The TV Series Review Vol. 2 No. 2: In Memoriam Jack Pearson

This is Us

Geek Rate: Sky god Worthy (5 out of 5 stars)

There is no hollow in the two episodes narrating the death of Jack Pearson. Those who said so were looking at this series with wrong eyes. Rebecca Pearson was told about her husband’s death beside a chocolate bar vending machine. “I was getting a candy bar when the doctor told me, he told me and I took a bite.” If that was not too real life, then we don’t know what is. There were little tears in the episodes, because the grief is within, tears will follow, as in real life. But for now, as was portrayed in the series, there’s just a sense of denial, of being lost, of slowly finding your way. This is the real story of losing someone, and this is everyone’s story, this is us.

“I’m not sure I’m at the right tree”

79311c97-3205-492e-adb7-47f84e235284-588f920fdd0895314b8b4b91-1920On the first episode, we took a look on the things the trio, and their mother, do every Super Bowl. The episode opened up with the fire incident which showed Jack surviving the fire after saving Kate’s dog. While Randall was busy holding a grand Super Bowl party at his home (“It’s dad’s favorite day), and Kate was wallowing in self hatred while watching the tapes her father saved from their house, their mother was doing something else, every Super Bowl, for the past 20 years.

Rebecca confided to Kevin (who always get black-out drunk and sleep with the hottest model in town during Super Bowl) that what she was doing for the past 20 years was to cook Jack’s favorite lasagna. What was striking on this one is a little revelation about how, according to her, Jack will have his presence felt. “Every year, on my saddest day, your father finds a way to send me some sign that makes me really laugh.” That year, Kevin trooped to the tree were they scattered some of Jack’s ashes. Speaking to her mom on the phone, he admitted: “I’m not sure I’m at the right tree” and they had a laugh. Rebecca see what she wanted to see and are we not the same when we’re visited by sadness, or longing for the ones that we lost?

“Hey Bec,”

“Huh?”

“You’re in front of the TV”

this is us 2The unexpected way Jack died, that moment, was so real and raw words escaped us. There was a twist in the start of the episode where we saw Jack surviving the fire but we knew he will die soon afterwards so that we were holding our breath the entire time. When we finally watched how he died and the subsequent events that followed was like the scene in the Last Jedi when the rebel ship jumped to hyperspace and collided a star destroyer. It was all silence. There were less tears in it, more of grief that was so deep could feel and taste it. The actors were superb in those scenes, hands down. Mandy Moore collapsing when she saw Jack’s lifeless body deserves a recognition of any kind.

The saddest part for us was the moment when Kate knocked on the door of the car where Kevin was sleeping and she broke the news to him. There was something mightily sad and lonely about that scene which stood out for us.

The funeral was not highlighted on the second episode, but rather it focused on the grief of the trio and Rebecca, from Kevin and Randall’s row on their father’s wristwatch to Rebecca’s strength all through it all.

Of course, Rebecca’s “lemonade talk” with their doctor was special, there’s no deep quotes that you could take from it, just simple and real conversation which has more impact than anything the writers could have tried.

Wagoner, coffee cup and Bruce Springsteen

This-Is-Us-2x01-2With the story of Jack’s death behind us, we know focused on how he lived with his family, the happy and sad times. Inserting the wagoner story on the episode was a stroke of brilliance from the writers, showing that Jack’s memory will live with his family, because he helped them to become stronger, with scratches along the way, just like the sturdy wagoner.

What struck us was the coffee cup Jack left shortly after they alighted the wagoner to watch the Super Bowl. The day following his death, Rebecca saw it inside the wagoner and that scene was absolutely soul crushing we felt it on our chests.

The episodes ended up with hope, showing the trio and their mother gathered on Jack’s “favorite” tree after which Rebecca revealed that Jack, before his death, brought a Bruce Springsteen ticket for them and, fittingly, she said “he got us tickets to see Bruce Springsteen tonight…I think we should go.”

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