This Is Us Season 2, Episode 2 Recap: "A Manny-Splendored Thing"

Photo: Courtesy of NBC.
On last week’s This Is Us, we got a devastating clue into just how Jack Pearson (Milo Ventimiglia) died. In the final scene, we see a heartbroken Rebecca (Mandy Moore) drive up to the Pearson house, which has burned down. We also saw the Big Three — Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and Kate (Chrissy Metz) being told about their father’s death by Miguel (Jon Huertas), and Kevin (Justin Hartley) off with Sophie (Alexandra Breckenridge). The internet went wild with theories about just what this could mean (I’m totally sold on this one) but we were left hanging on just how the Pearsons ended up there.
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Major spoilers ahead!
We joined Rebecca and Jack back in the car, after she picked him up from Miguel’s. They started talking about the last time Jack stopped drinking, which leads us to a not completely unfamiliar flashback. We see Jack at work, adding what looks like whiskey to his coffee and then buying Rebecca a necklace. Turns out, this is the necklace we saw him give her last season.
Then we head back to 2017 and Kevin is checking out his abs in the mirror. He’s back in a trailer for The Manny, since he’s been asked to come back and do a special reunion episode. For Kevin, he needs people to “love him like Clooney” when he finished ER. Sophie is straight with him and tells him that this is his least attractive side (Agreed).
Popping over to Randall and Beth’s (Susan Kelechi Watson), they are headed out to catch Kevin’s taping of The Manny. They banter back and forth about filling out the forms to foster a child, which are due by the end of the day. They’re cute but a little tense. Beth doesn’t think Kevin is funny, and she’s got jokes about Randall in bed.
Kate and Toby (Chris Sullivan) are prepping for Rebecca and Miguel to arrive, and Toby is making pigs in a blanket. This isn’t really relevant, but made me want one. Toby is talking a big game about winning over Miguel — they’re both “outsiders” — and how he thinks that Kate’s mom doesn’t like him since he’s just a dude who “has heart attacks and falls into coffee tables.” Kate is having relatable feels, stressing over wanting the house (and her life) to look perfect before her mom gets there.
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Kevin and Sophie are on the set of The Manny, and she has him recreate his moment from TMZ when he stormed off the show. She says it’s her favorite, and probably same. The director awkwardly walks in while they’re doing it. Enough said about that interaction.
Flashing back again, we see Jack getting yelled at at work by his boss. He turns down a drink, and then see him head to an AA meeting — but promptly walk out. He heads to school and picks up Kate, whose reaction is adorable. She’s crazy insightful, asking her dad if everything is okay, and then doing the sweet hands on face move that the Pearsons are famous for. Later, we see Jack get rid of the bottle in his desk and head to a gym.
Back on set, the fam is hanging out, and Randall is cracking me up with his Manny impression. Kevin is handed some last-minute revisions that we can only assume are terrible for him. It all kicks off during the big event though — Randall walks out while being pressured to fill out the foster forms, telling Beth that he’s worried that it might be too much for them; Kate gets a call from a band, and has to leave to head to a show (go girl!).
Kevin starts shooting The Manny, and I totally forgot just how corny his former show is. He’s freaking out about the final scene. Rebecca and Toby also leave to catch Kate’s gig, leaving just Miguel and the girls to watch Kevin (poor guy). Randall and Beth decide to table the talk about fostering until they get home.
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In the cutest moment of the show yet, throwback Rebecca gives Kate a dress she made her out of one of her memorable outfits. It’s sweet, until Kate hears her mom sing and becomes self-conscious about her own abilities. She ends up sitting out of the talent show with a “sore throat”.
Kate catches her mom and Toby walk in just as she starts singing, and we’re thrown into a series of flashbacks. Jack is boxing and thinking about his own father and his time in the war; Kevin is embarassed in a diaper on stage, thinking about to Sophie supporting him being an embarrassing young Mr. T.
Beth and Kevin have a heart-to-heart after he finds her in his trailer. They both know Randall so well it’s adorable. Kevin says that the only time Randall attempted something he didn’t know he’d succeed at was when he went up to her the first time. Turns out that Kevin gave Randall all those pickup lines, and Beth cannot deal (I’m cracking up). Beth and Randall have the cutest reunion, and then start to tell the girls about fostering.
Kate and her mom have beef at the concert after Rebecca gives her a bit of a backhanded compliment. Kate puts Rebecca in her place, saying that she wanted Kate to be the version of her that she never became. Rebecca has no comeback that’s “quite that terrible.” Toby (sweetest fiancé ever) tells Rebecca that he’ll be “Team Kate forever”. Once they get in the car, Rebecca tells Kate (and Toby) that she really likes her fiancé, and hearts are warm again.
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Ending on a flashback, Jack is answering Rebecca’s question on how he stopped drinking years ago: He kept it to himself, but that can’t happen this time. One by one, starting with Kate, Jack tells his kids about his alcoholism. Then, unlike last time, Jack goes into AA and stays.
While last week had us all sobbing over the big reveal, this week definitely moved towards setting up the plot to show us just how we got to This Is Us’ most heartbreaking moment.
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