Phew, anyone else feel like they just left an intense therapy session?
This Is Us' winter return on Tuesday night proved to be one of the NBC hit's most emotional and raw outings yet. And you know that's saying something when every single episode makes us cry as it is.
Following Kevin's (Justin Hartley) DUI in the fall finale, we learn he was ordered to go to rehab, with the Pearsons visiting him at his treatment center after 30 days. But Rebecca (Mandy Moore), Randall (recent Golden Globe winner Sterling K. Brown) and Kate (Chrissy Metz) soon find themselves in an intense therapy session that gets downright ugly...and it was beautiful to watch.
During the therapy session, led by Scandal's Kate Burton as Kevin's therapist, Kevin admits to always feeling like the family's fifth wheel and like he wasn't "enough," leading to his various addictions to try and fill that void.
"I always saw him as this guy that tried to fill that void, that very real void, you know, not having been paid attention to or the love or the loss of his father," Hartley says in the This Is Us Aftershow, "he fills it with all these ridiculous things that of course are not going to do much for him. I always saw him as a much deeper person. Sometimes it looks like a cry-baby or a complainer, in my opinion, it's more like he's a tough guy."
Of course, addiction runs in the Pearson family, as viewers have seen Jack (Milo Ventmiglia) struggle with alcoholism. Still, Rebecca is "totally blindsided" when Kevin brings up his late father's issues, Moore says.
"I think Rebecca is totally blindsided by the whole experience," she explains. "I don't think in her wildest imagination that she ever thought Jack would be brought into it and alcoholism and addiction. I think that was just beyond her scope of understanding of what the actual situation was."
The intense therapy session reaches its breaking point when Kevin calls out Rebecca for loving Randall the most, and after some pressure, Rebecca admits he was "just easier," and then drops a bombshell: she feels Randall was her only child that didn't abandon her after Jack's death.
"That's family, man," Hartley says of the way the Pearsons spoke to each other in the episode, while the episode's writer Vera Herbert adds, "The air needed to be let out. They had to say those things and then from that they can pick up the pieces and now they have a better understanding of each other."
Viewers can expect the therapy session's revelations to impact the rest of the season, as Herbert previews, "It's a family that always has the best of intentions. They root for each other. So now that they know what these issues are it's going to be, the rest of the season, watching them try to navigate those relationships with each other and try to do the best by each other that they can."
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.
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