Warning! Spoilers below for the February 9 episode of This Is Us, Season 5, Episode 7: “There.”
This Is Us still has plenty of mysteries remaining as Season 5 resumed with Episode 7, titled “There,” after an extended break, but none of those questions were answered just yet, as the car crash that has teased viewers for nearly a month proved to be a red herring that drove home the importance of fatherhood as Kevin (Justin Hartley) rushed home to Madison (Caitlin Thompson) for the birth of his twins.
The footage of Kevin’s driver’s license amid wreckage ended the previous episode and began “There" as well as a reminder. Kevin has walked off his movie set in Vancouver after Madison calls saying she’s in labor. While driving, Kevin is constantly fielding phone calls from his agent, Madison, Miguel, Randall, etc., and he has a number of near-misses, almost rear-ending another driver, getting cut off and then crossing the center line as he searches for a phone number.
These teases make it all the more frustrating as we see Kevin approaching the wreckage that was teased for this episode. We've been duped. Kevin pulls over and sees the driver (Joshua Malina) has a badly injured leg. He frees the driver from the wreckage, helping him to his car to find a hospital. As they drive away, we (again) see Kevin’s ID on the ground.
It’s the conversation between Kevin and the injured driver that gives this episode its most poignant moment. In an effort to keep the man from losing consciousness, Kevin bemoans his situation and the tragedy of missing the most important day of his twins’ lives. The driver, recognizing Kevin Pearson as an actor, says Kevin's rich and famous; he’ll be his kids’ idol regardless, and they’ll never know he didn’t make it for their birth. Kevin says being rich and famous doesn’t matter. Jack Pearson wasn’t any of those things, but he was there.
Jack tells Young Kevin that his dad made his Little League days hell for him, because if they lost the game, it was a terrible ride home. But the flashback shows that after Young Jack gets them home safely, Stanley compliments him for his driving, proving that sons in This Is Us will always seek validation from their fathers, even the bad ones.
Jack relays this wisdom to Young Kevin at the hotel the night before the football camp, saying he doesn’t want to be like his dad, pressuring Kevin to do something he doesn’t want to do. He then gives a thinly veiled threat to Kevin’s football coach, who Kevin said called him names and said he was stupid on a daily basis.
Kevin has lived his life idolizing his father, and he puts unfair pressure on himself to fill that role perfectly when his children are born. “There” shows him finding the confidence to step out of his dad’s shadow, knowing that his presence is what makes the difference. This is the wall Kevin needed to break down before we finally get questions surrounding the twins' birth answered, including why we haven’t seen Madison in the flash-forward scenes.