This Is Us Super Bowl Sunday review S2 E14

Super Bowl Sunday was the episode This Is Us fans have been anticipating and dreading. Going into the episode, I was confident I’d correctly assembled the puzzle pieces together. And as usual, the writers throw a slew of curve balls that still managed to surprise in one of the series’ best episodes yet.

This year’s Super Bowl Sunday marked the 20th anniversary of Jack’s death. It was odd that the Pearsons celebrate the day as opposed to the actual date of Jack’s death. The Super Bowl isn’t a set date like Christmas so it’s much more fluid. Each of the family remembers Jack in their own way.

Predictably, Randall favors going big and staying home with a massive Super Bowl blowout. Randall is always the most interesting of the Big 3 as he frequently tries to overwhelm his emotions by focusing on one set task. In this case, it’s forcing his excitement of the game onto Tess and Annie.

When Annie’s new lizard ends up on the wrong side of Beth’s foot (oh snap), Randall has to honestly face his feelings about death. This wasn’t the best Randall subplot episode, but they can’t all be Emmy winning spotlights for Sterling K. Brown.

this is us Super Bowl Sunday mandy moore

If anyone really shined this week — and it was tough — it was Mandy Moore. She did an outstanding job portraying a wife whose world has just been rocked. Even the little touch of Rebecca dismissively ignoring the news and biting the candy bar felt so genuine. Rebecca’s reaction was so heartbreaking and undoubtedly one of those moments most married viewers watched and tried to imagine how they would react in a similar position.

Hopefully, it’d be as strong as Rebecca when she broke the news to Kate and Randall. Words weren’t necessary in this scene and it was more powerful just watching the emotions come out. Poor Miguel. The guy was crushed to hear his best friend died and

For Kate, that’s watching the video of Jack recording her singing. That was one of the sweetest moments in the show and it was nice that even as a teenager Kate was able to appreciate and accept Jack’s admiration and complete love for her.

That’s what made Jack’s death so traumatic for her since she was partly at fault. Like last episode heavily foreshadowed, it was Jack trying not to break Kate’s heart by going back for her dog that ultimately killed him. The twist was it wasn’t right away. Jack calmly got Rebecca, Randall and Kate out of the house, but Kate’s pleading for her dog made him hesitant.

Common sense — and Rebecca — told Jack to come down to safety. They could always get another dog and losing a dog was way better than Kate losing her father. But Jack couldn’t disappoint Kate. Throughout the series that was always Jack’s biggest Achilles heel. Jack could face his alcoholism. His father was a reminder of the worst that lifestyle had to offer and there was no way he was subjecting his children to that kind of life.

He could go through rough patches with Rebecca. In the end, they’d do what’s right and Jack’s pride wouldn’t stand in the way of getting his family back on track. But Kate? Jack recognized early on she needed love and lots of it. She lacked Kevin’s obvious confidence and Randall’s more reserved assurance. And as usual if there was any way he could make Kate’s life better Jack would do it without hesitation.

this-is-us-super-bowl-sunday-kate and toby

Ultimately, Jack’s death was Jack’s fault — not Kate’s. She was a teenager with a teenage minded focus. Jack needed to be able to understand the difference between disappointing and traumatizing his family. I’m curious if the family will ever have another therapy session like they did with Kevin for that truth to come out.

I’m glad Kate didn’t lose the recordings over a bad VCR and even more so that Toby convinced her to get it digitized. There was no reason to risk that happening again. It really is too bad that Toby never got to meet Jack. He really would have liked seeing someone being as capable of loving Kate as much as he did.

Kevin used to get blackout drunk and hook up with the hottest model down for a one night stand. That celebrity life seems awful. Of all The Big 3, he needed to get this burden off. He didn’t get to have those final images of Jack as a hero emerging through the fire and flames having saved the family pet and most prized possessions.

Kevin last saw Jack as the buzz killer always ruining his fun.

This was a big episode for Kevin as he vowed to do right by Jack and to make him proud. I rarely get so emotionally invested in a character turning his life around, but this season has done wonders by Kevin. I really want to see him start making some major life changes and I’m still holding out hope that eventually leads to a lasting reconciliation with Sophie.

this-is-us-super-bowl-sunday-kevin

The other big surprise was that cute kid Jordan was not going to Randall and Beth. He was the kid that an adult Tess was placing into a home. Far as I can remember, this was the first flash forward This Is Us has done. Turns out Tess really did like fostering and as an adult was dedicating her life to helping couples. I love the potential of flash forwards as they can tease the eventual outcomes of the characters.

We knew Tess and Annie are on a good path, but this opens up so many more possibilities. Will we eventually see Kate and Toby’s child/children? How will Kevin make Jack proud? Will they all finally accept Miguel? Will Deja permanently become part of Randall and Beth’s family to become their new Big 3? So many questions.

Super Bowl Sunday took terrific advantage of its spotlight after the game to show why This Is Us is the best and must-see show going on network TV.

Rating: 10 out of 10

Photo Credit: NBC

Click here to read the next episode review: The Car
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