Pain. Sometimes I think that the writers of This Is Us are masters at inflicting pain. Like they went to a secret class that we all aren’t privy too, and they mastered the art of making sure that you know that every part of your body can feel emotional pain.
To be honest, I don’t know how I am ever supposed to or if I will recover from last nights episode of This Is Us. To be honest, it has been a triggering episode.
I didn’t want to be the one to have to review it. Normally Alyssa takes on This Is Us, but she is a huge football fan and was celebrating the Superbowl. So, I said sure, let me do it. That’s what you do, you do things that you don’t want to do as an adult.
But from that first frame, from that first second, I burst out into tears. I texted my friends and said I didn’t know if I could do this. They all told me that I didn’t have to. They all told me that we didn’t have to review it.
But I knew we did.
See, I have long wanted the answers as to what happened to Jack, but I also didn’t. Experiencing loosing a parent in real life is enough. I have felt the pain that the Pearson children have. I still live it. But I didn’t know how much this episode would trigger me and how I would fall apart.
So lets break it down.
Jack wakes up in the middle of the night to the fire and he immediately goes into the mode we all knew that he would. He is saving his family. He’s there for his kids. He’s there for his family. He wants nothing more than to get them out of there and make sure that they survive.
Jack Pearson is the man that you can’t help but hope that you will find in your life. That man that will love unconditionally. That man that will put his family first.
And as he journeys out into the hallway to get Randall and Kate (cause Kevin is gone) my heart stopped. I was screaming internally. Telling them all to run. Telling them all to jump. But knowing that at any moment I am going to find out what took Jack from us.
The anxiety hit me like a ton of bricks.
Jack goes to the hospital, he’s got second degree burns. The doctor tells him that he took in a tremendous amount of smoke and that they need to do tests. Jack – you look at him and you know that he’s trying to remain strong. He’s trying to do what he does and make everything less serious, but I wanted to crawl into the TV and shake him. I wanted to tell him to hang on, to not let go, to fight long and hard because everyone needs him.
It’s a scary thing as you watch someone having their last moments. It’s a scary thing knowing that you are going to say goodbye. It’s scary because you want to press pause and hold on to every nanosecond. You want to take in every moment. I am fully aware that This Is Us is a television show, but I think that all of us who watch it feel like the Pearsons are home.
One of the genius things that I think that This Is Us gives us every week is that they treat us like we are part of the family. They treat us like we are experiencing these things too. They know we’ve invested.
But what happens next I wasn’t prepared for.
Rebecca is trying to take care of everything – taking care of Jack, arranging a place for her family, grabbing somthing out of the vending machine. But as she turns around from grabbing a Twix (which sorry Twix, I will now not be able to eat you ever again, cause nope…) , the doctor is there and he’s distraught. You just know by the look on his face that the worst is coming. The doctor starts explaining that Jack went into cardiac arrest and he died.
My heart sank.
I totally get it that Rebecca can’t accept what happened. I wouldn’t have been able to either. The person that she loves the most has died. She needs to see it. She can’t accept it. And when she walks into that hospital room, I lost it. A part of her heart died with his. Life took away the person that she loved the most (besides her kids). Life took away her soul and I can’t even imagine the pain.
But seeing her, seeing her fall to her knees, I felt someone wrap their hands around me my heart and squeeze it until it hurt. I felt the pain.
I have to say it – that scene killed me. And the way they shot it, the way that they brought it all to life, where we didn’t get a last moment with Jack, we expected more. We experienced Rebecca’s pain.
Well the writers are genius. The director shot it beautifully.
STRONG FOR THE KIDS
How do you tell the kids? How do you explain to them that the person that they counted on, that loved them unconditionally, is now gone? I can’t even imagine what Rebecca felt.
Rebecca returns to Miguels and Miguel comes out to see her and Jack. She is forced to tell him that Jack is gone. She is forced to remain stoic, because she knows that she needs to step up right now. Rebecca tells Miguel that they can’t cry, that they need to be strong. How strong she is, how she wants to be unwavering – I can’t even. I would break.
We don’t hear the words that she says to Randall and Kate, we just see their pain. We see their faces as the pain oozes from every cell in their body. We see Kevin asleep, not there. Suddenly it makes sense as to why he doesn’t want to talk about his Dad in the future. He’s never forgiven herself for the past.
Rebecca tells her kids that she needs to step out for two minutes. Even the strong need to break sometimes. Even the strong are allowed to grieve. And Rebecca does when she drives to house and sees the remains of the house. She sees what is gone and I have never wanted so badly to hug her and tell her that it’ll all be okay.
But will it? Will it ever be okay? No, we don’t know. We just know that there is so much more to this story. We know that we haven’t even scratched the surface of the Pearson kids and the decades after their fathers death.
