“People can be good” seems like an oddly basic concept to celebrate, but given current events, “This Is Us” delivered the message audiences needed most Tuesday night: People can be good, and sometimes those people are Sylvester Stallone.
In Episode 3, “Déjà Vu,” the most inspirational action star of all-time guest-starred on TV’s most inspirational series and, well, things got emotional. Stallone was invited to join the series by his “Rocky Balboa” co-star Milo Ventimiglia, who played Rocky Jr. in the 2006 film, so it was doubly fitting to learn that Jack was a die-hard Stallone fan in the series. Clever work, Dan Fogelman.
But how much of the good vibes came from Stallone’s presence and how much came from the writing? Did the presence of a three-time Oscar nominee distract from the series’ central storyline or enhance it? And most importantly, how did viewers feel after each one of Stallone’s scenes?
Below, IndieWire has answered these questions, ranking the inspiration level of each scene using Stallone’s movies as a scale. (“Rocky” would be the most inspirational, while, say, “Get Carter” would be the least.) There are also a few fun bonus details and best lines thrown in, so take a break from the onslaught of sadness and get inspired all over again to face the days ahead.
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Scene No. 1 — “Sly is good.”
The Scene: Invited to set by her brother, Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Kevin (Justin Hartley) walk and talk about the big upcoming scene between the ex-Manny and a real, bonafide movie star. Just as Kevin does his best Stallone impression (which, props to Hartley, isn’t half-bad), the man himself pops up and introduces himself.
Yes, Stallone is playing Stallone, and yes, this is a typical guest star intro where the preexisting characters stand in for the stupefied, starstruck audience (not to mention how they mimic the “surprise” of seeing Stallone onscreen). But they had fun, he looked good, and ground was laid for future sentimentality. (Jack was a fan of Sly? No way!)
Best Line: “She’s happy to meet you, too.” Kevin’s line, speaking for a stunned Kate, isn’t really all that special, but the smooth raise he gives her arm to shake Stallone’s outstretched hand is pretty solid physical comedy. Perhaps the best line is Sly speaking straight truth: “Sly is good.” Yes, he is. Yes. He. Is.
Random Note: It’s official: Frittatas are the new Hollywood “thing.” Between Harrison Ford giving a shout-out to his iconic “Morning Glory” moment in a recent interview for “Blade Runner 2049” and now Stallone going to search craft services for a frittata here, the egg dish is officially the down-to-earth delicacy of aging action heroes.
Who’s Scene Is It? This Is… Sly’s scene. This fun, funny intro is carried entirely by Stallone because it only exists for his benefit. While it should come as no surprise that Stallone’s meet-and-greet is all about Sly, “This Is Us” does tie Jack to his children’s infatuation with Stallone. But that connection pays off later, not now. This is all about star gazing, gushing, and “frittatas.”
Inspiration Level: “Tango & Cash” — light, self-referential, and with just enough moments to put a smile on your face. (No drag scenes, though, sadly.)
Scene No. 2 — “Are you following me?”
The Scene: As Stallone scours crafty for pure, un-fruited water — did he already find his frittata? — Kate walks up to thank the actor for bringing such joy to her dad. Sly, ever-perfect, accepts the compliment graciously and then offers to host her dad on set. Kate tells Stallone that her father died when she was a kid (but not how), and he offers his sympathy. Then they joke around about “Rocky,” which is great.
Best Line: “Why do they always have to put melons and fruit and things in the water? It’s like there are swamp animals in there.” – Sylvester Stallone
Random Note: While “Sly” and “Stallone” are uttered by themselves often enough, his entire name, “Sylvester Stallone,” is said eight times during the episode. Eight. Times. In full!