Sorry, Milo Ventimiglia — This Is Us Is Actually A Lot Better Without Jack
Last week I had some words with NBC — by which I mean I wrote some words that the network's powers that be likely did not, nor will ever, read. I presented what I presume to be a fairly unpopular opinion: Jack Pearson needs to die, like, for real. I know, he’s dead — buh he’s not dead-dead. Like he’s still present in almost every episode, which feels weird since an entire season was devoted to setting up his tragic demise.
We’ve endured too much emotional turmoil for the ghost of Jack Pearson to still be hanging around. We saw that ominous battery-less fire detector; cried in disbelief as that evil Crock Pot set the Pearson home aflame. We saw Jack die — his heart stopped and we were right around the bend, comforting Rebecca while she snacked on a candy bar in denial. We’ve been through it all and now he’s strangely still around, taking Rebecca to carnivals and us back to ‘Nam.
Anyway, somehow, the NBC Gods answered my prayers and delivered episode 5, “Toby,” which features about 30-seconds of J.P. screen time. To be fair, much of the episode is still about Jack, but it’s somehow a lot better without him physically present.
Episode 5 was a good one — all the living characters (R.I.P. Jack) received fair representation, and it felt like we were actually making some plot progression.
Kate is (*spoiler alert*) pregnant (!) and, as expected, Toby’s antidepressants withdrawal is putting a serious damper on the celebration; Randall is finding his foray into politics more difficult than anticipated; and Kevin’s journeying into Jack’s past with a little help from his army buddy Robinson (see episode 4, “Vietnam”).
Perhaps the most affecting part of the episode was Miguel’s involvement (LOL, I bet you didn’t see that coming). Us’s most historically unnecessary character revealed his motivation for keeping such a close watch over the remaining Pearson’s in the days following Jack’s death: Jack asked him to! Miguel wasn’t, as expected, waiting in the wings to snatch Jack’s wife, he was following through on a promise he made to his best friend.
Keep the episode 5 feels coming, NBC.