Season 1, Episode 5 “The Game Plan”
Air date: October 25, 2016
*** warning this contains spoilers for the fifth episode of This Is Us ***
This episode sheds a light on Jack and Rebecca’s lives before the ‘big three’ arrive, and maybe just as important, how the Pittsburgh Steelers became such an essential part of their story. Jack and Rebecca are struggling with the next step in their relationship, Jack wants kids and Rebecca doesn’t. Afraid of how their lives will change once kids are in the picture. In present day, Toby feels a tad reject by Kate when she insists on watching the Steelers game by herself. Feeling a little crowded with both his brother Kevin and father William living in his home, Randall and his wife Beth take Kevin’s fancy NYC hotel room for the night. Using it as a moment for them to unwind, but a possible pregnancy causes them to think about the future of their relationship.
The “That Is Us” Moment: With Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) out of the house, Kevin (Justin Hartley) and William (Ron Cephas Jones) are in charge of watching over the girls. In an attempt to keep them preoccupied, Kevin enlists the girls and William in helping him read lines for his new play. Unfortunately, he didn’t consider that his nieces would question him on what the plays means. Which leads to an awkward discussion on the subject of death with two children. Feeling like he completely failed in comforting his nieces on the complex element of life he turns to William for guidance on how to approach the distraught kids. The product of that discussion has Kevin upstairs in the girls’ room showing them a painting he did after he read the play for the first time. Explaining the ritual of painting as a way for him to understand the feelings and emotions of a play. This specific painting is his visual representation of what life and ultimately death means in the grand scheme of the universe.
Kevin: “I painted this because I felt like the play was about life. Life is full of colour, and we each get to come along and we add our own our own colour to the painting. And even though it’s not very big, the painting, we have to figure that it goes on forever in each direction, to infinity. Cause that’s kinda like life. It’s really crazy if you think about it isn’t it, that a hundred years ago some guy that I never met came to this country with a suitcase. He has a son, who has a son, who has me. So at first when I was painting I was thinking maybe up here was that guy’s part of the painting, and down here that’s my part of the painting. And then I started thinking what if we’re all in the painting everywhere. What if we’re in the painting before we’re born, what if we’re in it after we die? And these colours that we keep adding, what if they keep on getting added on top of one another until eventually we’re not even different colours any more? We’re just one thing, one painting. My dad, he’s not with us anymore, he’s not alive but he’s with us. He’s with me everyday. It all sort of fits somehow, even if you don’t understand how yet. People will die in our lives, people that we love. In the future, maybe tomorrow, maybe years from now. It’s kinda beautiful if you think about it, the fact that just because someone dies and you can’t see them or talk to them anymore, doesn’t mean they’re not in the painting. I think that maybe that’s the point of the whole thing. There is no dying, there’s no you or me or them. There’s just us.
This monologue not only makes us relate to our own apprehensions about talking about our dealing with death, but it also gives us some insight into what has happened and what is also to come. We learn that the beloved patriarch, Jack (Milo Ventimiglia), of the ‘big three’ has died. What caused it and how long he’s been gone remains unanswered still, but it doesn’t make the revelation any less sad. We also get a brief flash-forward of Randall packing up William’s belonging into a box, knowing that he will in fact die. Leaving us wondering how much of an impact he will continue to have on Randall’s life before he does.
What do you think? What was the moment you connected to most in this week’s episode? Comment below!