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THIS IS US: Randall Dismantled As Sterling K. Brown Delivers Masterful Performance

Courtesy/NBC

In yet another riveting performance by Sterling K. Brown, the highly-touted episode that aired on Tuesday’s night’s This Is Us, had his character of Randall in the spotlight again, as the first of the Big Three trilogy this season.  Next week, look for the installment to center on Justin Hartley’s Kevin.However, last night on the episode aptly titled, “Hello of a Week: Part One”, viewers followed what happened next to Randall following his return home after the stress of flying across the country to get a diagnosis for his ailing mother’s memory lapses (while keeping it from his siblings), and then winding up facing an intruder in the Pearson family home.After Randall offers the intruder money, the guy runs out of the home.

Next, the police come, and Randall installs surveillance cameras and security alarms throughout the house, which ends up being a continued tipping point in his mental state as he obsesses over keeping his family and his home safe, especially when the cops tells him that it is common for a thief to return,. It appears later in the episode he did when Beth’s earrings and Randall’s cufflinks are MIA.

Photo by: NBC

Throughout the episode, flashbacks to Randall’s childhood showed little Randall, unable to sleep and afraid of monsters, who then asks his dad, Jack to stay with him through the night.  Jack sleeps on the floor, but when Jack eventually gets up to go to his own bed, he tells Randall who comes running after him, “to be brave: and that he needs him to be the easiest child to care for since Kate and Kevin are handfuls.

This laid the foundation for how Randall deals with others, by not letting them know his inner most feelings.   The writers juxtapose Randall’s dreams throughout where he feels he can’t get out whether it be screaming through a locked window at his mother to get out of the storm, or watching some creepy guy touch Beth and he screams so loud, but you can’t hear him,

In addition, in flashbacks, we see how a college-aged Randall needing college-aged Beth to spend countless nights with him. At one point he tells her, “I just feel so helpless, like I have no control over anything,” especially following the death of his father Jack.  Beth says she can understand. She had bad dreams after her father passed away, but after she talked to a therapist she began to feel better.  In a key moment, Randall agrees to attend an grief group with her, but that plan goes awry when on the day they were heading to the grief counseling group, Randall’s family has an emergency and he could not go.

The theme of Randall seeking counseling surfaced later in the episode after Randall was struggling to hold it together as City Councilman at the Town Hall, which did not go unnoticed by Beth or by Malik’s dad, Darnell.

The next day, he tells Randall that he himself needed therapy and suggest he do that to.  Randall says all he needs is his runs around the city to help him clear his head.  But that takes another drastic turn when Randall comes upon a woman being beaten and proceeds to pounce on the aggressor.  Next, Randall with messed up arm from landing punches on the guy, ends up being touted as a hero for saving the woman’s life.  He is not comfortable with that and he begins to lose his grip.

In the culmination of the episode, locking himself in the bathroom in his home, Randall begins to cry and phones Kevin.  Thank God his brother answered, as he seems to be the only person Randall feels he can talk to, and has, through his life.  At the time of the call, Kevin is in bed with what looks to potentially be Sophie, because he was heading back to Pittsburgh for a funeral of one of her parents.  But is it Sophie, or another woman?

During their call, Randall begs Kevin just to talk, and to please  distract him. Kevin promises his brother, “I’m the guy that’s gonna get you through this,”   Will Kevin ultimately help Randall, or will what happens next become the huge rift that we know exists between the brothers in the flash-forward viewers learned about episodes ago?

This Is Us executive producers, Issac Aptaker, and Elizabeth Berger weighed-in on revisiting Randall’s anxiety and panic attacks with Entertaintment Weekly. This is something that was hot on all of our minds, because over the past year, a couple of the writers in our room had had people break into their homes when they were home,” shared Issac Aptaker.  “People would come in and we would see the impact that it has on you when someone invades your space like that — the aftermath and the fallout. So, as we were looking at what Randall’s season would look like, and what would be potentially the breaking point for him with all that’s been brewing this year, it was at the front of all of our minds at how upsetting something like that can be.”

“We’ve seen that Randall is someone that is so in touch with his feelings emotionally, and he is so willing to talk about everything, but there does seem to be this block with him when it comes to therapy, where he just does not want to engage,” says Elizabeth Berger. “That really fascinated all of us and got us thinking, “What’s that about? And how do we get him to a point where he has his back against the wall and has to move past coping mechanisms and keeping things just below the surface and finally deal with them?” And this felt like a really compelling way to go about that.”

When all was said and done, Sterling K. Brown delivered a nuanced and masterful performance as viewers watched Randall slowly but surely, struggling to cope with all the pressure, and horrific events that happened to him one after the other, as Randall’s anxiety and panic attacks were about to reach epic proportions.

So, what did you think of last night’s This Is Us? Sterling’s performance? Comment below.

