Let’s Discuss ‘This Is Us’: Emotionally Manipulative Death Episode

Isn't it sad when people die?

THIS IS US -- "Don't Let Me Keep You" Episode 604 -- Pictured: Milo Ventimiglia as Jack -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC)
Let's Discuss 'This Is Us'

Undead Father’s mother has died, and now we have to hear about it — a lot. It’s the only thing we hear about for the whole episode, in fact. I hope you weren’t expecting to check in with Uncle, Sister’s Husband, Councilman Brother’s Daughters, or Jennifer Morrison, because today we only have: Undead Father’s Dead Mother and Her Various Ohio Friends. Let’s see what’s up with them.


Yes, right now Mother is young and full of life. At one point, she drove herself and the children to Ohio. At another, she suggested Undead Father wear a gray suit to Undead Father’s Dead Mother’s funeral, because he didn’t have a black suit, and suits “are so expensive.” Mother, please. Have some grace.


The children are mostly being gauche about the situation of Undead Father’s Dead Mother, though admittedly they never met her. Actor Brother wants to play in the snow, Sister doesn’t want to wear the mittens Undead Father’s Dead Mother made because they “feel like bugs,” etc. Children, please. Have some grace.


In certain scenes he’s even less dead than usual, and this is portrayed by showing him in a very tight shirt, so I’d say he’s doing pretty well. Oh, except for The Situation With Father’s Mother. Yes, Undead Father’s Dead Mother has died, and now he has to feel guilty about how he never visited her in Ohio, where she moved to escape Undead Father’s Abusive Father, even though Ohio is not that far away from Pittsburgh. Worse, we have to feel sad and guilty about all of this ourselves, even though we had nothing to do with any of it. Life is unfair, which is indeed the central tenet of This Is Us.

In case you were worried about Undead Father’s guilt levels, Undead Father’s Dead Mother’s Cousin Camryn Manheim is there to make sure Undead Father feels guilty. She’s been living with Undead Father’s Dead Mother, you see, and she’s noticed how Undead Father has never visited her even once. And now he has to, for the first time, meet Undead Father’s Dead Mother’s Cat and Undead Father’s Dead Mother’s Boyfriend, who has a large beard. And he has to give a eulogy!

Of course we see various tortured scenes of Undead Father, in the past, being not particularly nice to Undead Father’s Living Dead Mother; not remembering that she made him hot dogs and tomato soup, etc. We see Undead Father’s Living Dead Mother wanting to say “I love you” on the phone, and Undead Father hangs up too quickly. And now she’s dead. Yep, I hope you’re happy. She’s dead now. Undead Father doesn’t have a Mother anymore. Aren’t you devastated about the situation here, and crying? Isn’t it so sad how people die, even if they’re people we were never really introduced to until this episode and now we had to watch a whole episode about their death? And sometimes they were unhappy in life? Isn’t it so sad how cruel we are to the people we love, and how we never once took our children ice skating on their frozen pond, even though they bought them ice skates, because we too were abused and we’d like to keep that part of our life separate from the current life we’ve built for ourselves, though now we’re not so sure we handled it all correctly, but there’s no going back?

Yes, life, like This Is Us, is cruel and punishing. But at least now we understand guilt, and the children got to go ice skating on that pond.


I don’t know. I think the lesson is visit your mom before she dies. Oh, and when your mom brings up something you liked as a child, just pretend you remember it.


Thanks. Next week: Jennifer Morrison returns.