I want to preface this review by saying that I’ve never had the gut-wrenching experience of losing a parent. I’m one of the lucky ones. And it’s episodes like “The Car” that remind me why. It’s episodes like “The Car” that make you appreciate those loved ones you have with you. It’s episodes like “The Car” that touch you in a unique way based on your unique circumstances.
This Is Us, from its inception, has been a show that’s thrived on human emotion. It’s a show that’s relatable in its highs and lows; it’s a show that we can all relate to; it’s a show that makes you appreciate life for all the good and bad that come with it.
There have been some hard moments to watch on This Is Us. William’s death is the one that immediately jumps to mind. It was easily the most traumatizing hour of television I’d ever experienced. It was the tragedy; it was the beauty; but it was the honesty and realness that struck a chord. This show touches so many people because of its sincerity and how it doesn’t shy away from the painful nor does it ignore the good.
We all knew Jack’s death was coming. In present day, Jack had been dead for some 20 years. It was something that we expected. But it was also something we wanted to know more about. Be careful what we wish for.
Jack’s death was even more painful than I could’ve imagined. It was the simplicity of the death — it wasn’t a grandiose house fire that he died in. It was the complications of smoke inhalation that spelled his end. In television we’re groomed to expect these big moments that change a show forever. But in life, these events don’t always happen in these huge, dramatic moments. Life just happens. It’s not made-for-tv — the drama that television shows like to sell. That’s why This Is Us is so unlike other shows on television. It reflects reality.
This Is Us’s latest hour, “The Car,” centered on the aftermath: what happens after Jack dies. And it’s just as, if not more, painful as we watch his loved ones break from the inside. But as much as it was about the aftermath of Jack’s death — the pain, the hopelessness, the anger, the blame, the goodbye — it was also about celebrating life.
“The Car,” as its title suggests, centered around the Pearson’s and their history with their Wagoneer. Jack was able to prove his love for his family with none other than a station wagon. We got just a glimpse — and we’re reminded of the many other — moments that the Pearsons shared in that car. Be it good or bad, that car held the Pearson’s history. They were the first ones in that car, and they were the last ones in that car, minus Jack.
This was an episode that reminded us to cherish the time that we have with our loved ones. The little moments; the big moments; the sad moments; the happy moments. You only get one life, and you only get one chance to share that life with the ones you love.
Jack’s death hurts like hell. For the fans that have watched and grown to love Jack, for the actors that portray these characters, and for these characters that have had the privilege to have known him for as long as they did.
Life can be painful, that’s true. There might be moments when we feel like we’re dying from the inside because the weight of the heartache feels like a ton of bricks. There might be moments when we lash out at others because we need someone — anyone — to be mad at. Even if the person we’re truly mad at isn’t someone we want to be mad at.
Jack’s life and legacy has left a lasting impression on every person he’s touched. He was the perfect imperfect man. He was the poster child for a great father, a great wife, and just a wonderful human being. Even as fans, we feel that. And that’s a credit to these writers and to Milo Ventimiglia.
This was a hard episode to watch. I know a couple of my friends, who have lost a parent, said this episode would just be too difficult to watch. I know what they’re saying, but I can’t truly understand it. I never want to. But I know I eventually will. Because life is a continuous circle where the years fly by like shooting stars. But as individuals, we want to catch a glimpse of those shooting stars however brief they may be.
All Jack ever wanted was to ensure that his family would be okay. That they’d be safe; that they’d be happy; that they’d get to live their lives to the fullest. All Jack wanted was for his family to live — even if that meant he wouldn’t be around to see it. Even if he wasn’t around in person, he’d always be around in spirit.
Right now it might not seem like it. But everything’s going to be fine.
They’re going to be okay, Jack. And so are we.
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on NBC.