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‘This Is Us’ Returns With New Twists, Weight Challenges And Jack’s Blindness

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This Is Us

The fourth season premiere of NBC’s hit series This Is Us was a curveball featuring groups of new characters. Somehow, they are connected to the Pearson clan, but the season’s second episode brought us back to the Big Three. However, fans still have questions about the future. Warning: Spoilers ahead!

Introducing New Characters

Fans were probably shocked during the fourth season premiere when the episode focused heavily on a new group of characters. Meet Cassidy (Jennifer Morrison), a military veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), leaving her alienating her husband and young son. After she lost control, she seeks help from a veteran’s support group. However, her first meeting is interrupted by Jack Pearson’s younger brother, Nicky (Griffin Dunne).

Fans also meet Malik (Asanta Blackk), a teenager who is struggling to provide for his infant daughter. Malik has supportive parents and they allow him a few moments of carefree bliss at a friend’s barbecue, where he meets the new girl in Philadelphia, Deja (Lyric Ross). As fans know, Deja is Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and Beth Pearson’s (Susan Kelechi Watson) adopted daughter.

Finally, the episode jumps to the future to meet a bold, humorous blind musician (Blake Stadnik), who marries a waitress at a diner (Auden Thornton). We don’t learn the man’s identity until the very end of the episode, when we discover the man is Jack Damon, the same man as the present-day premature son of Kate Pearson (Chrissy Metz) and Toby Damon (Chris Sullivan).

Returning To ‘The Big Three’

Fans were unsure how to feel about the introduction of new characters, but the second episode of the fourth season, “The Pool: Part Two,” brought viewers back to the Pearson family. We returned to a familiar setting: the community pool, where issues of race, weight, and identity bubbled to the surface in the show’s first season.

In the episode, parents Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca (Mandy Moore) sought to have one last adventure of summer vacation. But their children aren’t little kids anymore. They’re about to enter the seventh grade and pre-teen hormones and emotions are kicking in. Kevin is alienating Randall from his African-American friends, while Kate is bullied by the popular girls in school because of her weight.

Weight was a big issue in the episode. Jumping to the present-day Kate and Toby, the couple seem to have different ideas on how to cope with the stress of caring for their blind infant son. Kate returns to overeating, while Toby is secretly leaving the house in the evenings to exercise at a local gym. He’s losing weight, and everyone in the family is noticing the difference.

“She’s [Kate] breastfeeding, she’s tending to an infant around the clock, she’s not at a place in her life where she is necessarily most suited to being on a strict diet or on a strict weight-loss plan,” said executive producer Isaac Aptaker, who co-wrote the episode. “But Toby has found this path that’s working for him, and because he doesn’t want to rub it in her face, he’s making the choice to keep it a secret. That’s dangerous in any relationship, keeping secrets like that.”

Raising A Blind Child

The trials and victories of raising a blind child haven’t been focused on much in television, which is why critics and viewers are praising This Is Us for introducing Jack Damon as a blind infant (and later adult). Fans can expect the show to depict the realism of parenting a blind child.

“We’re determined to tell an optimistic, hopeful story here about a mother who has determined to give her child a joyful, meaningful life,” Aptaker commented. “The blindness is an additional level of stress and challenge for Kate and Toby, and we already see that he’s hiding a big part of his life from her. We’re certainly asking the question: Are they going to rise to the occasion to co-parent this child, or will it drive them apart?”

That’s a good question. No matter what, fans will tune in each week to watch what happens next to the Pearson clan.

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