Photo: C/O NBC
This week’s episode of ‘This Is Us’ was all about Kevin (Justin Hartley). Well, emotionally anyway. We finally got a peek past the metaphorical bulletproof vest that he has been wearing for the entirety of the series. We’ve watched as he’s been portrayed as the floating sibling, not appearing to be the so-called favorite child of either parent (though I believe this is because we have been watching the earlier years through the lenses of each child’s own mind).
In the latest episode, Kate (Chrissy Metz), who has clearly made progress when it comes to talking about their late father Jack (Milo Ventimiglia), challenges her brother to talk about his feelings on the matter. A portion of the episode takes place on the set of Kevin’s new war movie featuring Sylvester Stallone, who happens to have been Jack’s favorite actor (a nod to the IRL friendship the two have after Ventimiglia played Stallone’s son in Rocky Balboa). While Kate gets excited to share her memories with Stallone, bringing up the past makes Kevin physically freeze and forget his lines. He is so thrown by the intrusive memories that he falls and hurts his knee during an action scene.
But I want to take a moment to unpack the last 20 seconds of the episode when Kate looked at Jack’s urn and said, “He’s just like you;” she and her brother had just spoken on the phone. Seconds later, the camera cuts to Kevin taking a pill (presumably a painkiller). It’s a very brief moment, almost unnotable if you don’t pick up on subtleties. But the first thing I thought of was the possibility that this is foreshadowing a shared addictive quality between the father and son.
There are a number of genes that make certain people more prone to substance addiction than others, and according to the Addiction Center, “The more family members [related by birth] you have with an alcohol problem, the higher your risk.” Jack and his father were both addicted to alcohol, so it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume that Kevin has developed the issue as well. Still, this is just a theory.