Back to the future? This Is Us episode 2×14 “Super Bowl Sunday”


Tess and I made the same face while watching the Super Bowl. Credit: Cosmopolitan

Who: Me and my mom

What: This Is Us episode 2×14 “Super Bowl Sunday”

Where: My mom’s house

When: Monday February 5th 2018 8:30pm (the episode aired the night before)

Why: I’m a fan of the show

Knitting project: None, I didn’t want to cry on it so left it at home.



Now that I’ve yelled at you in all caps, let’s remember that the last episode ended with a faulty crockpot catching fire in the kitchen and quickly spreading through the house. So, we already know the house is on fire at this point. Aaaaaaaaaand begin:

  • We open on Jack and Rebecca in bed, bathed in blue light. This is a nice contrast to the red, orange, yellow (shoutout to Lorde) fireball we know is coming.
  • Jack wakes up but we don’t know why. Did he smell smoke? Did he feel the heat? Fire of this magnitude probably makes a sound, did he hear it? Unclear, but Rebecca and it seems the kids, Randall and Kate (Kevin is out), haven’t clued in yet.
  • Jack reaches over to take a sip of water but sees smoke coming in over the top of his bedroom door. Ok here we go.
  • He gets up, opens his bedroom door and the house is literally on fire. The stairs are totally engulfed but the landing connecting the bedrooms, while smokey, is relatively clear of actual fire.

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    Oh shit. Credit: NBC
  • Jack yells over and checks in with both Randall and Katie while Rebecca reassures him that Kevin is out, and not in his basement room.
  • While Rebecca is wetting all the towels Jack manages to crawl to Randall and bring him into their bedroom. He then goes back to get Kate, who is a freaking out (I would be too, no judgement) and uses her mattress as a shield to get them both safely back to the master bedroom.
  • Where did Jack learn his fire safety evacuation skills? He grabs a sheet off the bed and uses it to lower Rebecca and co down to the ground. I’d have gotten out on the roof sans sheet, contemplated jumping, decided I didn’t need to break my ankles, tried to shimmy down the roof support columns, and probably end up breaking my ankles anyway in the process.
  • Oh god the dog is still in the house. We can hear it barking. Jack goes back inside to find the dog while his family screams at him from below to get down already.
  • By the way, here are some fire safety tips because I care.
  • Here’s the thing. We know Jack dies in this episode but we also know the dog lives, so even though watching him go back is very stressful–especially with every window spitting fire and his family sobbing on the front lawn–I didn’t think this was the moment and I love it when I’m right.
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Victory! Credit: NBC
  • Jack emerges from the house clutching the dog and a pillowcase full of the family’s priceless belongings. He is a saint for going back for the dog and a moron for taking time to fill up a pillowcase.
  • The EMT treating him for second degree burns mentions smoke inhalation and I think we’ve just been introduced to the culprit. Let’s see: he went onto the landing four times (there and back for both Kate and Randall) and then ran around the house for the dog and personal items. Yeah, that’s not good.
This is also how I watch the show–with a dog and comfy sweater. Credit: Parade
  • We’ve jumped to the present day which is twenty years after Jack’s death and Kate is watching the VHS tape of her singing that Jack saved from the fire on a loop while crying. This is her Super Bowl/anniversary of her father’s death ritual and nothing will stand in the way of it!
  • Except technology, which proceeds to mangle the VHS because of course it does. Kate stands next to the machine shaking her hands and hyperventilating which is legit what I would do too (Kate and I are equally bad at stress. Go team!). She doesn’t have it saved anywhere else so here’s hoping Toby’s right when he says that he has a guy who can fix it.
  • Kevin and Rebecca discuss what they do on Super Bowl Sunday because apparently they’ve never talked about it before. Kevin likes to get blackout drunk and have sex with models while Rebecca makes Jack’s favorite lasagna and watches the game. So, pretty even reactions on all fronts.
  • Kevin thinks his mom’s ritual is sad (um has he any idea what Kate does?) but Rebecca tells him it’s not because Jack always sends her a sign that makes her laugh. I’ll be on the lookout for that this episode.
  • Rebecca suggests Kevin join her but he’s decided to be the only family member that’s not intensely sad today. Rebecca mentions he’s not the only one and we cut to:
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Randall mid dance while Beth likely contemplates sedating him. Credit: NBC
  •  Randall is throwing a Super Bowl party for twenty girls (his daughter’s friends) and is dancing around the kitchen while creating a stadium made of sandwiches.
  • Beth is concerned that Randall is not coping with the day well (I think Randall chanting “hot dad, hot dad” while doing a shimmy dance was the tip-off) and that maybe he should tone it down. He tells her that “Kate wallows, Kevin avoids, but I celebrate him” while enthusiastically thumping her shoulder thus confirming that clearly all is not well on planet Randall.
  • His youngest daughter Annie shows up in the kitchen holding a lizard and there’s no way it survives the rest of the episode.
  • His daughters tell him they don’t get why they are having a Super Bowl party when all their friends care about is the half-time show (same) and Randall tells Beth they need some boys in the house.
  • Cut to, young boy being told they may have found him a foster family. Is it Beth and Randall?
How I look trying to meditate. Credit: Refinery29
  • Kevin is trying to distract himself from drinking by bouncing a ball and doing some grumpy faced meditation. It seems to be working?
  • Beth is trying to explain Randall’s slightly manic behavior to the other parents when Annie announces the lizard is not in the cage. Cue high-pitched girl shrieking because it’s mandatory that girls are afraid of lizards.
  • The phone rings and Beth goes to answer it while Tess, the oldest daughter, eavesdrops. It’s a telemarketer and as Beth hangs up the phone we hear a squish. Clearly I’m a psychic because bye-bye lizard.
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Jack getting bandaged up at the hospital. Credit: NBC
  • Flashback to Jack and Rebecca at the hospital and the doctor mentions he’s got soot in his throat and his heart rate is high. Houston we have a problem, although the doctor seems more concerned with the burns on his arms.
  • Jack and Rebecca have a sweet chat before she gets up to go call the kids and make hotel reservations. She offers to get Jack something from the vending machine and he requests nothing chocolate or grape flavored. Rebecca leaves his room and now I’m stressed. From here on out nothing good can happen. I’m going to pull a Kate in a minute.
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Randall giving a lizard eulogy to a group of children that is really about his father. Credit: NBC
  • Cut to the present and Randall is holding an eyeglass case, presumably containing the lizard, and giving a eulogy to the assembled children. The theme is the particular sadness of losing someone suddenly (theoretically the lizard) with clips of the last time Randall saw his dad spliced in. It’s very moving but totally inappropriate for the assembled audience so Beth steps and asks the kids if they’d like to watch the puppy bowl. Clearly they do because duh, puppies.
  • Toby and Kate are waiting outside the repair shop while Toby’s guy is working on the tape. Toby mentions that they could put the video in the cloud or film a new video and Kate tells him:

“He died because of me. Because in the scariest moment of our lives he couldn’t dare to disappoint me. So, if for once a year I want to beat myself up for it please just let me. Just let me sit in that. Okay?”

For two seasons we’ve known that Kate blames herself for her father’s death but not known the specifics of it. I had presumed it was because of something Kate actually did, like in season one when she encourages her drunk father to drive to her mother’s performance. Had he run off the road I could see how she’d have blamed herself for that. But I’m now way less convinced this was Kate’s fault. Yes, he went back in for her dog but he also spent time grabbing photo albums, Rebecca’s necklace, and the VHS tape. She certainly didn’t ask for that, that was his choice. 

  • Toby’s guy fixed the VHS tape and uploaded a copy to the cloud and Kate is ecstatic. Good job repair guy!
  • Rebecca talks to her kids on the phone in the common area before making hotel reservations. As she argues with a hotel clerk we see hospital staff running into Jack’s room. Rebecca’s back is towards the action and she misses the commotion.

Mandy Moore acted the hell out of this sequence so I’m just going to put in screenshots.

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The doctor telling Rebecca Jack died of massive cardiac arrest caused by smoke inhalation while she takes a bite of a candy bar. Credit: NBC
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Rebecca goes back to the room to tell Jack their doctor is nuts and sees him on the bed. Credit: NBC 
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It sinks in that he died while she was on the phone. Credit: NBC
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She breaks down and we see a series of flashbacks of their relationship. Credit: NBC
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Stoically filling out paperwork. Credit: NBC
  • And the Emmy goes to….Mandy Moore for her moving portrayal of Rebecca Pearson.
  • Rebecca drives to (her future husband and Jack’s friend) Miguel’s home where Kate and Randall are staying. She meets him on his front lawn and tells him the news. As he starts to lose it she informs him that she can’t have that right now because she needs to be strong for her kids and tell them something that will ruin the rest of their lives. He either needs to pull himself together or take a walk around the block. It seems he chose the block (like J. Lo).
  • As Rebecca enters the home there’s no dialogue as she sits down with the kids, just shots of them crying along with present day Kate watching the video, Randall throwing out the lizard, and Kevin at a park.
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Kevin under a tree talking to his dad. Credit: NBC
  • Kevin is sitting by a tree talking out loud to his father and apologizing for not being there that night (he was with his girlfriend Sophie) and telling him he promises to do better and to eventually make him proud. It’s a good scene.
  • Kate watches the newly restored video on her laptop and tells Toby that he changed her life and saved her life through his unwavering love while we see a flashback of her telling Kevin about their dad and Rebecca in front of their burned house crying.
  • Rebecca is finishing her lasagna when Kevin calls from the tree in the park asking if she got her laugh yet. She says no but she’s sure Jack will send her two next year. Kevin tells her he went to their dad’s tree for a talk but isn’t sure it’s the right tree. This makes Rebecca laugh and all is well.
Just some light father-daughter chitchat about whether Randall wants a new life. He doesn’t. Credit: Cosmopolitan
  • Jump to Randall checking on Tess and an admission that she had been taking the landline off the hook because that’s the number social services calls. She explains that even though she’d be happy to foster another child in the family she feels like her dad is in search of a new life after finding his birth father, fostering Deja, and accepting a new job. Randall gives a nice speech about how Tess is his whole world and he loves being a dad. It’s all going fairly predictably until:


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  • We have a flash forward of older Randall meeting adult Tess at work where she is maybe a social worker (her job title is unclear) and has just placed the little boy from earlier with a foster family.

Shut the front door. I think this is a bigger twist than Jack’s death. What does it mean for the show? Do I like this development? I don’t know someone tell me how to feel! And insanely enough, tonight is a whole new episode so I better go rest my typing fingers.

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