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Look, can we all just agree that Justin Hartley is the most underrated actor of the This Is Us (Tuesdays, 9 p.m. ET, CTV) cast? The way he’s played Kevin over the past four seasons has been nothing short of brilliant. It’s not just that he oozes the necessary movie star charisma—he’s got as much of that as someone like Ryan Gosling or even Brad Pitt. And it isn’t just the fact that he’s got playing the quieter, damaged moments down to a tee.

It’s that he’s able to balance those personality traits with a fuller portrayal of someone who is so much more than his addiction or stardom. This is a brother, a son, a potential father and a friend, one who always puts others and their needs above his own. Even when doing so secretly chips away at him.

The actual This Is Us underdog

We get it. It can be hard to root for the white, male, privileged character on a show as diverse as This Is Us. Kevin doesn’t have the time-tested romantic backstory that Jack had. He doesn’t face identity issues like Randall, or weight and confidence problems like Kate. Heck, he doesn’t even have the best relationship with his mother. All of the storytelling aspects that should soften Kevin as a character aren’t written into who he is, which is why we think it’s taken longer for audiences to respond to him than they have with other characters. Still, at his core, Kevin has always just wondered where he fits in and wants to belong, and as far as we’re concerned that’s still one heck of a story worth telling.

Now that he’s finally met Cassidy, the new war vet character played by Jennifer Morrison, we think the tides will turn and audiences will become super-invested in his storyline. Unlike many other women that immediately find Kevin charming, Cassidy found the idea of Kevin hanging out with her nine-year-old son in the vet centre’s waiting room completely creepy. (As many mothers would, if they found a grown man-child playing video games and eating candy with their kid, mind you.)

Jennifer Morrison is where it’s at

To be fair we don’t know much about the Cassidy character yet, other than what we learned in the premiere. She’s seen some dark stuff, and it has sat with her for a long time. Her relationship with her son is strained, her marriage seems to be over and she doesn’t exactly have much joy in her life. Those are all signs of a deeply damaged person, which also happens to be the type of person Kevin seems to be inherently attracted to.

We’ve loved Morrison as an actress forever, first on House and then on Once Upon A Time. This seems to be a role that’s challenging her in new and exciting ways too, and, even more importantly, this is a story we haven’t had the opportunity to really dig into on television that much before. Having Cassidy become a bigger part of Kevin’s life will certainly give the writers more opportunity to tell it.

 

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Once upon a time, @jennifermorrison crossed paths with the Pearsons. #ThisIsUs

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More than that, Cassidy may be just the person to call Kevin out on his BS. We saw as much during the AA meeting during Tuesday night’s episode, when she burst out laughing over how silly his confession was about becoming a voice-over guy in his fifties. The laughter was medicinal—it broke the tension with Nicky and became such a cathartic and light moment in the episode. Somehow it gave life to all three characters at once, and it made us completely fall for Cassidy and Kevin as a potential couple.

Of course we know things are never so simple with This Is Us, and there is a lot of damage there on both ends. The good news is that we think this is Kevin’s best match to-date; Sophie and Zoe could never fully understand some of Kevin’s demons, but Cassidy—who has seen the worst of the worst—will have a much better idea of what she’s dealing with. We see some sort of a makeshift family between Cassidy, Nicky and Kevin forming in the very near future, and we can’t wait to see how that all plays out.

This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on CTV.