A+ Episode This Is Us

This Is Us 2×14 – Super Bowl Sunday

" I'm going for the catharsis jugular."

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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.

Heartwarming Bits

– 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!

Triplet Talk

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?
Rebecca: Same.

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.
Beth: Mm.

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.

Conclusion
An unforgettable tearjerker with a phenomenal performance by Mandy Moore. Certainly one of the show’s finest hours!

Nad Rating
A+

 

11 comments

  1. I’m still speechless so bravo on taking a captivating, soul-crushing episode and putting it in a few words so eloquently! I still have no words.

    Mandy Moore just knocked it out of the park! And the best thing about this episode for me is that by the time it ended it was actually UPLIFTING. It takes skill to turn a dark episode into a positive episode, but it really, really wouldn’t have been as powerful if it weren’t for Moore. God she’s amazing.

    And yes for adult Tess looking JUST like young Tess! Wow. The flash-forward twist is BRILLIANT, did not see that twist coming!

    1. So true about the positive ending. It had such a nice hopeful tone which was a fantastic contrast to the rest of the episode!

  2. You need to make an exception for this episode and give it A++
    Seriously i’m speechless.
    I laughed, i got all teared up and the ending twist was amazing.
    The chocolate bar scene was so fucking good. My emotions were so conflicted 😂
    I’m glad i started watching this show even though i didn’t like the trailer and i thought it would be cheesy. God i was so wrong!!
    Mandy should and will get an emmy. She deserves all the awards.

    1. Hahaha so true about the rating Ramy! So many people think this show is some cheesy creation but I always convince them to give the pilot a shot and the twist reels them in 😁 fingers crossed for Mandy!

  3. Frankly lately I’ve been thinking the show would benefit from a “Sliding Doors” twist aka a flash sideways, a world in which Jack doesn’t die. I wasn’t too surprised by the flash forward. Jack is arguably the best thing about the show so with the flash forwards I wonder what that will do to his presence there. Thoughts?

    1. I have a feeling the show may try exploring an alternate timeline in which Jack didn’t die for an episode. I would love to watch that.

  4. I like how Jack’s death was handled. Him dying in a normal way instead of explosively in a fire makes the moment of his demise all the more effective. And Mandy Moore did a devastating job portraying Rebecca’s breakdown once realizing her husband was gone. I truly see her going places after this show.

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