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This Is Us - Super Bowl Sunday - Review+Poll: I Try

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"You must really love that dog."
"I really love the girl that loves the dog."

We expected a lot from this episode, and though there weren't many surprises, it delivered on the emotional promise, as it always does. We saw the events unfold, we saw Jack taking everyone out of the house, like the hero we expected him to be (even burning his hands in the process, how heroic can you be?), and we got to see how everybody in the family deals with the anniversary of his death. The fire itself was hard to watch, especially when he went back in for the dog and the "important stuff" (family photos, Kate's tape). Now, if he'd died incinerated when the fire got bigger, when he went back in to get the dog, I too would've blamed Kate (as unfair as that would be), but it was the smoke inhalation, which makes the amount required to kill him harder to calculate, so going back in might have been what killed him, or he could've already damaged his lungs before then, especially since he was the one getting everyone out.

It was very hard also seeing Rebecca screaming at him to get out and trying to go get him, but Randall, as per his father's instructions, kept her safe. After they drop the kids off at Miguel's, they go to the hospital to get Jack checked out and everything seems fine, the doctor even teases him about loving the dog so much that he went back in for it. Rebecca decides to go talk on the phone to make hotel reservations and talks to the kids, we see behind her the doctors rallying to help Jack. ANd there is one moment when Jack's voice says "Bec" and she turns to look but no one's there. Which is a bit creepy, but mostly sweet I think. Then, when she's getting a candy bar, the doctor finds her and tells her Jack had a heart attack but she thinks he's mistaken her for someone else, because they only went in for a burnt hand, so she goes to Jack and sees it for herself, and then she completely breaks down. Mandy Moore killed it, though it's not really a surprise by now.

A bit after that, Rebecca realizes she has to tell the kids and she has to be strong for them, so she goes to Miguel's. He meets her outside and she tells him what happened, she tells him they call it a widow maker heart attack, and there's just something entirely devastating about finding out there's a name, a label, a category for the cause of your pain. Miguel starts to lose it, but she tells him, they need to be strong for the kids, and if he can't do that, he has to take a walk around the block until he can. Damn that amazing woman. After she tells the kids she holds them tight for a while but then she needs to take a moment, so she goes to see the house, or what's left of it, and cry some more, that's when she finds the moon necklace among the things Jack rescued, she puts it on and we know she'll never take it off. We also see Kate go tell Kevin what happened.

Now, as I was saying last time, things don't seem to be much different than we imagined, the digree of guilt over their father's death is part of what shapes the way they deal with the anniversary of his death, Kate who feels guilt directly for his death, decides to take the day to wallow, Kevin, who wasn't there and was in a fight with him that very day, chooses to avoid it by getting black-out drunk and sleeping with women, while Rebecca chooses to remmeber him by making his favorite meal and watching the game, and Randall is intent on celebrating his favorite day, so his girls will love it too, because even if his last day with Jack wasn't perfect they did talk at the end, he did tell him he loved him before he died, so there's some digree of closure there already, while Kevin and Kate have to go get that on their own.

Kate is going for the catharsis' jugular watching the tape over and over again, Toby wants to apply logic to it all but, that's just not happening, and that is the way it should be. But when the tape gets tangled and Kate starts to lose it he decides to swoop in and takes it to a guy to fix it, which has to be complicated with a VHS tape, the guy manages to do so and he also uploads it to the cloud so it won't happen again. After that, she opens up a bit about her father and tells him he would've loved him, and that she felt she was never going to get over Jack's death and truly be happy, but that he had changed that.

Over at Rebecca's, she and Kevin compare Super Bowl traditions. Rebecca tells him she follows the tradition because every year Jacks finds a way to make her laugh from beyond. Kevin is a bit lost about what to do with this day now that he's sober, finally decides to confront the memory of his father, he goes to the river where they scattered his ashes ad he tells him he needs him, that he feels he wouldn't be proud of the man he is, but if it's the last thing he does, he's gonna make him proud. Then he tells him he made a movie with Rocky and calls Rebecca to tell her he appreciates how strong she was when it all went down and he confesses he's not sure he's at the right tree, which gives her the big laugh she was waiting for.

Randall seems to have another take on the Super Bowl, trying to make everyone love the day. But his party goes a bit awry when Annie's new lizard pet (iug) gets stepped on, now, Mr. Giggles might not have lived long, but he was a gateway of grief for Randall to let himself be a little sad about his dad too. Later he sees there's something wrong with Tess and goes to talk to her, she tells him she's been disconnecting the phone so the people from foster care can't contact them, not because she doesn't like fostering, she actually does, but because she thinks he's tired of his life and that's why he keeps finding new things. But he reassures her, he tells her he always doubted how he could ever be even half as good a father has his own dad was, but that all doubts went away the moment he laid eyes on her and knew how much he loved her. Now, we've been seeing little moments with a sweet kid, Jordan, who we thought would be a new addition to the house, but it turns out the social worker was the center of that story because it was grown up Tess who decides to help people, like her parents did, or even more.

Throughout the episode there was the underlining subject of trying, Rebecca says Jack never had to try to be as amazing as he was, that it just came naturally to him, even though both times she said something about him he joked that he tried (to be special, to be good). And then she and Kevin talk about how they have to try, even if it doesn't come as naturally to them as it did to him because come one, not everyone can be Jack Pearson, and by the way, getting everyone out of a burning house and dying for it is the perfect way to cement sainthood, so it's no wonder no one contests it. Even Miguel, who gives Rebecca space every year in the anniversary, I mean how understanding can you be? They definitely earned it (Rebecca and Jack) but it doesn't mean he doesn't deserve props for it.

As for the shock factor, I know some were expecting it, but I don't think it was necessary here, there's still the next episode for that, besides a lot of the storylines were building up to this, and we guessed a lot of the possible reasons why Jack might have died, and even though a twist would've been effective, I think this episode was about watching it play out, and they gave us a glimpse of how everyone chose to cope with the death, and how he keeps affecting their lives. And there's a reason why we expected to be broken on Monday to the point of not being able to function, but if they had gone for it, I think it would've been too much, it's just not safe to have that kind of power (let me remind you what happened with the Crock-Pots), especially taking into account the short amount of time between episodes. And, as it is, I cried during the entire hour, so I think it was enough, for now, because we know there is no shortage of heartbreak in this show, I just hope they don't kill someone else to continue milking that cow. Now, we still have tonight's episode, and that might be the Troyan horse for our twisty expectations, so take a deep breath and get ready, because the funeral can't be easy to watch either.

What did you think of the episode? Are you ready for another one so soon? I look forward to your comments and I leave you with a little poll.

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