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To me, Mr. Brown is one of the industry’s most overrated actors. He’s competent and obviously dedicated. But he telegraphs every emotion ahead of time so we know exactly which expression he’ll have (usually either bewilderment or confusion), just as he did in THE PEOPLE VS. O. J. SIMPSON. Whenever an episode focuses entirely on Randall, the show grinds to a very slow trot. It’s best when the adult siblings are interacting. That’s the show’s strength.

Days Of Our Lives

DAYS OF OUR LIVES: Cady McClain Ends Her Great Run as Jennifer; But Not Before A ‘Wink-Wink’ Nudge-Nudge’ to AMC’s Dixie ‘Poison Pancake’ Debacle

Wednesday’s episode featured another solid performance by two-time Daytime Emmy-winner, Cady McClain as Jennifer Horton Devereux as it was the day of her mother, Laura’s (Jaime Lyn Bauer) funeral.

Last week, longtime viewers were saddened that the character of Dr. Laura Horton was killed-off.  The question remains did she fall accidentally and hit her head in a struggle with Gwen (Emily O’Brien), or did Gwen intentionally kill Laura?

Yesterday was also the final episode of McClain in the role of Jennifer – as far as know for now.   In story, following Laura’s funeral, Jennifer was heading to Boston to be with her brother Mike, to settle their mother’s estate and go through her belongings, etc.

Cady had taken over the role of Jennifer from Melissa Reeves, who chose to stay in Nashville during the Covid-19 pandemic.  As part of her departure, head writer, Ron Carlivati and the writing team, delivered a little wink-wink nudge-nudge to soap viewers and those of McClain’s time as Dixie Cooney Martin on All My Children.

In one of the most controversial soap death scenes of all-time, and one that was not kind to McClain, Dixie was killed-off the ABC daytime drama series after eating poison peanut butter pancakes. Fast-forward to 2021, and in an attempt to make DAYS Jennifer feel better, Julie (Susan Seaforth Hayes) whips up some banana pancakes with extra peanut butter!  When Jennifer declines them, Julie says she thought she liked them, to which Jennifer replied, “I used to.  But I had a bad experience with them once.  Now I can’t even look at them.”  Julie questions, “Bad experience?”  Then Jennifer says, “I’d rather not talk about it.”

In our books, McClain got the last laugh here getting to do a nod to the audience, who has followed her soap career for decades including the the 2007 killing of Dixie … by pancakes.

Previously, Cady shared in a 2020 interview with EW.com about the subject: “It was a dig at me by one of the writers that very much wanted to put me in my place. I had stepped out of line and they wanted to put me back in line, and I was going to eat those pancakes and I was going to learn my lesson, and I certainly did.”

So, what did you think of the mention of the ‘pancakes”? Will you miss Cady as Jennifer? Comment below.

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Recaps

THE BACHELOR: Matt Picks His Final Four for ‘Hometowns’ Which Includes Now Controversial Contestant Rachael Kirkconnell

Monday night’s airing of ABC’s The Bachelor was its first since last week’s controversial behind-the-scenes shake-up and attention-grabbing headlines.

Since the season of the reality-dating competition had been previously filmed, it did not change any of the proceedings of what viewers actually saw on-air.

And it was a pivotal episode, where ‘Bachelor’ Matt James had to whittle down the contestants to his final four in preparation to meet their families in the ‘hometowns’ next week.  So, just who did Matt choose to still be the running for the final rose?

 

Here’s what went down: first was the business of Heather Martin, bestie of ex-‘Bachelorette’ Hannah Brown, and a previous contestant from Colton Underwood’s season of The Bachelor, crashing the series to meet Matt.  When she finally makes her destination, the other women’s claws come out (and we though we got rid of the ‘mean girls” last week!).  After Heather busts up a conversation between Matt and Pieper, she tell him she wants to get to know him.  Matt at first appears conflicted whether to throw her into the jungle of the contestants, but ultimately sends her back home as she drives out in her own car, in tears, of course, over not getting a chance at love with Matt.  When Matt tells the other women that he sent Heather home, they were not only relieved, but professed how much it turned them on.

In the rose ceremony that followed, Matt also sent home Serena C. and Chelsea.  Leaving the remaining women up in arms on who would get the two one-on-one dates, and who would be put in the group date.  Abigail, who never got a one-on-one and who received the first impression rose was shown to the door by Matt, when she confessed her frustration and how much she was falling for him. He admitted that he did not feel the same and felt stronger connections with the other women.

Photo: ABC

However, Matt did go on a one-on-one with Jessenia where they go on a “dangerous” obstacle course in a race car, complete with swirling and twirling driving skills to get their heart rates up, which Matt loved as he admitted he is “adrenaline junkie”as was Jessenia as it turns out.  However, on their dinner date afterwards, while dangling a rose in front of her face, he also sends Jessenia packing!

