Since Season 1, This Is Us fans have been led to believe that Kate (Chrissy Metz) is the Pearson sibling most affected by their father Jack's (Milo Ventimiglia) death. But based on what we've seen thus far in Season 2, that may not be true.
Of the Big Three - Kate and her brothers Kevin (Justin Hartley) and Randall (Sterling K. Brown) - it's starting to seem as though Kevin is actually the one who's carrying the most emotional baggage about Jack's death. That's right: Kevin - the happy-go-lucky famous actor, who's always coasted through life on his charm and good looks - is all of a sudden becoming more complicated than we previously thought. The problem is, he's dealing with his father's death about 20 years too late. And, if the show's telegraphing what we think it's telegraphing, when Kevin finally confronts his feelings about his father's death, it's going to send him down a very dark path.
We know that Kevin basically refuses to talk about Jack's death. And not only does he refuse to discuss it himself, he gets irritated with Kate when she brings it up with his new co-star, Sylvester Stallone. We also know that, after suffering an on-set injury, Kevin is extremely reluctant to treat the pain with medication, preferring instead to power through it - even against the advice of his doctor. That present-day plotline ran parallel to flashbacks of Jack trying to keep his own alcoholism in check as he tried to hold his marriage together and be a devoted father to three young children.
Among the Big Three, Kevin is the most like Jack based on what we've seen, from his good looks down to his stubbornness. The first time he pops a pain pill after his injury, we see Kate tell him over the phone, "You're just like him," meaning their father.
There have also been several references to a previous knee injury in high school, one that (allegedly) dashed Kevin's hopes of being a college and potentially professional football player. But was it the injury itself that ended his dream? Or was it the fallout? Is Kevin's reluctance to treat his latest injury with pain medication because he knows he's predisposed to addiction, knowing his father's history, or has Kevin himself struggled with dependence issues before? After all, we've never seen him have any issues with drinking — yet.
Let's not forget that Kevin is the only one of the Big Three who wasn't present when they found out their father had passed. Kate had to go find him and tell him (and, you'll remember, insisted on being the one to do so). Kevin, as it turns out, was off making out with his girlfriend Sophie. Did his leg injury have something to do with why he wasn't at the house that night? Are there some lingering guilt issues stemming from the fact that he wasn't there?
As of now, Kevin's at a crossroads. The show is attempting to explore how the effects from addiction aren't just immediate, and can ripple out and affect generations of families, but whether Kevin can actually heal and move on from his father's death without self destructing remains to be seen. Either way, one thing is certain: We're about to see a very different side of Kevin Pearson.
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on NBC.