This Is Us celebrates young love and mature romance

Photo: Ron Batzdorff / NBC

“Are you going to be a problem, sir?” “

“Absoutely.”

The Pearsons are numerous. This is one of the reasons It’s us is a polarizing spectacle. If you can’t get along with the over-the-top way they show love, the show can be off-putting in its big, melodramatic gestures. It’s hard to empathize with characters who do objectively insane things like Google hunt down old adventures from the 1960s and then show up in their homes in totally unexpected ways. But, to its credit, “One Giant Leap” uses its two central romantic road trips to undermine the series’ usual storytelling mode.

With the exception of a brief introduction by Randall, the Big Three are almost entirely absent from this episode, both in the past and in the present. Instead, Nicky, Rebecca, and Miguel take center stage in one script and Deja and Malik in the other. It gives “One Giant Leap” a different feeling than your average It’s us episode. Deja’s secret journey to visit Malik sets us up for melodrama to instead serve something wonderfully understated. And Nicky’s impulsive road trip to see Sally promises rom-com whimsy only to deliver a much more realistic take on romance and romance.

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On paper, there’s a lot to love about “One Giant Leap” and the way it pits young love against mature romance in order to celebrate the beauty of the two. In practice, however, this is an episode that never fully jellied for me. This could simply be because I spent most of her execution reeling from the sheer madness of Nicky, Rebecca, and Miguel showing up at Sally’s door after finding her address online. (That’s impressive internet harassment from Nicky considering the frequency of her name and her limited technical skills.) But I also think “One Giant Leap” struggles to strike the right balance between showing off and tell when it comes to exploring its central themes of age and romance.

Let’s start with Deja’s scenario, which is the simpler of the two. While Deja pulls off the classic teenage twist of telling her parents she’s staying with a friend while she goes to visit her boyfriend, it’s otherwise an episode that emphasizes maturity. by Deja. She doesn’t lose her temper when Malik’s ex-girlfriend Jennifer greets her with a passive and aggressive cold shoulder. And she’s kind and understanding when it comes to the fact that Malik has to spend part of his visit finishing his class work at Harvard.

Photo: Ron Batzdorff / NBC

Photo: Ron Batzdorff / NBC

Overall, Deja’s guideline is a wonderfully mature story about a teenage girl taking a tentative but deliberate step into adulthood, including deciding to have sex for the first time. For a show with so many different coming-of-age stories, I’ve always found it curious that It’s us never really focused on that particular step before. Here, the show does Deja’s experience justice by downplaying it rather than overplaying it. It reminded me of the sweet ease of Jack and Rebecca’s journey in “Sometimes”, although the simplicity of Deja’s story also makes it an eerie contrast to Nicky’s more intense stuff.

As teenager Deja grows up, 70-year-old Nicky is in love-making teenage mode. Although “One Giant Leap” is a witty sequel to the Nicky-centric episode “One Small Step”, it rivals “The Dinner And The Date” in terms of It’s us squeaky comedy. After their surprise arrival, Nicky, Rebecca, and Miguel quickly learn that Nicky’s memories of Sally are fuzzy at best and that she is married to a man named Eric. Nonetheless, the Pearson cohort is invited to stay for “the most embarrassing meal ever,” where a conversation about the mental burden of “sweating the little things” turns into a painfully raw sharing of long-suppressed feelings and frustrations. .

Photo: Ron Batzdorff / NBC

Photo: Ron Batzdorff / NBC

I enjoyed how Nicky’s adventure is sort of hijacked by Rebecca, who ends up bonding with Sally about the struggles of aging. They were both glamorous women from the ’60s and’ 70s who struggled to maintain that same sense of self-confidence as they became older, more reserved versions of themselves. With the bond of a shared experience but the openness of strangers, Rebecca and Sally are able to inspire each other to overcome their insecurities and start doing things like taking selfies and dancing salsa again. . Yet while it’s nice to see this kind of empathetic portrayal of aging portrayed onscreen, I struggled to fully invest in the emotions of a storyline with such an odd setup.

At least, “One Giant Leap” doesn’t give Sally and Nicky an idealized decade-long love story, which might have been just too sweet a touch even for this show. Instead, the trip grants Nicky a different sense of peace and closure. He realizes that the years he spent pining for Sally gave him a glimmer of hope in his darkest moments. And the fact that he made his wall out of old photographs is quite significant. Finally freed from the burden of unrequited love, Nicky finds herself open to a spark with a flight attendant named Edie, who Is it that end up being the person he’s married to in the future – another solid endpoint that feels slightly marred by the awkward path it took to get us there.

Photo: Ron Batzdorff / NBC

Photo: Ron Batzdorff / NBC

Where this episode really skyrockets, however, is in its low-key celebration of Miguel, pretty much the only man in the Pearson family’s orbit who is not a lot of things to deal with. Miguel really puts Rebecca first in a way that even Jack, with his overtly performative love, never really did. That’s why Miguel can barely understand Rebecca’s worry that instead of getting the “showroom model” from her, he got the “used classic with lots of miles”. Rebecca is afraid of becoming a burden as she begins to lose her memories. But for Miguel, that’s just another part of the life and love they’ve carved out together, one where he’s always happy to be the constant support system he’s always been. . Creator Dan Fogelman promised that we’ll finally get to see Rebecca and Miguel’s full love story in this final season. It’s a road trip that I can’t wait to do.

Stray observations

  • This episode made me realize that I have totally lost track of how old Deja is supposed to be at this point. I’m also a little confused about Rebecca’s age too. She talks about being ‘in her sixties’ like it was a long time ago, but if she was supposed to be around 30 when she and Jack had the triplets in 1980, wouldn’t she only have 71? or 72 years old today?

  • “How was breakfast at Tiffany’s?” haha “is absolutely perfect Text from Papa Randall.

  • Poster in Deja’s bedroom suggests she’s a fan of the Freeform TV series Good boredom, and I just want to congratulate her on her excellent taste. It’s also one of my favorites.

  • I love that you can tell Tess to know Deja’s true travel plan by the way she hugs her and wishes her well.

  • It’s weird to have Sally in this big fight with her husband in the same episode which also confirms that Nicky is married to Edie in the future. Are we supposed to be wondering if Sally is always going to come back into Nicky’s life somehow?

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