So you thought you were done with the tears on Superbowl Sunday, huh? No chance of that as The Car, an indirect spotlight on the Pearsons’ mode of transportation definitely needed to come loaded with a trunk full of Kleenex.
Jack and Rebecca realized it was time for a car upgrade. The kids quickly pounced on the flashiest, newest ride, but it wasn’t in the family budget. Naturally, Jack figured out a way to negotiate so they could get it. Jack really didn’t do anything to disappoint his family besides fall off the wagon once and die early, huh?
It’s why Rebecca is so overwhelmed at the thought of keeping the family going in his absence. How can she fill in for Superman who goes in to burning buildings to save family pets, drive over those life threatening bridges and gets a sweet deal on new cars?
I’m glad the writers didn’t go too heavy on the flashbacks and switching to the present day. We all needed The Car to process Jack’s death and go through the grieving process with Rebecca.
New Man of the House
The instant fallout played out as expected. Randall started to step up in Jack’s absence, Kevin was resentful and Kate was overwhelmed with guilt. While everyone was too polite to mention it, she blamed herself for Jack going into the house to get her dog. Though if Jack died for the dog on my watch, Kate darned sure wasn’t giving it away.
Throughout the episode, we saw one pivotal moment Jack had with every family member in the car. For Rebecca, it was the ride alone after she had a cancer scare and him deciding a random tree was his favorite because this was where they were when they learned she was fine. Religion isn’t brought up at all on the show, but Jack certainly acts like a man of unwavering faith.
The seating arrangement at the burial was interesting. Randall was right there to be Rebecca’s support, fighting through his emotions to be there for her. Kevin was in the middle as always as his parents were paired off with his other siblings and Kate had the open seat next to her where Jack would be in any other setting. This also was symbolic of the barrier Kate placed between herself and Rebecca. She always felt like she didn’t measure up in her mom’s eyes, but now taking her husband away placed an even greater emphasis on her to be better than.
Everybody Hates Kevin
Kevin was dealing with his own guilt for not being there during the fire and he lashed out as usual at Randall. He ignored the fact that with a bum leg, he would have been an even greater liability for Jack than the dog. Tying a tie proved challenging and Kevin tried to feel better by stating Jack wouldn’t care about a tie anyway, which triggered Randall’s memories of Jack and ties and teaching Randall how to do it.
It’ll be interesting to see the fallout from Jack’s death in regards to Kevin and Randall’s relationship. In one of their last few months, Jack had to prevent another argument from turning into an accident during Randall’s driving lesson. Kate was a daddy’s girl, but Jack always wanted Kevin and Randall to be best friends. He couldn’t force them to be as tight as he and his brother, but this was clearly one of Jack’s main hopes for his boys. To be each other’s greatest support when no one else could be. Kevin vowed to make Jack proud, but there’s no doubt he already was in how Kevin left his premiere to help Randall.
Jack’s car moment with Kate saw her playing hooky to catch an Alanis Morissette Jagged Little Pill signing. I call BS on that line as there’s no way that line wouldn’t have been wrapped around the corner. As usual, they had a sweet moment with Jack encouraging Kate to chase her dream and not give up on it so easily.
At the funeral, Rebecca got a much needed pep talk from Dr. K. He always manages to find a bench for this life affirming pep talks. Gerald McRaney is so good every time he appears and the writers have wisely not overdone it. Dr. K assured Rebecca she could endure this with the same fortitude she had when she lost a baby and welcomed Randall into the family.
Yes, it’s a long time til the next awards cycle, but man, if Mandy Moore didn’t put together two highlight clip worthy performances these last two episodes. That scene where Rebecca talks to the kids and tells Kevin (who won’t cry) and a broken down Randall they don’t have to be the man of the house was amazing. But it got even better when she correctly told Kate it wasn’t her fault. This is likely to prove to be another wedge in their relationship as Kate won’t accept the truth Rebecca was so quick to tell her. Removing that burden was the kindest and most motherly thing Rebecca could do and it’s clear Kate hasn’t accepted it yet. Hopefully that will come soon.
We Need This Car
The ending was beautifully done with a look back at how Jack managed to work his Jack magic and get the car. He simply talked to the dealer man to man, father to father and shared that he wants his family to be OK and that car is another way of ensuring that. The dealer didn’t have the benefit of the intercut glimpses of the kids growing up in the car, but it didn’t matter — Jack Pearson is a tough guy to say no to.
Rebecca knew that all too well and while she didn’t want to hear it then, she could accept Jack’s encouragement and know that even without him, she and his kids were going to be OK.
The Car made for a tremendous follow-up to Superbowl Sunday. This was a well planned out interlude before the Olympics break. That two weeks will somehow manage to feel long, but I’m sure the Olympians will provide their own tales of tragedy and triumph to keep things entertaining.
Rating: 9.5 out of 10
Photo Credit: NBC