Gerald McRaney returns as Dr. K to give Mandy Moore's Rebecca just the pep talk, and kick in the butt, she needs to get moving again.
We're still drying our tears from Sunday's heartbreaking episode, and here we are again. "This Is Us" returned to its regular Tuesday night time slot with the funeral for Jack Pearson (Milo Ventimiglia), as well as a look back at the family car that would make everything "okay."
One thing Dan Fogelman did right was making sure we could see how much a part of the show Jack would still be. His death was a pivotal moment for the family, but it is not the end of his story. There is still so much to reveal about who he was and how he came to be the amazing husband and father he ultimately was.
As much as it was sad to see Jack's funeral, it wasn't as brutal as we anticipated. Instead, it was a celebration of what made him special as told through the stories in and around the family car. We got to see him work a deal to buy beyond his means in order to secure it, and enjoy how it helped bring the family closer together through the years. As surprising as it is to say, this may just be the most uplifting episode of "This Is Us" yet.
As we do every episode, we're going to single out the show's most powerful moments, scoring them by how many tissues we tore through just to watch them. Believe us, these are happy tears of anguish.
He Could See You Three Before You Happened
As the family stood at Jack's favorite tree ready to spread his ashes, Rebecca (Mandy Moore) eulogized her husband, remembering his uncanny ability to see things. He saw the family in the car, we found out later, and usually when he sees something it happens. He even told Rebecca he saw her outliving him. "You're going to live forever," he kept telling her. He also told her to not bury him in the ground. "Let me be outside," he said. But the biggest thing he saw was something that Rebecca wasn't able to ... at least not as clearly as Jack did. He saw the kids, just as they are, from the moment he saw Randall in the hospital. He saw his Big Three and he willed them into existence just as he saw them. His will is truly something to behold, and he gave so much of that will to making sure his family was "okay" at all times. Now, they needed to find a way to be okay without him.
It's Where You Find Out You're Okay
The funniest thing about Jack's favorite tree is that it was completely arbitrary. Rebecca was freaking out while awaiting MRI results, so Jack told her he was going to take her someplace special while they awaited the message on his pager. That someplace was the tree. So they sat on the bench and they talked and kept her mind off of things until the call came through. "Why is this your favorite tree?" Rebecca asked him. "Because it's where you find out you're okay," he replied, and it was. Ultimately, he came clean and told her it was because it was closest to the pay phone. But that's a testament to what Jack was able to do. It was more than just making lemonade out of lemons, he could make a magical moment out of nothing but love and that indomitable will of his.
It. Was. Not. Your. Fault.
Here we witnessed the tragic genesis of Kate's self-loathing as she began to truly and fully blame herself for Jack's death. She talked about wanting to get rid of the dog, and even confronted Rebecca about how Jack died. "It's because he went back inside," Kate kept insisting. Rebecca said she didn't know over and over again, but Kate countered, "You do know." And so at the tree-side funeral, Rebecca took a page out of Jack's playbook and told Kate that she will never stop telling her that it wasn't her fault. Jack made his own decision. As we see in the present day, there is work yet to be done on Kate forgiving herself, but she did allow Toby to get a dog, so progress is being made.
Whenever someone is in need of a pep talk, there's no one better to turn to than Gerald McRaney's Dr. K. He helped Jack more than Rebecca ever knew in the early days, and he showed up on her darkest day to help steer Rebecca in the right direction. Telling her that Jack was scared turned out to be a great thing to do, as she was almost crippled by the fear of having to go on without him. Three kids getting ready for college, and she had to navigate it alone. Jack was fearless ... or so she thought. "You are as tough as they come, Rebecca Pearson," Dr. K told her, reminding her that she walked out of his hospital with three babies just as she'd come in planning to have. He even upped the ante by telling her she'd gone beyond something resembling lemonade with the lemons life gave her; what they'd made together was spectacular and so sweet. Apparently, Dr. K had decided that Rebecca had wallowed enough and he wasn't afraid to tell her so, but he did let her rest her head on his shoulder and just sit there with him for a while.
I Think We Should Go
The Pearsons had gone through the traditional funeral service and they'd done their time at the reception, but now it was time to do things the Pearson way. Because the Pearsons are not a traditional family. So Rebecca gathered them all up, including Jack's urn, and took them to his favorite tree to honor his wishes. She spoke some words of remembrance for the man she'd lost, and then she channeled her own inspirational fire and spoke to her children about how they were going to carry on from here. The boys weren't going to fight about who was the man of the house, because it wasn't their job. What was unsaid was that Rebecca would be the man of the house. She would be their everything through this time and as long as they needed her. They spread his ashes -- but not all of it, per Kate's request -- and then discussed Jack's big surprise. Before the big game, he'd gotten them all tickets to see Bruce Springsteen. That concert was tonight (the night of the funeral), and the Pearsons were going to honor Jack's wishes by going. And just like that, we knew that both Jack and Dr. K were right. Rebecca does have this, she's going to be fine, and she may just live forever after all. She'll certainly live forever in our hearts.