‘This Is Us’ Season 2, Episode 8 Recap: Kevin Hits Bottom At High School Alumni Ceremony
This Is Us is taking its next three episodes and turning them into a trilogy about the Pearson siblings. “Number One” is about the first born, Kevin.
THIS IS US RECAP: “NUMBER ONE”
Kevin started out the season strong – getting his ex-wife back and working on a movie set. But his descent into drug addiction has cost him both of those wins. This episode compares his current downward spiral with the buildup to his career-ending college football injury. In the present, Kevin has holed himself up in his hotel room and only lets housekeeping enter to refill “all things alcohol.”
Next scene, he received a call from the “homecoming coordinator” of his high school, wanting him to be honored as part of the school’s alumni honors ceremony, which happens to be tomorrow. He agrees and hops on a plane to Pittsburgh.
Meanwhile, in the past, young Kevin meets with the coach of the University of Pittsburgh but is exceedingly rude. Regardless, the coach offers him a full ride on an athletic scholarship. Back in the present, Kevin visits his childhood home before heading to the high school and popping some pills. He takes a walk through the halls in his drugged-up haze and sees the #1 jersey the school retired in his name. Later he meets an old classmate, Charlotte Everly, who admits she had a crush on him back in the day. She’s a successful plastic surgeon now and is also being honored. She mentions Kevin and Sophie’s divorce, to which Kevin says, “But then we managed to get back together! And then I screwed that up too.”
At the ceremony, Kevin has to give a speech, but first is introduced by his old coach Duffy “The Duff” Collins. His kind words make Kevin feel awful. “In my career I never saw a kid with so much natural talent, confidence, charisma,” the coach says. “But he caught some tough breaks, suffered some losses, and that’s when he really showed himself to be a star. He fought through the adversity and the heartache.”
Kevin seeps deeper into his stupor and suddenly sees his dad Jack speaking the kind words, calling him “tough as hell” and a “living, breathing example of outer and inner strength.” Kevin hugs the coach after the speech, wishing it could be Jack.
When Kevin gets to the microphone, he tries to give a speech to reflect his anguish, and tells the crowd that Collins was wrong about him. But the crowd couldn’t care less about what he says, and chants “We love you, Kevin!” They are so in awe of his celebrity presence that they can’t hear his words.
Back in the past, Jack apologizes to Kevin for yelling at him after he was rude to the UPitt coach. Kevin sees his father call his sponsor and then pray not to give in to temptation. The following day, Jack and Randall head to D.C. for a college tour, and Randall apologizes for not making Kevin’s latest big football game. “I’ve got enough fans in the stands cheering me on,” he says.
Then a sequence occurs where Kevin narrates the mess-ups in his life – his football injury, cheating on Sophie, getting the Ron Howard movie part only to injure himself again. And then says, “Even when he tries to tell people how pathetic he is, they don’t hear it,” he says about himself. “They just cheer.”
Next thing we know Kevin is in bed with Charlotte at her house. Charlotte is clearly excited to have lived out a high school fantasy, but all Kevin can think to do is search her bathroom for pills. He finds her prescription pad and leaves before saying goodbye. He rushes to the pharmacy when a few cops walk in and he freaks out. He runs. A flashback showing a meaningful moment where Jack gifts Kevin his Buddhist necklace runs through his mind as he realizes he’s lost the necklace.
He runs back to Charlottes and begs her to let him in to search for it, but she isn’t having it after the way he’d just ran off. She says it’s not here and tells him to leave her alone. Kevin collapses on the lawn repeating, “I just need somebody to help me.”
As if that wasn’t a heavy enough scene to end on, the show one-ups itself. The last scene sees Kevin go to Randall’s house, very upset. He starts to speak but Randall interrupts with, “It’s ok, I already know. Kate lost the baby.” And thus sets up the next episode in the trilogy – Kate’s.
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