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Kevin Might Suffer the Most From Jack’s Death on ‘This Is Us,’ & I Only Just Realized It

Before this week’s episode of This Is Us, Kevin definitely wasn’t the most popular of the Big Three among fans. Between Randall making us sob regularly and Kate inspiring us by following her singing dreams, struggling actor Kevin just fell a little flat. It wasn’t his fault—after all, he spent most of Season 1 torn between two women we didn’t really care about before his secret ex-wife/childhood sweetheart appeared to put Kevin in a redeeming light.

But if there’s anything “Deja Vu” conveyed, it's that this former high school athlete has more going on inside than I thought. When working opposite Jack’s hero Sylvester Stallone in his big break movie, Kevin was forced to think about his dad when Kate brought up Jack’s fanboy-ing to Stallone. The movie legend then addressed the siblings’ loss with Kevin, telling him, “There’s no such thing as a long time ago. There’s only memories that mean something and memories that don’t.”

Although Kevin acting touchy about the loss of Jack was briefly seen before, Stallone’s exchange with him triggered an exploration that suggests Kevin’s failure to ever come to terms with or healthily express his grief. He flashed back to his childhood memories with Jack and, notably, there were none shown from beyond Kevin’s tenth year. As we’ve all seen, Jack was literally Superdad when the triplets were little. He struggled with his drinking but suppressed it before they were old enough to notice. It wasn’t until they were teenagers that both Jack’s alcoholism and his marriage struggles became evident to them. Of course Kevin's happiest memories with his father would be from childhood. 

It hasn’t been said, but I’m willing to bet that Kevin severely drifted from both his parents in high school. He was consumed in his relationship with Sophie and didn’t tell either parent when he started having sex (to be fair, not many kids would). While Kate was obviously close to Jack even as a teenager, Randall sided more with Rebecca, having witnessed Jack yelling at her during the couple’s blowup. This natural distance would’ve only intensified when Kevin wasn’t initially with his grieving siblings after Jack’s death. Again, he had Sophie, either bottling up his grief entirely or confiding in her instead of family, which probably turned out badly for him once they divorced.

His whereabouts after Jack’s death seem to still strike guilt in Kevin. He told Kate, “It’s really hard for me with Dad,” clearly holding back tears. We also caught a glimpse of Kevin’s leg injury and Jack giving him his necklace, which seems to rule out Kevin hurting himself in the house fire.

Playing alongside grown Kevin acting out a war scene, the time of his injury seems to be the definitive, haunting moment for him when it comes to his father. Was this the only time the two bonded when Kevin was older? Did he see his father as an actual person at that moment? What transpired for Jack to want to give Kevin the necklace?

The ultimate insight we received about Kevin and his lingering grief came from Kate. Glancing at Jack’s urn at the end of the episode, she remarked, “He’s just like you.”

Cue Kevin popping pills to deal with his bad leg. Suddenly, his reluctance to discuss Jack made incredible sense. With the possibility of Kevin facing his own addiction out there, a terrifying biological connection emerges. Does Kevin see himself in his father, who avoided difficult emotions and refused to acknowledge his alcoholism until it was almost too late? Kevin made a big point of telling Kate that he doesn’t have to be sad and damaged, which basically tells us he’s exactly that.

Between the episode’s major hint of Kevin’s health condition and deeper insight into his relationship with Jack, Kevin may very well be the triplet still suffering the most from their dad’s death. Given the producers’ promise of a heartbreaking performance from Justin Hartley, this is just the beginning of Kevin’s new arc.

Kristen is a 2017 graduate of Siena College with a degree in English and minors in Writing & Communications and Journalism. Although she constantly pines for life in London after studying there for a semester, she calls New York home for now. In addition to previously working as a writer and Senior Editor for Her Campus Siena, she has worked for Her Campus as a News and Pop Culture blogger and a national editorial intern. Kristen has previously written for New York Minute, London's Health and Fitness, and Electronic Products. She makes far too many references to "Friends" and the British royal family. Her blog, where she talks about books, TV, and film, can be found at Bookworms and Fangirls. Follow her on Twitter @kperroney.
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