Welcome to my weekly review of This Is Us. Today: Season 2, Episode 14, Super Bowl Sunday. (The reviews will include spoilers, so don’t read if you haven’t watched and don’t want to know what happens!) My reviews are based on a single viewing. If I were to watch several times, as I can obsess over my favorite shows (I’m looking at you, True Detective, Season 1), I might be even more insightful (or over-Randall-ing it all). But I’d rather write my initial impressions than take time dissecting after many views. So….
Last week — the revelation that a dish towel thrown carelessly against the ancient and fritz-y Crock-Pot caused the fire that changed the Pearsons’ lives forever. Soon after, a Twitter backlash against the kitchen cookery. Then, This Is Us provided a little comic relief…
They had to — they knew what we were in for Sunday night, in the episode that reveals how and why Jack Pearson died. I’m going to be needing some comfort food, perhaps something cooked in a Crock-Pot, after this episode…
… … …
Turns out, not so much.
Last week’s ending packed such a punch. I feel like that scene with the fire starting should have blended into the beginning of this week — Jack saving everyone from the fire — then the fire episode, as I call it, should have ended with Mandy Moore’s truly excellent acting when she realized Jack was gone.
As it were, Jack’s death and Rebecca’s reaction, in the middle of the episode, made the scenes in the present day seem silly in comparison. When Present Kate talks with Toby about how much she hates herself one day a year because it’s her fault Jack died (she yelled for the dog, and Jack made the decision to go back in and grab him along with some personal momentos), it almost feels like she’s apologetically delivering the dialogue. Like she doesn’t believe it’s in the middle of this episode either. Present Randall’s scenes were the best, with his flashes to moments with Jack, and the comic relief of the accidental killing of Mr. Giggles, his daughter’s lizard. Present Kevin — I’ve grown so weary of Present Kevin.
The reality of the moment Jack died was well done, however. Rebecca was on the phone trying to get hotel rooms for her family and then talking to her kids, then getting a candy bar. Typical normal stuff, unlike these scenes where people die and offer amazing last words while another character stands by. That happens sometimes, I’m sure, but I think most times happen like Jack’s death happened. And p.s. Did anybody else hear a voice say “Beck” right as the nurses and doctors started running to the room? p.p.s. If his heart rate was elevated, why weren’t they working faster to find out how to slow it and help him? They knew he had inhaled a LOT of smoke.
Anyway, after such build up, and such an amazing episode last week, this week was a huge letdown and not one of the best episodes of the series, unfortunately.
2.75 stars out of 4 for the Jack’s death explanation episode. I felt sadder last week when the kitchen curtain went up in flames than I did this week seeing the reflection of his corpse in the hospital room door window, watching Rebecca deal with his death (though we now know that’s when she started making that “I’m tough” face she makes so often), and the Present Kids and Past Kids dealing with Jack’s death on his favorite day of the year. I’m looking forward to Tuesday night, though, and the funeral. The preview showed Dr. K’s return. YAY for that.
p.p.p.s. 3 stars out of 4 for Randall’s storyline. The writers tricked us again but I so didn’t care! I thought that social worker all grown up looked a lot like Tess, and it turns out, it was Adult Tess! The little boy teased in previous episodes was placed with a family by her in the future, and Randall comes to see her at work. LOVED that. And in the present, Deja is back. Hmmmm.
Tune in here after the next episode for another This Is Us: Review for You. Read all of my reviews for season 2 here.