Monday, February 5, 2018

This Is Us 2.14: “Super Bowl Sunday”

“Maybe I see what I want to see or what I need to see, but every year your father finds a way to send me some laugh.”
- Rebecca

It’s finally happening Pearson Clan; we finally get the answer to how our beloved patriarch met his end. Normally, I blog the show as I watch it but this episode needed some time to breathe and I needed a minute to process it. As always, it had its happy and sad moments. I suppose, we might as well just dive in to the sad part. Jack wakes in the night to see smoke coming into the bedroom and when he opens the door, the house is definitely on fire. He rallies Rebecca, Kate and Randall and quite heroically gets them all to safety (lowering them from the roof with a harness made from a bed sheet. He’s about to come down when Kate starts screaming about the dog (and we hear it bark inside). Jack, being the good dad that he is, goes back into the house just as the fire erupts in the bedroom. We and the rest of the family is left to watch helplessly until the front door opens and Jack comes out carrying the dog and a pillowcase full of mementos, including a photo album, Rebecca’s moon necklace and Kate’s audition tape.

We of course hope that all is going to be okay when Jack gets his burns tended to and he even gets checked out at the hospital. But, as medical staff repeatedly tells us and them, Jack has a lot of smoke inhalation. He gets to have a sweet joking moment with Rebecca (after they’ve dropped the kids with Miguel) but as Rebecca is trying to get a hotel room and a candy bar from the vending machine, the worst happens. And god, it’s heartbreaking to see Rebecca failing to process the news; much like Jack did in the pilot when they lost Kyle. Rebecca, still not believing the doctor, marches into the room expecting her husband to be alive and well. But he’s not and she loses it. Hard. But she’s got to pull herself together enough to tell the kids. And then Kate—we get why she blames herself now—has to go find Kevin and bring him into the family grief.

In the present, the Pearsons are marking the 20th anniversary of Jack’s passing. Randall is throwing an elaborate Super Bowl party for a bunch of prepubescent girls (who don’t care about the game) while Kate wallows by watching the video tape of her audition. Kevin, meanwhile plans to avoid the day per usual. Rebecca remarks to Kevin that every year, she makes Jack’s favorite lasagna and that Jack always finds a way to make her laugh. Kevin ends up at the tree where Jack is buried or at least part of him given that Kate has the ashes) and having the heart to heart with his dad that he never got to have. He regrets having argued with dad the last time they spoke and it’s been a really hard couple of decades for Kevin carrying around that guilt and not being the man his father had hoped he would be. And now with Kevin going through recovery much like Jack had, Kevin vows to be a better man and make Jack proud, even if it takes another couple of decades. And he even gets Rebecca to laugh when he admits he’s not sure he’s at the right tree.

Kate’s wallowing takes on a level of panic when the VCR tries to eat the tape. But Toby manages to find a guy to fix it and also upload it to the cloud so that she won’t ever have to worry about losing it again. And Kate has to explain some things to Toby that probably should have been obvious. She blames herself because Jack couldn’t bear to disappoint her and thus went back for the dog. And she’s not ready to not beat up on herself that one day a year. But, as they watch the video together later, she remembers how Jack used to always fix this leaky window her room and that Toby has filled that void for her in a way she wasn’t expecting. It is sad that Toby never got to meet Jack. They would have gotten on quite well.

And then there’s Randall. Poor, overcompensating Randall. Tess has been acting kind of teenager-ish and moody but it isn’t until Beth accidentally steps on Annie’s new pet lizard that things get a little crazy. Randall starts doing a eulogy for the lizard and then he ends up sharing that losing someone unexpectedly hurts in all kinds of different ways, equating it to toothache pain he had once. Beth manages to stop him before he gets too dark. Still, Tess kind of storms off and he ends up talking to her. She feels like he wants a new life with all the changes he’s been going through. He doesn’t entirely reassure her that it isn’t the case but he promises that she’s his number one priority, no matter what happens. Throughout the episode, we see a little boy getting ready to meet his new foster family. Just as Randall and Tess are chatting, Beth gets a call and we think the boy is going to be their new child but in a twist I honestly wasn’t expecting yet I loved, the boy is going to a family in the future and the social worker is a grown up Tess! We’ve only seen a flash forward one time before and it wasn’t that far (only to see Randall packing up William’s things after he died). Everything time I think this show can’t surprise me, it does. I love that we get to see the seeds of Tess’s interest in the foster system being planted now in the present. Oh, and that phone call Beth got? Deja is on their front steps so that’s going to be an interesting development come the next episode.

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