Viewers were treated to the day that Jack and Rebecca traded vows and said, "I do." Then, the flashback portion of the hour fast forwarded to the mid-'90s where things had returned to less than stellar for TV's new favorite couple. Three kids, busy jobs and Rebecca's blossoming singing career had taken a toll on their marriage and the soulmates were issued a wake-up call when Miguel (Jon Huertas) and Shelly (Wynn Everett) filed for divorce.
Miguel warned Jack that his marriage dissolved because he and Shelly "stopped noticing each other." Jack nervously noticed the same patterns in his and Rebecca's relationship and took the steps to rectify the situation. He sent the kids to a sleepover and took his wife to their first shared apartment for a romantic night of reconnecting. "We're going to be okay," Rebecca promised her husband, but then dropped a bomb that her band has been offered a five-state east coast tour and she really wants to go.
Here's the thing -- Jack has already been spreading himself thin between his job (which he took to support his family rather than following his dreams) and attending the kids' extra curricular activities while Rebecca is out singing. He's a "superhero" husband and father, as Rebecca has proclaimed twice in three episodes, but where is Rebecca's head at? Jack is not a perfect man. We have seen his many flaws, but the show has also demonstrated the painful lengths Jack will go to in order to be a better man for his family. Every time he gets a warning that he's bringing down the Pearson family score, he steps up to the plate and knocks it out of the park. It's time we see Rebecca do the same.
We know that Rebecca and Miguel end up married in the future, but we don't know if that happens because Jack dies or because Rebecca and Jack split up ahead of time. That's one of the main unanswered questions of the show. However, it takes two people to make a marriage work and This Is Us hasn't demonstrated that Rebecca is willing to throw down the way that Jack is. She originally gave up singing to be a mother, which was a huge sacrifice, but Jack also gave up owning his own construction business. They both gave up dreams for their family. The difference is that Jack continues to give up his so that Rebecca can have a second chance at hers, and "I Call Marriage" begins to make it seem like she's taking that for granted. It is disconcerting to see an episode like this where Jack and Rebecca seem indestructible and reconcile it with the fact that Rebecca is married to another man years later.
This is a show flaw more than it is a takedown of Rebecca. This Is Us has spent a lot of time turning Jack into a martyr of sorts -- and part of that is because he's not alive in the present day to see how his flaws have manifested, whereas Rebecca is. Thus, the fallout of keeping William (Ron Cephas Jones) a secret from Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and pressuring Kate (Chrissy Metz) about her weight is all on her. There's no Jack around to take the blame for these life-changing events that he was definitely part of in one way or another.
If the show wants fans to be able to understand how this marriage ends, and how Rebecca could move on to Miguel, then it needs to spend more time in helping us understand her motives. We need to see Rebecca as her own superhero rather than constantly taking shelter in the shadow of Jack's grand romantic gestures. We saw it early in the season. Episode 2 is an excellent example of Rebecca stepping up to the plate herself, but since then the show has done a disservice in showing Jack and Rebecca as an equal team. Perhaps, Rebecca becomes the superhero in the years following Jack's death, but the audience needs to see that before the tide rising against the Pearson family matriarch gets too high to turn back.
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on NBC.