This Is Us season 2 episode 8 was, (for both Kevin and Kate) the equivalent of a gut-punch right to the heart. “Number One” may be up there with “Memphis” as one of our favorite all-time episodes, but it is also one of the most painful and heartbreaking for so many reasons.
Let’s start with the big reveal at the end of the episode: Kate lost her baby. That is devastating for her and Toby, but you’ll have to wait until next week in order to learn more about it. For Kevin, it was as much the timing of the reveal as it was the news — he finally hit rock bottom, and the moment that he did so was in doing something that he’d yearned to do for quite some time: Lose. Going back to his old high school (where he was getting honored) proved itself to be the worst thing that could have possibly happened to Kevin and for so many reasons. The people who were at McKinley High (apparently a different one than the one on Glee, even if the two ironically have the same colors) wanted nothing more than to endlessly praise Kevin, ignoring the fact that he was drinking heavily, going through painkiller withdrawals, and was horribly disconnected from much of the world surrounding him. To other people, all Kevin did was constantly win — every time he fell down, he picked himself back up.
Yet, Kevin couldn’t stand just how easy some of these victories were for him. When he lost his career in football and then his father, he managed to find his way into acting with a successful sitcom. When he lost his wife, he managed to get her back before screwing it up again. He’s idolized by many and yet he hates himself on the inside for his drug abuse and personal insecurities. He looked back on some of his life in football — and his struggles with his father — in a series of flashbacks throughout the episode. We saw him be a complete jerk to recruiters before then suffering a career-ending knee injury before he even made it to college.
His biggest breakdown, however, came after the high-school function, where he slept with one of his former classmates (Charlotte), formerly a nerd and someone who went on to become a plastic surgeon. He tried to steal her prescription pad to get more Vicodin for himself, and did this by committing the ultimate d-bag move: Convincing her that he was hungry and that she should go make him a bite to eat. She did that while he rummaged through her stuff in order to get himself more pills.
Then, Kevin realized that he had left his necklace, the one given to him by his father in the midst of his injury recovery, back at her place. She wouldn’t give it to him, and Kevin lost one of the most important things in his life. For a guy so used to winning, he found himself broken, disconnected, and horribly alone. His scene screaming for help outside of her place was terrifying and it was enough to convince him to go to Randall for help.
It was then, mere seconds before he told Randall why he was there, when he learned the truth about Kate. Now, he may have to find a way to push his own pain to the side for the sake of his sister.
The only gripe of the episode
It’s a small one, but we didn’t love how the show went so commercial with the insinuation that Kevin may have partied a little too hard with the student / young Sophie lookalike from the school. That didn’t turn out to really be the case, but for most of that break we found ourselves needlessly dreading the show going to a place it didn’t need to. (That was especially true for that split-second of Kevin in bed — it was meant to make you uncomfortable before revealing that he was with Charlotte, but it really wasn’t needed and felt like a trick.)
Still, this was overall an exceptional episode of This Is Us and one anchored by a great performance from Justin Hartley.
What did you think about This Is Us season 2 episode 7, and how often did you find yourself tearing up? (Personally, it got us a couple of times.) Share below!