Let’s Talk About… This Is Us Season 2, Episode 12: “Clooney”

With another week comes another episode of This Is Us and my “refresher” and/or retrospective review.  Obviously SPOILERS for this episode and the entire series so far follow.  The title of this episode refers to William’s cat.  To check out my review of the previous episode, click here.  If you want to see other previous articles, click here.

The episode opens with a cat that is later revealed to be William’s stray cat named Clooney walking the streets and lost without a home or purpose.  I originally thought that the title was in reference to George Clooney as Kevin had previously talked about him in a reference to his own acting career.  However, I was reminded by the previously section that he says the cat’s name is Clooney and that it is “one of those ironic names because he’s a pretty ugly cat.”

Shots of the cat wandering the street are present the entire episode and serve as a metaphor for every single character as it is just wandering through life and searching for a semblance of life.  Eventually towards the end of the episode, we see his initial meeting with William in the past who instantly take the cat for his own.

Jack is building things through woodworking in order to provide practical things for his family.   Kate wants a dress for the winter formal and asks her mom if they can go to the mall.  Jack wants to go with, so he can get a new suit for his job.  Rebecca tells him to reminder her to pick up batteries (this will come into play later in the episode in an unexpected way).

Young Kevin is moping around with his hurt leg in a cast and is not planning on going to the winter formal, however Jack convinces him into going to the mall with him, Rebecca and Kate for a suit.  Randall appears out of thin air and declares that he would also like to go to the mall.  After he goes to get ready, Kevin expresses that “oh god, he’s weird”.   Kate and Rebecca go to the mall to shop for a dress with Jack, Kevin and Randall tagging along.  Even with her mother’s encouragement, Kate is uneasy about finding a dress.  She tries to fit into a 7 at first, but no matter what the size of the dress is, they will not fit.

Kevin realizes that he will never play football again.

Jack mostly came and dragged Kevin along to get both of them suits, so they are mostly isolated from the rest of the group.  They eventually bump into the not-married-to-Rebecca Miguel, who tells them that his ex-wife was just proposed to by her new boyfriend.  He is clearly depressed about the situation and Jack tries to cheer him up.  Jack asks “arcade or food court?” and both Kevin and Miguel scoff “food court”.

He tells Jack and Miguel that he is depressed when he watched football now, which used to make him feel better when he was “bummed”.  Kevin later points out that Jack’s tendency to try to ignore things is annoying, because sometime guys just want to be “bummed”.  Miguel calls that a “Catch-22” (one of my favorite books!) right before Jack sees Randall and calls him over and there is finally “a breath of fresh air… or not” as he is visually upset about something.  Jack tells Kevin that he needs to find his “new football” and something he loves to do, but Kevin rebukes him and says he never had something he loved to do and lost.

Although Jack says that may be true, Miguel rebukes him and reveals Jack’s idea for the “Big Three Homes”, a construction company,  Instead of following that risk, he stuck out with his existing company because “it wasn’t time to take a risk like that” in relation to the kids.  He tell the young Kevin and Randall to “own their choices” and not to look back.  Young Randall eventually works up the nerve and asks the girl out by handing her a magic 8-ball and after she shakes it, and it says “Don’t over think this Allison”.  Young Kevin in his suit with his leg in the cast from his football-ending injury, but appreciates the gesture from his father and says “thank you dad” after he has the suit on.

I hope you didn’t think William wasn’t going to show up again soon.

Juxtaposed with young Randall working on a diagram, we shift into the present day with an adult Randal working on a diagram with his daughter, but he did most, if not all of the work.  There is no conflict about this as Randall loves doing it because it makes him happy.  A random box of William’s has been found that Randall goes to pick up at his old apartment building.  Beth tells him that he should be preparing for his interview, instead of worrying about picking up this mysterious box.

As he walks in the building, he sees a “ghost” of William walking around and doing his daily routine.  He meets an old friend of his, Lloyd, who had called him about the box and talks about how the cat left and it was probably because William is gone.  He tells him that he is probably fine because “strays always end up with someone that needs ‘em”.  He gives him the box which is full of varying papers books, but it is mostly and more importantly composed of poetry and drawings.

Randall thinks that a great deal of the poetry and drawings pointing to a possible love affair and visits various neighbors to determine who the woman could be.  He goes door to door to find out who this mysterious woman could be, but it is to no avail.  Once again, Randall randomly shows up a Beth’s work to talk to her, but this time she is somewhat annoyed.  She just lost a big contract to Costco that was supposed to be for a park and tells him that he needs to work and “come down from outer space” to “the real world”.

