The much awaited Jack “reveal” has finally arrived. But did it live up to the enormous hype?
Super Bowl Sunday is not an easy episode to watch. It’s borderline traumatic, but it does a stellar job of evoking the sense of despair and anguish that comes with loss. This climactic hour is also Mandy Moore’s crown jewel.
Yes, this is the episode that SHOULD singlehandedly win her an Emmy this season. Her performance is thoroughly spectacular. Actually, it’s many things: haunting, aspirational, heartwarming AND heartbreaking. The entire sequence with her learning about Jack’s death from the doctor, to entering his room and seeing his corpse, is one of the finest things ever put on screen. It’s all Moore, and she navigates the complexities of this performance with real finesse. Her breakdown feels remarkably raw and genuine, and I doubt anyone can watch this episode without sobbing alongside Rebecca every step of the way.
And then there’s that Lost twist. Yup, after a season and a half of flashbacks, This Is Us went on ahead and shockingly introduced flash-forwards into the mix. It’s a brilliant move that I honestly didn’t see coming, and the Tess reveal was the perfect way to introduce this gamechanger. In fact, it came at exactly the right time because I found myself questioning her bizarre behavior as she criticized her dad for trying to build a “new” life. But, the show cleverly had her voice her interest in “fostering” children only to pull the rug out from under us and introduce an older Tess in the place of who we assumed was a random social worker. This time-jump opens up a whole lot of storytelling possibilities for the show. I can’t wait to see where we go next.
– My stress level during the teaser seriously skyrocketed, particularly as Jack held up the flaming mattress and his hands caught fire while he protected a screaming Kate.
– As expected, Jack went back in to save Kate’s dog, and the fumes eventually lead to his heart attack hours later.
– If you needed more proof that Jack was the ultimate hero: he took the time to save all of the family’s albums and videos.
– Kevin trying to meditate: HA!
– Mr. Giggles’ death was a pretty good instigator for Randall’s speech. Love the lighting bolt metaphor (read below).
– Kate’s VHS tape getting stuck was a real bummer back in the day. I’m glad Toby was able to get it fixed and save her footage IN the cloud.
– Awesome staging: Rebecca on the phone oblivious to all hell breaking loose behind her as the doctors rush to save Jack… and fail.
– I love the detail of Rebecca taking a bite of the chocolate bar after the doc tells her about Jack. In fact I love how she can’t even believe it and assumes the doctor has them confused with someone else. It’s chilling.
– The quick cuts during Rebecca’s breakdown as we see flashes of her life with Jack were mindblowingly good.
– Powerful moment with Rebecca telling Miguel about Jack and ordering him to be strong.
– Something about Kevin’s speech to his dad didn’t click with me. I think it’s because his confession came right after Rebecca’s powerhouse breakdown. It never stood a chance!
– Deja’s back! That was unexpected!
– Did anyone else predict Kevin potentially being at the “wrong” tree and making Rebecca laugh? Just me?
– Check out Randall with grey hair! The makeup team did some terrific and subtle work here with this older version of the character.
– Can we all please take a moment to discuss how MUCH Iantha Richardson (adult Tess) looks like Eris Baker (young Tess)? The resemblance is freakin’ insane!
Rebecca: What do you normally do on the Super Bowl?
Kevin: Can I be honest with you?
Rebecca: Yeah. Always.
Kevin: Okay. Uh, well, typically I will get blackout drunk, and then I will try to sleep with the hottest model that’ll have me. What about you?
Beth: I know that this is a big anniversary for you guys, you know, with your father having passed away 20-
Randall: Kate wallows, Kevin avoids. But this was my dad’s favorite day, so I celebrate him. That’s how Randall rolls!
Beth: Oh, so Third Person Randall’s coming to the party, too, today?
Randall: Yeah. He got here early.
Randall: When you lose someone when you lose someone suddenly, and unexpectedly, it hurts differently. I had a tooth that got infected once. Woke me from the dead of sleep, middle of the night. It was this dull, throbbing, excruciating pain, it was awful. But then, the pain changed. It became sharper. Like sudden, direct bursts of pain that came out of nowhere. Boom, boom, like a lightning strike. That’s what unexpected loss is like. It’s like, uh, a lightning bolt you can’t even see reaching inside of you and tearing out your guts.
Kate: Allison came and she brought some clothes for everyone, so now her and Randall are just re-enacting the end of Ghost without the pottery or sex appeal.
An unforgettable tearjerker with a phenomenal performance by Mandy Moore. Certainly one of the show’s finest hours!