If you thought the This Is Us writers would ease up on the emotional episodes after Sunday’s gut-wrenching episode that revealed Jack’s death, think again. So, grab your tissues and prepare to sob over a car. Yes, you read that right, a car. A Wagoneer to be exact. This week’s episode takes us down memory lane with the Pearson’s family Wagoneer. The memories coincide with Jack’s funeral – from the time they purchase the car right up to after the reception. It’s an emotional trip that only makes you miss Jack Pearson just as much as his family.
Side Note: There is no present-day footage.
The episode kicks off with Rebecca honking from the Wagoneer for the teens to hurry up. Before they come out of the motel room, she pulls out a set of Springsteen tickets. Kate, Kevin and Randall finally walk out dressed in suits and a dress. It’s clear by their attire and their grieving faces that they’re going to Jack’s funeral. Emotions are high and the tension is palpable. Kevin can’t get his tie right, so Randall offers to help, and Kevin remembers his dad helping him before homecoming. Kate then voices that she wants to find a new home for her dog Louie. Rebecca doesn’t object as they drive off.
Back when the kids were around 10 or so, Jack and Rebecca decided it was time for a new car. So, they head for the dealership. As soon as the whole family walks in, Rebecca notes they should have gotten a sitter for the kids. Jack adamantly disagrees, joking that they’re proof why they’re so strapped for cash. As always, Jack’s joke rings true and ultimately help them.
The salesman immediately suggests the Wagoneer, but Jack and Rebecca say it’s too expensive for them. So, the salesman starts to show them a used car. However, while they’re just outside, the kids climb into the Wagoneer, and Jack knows that’s the car for his family. So, he and the salesman go into an office, and not much later, the Wagoneer is the Pearson’s.Towards the end of the episode, we see what Jack said to get a good deal on the Wagoneer. It’s a beautiful and loving speech about his family and how he can picture them in the car, down to every detail. “Every battle scar is going to be another memory. And eventually, that car out there is going to tell my family’s story just by looking at it.” He admits again they can’t afford it, but he believes his family will be okay in that car. That’s all he wants. So, he asks the salesman to help him achieve that, and the salesman does. In a montage, we see that, just like Jack predicted, his family is okay in that car.
In another flashback with the kids and the Wagoneer, the family heads to the kids’ first concert – Weird Al. They come upon an old bridge that terrifies Rebecca. Jack and Rebecca already have a routine for it, but when they get stuck on the bridge due to construction, Rebecca panics. Jack holds her hand and the kids distract her by singing Weird Al’s “Lasagna” until they finally get across. It’s such an adorable scene!
Jack’s Favorite Tree
In a flashback with Jack and Rebecca, it’s late and snowing as they leave an office and get into the Wagoneer. She worries after getting an MRI due to dizziness she’s been having for over a week. Instead of waiting for the results there, Jack drives her to his favorite tree. Jack assures his wife she’s going to be okay. She asks how he’s so sure, “How is the snow still going to fall if you’re not around to see it? It just wouldn’t seem right.” And if that isn’t sweet enough, he says that this is his favorite tree because it’s where they’re going to find out she’s okay. He’s so confident, and sure enough, he receives a page, and they call back on a payphone. It’s good news. Her dizziness is just an inner ear issue. When asked how he chose that tree, Jack confesses that it was the closest to a payphone.The good spirit doesn’t last long, though, as Jack gets a little deeper back in the car. He knows Rebecca is going to live forever – longer than him. She doesn’t want to hear it, but he’s adamant. He only requests on thing, to not put in the ground. He wants to be outside with nature. Ugh my heart.
The Funeral Service
Rebecca rushed the family to the funeral service because she wanted to arrive at the same time as Jack’s ashes. They arrive just as a cemetery employee brings in the urn. What we see of the funeral is short and sweet, albeit emotional as the family tries to hold it together. Miguel gives a loving speech about his best friend, but it’s Randall’s words that hit the hardest. He wants a wants a love like his mother and father, he admits through tears. You can’t help but relish in the fact that he’s found that with Beth.
Rebecca seemed zoned out for the most part, clearly trying to stay strong for her kids. She snaps out of it when the funeral is over. The cemetery employee starts to take the urn to the reception. Not on Rebecca’s watch. She wants to be with Jack as much as possible. So, she takes the urn, and she and the kids get in the car.
