Earlier this Tuesday, my colleague Kristen Baldwin published a review that perfectly formulated the problem that This Is Us has…
Earlier this Tuesday, my colleague Kristen Baldwin published a review that perfectly formulated the problem that This Is Us has had in season 3 – it becomes an “emotional procedure” with handsome episodic arcs designed to make us cry but miss the deep, rich story that this show has proved to be the best. This week’s episode “Kamsahamnida”, while it is stronger than it precedes, exemplifies this.
It’s a lot to roll from one problem to another – Kate is struggling to get pregnant, just because Toby will spiral in a depression when she finally does; Randall is looking for a space to belong, just for Beth to fight the same way he begins to find one ̵
1; and some of these storylines are handled more carefully than others.
Sterling K. Brown deserves a lot of credits – while he was a bit more on the sidelines last year, Randall has returned as This Is Us emotional anchor, with “Kamsahamnida” perhaps his best hour for the season yet. The episode’s title is derived from the Korean term for “thanks”, the only Korean Randall claims to know. As for why this comes up, let’s flush back a bit.
Randall still plays the old rules as “Kamsahamnida” begins, first on its way to a black church in Philadelphia to better immerse himself in the “society” he intends to represent. This, like his barbecue meeting and greeting from last week, proves quite disastrous. Councilman Brown is called to read the scripture in the church, but before he begins to read, he asks a “newcomer” to present himself – Randall. It’s a brilliant moment of political maneuvering: Brown is sure to note Randall is from Alpine, New Jersey, pity him not to pop up with his family and finally acknowledge his political rivalry in a calculated gracious manner. He leaves the church and receives a call from Kevin and asks to meet. Randall makes it safe to set it up in an unfamiliar establishment in order not to redistribute the base as he is fighting for court.
Kevin and Randall meet at a Korean restaurant. Kevin is still staring at last week’s mystery woman twist and tries to understand why there is an old photo on her wearing the necklace that his dad gave him. “Is it love, or is it the year of poverty and occupation of foreign governments?” Randall joke the look of the woman’s eyes. Kevin explains his brother why he feels so dedicated to “unpeeling” his story, using a background theme chart from his childhood for context. (The boy shows this show his metaphors.) But Randall has another takeaway from his meeting. He beat the patron’s great fascination with Kevin, who then reveals his brother that Manny is kinda good, one thing in South Korea.
Randall is suddenly not so reluctant to bring Kevin into society with him. He hooks an idea: The head of the underground Korean population – where half of the potential voters are unregistered – and hits Councilman Brown where he does not pay attention. Kevin agrees. Next thing, Randall and Kevin are out to register voters in the heart of Koreatown, with Kevin taking pictures with fans. A young Korean man approaches Randall and looks through him. “You get Koreans to register hope they will vote for you because you are related to Baby Man,” he says, referring to the Korean name for The Manny . “I bet you never put your foot here before and if you’re chosen, you’ll never get back here.”
Here is a case of This Is Us recognizes an icky situation without really hearing it. In fact, the man is quite right, but it only takes a signature Randall Pearson speech to choke any doubt – in Korean society or theoretically the audience of the show. “I’m here now,” he begins. “Just on the way here I saw empty storage windows, I saw bad patched potholes, I saw a guy carrying his bicycle tire under his arms because he knew it was the only way it would not be stolen.” He says he does not. I do not know what society wants, but he will listen if they tell him. A crowd gathered around him. The man who challenged him seems impressed. Smiles are superfluous. (Recap Continues on page 2)