toss, Kate starts complaining and runs off when Jack mentions all the sweets she’s been eating. Kevin wants to keep playing and tries to get Rebecca’s attention, though she’s uninterested and she reads alongside Randall. Kevin gets upset and throws the ball at Randall’s head, which sets Rebecca off, as Jack goes after Kate.

At the cabin, Randall can’t find his glasses, so Rebecca immediately thinks Kevin took them. She scolds him, and he yells out that he hates her and hates the family before storming off. In the woods, Jack diverts Kate’s question over whether she’s fat. Instead, he takes her out for ice cream before they get caught in a storm.

When Jack arrives back, he tells Rebecca about the ice cream. She tells Jack that she feels like the bad guy all the time, while Jack is the good guy, secretly buying toys and treats for the kids. Ultimately, she jokes that her being the bad guy will give the kids something to talk about in therapy.

Later that night, Rebecca tries to make nice with Kevin, who is unresponsive as he reads his comic on the porch. After they go to sleep, the storm wakes Kevin up to an empty room. He spots Randall’s glasses under his bed and goes into his parents’ room to give them to Rebecca, but he finds his siblings in bed with his parents. He picks up a blanket and sleeps on the floor. Rebecca wakes up a little while later and joins him on the floor in a special Rebecca and Kevin moment.

All Things Kevin

In present day, it’s a month after Kevin gets arrested for DUI. All of the Pearsons are packing to visit him in rehab. Kate can’t believe she missed all the signs of her brother’s issues, while Toby reminds her that she too was going through a life-changing event. As Toby takes out the trash, he finds hidden junk food in the can, which concerns him.

Beth and Randall check in with Tess before they head out to see Kevin. I can only imagine they have been doting on her since she ran away and was in the car when Kevin got arrested. She assures them she’s fine. Meanwhile, Beth is not pleased to be going to see Kevin, but Randall tells her they need to be there for him, just as Kevin was there for him during his nervous breakdown. Beth begrudgingly agrees but makes it clear she is not forgiving Kevin anytime soon for driving while under the influence with her daughter in the car.

Tearing Apart the Pearsons

When they get to rehab, it seems Kevin is back to his old self again — happy and friends with everyone there. Things turn ugly pretty quick, though, as therapist Barbara informs the group that she only wants the direct relatives of Kevin’s to join them for a session, which leaves Miguel, Beth and Toby to figure out what to do with themselves.

The therapy session starts off pretty tame, with Kevin apologizing to each of his family members. Kate apologizes for not being there for him, Randall just nods and says he’s there for him, and Rebecca says she just wants him to be happy. Barbara quickly tells him he’s being polite and perhaps they need to start talking about where his addiction might stem from. She then informs everyone that they need to talk about things involving the family that were not so perfect, including when Jack was alive, and no one seems happy about this.

Kevin starts to open up by saying during his childhood, he always felt like a fifth wheel. He explains that Kate had Jack, and Randall had Rebecca, but he felt as if no one was there for him. Whenever someone tries to inject and explain, Barbara tells them to wait their turn. Kevin continues by saying that there’s always been a voice in his head that has said he’s not good enough, so he tries to drown out the voice with things like acting, football and fame. He says that it was only a matter of time before he turned to something worse. When he gets puzzled looks from his family, he adds that he comes from a family of addicts. Jack was an addict, as was his father.

And then Kevin digs deeper. He brings up Kate’s weight, saying maybe she’s an addict too and she got it from Jack. After Kate lashes out at the therapist, Barbara asks Rebecca if she ever talked to the kids about Jack’s alcoholism and if she warned them that they might have the gene. Rebecca explains that the kids only have 17 years of memories of their father, and she never talked to them about the one part of him that wasn’t perfect.

Barbara then picks apart Rebecca’s answer, asking why she only mentioned Kate and Randall and not Kevin when she brought up examples of things Jack won’t be a part of because he’s gone. Of course, Kevin says that’s typical of Rebecca. And at this point, Randall jumps in. He says he was there during Kevin’s childhood, obviously, and says he had a good life. He then tells Kevin that the only thing he’s addicted to is attention. Kevin throws back at Randall, asking why Tess ran away from home. This is the last straw for Randall, who grabs Rebecca and starts to go.

As they walk out, Kevin pushes Rebecca to say she loves Randall the most. He eggs her on and asks her to bring up a special moment between just the two of them. She says she’s flustered and can’t think straight. Finally, after more pushing, she breaks down and says that Randall was just easier. She explains that Randall was easier because he didn’t recoil when she touched him, he wasn’t a sullen teen who was angry at her for no reason and he didn’t abandon her and move away when their father died.

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The Big Three Reunite

Of course, the Big Three can’t stay mad at each other for too long. Kate and Randall join Kevin on a bench later on. Kevin tells Kate she’s probably not wrong about how losing Jack is such a big part of their lives. Randall brings up how everyone sees their childhood with different lenses, but that doesn’t mean the memories are right or wrong. He apologizes to Kevin, saying he didn’t come to rehab to crap on his perspective but rather to be there for him. And suddenly, they all love each other again.

The New Big Three

Meanwhile, since they were sent away, Miguel, Beth and Toby hit up a bar and get drunk. Beth, of course, starts complaining about Kevin and how fake he is. She says she just can’t forgive him. Then she and Toby talk about the Pearson No-Fly Zone, when they touch on subjects with Randall and Kate that are off-limits, such as Jack. Beth says that Jack is a saint that they will never meet and never live up to. Miguel stops them, though, out of respect for Jack, and they all toast to the late Pearson.

As they get more drunk, Toby mentions the junk food he found and how Kate probably told her siblings and not him, as he’s not a Pearson on the inside. He then compares the Pearsons to Star Wars. He explains that the Pearsons are the main characters, and the three of them are Chewbacca. Miguel one-ups them, saying that he’s always been on the outside of the family, even after he entered it and married Rebecca. He adds that he’s a fighter pilot who doesn’t have a name. But then he explains that the Pearsons lived through something very unique, the loss of Jack, and that’s why they are on the inside and get lightsabers.

More Opening Up

Before they leave, Kate tells Toby about her junk food binges. It seems therapy helped her to realize that her issues stem from something bigger. Maybe Kevin hit the nail on the head when it comes to food and Jack in Kate’s life.

And Rebecca goes to see Kevin. She tells him that she felt she never had to worry about him growing up because he was always so independent, but perhaps she was wrong. He tells her that he did have a good childhood. And together, they agree that they probably did have special moments of just the two of them; they just can’t seem to remember them.

What an intense episode of This Is Us. And I feel like they really only scratched the surface of the Pearsons. This family is far from perfect. And Jack is held so high on a pedestal, but perhaps he’s not so perfect too, especially if Kate and Kevin are going to trace their addictions to him.

While “The Fifth Wheel” hit on some tough issues, it did have its light moments with the New Big Three. But then again, anything with Toby will be fun. And it is definitely interesting to have Miguel open up too. I would like to learn more about Beth, though. Her dislike of Kevin obviously goes back more than just the last few years. I’m curious where that started exactly.

It looks like the second half of This Is Us season 2 will dig much deeper into who the Pearsons are, and I’m eager to join the bumpy ride.

Did you think the therapy session was too intense? Do you think it will help Kevin? Do you think the Pearsons had a good childhood? 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 This Is Us Facebook page.

(Image courtesy of NBC)


Contributing Writer, BuddyTV