We then throw it back to when Jack tried teaching the boys to drive the Wagoneer. Randall’s driving, Jack’s in the passenger seat and Kevin is in the back. An argument ensues between the brothers because Kevin has a problem with how slow Randall’s driving. Next thing they know, Randall’s distracted and runs a stop sign, nearly causing an accident. Jack tells Randall to pull the car over then for the boys to get out. They’re walking home.When they return home, they apologize to their father who is working on the Wagoneer. Jack can’t understand why they can’t get along. He compares them to he and his own brother, Nicky, but they were inseparable. Randall notes how Jack never talks about Nicky or anything from his childhood. Jack explains that Nicky was his best friend, but he died in the war so he doesn’t like talking about it. He and Nicky had to have each other’s backs because no one else did. He advises that his boys fix their problems because he and Rebecca won’t be around forever.
Man of the House
At the funeral reception, everything goes smoothly until Kevin spots Jack’s watch on Randall’s wrist. Kevin confronts him about it to which Randall says their mom said he could. An argument ensues as Kevin basically blames Randall for letting their father go back into the burning house. Randall fires back, however, arguing that Kevin wasn’t even there. Kate breaks them up before they cause a bigger scene.
What couldn’t have been long before Jack’s death, we get a flashback of Jack and Kate. He finds Kate waiting for a bus in the middle of a school day. She confesses to ditching because her favorite artist, Alanis Morissette, is having a cd signing. To her surprise, but not mine, Jack drives her to the record store. On the way there, Kate lets him listen to this “Alantist” character, but he doesn’t get the hype. He then pops in his favorite artists, Springsteen. Kate notes that the two artists aren’t all that different. They both make one feel like you and their best friend all at once.Kate then admits to writing her own music. As he pulls up to the record store, Jack encourages Kate to consider a career in music. She argues the statistics on someone actually making it, but encourages her even more. “Whatever Kate Pearson has her heart set on, she gets. Okay? Don’t ever forget it.”
The night Jack died, the rest of the family stayed at a motel. In the middle of the night, Kate admits to her mom the guilt she feels over her dad’s death. She asks her mom again how Jack died exactly, and Rebecca explains the smoke inhalation complications. Kate then notes how no one else had smoke inhalation. She knows Jack wouldn’t have either if he hadn’t gone back for Louie. Not wanting her daughter to feel that guilt, Rebecca says there’s no way to know that. But Kate does. ☹
A Wise, Old Friend
Back at the funeral reception, Kate steps out for some much needed air. There, she runs into Dr. Katowsky (the man who delivered the kids). He laments how they always meet under dramatic circumstances before introducing his wife, Anne. He breaks the news to Rebecca that Jack would stop by his office a lot when the kids were kids.When he asks what she’s doing outside, Rebecca confesses she’s been following the urn all day because she wasn’t there when Jack died. “I want to make up for it,” she cries. She worries she won’t be able to make it on her own because she’s afraid, and Jack was fearless. But the Jack Dr. Katowsky knew, had a lot of fears, yet he still was able to take care of his family. He goes on to remind Rebecca that she’s as tough as they come. At first, she’s adement that she’s not without Jack, but Dr. K calls bullcrap. He manages to make her feel better before they just sit there together for a while.
In the final flashback of the episode, it’s days before the fire. The family pulls into the drive after a trip to the store. Jack tells everyone to clear their plans for Saturday because he has a surprise for them. Unfortunately, he doesn’t get to experience that surprise with his family.
We’re gonna be okay, baby
Rebecca suddenly decides it’s time for them to leave the reception. She grabs the urn and the teens and leaves without explanation to the other guests. She takes them to Jack’s tree, and Rebecca seems more at ease now. The kids acknowledge that they know the story of Rebecca’s cancer scare, but they’ve never actually been to the tree. They all then reminisce on how Jack was always right, even with predicting movies.
The memories turn serious as Rebecca insists to the boys that neither have to be the man of the house. Kevin and Randall nod in understanding before she turns to Kate. “It was not your fault… He was a grown man who made a choice,” she asserts. I’m sobbing right along with them at this point. Then it’s time to spread Jack’s ashes. They each take turns spreading a little, but Kate doesn’t want to spread all of it, and that’s okay.When they’re done, Rebecca informs them that Jack bought Springsteen tickets for that night, and they all agree to go. Rebecca then takes a minute alone with her late husband’s favorite spot. “We’re gonna be okay, baby,” she promises.
The episode ends with them heading to the concert. Kevin and Randall reconcile as Rebecca drives. They come to the bridge, and Rebecca drives right over it as stoically as possible. They’re going to be okay, but my emotions aren’t.
This Is Us returns February 27th at 9/8c on NBC!