Wednesday, January 24, 2018

This Is Us 2.13: “That’ll Be The Day”

“I don’t see myself the way you see me and no one else does either. So, you saying it all the time just hurts.”
- Kate

We are almost to the point we’ve been waiting for since we first saw that urn in Kate’s apartment and Kevin shared with a grieving widow that he lost his dad young back in season 1: Jack’s death. Throughout the first part of season 2, we’ve gotten little glimpses of the lead up. We saw the burnt out husk of the house and only last week we saw that Jack and Rebecca forgot to buy batteries for the smoke detector. We pick up in the past on the day of the Super Bowl. Jack and Rebecca are excited for the annual festivities but the 17-year-old Big Three have other things on their minds. While the parents are cautiously considering how to move forward with Big Three Homes (complete with flipping some small properties and going into business as a husband/wife partnership) Kevin is being a total brat about having to apply to community college while Sophie applies to NYU. Randall is primping for his date with the redhead from the mall (whose name we learn is Allison) and Kate is simultaneously excited by the fact she’s in the last round of applicants for Berklee and having to record another song (Jack suggests she do an videotaped audition).

In short order, all of the kids bail on the tradition of watching the Super Bowl as a family. This leaves Jack and Rebecca to share some private time and end up getting a little sexy time in. But we also see some important progress toward why the Big Three feel the way they do (especially Kate and Kevin) about Jack’s death. When Kevin finds out Sophie got into NYU, he lashes out at his parents and then leaves to go spend the night with Sophie and her family. He calls to ap9ologize to Rebecca but doesn’t speak to Jack, thus leaving Kevin with the memory that the last words he spoke to his father were harsh ones. Kate, meanwhile, is upset that Jack keeps telling her that she’s beautiful to him. Her self-image issues are clearly kicking in strong here and even after she watches a videotape Jack surreptitiously made while she was singing, she is still going to have issues. It seems Randall is the only one who is pretty happy right now.

In the present, Kate finds Toby browsing a pet finder website and this prompts her to go to a local shelter and meet the cutest little dog named Audio. He has big sad eyes and is definitely all about the cuddles. She and Toby both acknowledge that having a dog brings up a lot of issues (which lends credence to the theory that Jack dies in the fire trying to save the dog). She is all set to adopt Audio when she backs out due to her fear of what will be dredged up. But, when she gets home later, she’s changed her mind and Kate and Toby welcome their little fur baby to the family.

Across the country, Randall is diving head first into being a landlord. Beth tries to get him to chill out and take things slow but he just blows by her and makes all kinds of promises to the tenants. He starts to deliver on them (Kevin shows up because he’s trying to make amends and like Jack, he needs to keep busy to keep sober). I liked that we got those little parallels with Jack and Rebecca wanting to go into business together and Beth and Randall doing the same and Kevin and Jack trying to keep busy. It’s a nice little tie-in and reminder how connected this family is, even years later. Of course, things don’t go as Randall planned and they find a massive cockroach infestation. So, all of the residents have to be moved to a hotel temporarily. During all of this mayhem, Kevin and Randall share a nice moment where Randall explains that he’s nearly 40 and he can’t picture himself as an old man because Jack died so young and their father has been dead longer than he was in their lives. That’s a pretty sobering thought right now and it made me really teary-eyed to think about. Kevin then comes back that Randal will be a great old man just like his other dad. Nice nod to William there!

And in the past, as Jack wakes to find Randall coming in from his date, we get the lead up we’ve been longing for. Jack bids his son goodnight and sets about cleaning up the kitchen from the food that went uneaten (including chili). He turns the crockpot to ‘off’ but as we see from a brief flashback, it was a re-gift from a former neighbor who warned that you have to fiddle with the switch to make it work). He would have been better off just unplugging the whole thing because after he goes back to bed, the pot turns on, sparks and sets a kitchen towel alight which then starts up the kitchen curtains. I know we have a little ways to go yet (the post-Super Bowl episode promises to answer our questions about Jack’s demise) but just seeing the fire starting to consume the house left me in tears. Yes, I’m ready to know the whole truth about Jack’s death so we can explore other aspects of his life before he passed away but at the same time, I don’t know that I’m emotionally ready to say goodbye. Like with William last season, I know we will still see Jack and he’s basically been dead the whole time in the present but I’m just not ready. I’m hoping it brings a sense of closure to everyone so we can finally understand some of what the Big Three are going through in present day. And I know we still have lots more stories to tell with Jack and the rest of the family but this feels like we are closing a big chapter. See you February 4, 2018 Pearson clan!

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