Feisty Kit decided she needs to speak privately to Matt, and tells him she isn’t there yet relationship-wise, and does not think its fair to him to still consider her for the hometowns or the final rose.  Kit said: “It’s a rest-of-your-life sort of situation. And you deserve somebody who is 100 percent sure about you getting down on one knee tomorrow and that’s not me.”  Next thing you know, Kit is eliminated by her own valiation.

Photo: ABC

The controversial Rachel Kirkconnell, who last week had a social media frenzy surround her when a video came to light that claimed Kirkconnell had “liked” posts with the Confederate flag on it and shared QAnon conspiracy theories, as well as a photo that surfaced on Redditt of Kirkconnell in 2018 attending an “Old South” plantation-themed college party, received another one-on-one with Matt on last night’s episode.

Amid the controversy, Rachael then posted her response on her Instagram which included: “At one point, I didn’t recognize how offensive and racist my actions were, but that doesn’t excuse them. I was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist.”

During their date it seemed like Rachael is a clear frontrunner making this situation all the more awkward, especially after seeing the promo for the ‘hometowns ‘that followed the episode, which featured her parents questioning Rachael hard about Matt.  With Rachael getting a rose, so too did Serena, who hated their yoga date, and seemed a bit standoffish, but Matt gave her a rose anyway.

In the final rose ceremony of the episode, Bri and Michelle got the last two roses, while Pieper was out of the competition.

So, who do you think will get a proposal from Matt …Bri, Michelle, Rachael or Serena? Comment below.  But first check. out the promo for next week’s ‘hometown’ episode.

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Days Of Our Lives

DAYS Emily O’Brien Delivers The ‘Power Performance of the Week’

She has been a polarizing character since her arrival in Salem, with some fans screaming Gwen is sucking up too much airtime.  HOWEVER, the performances by Emily O’Brien (Gwen) show an actress on top of her craft who can play, as Gwen called herself, “A miserable, vindictive bitch”, or a young woman so deeply-emotionally wounded that you might just come around and eventually feel some empathy for her.

Last week, while the soaps were pre-empted for most of the week due to the senate impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, DAYS posted all of its weekly episodes online on NBC.com, the NBC app, or on the Peacock streaming platform, and O’Brien’s work was a standout.

Photo: JPI

It all came to a boiling point when Laura (Jaime Lyn Bauer) and Gwen have the long-awaited confrontation in Gwen’s room at the Salem Inn, where O’Brien goes from Gwen baiting Laura to tell her dirty secret of her long-ago affair with Jack (Matthew Ashford), to her utter anger at how because of it, Laura trashed Gwen’s entire life.

 

Laura reveals the guilt she felt for sleeping with Jack, so much so, that she would do anything to save Jennifer (Cady McClain) and Jack’s marriage.  In delight at getting to the root of the truth, Gwen responds: “You slept with Jack? That is just perfect! My father slept with his mother-in-law!”

Then, Laura shares how it happened.  They were both at the “Meadows” finding their ‘truest selves’ and they were both using other names – she, Monica and he, Clark, and Laura had never seen a photo of Jack before to know it was him!  Gwen wants to burst out in hysterical laughter, but then she becomes filled with rage knowing that if Laura hadn’t bought off her birth mother, Tiffany, her own life would have been very different.  She goes on to say that she and Abigail (Marci Miller) might even be close as sisters, but instead of “borrowing her clothes, she borrowed her husband” alluding to sleeping with Chad (Billy Flynn).  Next, Gwen wants to make Laura pay and lets Laura know that, “All the damage that you did, can’t be undone.” When Laura tries to leave, Gwen stops her and says in no uncertain terms, “I want revenge, because you ruined my life and you’re not going to get away with it!”

Photo: JPI

Next, we see that there had been a struggle with Laura dead on the floor bleeding out of her head.  A freaked-out Gwen does not know what to do.  She realizes she will be accused of murder.  With no one in town to call, she decides to call her father, Jack.  When he shows up at the Salem Inn, Jack is shocked, and grief-stricken to see his mother-in-law, dead.  Gwen swears to Jack this was an accident and that she did not kill Laura, and that he has to believe her.  Jack decides he will stand by his daughter.  Gwen wants to get rid of the body, Jack says he can’t be involved in a cover-up, so he calls Rafe (Galen Gering).  When Rafe arrives at the crime scene he is very suspicious of Gwen, and takes her down to the station.

Scene after scene, O’Brien layered her performances with venomous and ominous undertones, illustrating a woman with so much emotional baggage who becomes desperate to save herself.  For all these reasons, Michael Fairman TV names Emily’s work, The Power Performance of the Week.

What did you think of Emily O’Brien’s key scenes? Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

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B&B’s Matthew Atkinson chats with Michael Fairman about the wild ride of the Thomas/Hope Mamnequin storyline currently on The Bold and the Beautiful.Leave A Comment

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Power Performance

Emily O’Brien as Gwen

Days of our Lives

Airdates: 2-9/10-2021

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