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On Tuesday night, it was time to put the phone on mute and grab the biggest box of tissues around, because "This Is Us" returned from a six-week hiatus with an emotion-packed episode.
When last we left the Pearsons, the Big Three were all battling major issues — Kate suffered a miscarriage, Randall said goodbye to his foster daughter and Kevin hit rock bottom behind the wheel with stowaway niece Tess in the car.
In short, it was a family fractured. So it made sense that when the gang got together for the midseason return, it would be with a therapist in their midst.
And their mom, too.
"So much of the first half of our season was about this family missing each other and being so consumed by their own demons that they weren’t seeing each other and what the others were going through," executive producer Isaac Aptaker explained in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. "We knew that we wanted to come back from the break with an episode that throws all of our siblings and Rebecca into the same room and really lets them address, head-on, some of their family issues in a way that they really have not to date."
That way turned out to be raw and sometimes without that patented Pearson compassion viewers are used to seeing.
"We really wanted to give everyone a chance to say their piece, and there’s so much to unpack," Aptaker said.
So much, the writers briefly considered making the entire episode take place in therapy. Instead, they simply made the extended scene the heart of an episode that was, at times, heartbreaking.
There were cutting accusations and painful revelations — including the fact that Rebecca, whether she meant to or not, played favorites in her family. As well the fact that embattled son Kevin wasn't on that short list.
"There was too much said in that room for it to be neatly put back together at the end of the episode," Aptaker continued. "We were really trying to strike a balance between leaving things just completely raw and ugly in a way that doesn’t feel like our family and our show — because there is so much love there — but also not to be unrealistic and say, 'Oh, everyone said they’re sorry.' We’re not doing the bad sitcom version where everything resets at the end of the episode. This will certainly carry forward into the rest of our season, what was said in that room."
Viewers can also expect to see Kevin's battle against addiction continue throughout the season.
"We’re trying to be very realistic here in our portrayal of addiction and recovery," the EP added. "As everybody knows, it’s a long and unpredictable process."