It’s been 20 years since Jacks death and we know that everyone deals with things in different ways. Kate watches the tape of her singing and seeing her Dad filming her. Rebecca goes and buys all the stuff for lasanga and watches the game. Kevin would have gotten black out drunk. Randall goes over board on the Super bowl.
They all deal with pain in there own way.
The VCR ate the tape – the only tape that Kate has. She freaks out and of course Toby has a guy. As many issues as I have with Toby, I will say that he always takes care of Kate and he knows that she needs him right now. So they take it there and it’s finally when we see Kates walls lower a bit.
Kate blames herself for her fathers death. She can’t bring herself to feel any other way, because in her eyes, her Dad died because he couldn’t bare to disappoint her (he went back in to get the dog). He couldn’t stand to see the little girl that he loved in pain. So she wants to beat herself up. And Toby agrees to let her.
The thing about their love, the thing about who they are – is well, it’s not always perfect. Hell, it’s not ever close. But it is real. Toby gives Kate unconditional love. Jack would love him because he loves his daughter and he wants her to be happy.
Kevin wants to be the only one that doesn’t remain sad. But Randall doesn’t at all. He’s happy and partying, because he wants to celebrate his Dads favorite day. It’s weird, cause I get it. I get what he’s saying. There comes a point where you can either be sad or you can celebrate the happy times. You can celebrate the memories that brought you life and made you who you are.
Having passed the 20th anniversary of my Moms death, I know that avoidance is the best thing that I can do. So I can’t hate.
Here’s what I learned quickly is that pain can take many forms and we all do what we can to survive it. But sometimes what you need are the people who have been through the same thing.
Kevin returns to the place of his fathers funeral. He wanted to tell his Dad he was sorry. He was sorry that he wasn’t there. He was sorry that the last thing he said to his father was awful. He’s sorry that he’s not the man he thinks that his father would want him to be.
I think that vulnerable Kevin is one of the most amazing things in the world, because vulnerable Kevin can heal. Vulnerable Kevin can allow himself to know that he’s not a bad man, he’s not a bad person, he’s a person that has gone through something horrible, but he can make it through the other side.
When he calls his Mom and tells her that she was strong, that he can’t even imagine what it was like… I lost my heart, because it broke in a million pieces. It broke because she tells Kevin what she went through and what that night did to her. The two of them finally had a breakthrough, that moment where they relate to each other, that moment where all the pain can be set aside.
But is beating yourself up the best thing to do? Kate beats herself up and blames herself. Kevin beats himself up because he wasn’t there. Randall internalizes everything. And at the end of the day – I want to scream at them and tell them that Jack wouldn’t want that for them.
He’d want them to go on. He’d want them to be happy. He’d want them to know that he made the choice to go back in. He made the choice, because from the moment they were born, his life was given purpose. And that purpose was his kids.
Kate, Kevin, and Randall… Jack would be so proud of all of you. He would be so thankful for the people that you are and the love that you all give.
During the Superbowl party Beth accidentally steps on the kids lizard and in typical Randall fashion, he gives the lizard a funeral. Sometimes I don’t get Randall, but what I always do is respect the fact that he is so much like Jack. He’s got his ups and downs, but he will always put his family first.
Having the lizards funeral triggers Randalls feelings about his father. It triggers the things he can’t forget – the loss of his Dad. Beth has to stop him before he scars these kids forever.
His oldest, Tess, retreats to her room and you can see she’s hurting. She admits to him with all the things that Randall is doing, she thinks he wants a new life. He tells her about Jack and how he wanted to be a better Dad than his was. He assures her that she’s his whole world and that no one will ever take her place, that she will be his #1 forever. I broke the fuck down.
Randall is a stand up man and he’s the type of father I would want for my kids.
Beth gets the phone call and is Dasia. She’s at the door. We don’t learn why at the moment, but the look on everyone’s face, we know that she’s a part of this family forever.
In the middle of the episode we see what we think is going to be Randall and Beth’s newest foster child. BUT – we shoulda learned a long time ago that what it seems like is never what it truly is.
We learn that the case worker is actually Tess in the future. Yes, that’s right – we get to see Randall and Tess in the future. I loved this twist. It was something so unexpected and something that made me smile.
It’s like coming full circle and I love seeing that. Seeing Tess as an adult, happy and doing work that she’s proud of, but also seeing a glimpse of the importance of the relationship with her father… my heart swells.
- I will never rewatch this episode as it was triggering and killed me inside.
- Tell the people that you love that you love the,
- Jack Pearson is a great man.
- This Is Us should change it’s name to “WE MAKE YOU FEEL PAIN!”
This Is Us airs on NBC.