In Defense of This Is Us's Most Underrated Character, Miguel
As per the incredibly on the nose title “The Waiting Room,” this week’s episode of This Is Us took place where we left off with the Pearsons as they awaited news about Kate’s premature labor.
And instead of a predictably taut emotional waiting game interspersed with clips of a teary-eyed Jack Pearson cradling a newborn Kate, we got something else entirely.
In the titular waiting room, an on-edge and newly wagon-fallen Kevin tried to pick a fight with just about everyone: Randall, Madison, his sister’s doctor; while Randall and Beth continued to bicker over how to keep their daughters properly cared for without the latter putting her career on hold; Rebecca puzzled over aesthetic details Rain Man style; and Miguel asked the age-old question: What food can’t be made better by either chocolate or ranch?
Jack was physically absent from “The Waiting Room,” a surprising move from a show that pulls the “beloved late father figure” card at every emotional turn. Instead, we got the universal Pearson plan B: Miguel.
We get it — when you have the world’s greatest father (who maybe, kind of had some issues you choose to suppress), you don’t want to settle for dad’s friend who swooped in on your mom in the aftermath of his death, but let me tell you, Miguel deserves more.
Every extended member of the family is treated with more respect than Miguel (Toby, Beth, even Kevin’s relatively new girlfriend, Zoe). In fact, Miguel is so undervalued by not only the characters but the show itself that I couldn’t even find a recent photo of him on the press site — the best I could do was a shot from an October 2018 episode.
Though the waiting room gathering was a tough situation to defuse, Miguel was the only person who was unselfishly trying. And OK, the “chocolate/ranch” game was dumb (sushi does not taste better with ranch, I refuse to believe it), but it was better than what everyone else was doing: feeling sorry for themselves (which they all do quite a bit, in case you hadn’t noticed).
But Miguel isn’t the only unsung hero of Us — the episode’s alleged focal point, Kate, served as more of a plot device than anything this episode. Her truly frightening medical situation was leveraged into a platform for the other characters to air their grievances, and for Mandy Moore to deliver a sobering performance as Rebecca recalls sitting in a similar waiting room when she was told Jack had died.
I’m of the mind that Chrissy Metz is the best actor on the series, so to give her only one scene (albeit an incredibly moving one) in an episode that should be all about her feels like a network television crime.
Justice 4 Kate, and perpetual afterthought Miguel.