Home LIFESTYLE Style News This Is Us Ends Its Saddest Episode With an Extra-Upsetting Sucker Punch

This Is Us Ends Its Saddest Episode With an Extra-Upsetting Sucker Punch

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This post contains spoilers for This Is Us Season 2, Episode 8, “Number One.”

Folks, it appears that Kevin has hit rock bottom. On Tuesday’s This Is Us, the first-born Pearson slipped even deeper into alcoholism, depression, and painkiller addiction, rotting in his hotel room and living on what appeared to be mini-bar snacks and, more crucially, vodka. This week’s installment was all about Kevin—flashing intermittently between the troubled present-day Kevin and teenage Kevin, who seemed to be having trouble reckoning with his father’s addiction—until the end, which left the show on a depressing note shocking enough to rival even its most jaw-dropping twists. We also found out why Jack’s death hit Kevin so hard.

We knew already that Kevin was a football star as a teen—but this week, we got a full glimpse of just how high his legacy looms during a high school alumni ceremony honoring present-day Kevin, who shows up to the event wasted. Even as he delivers a slurred speech about how he is unworthy of the honor, the entire audience applauds. A fellow honoree and former classmate, Charlotte, reminds him how much of a dreamboat he was in his youth before hitting on him. On the football field, Kevin reminisces with a bottle of cheap wine, recalling the game that broke his knee—the one game his father missed. Crushed by the weight of his perceived failure—and the world’s refusal to punish him for all the mistakes he’s made—Kevin begins to cry. Then he makes another crappy mistake: he sleeps with Charlotte, steals a page from her prescription pad (she’s a surgeon), and then sneaks out of her house. It’s only at the pharmacy that he realizes he’s lost his necklace—which brings us to the most devastating flashback of all.

At the hospital after the fateful football game, Jack and a teenaged Kevin settle a fight from earlier before Jack promises his son that even though his sporting days are over, he will find a new purpose.

“I got this at a very hopeless time in my life,” Jack tells an ailing Kevin as he places the necklace around his neck. “Someone very special gave it to me back in Vietnam. It’s a buddhist symbol of purpose. I was feeling very lost when I got that, but I put it on and I moved forward. And you know when I was wearing it? The day you were born. The moment you came out, my number one. And when I held you for the first time, right here in this hospital, it hit me like a bolt of lightning: you were my purpose, Kevin. And I swear to you, son, I swear to you, you will find yours.”

We’re wondering if that special person who gave Jack the necklace might have been his brother, about whom we’ve still heard very little. Either way, it makes sense that Kevin has held on to it so closely: that sweet moment came not long before Jack’s death.

In the present day, as Kevin speeds back to Charlotte’s house to retrieve the necklace, it’s hard not to feel for him, especially as he sobs in the doctor’s front yard, begging her—or anyone, really—to help him. Thankfully, although he might no longer have his necklace, Kevin still has his family—and it’s Randall who ultimately answers his cry, welcoming Kevin ito his home. But just as Kevin prepares to tell Randall that he needs help, Randall drops another bomb on him: Kate has lost her baby.

This final sucker punch is a marked turn for a series whose saddest moments have previously tended to be more bittersweet than devastating—Jack’s death being the one obvious exception. Both Kevin’s gut-wrenching pain and Kate’s miscarriage don’t carry any of the detectable silver linings that other twists have brought. Does this episode, then, mean that this sepia-toned family drama has turned dark for good? Either way, we’re guessing next week—which will presumably turn its focus back to Kate—won’t be any sunnier than this week. So if Tuesday’s episode made you run right out of tissues, consider this your warning to restock.

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