Credit where credit is due, the writers of "This Is Us" totally have us in the palms of their hands. We are at their mercy, begging for them to please stop, please don't stop! We can't take any more, but we need to know more. It's almost worse that it's been this long and the moment we've been dreading and needing is here. Answers!
There's no turning back, as the fire is upon the Pearson household, and it is hungry and burning hot and fast. Teasers for the next episode (which airs after the Super Bowl) promise it's going to be a brutally emotional affair. But before we think about that, let's take a look at all we were given to unpack this week -- only to see it all start go up in flames.
As we do every week, 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.
What Are You Saying, Woman?
For most of her life, Kate (Chrissy Metz) has let her anxieties and her issues get the best of her, thus her struggles with weight and her recent backslide into bad eating habits. So when she almost backed out of getting that dog that Toby (Chris Sullivan) so desperately wanted, we were both frustrated with and sad for her. It was a triumphant moment when she came through for him, but even in that process she had to drag him through the emotional ringer by explaining every moment. The buildup was cute as Toby went from hopeful to excited to resigned to sad to confused to hopeful to ecstatic in a matter of minutes. And Audio is totally adorable, and so patient to sit there and wait for Kate to finish rambling.
He's Already Been Gone Longer Than We Had Him
It was a sobering reality between brothers when Randall (Sterling K. Brown) told Kevin (Justin Hartley) he could never really envision himself as an old man, just imagining he'd never outlive their father. The realization that they've not had him longer than they had him was a slap in the face, and tragic because he's still such a visceral part of the issues they're each battling. The brothers battled theirs by tearing into Randall's new building with two parts gusto and no part logic or common sense. Hopefully, Randall will "use his resource" in Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) going forward and be a better landlord than he was on Day One. His heart is in the right place, now he just needs to add some sense.
They know these moments are harder because we know what's about to happen, right? Now, there is absolutely no doubt that Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca (Mandy Moore) were in a wonderful place as a couple on their last day together. Thank goodness for that, because they are #RelationshipGoals and we don't want that tainted. Jack is a flawed human being, but he's also a pretty damned amazing human being, so his kids aren't wrong to hero worship him the way they do, though they could stand to give their mom some slack. As she decided to help Jack with his business venture, this couple was do or die together. They were both amazing and strong and so in love, but only one gets the rose-colored glasses of memory. Poor Rebecca continued to be there and to love as hard as she could, even as she was probably falling apart, and she now bears the brunt of her children's animosity and anger.
I Know If I Can Just Stay Strong
Last week gave us the notion that perhaps the adult Big 3, and even Rebecca, don't remember all the things we get to see in these flashbacks, but we really hope Kate remembers this sweet moment she shared with Jack. Mad props to Ventimiglia for projecting love on his face so beautifully and flawlessly as he filmed Kate. And props to Hannah Zeile as well for her performance as Kate, showing some vulnerability when asking Jack to never stop trying to make her see herself the way he sees her. Their bond was so special, it's easy to see why his death seems to have torn her apart the most.
Let Me Remember You When It Was Good
If this is the last time we see Sophie (Alexandra Breckenridge) on the show, she went out with a bang. Kevin got a moment of joy when his one-night stand mailed his necklace back, and he hopefully got some closure when he went to make amends with Sophie. To her credit, she simply asked him to let her move on in peace. Let her have the man she loved in her memories, the kid she first fell for. Let it be good, and for that he needs to just let it be over. They were hard words to hear, but Breckenridge delivered them beautifully. And to his credit, Kevin didn't try to fight for her or do any of his verbal Olympics. He simply told her she wasn't just a name on his list, she was the name.
This wasn't a line that was spoken, but rather a name on the back of Kevin's list. Even after marking off Sophie's name, there was one name he hadn't marked off and he would never be able to mark off. As we saw, Kevin opted to stay the night at Sophie's the night of the fire, and the last words he said to his parents was to essentially call them losers, while he was meant for better things. He call and apologized to Rebecca, but opted out out speaking to Jack. He figured he'd just catch him the next day, but alas. Even after apologizing to Rebecca, we had to see Kevin telling Sophie about a party, so his self-destructive and selfish ways were still dominating, which only compounds the guilt over the next two decades after Jack's death. And there's no way to make amends now.
We knew Jack died. We knew the house burned down in a fire. We're assuming the two are related, though we don't yet know exactly how. But we do now know how the fire started. It was a simple electrical fire brought on by a faulty crock pot Jack and Rebecca got from a neighbor. The smoke alarm has no batteries -- they drilled that home last week -- and so the fire was allowed to grow quickly out of control with the family upstairs and unaware. The filming of the fire slowly consuming the house, juxtaposed with cherished memories of the family's life together there. To make matters worse, we got to see Jack's final night of peace in the house, sharing a tender moment with Randall after his successful first date with Allison, doing up the dishes and simply enjoying that moment in his life. What would be his final moment of peace and tranquility.
All the tissues...
And we're headed to Costco for more, because it's finally here and we're not sure we're going to be able to handle it. The next episode airs after the Super Bowl on NBC, Sunday, Feb. 4. Here's hoping for a quick game, we've got questions what need answering!