‘This Is Us’ Fans React To Kevin Pearson’s Heartbreaking Setback On ‘Songbird Road’

Ron BatzdorffNBC

Warning: This article contains spoilers for the This Is Us episode, “Songbird Road: Part Two.”

Justin Hartley is speaking out about his This Is Us character’s upsetting setback on the second half of the two-parter, “Songbird Road.” In a new interview with TV Line, the This Is Us star said his character had been overly confident that he wouldn’t fall off the wagon, so his failure at helping his long-lost Uncle Nicky (Griffin Dunne) battle his own demons caught him off-guard.

In the episode, Kevin and his siblings (Chrissy Metz, Sterling K. Brown) attempted to get their uncle out of his dilapidated trailer and set up in a veteran’s center, but it wasn’t an easy sell. When a broken Kevin went back to the trailer by himself, he spotted his uncle’s open whiskey bottle on the table and ended up chugging it, relapsing after a long period of sobriety.

Hartley told TV Line his character never expected to relapse in such a way, and that up until the emotional reunion with his presumed-dead uncle he had been “under the impression that he was still in control of this thing.” But Kevin’s unexpected findings of his father’s time in the Vietnam War were a major blow, and Jack’s (Milo Ventimiglia) secret life will forever affect Kevin’s memories of his father.

Hartley called Kevin’s setback “heartbreaking,” and teased that it will affect his relationship with his girlfriend Zoe (Melanie Liburd) in future episodes.

“He’s not taking care of himself,” Hartley said of his This Is Us character.

Justin Hartley also noted that while Kevin bounced out of rehab and got the girl and a sweet movie premiere, he is never shown going to AA meetings or working with a sponsor. Hartley said that at first, he thought This Is Us writers just weren’t writing about that part of Kevin’s life, but then he realized that Kevin’s support system would have at least been mentioned on the show.

“[The writers] don’t gloss over anything, so I truly believe he’s just not going. I don’t have that as a fact, but that’s how I’ve been playing it, that he’s just, he’s neglecting to take care of himself in the midst of taking care of everyone else. …I think he’s just neglecting self-care, honestly.”

After the episode aired, This Is Us fans took to Twitter to react to Kevin’s setback. Many commenters simply wrote “Nooooo Kevin,” while others noted that relapses are common for addicts. Some fans also speculated that Kevin will die at an early age due to alcoholism. You can see some of the reaction from This Is Us viewers below.

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As for what he expects for Kevin’s immediate future, Hartley told TV Line it probably won’t be good.

“He’s going to probably go into some kind of a hiding thing to try to make sure that people don’t see what he’s really up to, which is a telltale sign. So everything’s probably going to fall apart for him. I hope not, but it probably will.”

You can see Justin Hartley in the heartbreaking This Is Us scene below.

This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.