Confession: I hadn’t watched the last five episodes of This Is Us. Besides Game of Thrones, it’s the only show I watch with my wife. It’s not that we love the show; it’s just one of the few shows in which we share a common interest. But our work and television watching schedules don’t align well. We missed an episode, and we couldn’t find an hour together, and by the next week, there were two episodes that required a two-hour window, and before you know it, there were five episodes stacked up on the DVR. To watch that much TV together, we’d basically need to hire a babysitter, and honestly, if we’re going to shell out for a sitter, there are better things to do than watch five episodes of This Is Us.
But with “the big reveal” coming after the Super Bowl, and what with there being very little reason to continue watching This Is Us outside of Sterling K. Brown after we find out how Jack died, I skipped the five episodes I missed and dove right back in with last night’s episode. It didn’t feel like I missed much. Kate had a miscarriage. Kevin is in rehab. And Randall, who bought an entire rundown apartment building, is still trying to fill a void (I assume, though she doesn’t make an appearance, that Randall’s adopted daughter has fully worked herself into the family by now).
But last night’s episode was about Jack, in all of its cruelty. The writers of the episode — Kay Oyegun and Don Roos — lined it up perfectly for the big Super Bowl Murder Episode, because who doesn’t want to gorge on chips, beer, and chili and then watch a beloved character die?
First up, Randall is following in his father’s footsteps, and drops the line that killed anyone watching who lost a parent too early — “He’s been gone longer than we had him.” Ouch, motherfuckers. Ouch. I’m coming up on that date, myself. Thanks for the reminder.
Meanwhile, Kevin is doing the steps as part of his recovery process. He manages to apologize to everyone he needs to apologize to except HIS DEAD FATHER, a point that the episode belabors with the note from Jack that he left for young Kevin on his refrigerator, “You owe us an apology.” The note, by the way, goes up in flames during the house fire.
And then there’s Kate with that Jacob Tremblay dog. I mean, what kind of monster writers combine the thought of an adorable dog with a father’s tragic death? It’s like they’re trying to murder their audience by choking them to death with soft, warm blankets. What is wrong with this show? And of course, Kate is going to blame herself, because that’s what Kate does. It’s not her fault that old dude is giving away faulty electrical devices (Season 3 of This Is Us will obviously be about the inevitable lawsuit). That guy’s wife was right: Throw your junk in the trash, old man, and don’t foist your crap upon someone else with your doddering charm. Who is going to say no to a sentimental old fool and his piece of shit Crockpot?
Anyway, whatever. The dog is obviously going to get Jack killed, but not in a fire. Jack may have been killed because of a fire, but he wasn’t killed in a fire, which we know because all of Jack’s belongings were still intact when Rebecca had them in her car in the season premiere. No, my guess is that while they’re all standing outside watching their house burn down, Kate is holding the dog, which jumps out of her arms and Jack tries to fetch it, and he’s hit by a car. An adorable car, probably. Like a Volkswagen Bug. Because these motherfuckers like to rub salt in the wound. Twenty five dollars says that in the cold open of next week’s episode, we meet the adorable, likable character driving the car that eventually crashes into Jack while he’s trying to save Kate’s dog. It’s probably the kid from Wonder (Oh shit! That’s Jacob Tremblay, isn’t it?) And then we meet him again twenty years later when the family finally decides to forgive him.
This show is the worst.
But you know what? None of that was the worst part of the episode. No, the cruelest part of the episode doesn’t hit you until after the episode ends and you start recollecting what you’ve just seen. That’s when you go back to the episode’s opening. That’s when you remember that the old man was singing a Buddy Holly song — the singer who died tragically early. But the cruelest twist? The song, “That’ll Be the Day,” which is also the name of the episode. The lyrics, which the old man sang to his wife in the opening scene?
Well, that’ll be the day, when you say goodbye / Yes, that’ll be the day, when you make me cry / You say you’re going to leave, you know it’s a lie / Because that’ll be the day when I die
Oh, fuck you, you stone-cold bastards.