Who’s Scene Is It? This Is… “Us.” Well, it’s Kate’s scene, to be specific. Though it’s easy to get distracted with Sly-centric lines like, “You’re the new Adrian,” this scene is here to set up what’s coming with Kevin. Kate has to tell Sly about their dead dad so he can bring it up with Kevin in the next scene, thus sending the repressive actor into a tailspin that’s likely to end in — dun dun dun — a drug addiction. But the heart of this scene is in Kate sharing her story, not Sly hearing it. One can only imagine Stallone being told similar family tales during his day-to-day life and receiving them oh-so-kindly, which plays up his likability, but Kate is the heart of what’s happening here. Any sniffles were earned/stolen by the show, not Sly.
Inspiration Level: “Daylight” — a little sappy, very on-the-nose, but with a solid internal hook.
Scene No. 3 — “People can be real idiots.”
The Scene: This is the big one. Stallone kicks things off by inspiring Kate to continue pursuing her singing career, noting how futile it is to listen to naysayers. (Nothing is more inspiring than hearing Stallone say, “People are idiots.”) Then he steps up his game for his co-star, delivering the one bonafide (and, we presume, contractually-obligated) inspirational speech of his stint on “This Is Us”:
After Kevin tries to dismiss any lingering remorse over his father’s death, Stallone takes a moment to collect himself and leans in: “It’s a funny thing, time,” he says. “Your sister sings a couple of bars from ‘Rocky,’ and for a split second I can smell the ring again. […] In my experience, Kevin, there’s no such thing as ‘a long time ago.’ There are only memories that mean something and memories that don’t.”
“Let’s do one for your father,” Sly says as the two get set for their scene. The only problem? Kevin’s not ready to do one for his dad. He’s not ready at all — not anymore. So shook was he by Sly’s wisdom that he can barely get the first few words out before asking for help, again and again, growing more and more frustrated (and rude) as he goes along.
Was it totally unprofessional for Sly to press Kevin about his dead dad before their big scene together? You bet! Would the real Sylvester Stallone ever dare do something so inconsiderate? Of course not! Did it make for a better episode? Sure!
Sometimes it takes an external force to knock you out of your comfort zone; to get your guard down and come to a realization. Stallone is that force, and Kevin responds to him like he never has to his family. He’s clearly going to be dealing with the loss all season, and later scenes emphasize the pain these memories bring up for him.
Best Line: “In my experience, Kevin, there’s no such thing as a long time ago. There are only memories that mean something and memories that don’t.” That’s quite a line. That’s a classic Sly line. That’s a line to remember.
Random Note: Stallone’s scenes, including the final fleeting shot of him trapped under a tank, take up five minutes and 30 seconds of this episode. This scene is by far the longest, clocking in at approximately 3:15.
Who’s Scene Is It? This Is… Sly’s scene, twice over. The first third of Stallone’s longest segment is devoted to Sly and Kate. She didn’t really need any additional incentive to keep singing, not after she found that strength within herself during the first two episodes, but a little encouragement from an another underdog never hurts. Stallone’s backstory gives the scene its juice, and his delivery — earnest but even-handed — brings it home.
As for Kevin, yes, the latter half of the scene is focused very much on what Kevin’s learning, but Stallone is inspiring him and thus the audience, as well. His words of wisdom were written by Elizabeth Berger and Isaac Aptaker, but it’s the messenger more than the message. Stallone’s delivery, with that hint of moisture in his eye when he talks about his kids and the lilt in his tone when he addresses Kevin directly, elevates everything around him. And that wink. My God, that wink. Give him an Emmy, already.
Inspiration Level: “Rocky Balboa” — no, this isn’t on par with his “sunshine and rainbows” speech to Milo Ventimiglia in the sixth “Rocky” film, but he delivers those crucial motivational feelings with the same endearing elocution.