While Randall is at the adoption agency, he receives a call from Lloyd who tells him about a girl with kids whose apartment William used to go in and out of.  He eventually visits the woman who happens to be the super, but she tells him that William mostly came to complain about fixing stuff.  However, she does say that his death was a huge loss for the building and its “heart and there was place for the blood to go”.

He shows her one of the poems and she reacts by showing him to a different apartment, William’s, where Randall finds poems and artwork especially in the form old posters that are predominately of Billie Holiday or “Lady Day”.  The mystery is solved, but not in the way Randall had forseen.  Randall takes Beth to William’s old run-down building because he wants them to buy it together to reinvigorate the dying community,

Madison (played by Caitlin Thompson) has turned from a joke into a compelling character.

After finally realizing that she has fallen off the wagon, Kate returns to her therapy sessions.  She admits that after the miscarriage that she needed comfort and started eating a lot of Taco Bell because the Doritos shells are back (corporation plugs, yay!).  She is worried about getting a wedding dress as she is too big, which catches the attention of Madison.  Kate mocks her by telling her to say something that will make them all roll their eyes and she does about her wrists getting fat.

Kate is coerced into shopping for a wedding dress with Madison, the skinny girl with a weight problem or “Not-Really-Fat Rich Girl” as she was credited as in her first appearance according to IMDb.  They go to her recommended shop and begin to drink copious amounts of champagne.  This is perfectly paired with a flashback to the mall where she tries on different clothes, but cannot seem to fit into any.

As they are looking at dresses, Madison leaves to go to the bathroom obviously to puke up the food and alcohol she has consumed.  When she returns, Kate politely confronts her about it, but she is offended by the insinuation.  She leaves her at the dress shop and tells her to find her own way home.

Later Kate is at home looking at dresses online, but she is interrupted when the phone rings.  She answers the phone and seems distressed, but the origin of the call is not revealed until she goes to Madison’s house.   She has fainted “again” and is lying on the bathroom floor.  Madison is bleeding from the head and admits that she used to binge eat and pass out all the time, but this was the first time in a while.

Kate reveals to her that after her father died, she got really skinny and stopped really eating.  Even though she was finally able to fit into the 7, it was an empty victory.  We see her try to fit into a 5 afterwards, because cutting down her weight just was not enough of an accomplishment for the young Kate.   She preferred being fat because she always heard “the voice” and did not know who she was without it.  “Should we host a podcast?” jokingly asks Madison.  She later tells Kate , as she is taking care of her, that she is her best friend.

Jack and Miguel’s friendship transcends death.

After getting out of rehab, Kevin goes to live with his mother and Miguel instead of going back to Hollywood as he and his therapist agree that he needs a healthy routine.  He wants to make up for lost time, but Miguel is still a problem for him.  Although Rebecca has gotten him healthy food that he normally he eats like kale, Kevin says that he switched to a diet skittles and cinnamon toast crunch.

They decide to go to the grocery store and Miguel opts to tag along, which he later reveals to Kevin that it was to “protect” Rebecca from Kevin’s “any bombs” and “blame that he might drop on her”, who apparently used to date Jessica Biel in this fictional universe.  Kevin admits to Rebecca that he lost his dad’s necklace at the store during a casual conversation.  She tells him that he would understand because he has been through a lot lately.

Kevin later points out to Rebecca that she moved her head off Miguel’s shoulder when he entered the room.  He then reassures her and says that she shouldn’t have to worry about he feels.   He then asks her if she was happy with him and  Rebecca tells Kevin that she is “happy, but differently” with Miguel in relation to his father, Jack.

Towards the end of the episode and in the past, we see that Jack has been inspired by his earlier conversation with both Miguel and Kevin to maybe try and start up the business again.  Jack says that it is not the right thing to do, but Rebecca says that is “going to make it pretty exciting”.  Jack randomly wonders “did we forget something at the mall?” which was the batteries for the smoke alarm.  We see a close-up on the smoke alarm foreshadowing Jack’s eventual death by fire or at least we are led to believe that is how he dies.

It is a weird thing to say, but the two minor characters of Miguel and Madison (two M names!?) are the true stars of this episode as they are fleshed out immensely.   Both Sterling K. Brown and the ensemble took home awards from the S.A.G. awards for this season and they were both well-deserved.

Here is the preview for the next episode entitled “That’ll Be The Day”:

Will this be the episode that finally reveals Jack’s death?

What did you think of the episode, the season and the series so far?  Sound off in the comments!