Warning: This recap contains spoilers from the “Number One” episode of This Is Us.
During our This Is Us postmortem interview with Isaac Aptaker last week, the showrunner/executive producer teased “three very special episodes,” each one focused on a particular member of the big three on the same day in the past and present, that would close out the first half of Season 2. “We’re doing a very cool shifting-perspectives thing where you’re going to see different scenes play out over the course of the three episodes from different characters’ perspectives,” Aptaker effused. “It’s totally different from anything we’ve ever done on the show before.”
He also warned that fans who pay close attention to the episodes would be rewarded. “If you watch them really carefully and go back on your DVR, pause, rewind, and rewatch, you will really see all the ways that these three hours of television intersect and complement each other in really unique and surprising ways.”
The first installment of the trilogy, “Number One” — about firstborn Kevin, who is currently on the express train to rock bottom — aired Tuesday night, and we sat glued to our couch, constantly hit rewind, and took notes so that we could compile this handy list of moments and details that we’re pretty sure are important to note.
1. Could that faulty fuse that Jack is trying to fix (or all those candles, for that matter) be the culprit in the house fire that we have been led to believe ends his life?
2. Kevin and Jack aren’t in a particularly great place before the injury or the fire, which we’re guessing is partially responsible for Kevin’s tamping down his feelings and his inability to talk about or cope with his dad’s death. He is clearly embarrassed by his dad’s alcoholism and his recovery. He asks his mom to hide his AA stuff before the Pitt coach shows up. He also complains that it has been six months, and Rebecca says, “It takes as long as it takes.” (Perhaps this is a foreshadowing of Kevin’s situation.) Then he tells his dad he knows what it is like to be embarrassed by someone’s behavior. He also brushes off his dad’s apology for missing his game with another cocky comment.
3. Jack is not at the game where Kevin gets hurt because he has to take Randall to D.C. for a college tour because there won’t be another one for a month. We previously saw Randall filling out an application for Harvard, and his dad jokingly calls him Ivy League, but there aren’t any Ivy League schools in the capital. Could he be considering Georgetown or George Washington? Or maybe he is checking out the historically black Howard University as a part of his never-ending quest to find his roots? We also already know that he met Beth early on in his college career. Could they have crossed paths on the tour and could this affect his final decision? Also important to note: There is an Ivy in Pennsylvania, and maybe he chooses to stay closer to home following his dad’s death. Also on the college front, Rebecca is nagging Kate about “not putting all of [her] eggs in one basket” and making a list, but Kate appears to be more interested in her pet and looking sullen while listening to her Walkman. Assume more on that next week in her episode.
4. Turns out Randall isn’t the only one plagued by the desire to live up to impossibly high standards. The difference is that Randall’s torture is mostly self-imposed or a result of his abandonment and adoption issues, while Kevin seems to feel that he was thrust onto the path to greatness and everyone refuses to let him off. He tells his former classmate Charlotte after the alumni awards ceremony, while high on painkillers and drunk on a gross “foot-forward” red, that he “was branded at birth.” We see the first triplet was first to walk, first picked for teams, first to kiss a girl, and he even sported the number on his football jersey. He had already told Toby in a previous episode how great he was at football and how proud his dad was to film his games every week. Then after an injury ended his dream of going to Notre Dame or playing professional ball, acting came pretty easy for him too.
5. While hanging out on his old field giving a play-by-play of the night that killed his football career and then every mistake he made with handling the grief over his dad, acting, and Sophie, we realize that Kevin also believes that no matter how much he screws up, he always gets another chance, which of course he also finds a way to blow. And that even when he tries “to tell people how pathetic he is, they don’t hear it. They just cheer.”
6. Both Toby and Kate tried to call Kevin on his cell and he ignored them. We’re assuming that they were trying to get hold of him to relay the terrible and shocking news that she had lost the baby. Had he answered, we’re assuming the night would have transpired very differently. Or had it not happened, we got the feeling that he had gone to Randall’s for help and would have come clean about not being able to go more than four hours without a Vicodin.
7. Had he answered, he probably wouldn’t have ended up in bed with Charlotte. Instead, he slept with the plastic surgeon in order to raid her medicine closet and steal her prescription pad in order to score more painkillers. He cruelly sneaked out while she was making them a bed picnic in the kitchen.
8. The bump-and-bounce backfired on him. While in line at the pharmacy with a forged doctor’s note, he realizes that he left his necklace, the one we’ve seen him wearing all along, on her floor. We also find out in the flashback that his dad gave it to him after breaking the bad news about the “catastrophic” hit at the hospital. As it is the only thing he has left of Jack’s, he returns to Charlotte’s and pleads with her from the lawn to return his Buddhist amulet. She refuses and fails to see Kevin crumbling to the ground and begging for help.
9. Jack tells Kevin that he was given the chain by “someone very special in Vietnam” when he “was feeling very lost” and was at “a hopeless time in [his] life.” He was wearing it the day the kids were born, and it helped him realize that the kids are his true purpose in life. Given that this is the third or fourth episode to mention Vietnam and Jack’s service, it would not surprise us if there’s a war flashback episode in the pipeline. Was the someone special his brother? Or was he lost because his brother had already died in the conflict?
10. This might be reading too much into it, but we can’t stop thinking about that dog of Kate’s. There has to be a reason why they specifically showed him and made it very clear that he was not potty-trained. Kate once told Toby that she was responsible for her dad’s death. Could this mutt figure into that plotline?
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.
Read more from Yahoo Entertainment:
• ‘This is Us’ postmortem: Justin Hartley warns that Kevin is ‘not even close to rock bottom’
• 10 stories about celebs doing good to restore your faith in Hollywood
• Jason Mitchell regrets turning down the lead role in ‘Get Out’