Two episodes of This Is Us in 48 hours? Must be Christmas.
The show’s post-Superbowl episode was one hell of a ride , so this follow-up was bound to be somewhat underwhelming. Thankfully, it’s still a pivotal and gut-wrenching hour.
For the second week in a row, Mandy Moore delivers a spectacular performance as the Pearson widow. The Car really allows Moore to tap into the sheer hopelessness of her situation as she’s suddenly faced with raising her children without her partner and one true love. The beautiful thing about this episode is that it ultimately becomes quite uplifting and inspirational as Rebecca navigates the darkness and finally vows to be stronger for her kids. I said it about the previous episode and I’ll say it again: Mandy Moore is doing the kind of work that should earn her every award in sight this year. Fingers crossed.
The highlight of The Car is undoubtedly Gerald McRaney’s return as the iconic Dr. K. I don’t use the term “iconic” lightly, because Dr. K has always felt like an essential part of the show’s DNA. His “lemon” monologue to Jack in the pilot episode was unforgettable, and it brought the show full circle to see him provide similar words of wisdom and comfort to Rebecca when she needed him most. It helps that Moore and McRaney play off each other beautifully. Maybe the show can have Dr. K join the cast full time? Because he’s that darn good.
– The fact that Rebecca and the kids are living in a motel is just heartbreaking isn’t it?
– Notice the quick cuts of Jack helping his boys with their ties. So powerful.
– I don’t know what’s harsher: the fact that Kate blames herself for Jack’s death, or the fact that Kevin blames Randall for letting their dad go back into the house.
– Dad goals: Jack spotting Kate on a school day and dropping her off at the “Atlantis” CD signing.
– It’s a moment that’s never really said out loud, but Rebecca keeps Jack’s coffeecup in the car because she can’t part with it. It’s such a poignant detail.
– Kate asking to keep some of the ashes was such a gut-punch.
– Jack’s surprise for his family was tickets to Bruce Springsteen. I love that they still decide to go.
– How magnificent is the musical score during Jack’s car speech? Must download now.
– Kevin puts his hand on Randall’s watch and smiles, signaling a new amicable dynamic between the two. Obviously that will not come to pass as it takes another 20 years for these two to sort out their issues. Oy.
– Parallels: Rebecca tells Jack at the tree that she’ll be okay. Jack’s speech to the car salesman is also about his family being “Okay”. I love the editing in this sequence – it’s majestic.
Jack: This is like complaining with a guitar, Kate. This isn’t music.
Dr. K: He’d gotten it into his head I was wise.
Rebecca: I think it’s your voice.
Dr. K: Oh.
Rebecca: It’s very soothing. And your lemon metaphors.
Dr. K: The mustache helps, too. Adds a certain gravitas.
Dr. K: You are the same woman who lost a child and rolled out of my hospital with three babies just the same. You’re as tough as they come, Rebecca Pearson.
Rebecca: Not without him.
Dr. K: Bullcrap.
Rebecca: Not without him!
Dr. K: Bullcrap.
Dr. K: Now, I would like to punctuate my inspiring speech by standing up, winking at you, and then walking away. But I’m old, and all that would take at least six minutes.
Rebecca: You’re two 17-year-olds, okay? Your only job from now on, your only job is to go on dates and hang out with your friends and your sister, and I wouldn’t protest if you wanted to do a load of laundry every now and then.
An incredible episode follow-up to the Superbowl episode. This has been a magnificent season thus far!