After only two episodes, This Is Us — the feel-good show of the fall — is quickly gaining attention for busting open tear ducts of viewers with a steady flow of moments involving loss, loneliness, and connection. Embarrassed that an NBC dramedy got the best of your emotions? Don’t be. The show’s stars — even some of the crew members — also have found the room to be unusually dusty on many occasions. EW asked the eight main actors to confess their sob stories and reveal the powerhouse scene from the first two episodes that leveled them. As you might have guessed, they had trouble narrowing it down to only one, and Dr. K’s “There’s no lemon so sour that you can’t make something resembling lemonade” speech was king of their Kleenex moments.
Dr. K (Gerald McRaney) consoles Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) after one of the triplets dies during childbirth and delivers a moving speech about making the best of a tragedy. (Episode 1)
JUSTIN HARTLEY: “People don’t realize how hard it is to do what Milo did in that scene, and Gerald’s a master. He is a master actor and he was teaching a class. Milo had an equally tough job, maybe even harder. He doesn’t speak and it’s all him listening and getting affected… He was brilliant in that and you could see the pain in his eyes and everything. That coupled with the fact that he had these two new babies that he thought were going to be three, and that coupled with the fact that he’s not with his wife right now. The only person he’s leaning on is this complete stranger. It’s just a beautiful scene.”
CHRIS SULLIVAN (Toby): “Gerald McRaney is one of the greatest living actors, and his ability to connect with that very unique emotion and deliver those words with such dignity just knocks me right to the ground. It was a historic 1946 father cry.”
SUSAN KELECHI WATSON (Beth): “Dr. K gives that great speech to Milo, but Milo’s eyes. You could just see he’s half in the room with him and half with his wife. He’s trying to pay attention and take it in, but he’s over there and then it starts to sink in. He needs the comfort so it starts to sink in but he’s not saying anything. He’s just breathing, and his eyes. That one gets me. I’m not a crier but I felt so connected to them. I was in the room with them at the hospital watching him get that news.”
RON CEPHAS JONES (William): “That really got me, man. Milo and McRaney were so good together. It was such a poignant scene. That was just so beautiful the way he delivered it. It’s what Milo says with his eyes. There’s little small moments that capture a lifetime in a moment, almost like fragments of photography. If it’s captured right, those moments stay with you. There’s a simplicity to the specificity to the work that’s just very rare.”
Kate consoles Kevin by referencing the Dr. K lemonade adage that Jack used to say. (Episode 1)
MILO VENTIMIGLIA (Jack): “That gets me every time. You understand who these people are. They’re taking a lesson they learned from their father, and the audience is seeing when he learned that lesson himself and she’s applying it to a situation her brother is going through. It’s many sides. It’s going back to that way you were raised at the same time, as well as they’re talking about me. I’m getting emotional thinking about it, you know? The weight of the responsibility of being a father to them…. It’s a proud papa moment for me.”
In the final swell of the pilot, William tells Randall (Sterling K. Brown)— his biological son who just tracked him down — that he’s dying, Kate tries to cheer up Kevin by remembering the lemonade quote, and the fireman offers Jack a cigarette in the hospital, which helps to reveal the twist that Jack and Rebecca are actually the parents of Kate, Kevin, and Randall. (Episode 1)
MANDY MOORE (Rebecca): “As soon as the fireman comes up and offers Jack the cigarette and Jack is looking through the window, and then you see Kate leaning on Kevin and she’s like, ‘What was that thing that Dad used to say?’ — that whole thing really gets me. Randall turns around and he’s crying after Williams tells him that he’s dying. It’s the last five minutes of the episode. I was a mess the first two times I saw it. Still when I see it, it’s like ooooof. It’s like, I know what it’s like to be that emotionally invested in a person. The idea of losing or having lost somebody, and the cathartic feeling of ‘Wow, it feels good to remember that I’m human and I’ve been moved by something.’ That warmth. You don’t feel helpless — you feel hopeful.”
Kate orders Jack to step up his parental duties and stop drinking, warning him, “I’m done letting you lower our score,” before he pledges to shape up. (Episode 2)
CHRISSY METZ (Kate): “I think women empowerment has come a long way, but it takes a lot for a strong woman in the ’80s to say, ‘You’re messing things up and you’ve got to fix it.’ When he sat by her door like a little puppy just waiting for her to wake up and gave her that beautiful necklace — and the way that he took her hand and he kissed it — it was the most beautiful apology and the most tender love all wrapped up. I was bawling — bawling — because everybody wants that kind of love. I was like, ‘Okay, Chrissy, you’ve got to turn off the TV for a second and regroup.'”
Kevin calls Randall in a moment of despair, and Randall leads a downcast Kevin (and drunk Kate) in the Big Three chant that we saw from their childhood. (Episode 2)
STERLING K. BROWN (Randall): “To see that ritual repeated, and to recognize that there has been a fracturing of the relationship between Kevin and Randall, but at the end of the day they’re still there for each other — that’s about as strong of a testimony to family as you can get. We bicker, we fight, we argue, we don’t always get along, but when we need each other, we’re there. That got me. It was double cheek-stained [cry], not necessarily audible but it had to be wiped off because it got to the under part of the chin.“
But wait, there’s more: See the cast of This Is Us at EW PopFest; more information here.