This Is Us Season 2, Episode 15 Recap: "The Car"

Photo: Courtesy of NBC.

After “Super Bowl Sunday”’s heartbreaking reveal of Jack’s (Milo Ventimiglia) death and what the 20-year anniversary of his passing was like for his family, this week’s episode picks up on the day of Jack’s funeral.

Rebecca (Mandy Moore) is waiting outside a hotel for the kids on the day of the funeral. She begins to reminisce about the the day they got the car — Jack had splurged on a new one, and the kids were thrilled. It’s an instant gut punch watching the teenage kids load into the car on the day of their father’s funeral.

On the way there, Kevin (Logan Shroyer) is struggling to tie his tie. Randall (Niles Fitch) offers to help, but Kevin quickly shuts him down and says he just won’t wear one. During this back and forth, we see a side by side flashback. Jack had just taught Kevin how to tie a tie a few weeks ago, when shopping for the winter formal. With Randall, Jack had to teach him how to tie a tie when he was really young, before he first went to a different school than his siblings.

On the journey there, Kate (Hannah Zeile) mentions that she forgot to put Louie the dog in his cage before they left, so he’ll probably pee on the carpet. She doesn’t care, though, because she wants to get someone to take him because she doesn’t want him anymore. As we saw a few episodes ago, Kate is still struggling with associating dogs with her father’s death 20 years later.

The funeral is incredibly sad. Like, I was full on sobbing sad. The pastor speaks about how Jack was a good man, and how he feels for the Pearsons. He also mentions that Jack and Rebecca were married for 21 years.

Miguel (Jon Huertas) gives a speech as well. He tells a story about how, when he had to give a speech at his mother’s funeral, Jack advised that he stop and take a drink of water whenever he felt like he was going to cry while speaking. “I don’t think there is enough water in the world” he says on what it will take to get through Jack’s funeral.

Randall also speaks, which we briefly see. The only line we hear is him saying that he hopes to find a love “like my father had for my mother, and like she had for him.”

At the funeral reception, Kevin and Randall get in an argument when Kevin notices that Randall is wearing their dad’s watch. Kevin goes for a really low blow, telling his brother that he’s sick of watching him pretend to be the new man of the house. “A real man never would’ve let him go back in there.” Kevin says, referencing himself. Randall comes back with some hard truths though, reminding Kevin that he was nowhere to be found during their family’s horrible night — “You weren’t there, Kev. You’re never there for anyone.”

During this, we also see a flashback of Jack teaching Randall and Kevin how to drive. Randall is cautious (classic cutie Randall), and Kevin starts to tease him about it. When they fight and almost crash, Jack tells them to walk home. When they finally arrive, Jack tells them (angrily, which is kind of rare for Jack) that the doesn’t get it. He and his brother were inseparable when they were their age. He tells them that he hopes they can fix whatever is broken between them because, one day, their parents won’t be there, and they’ll be all they have.

Following the boy’s tiff, Kate is sitting in the car outside the funeral home alone. We see two flashbacks from her point of view here. First, Jack spots her at a bus stop at 10 a.m. on a weekday, obviously skipping school. He actually does a “cool dad” here and takes her to see Alanis Morissette sign records. He does a “not cool dad” as well though, telling her that Alanis Morissette isn’t real music — that’s Bruce Springsteen. He also encourages Kate’s music career after she gives him a pretty legit analysis of the similarities between the two artists.

We also see Kate on the night of the house fire. She is sitting in the kitchen at Miguel’s alone when her mom joins her. “I don’t understand how he died,” Kate tells Rebecca. After Rebecca explains, we see the moment that Kate begins to blame herself for Jack’s death. She deduces that since none of the rest of them took in too much smoke, it must be because he went back inside (she’s not wrong). Her mom is very quick to ensure her that they don’t know that for sure, though. It’s such a sad moment, especially since we know this realization still haunts her.

Finally, we see the four Pearsons leave the funeral and head out to spread Jack’s ashes at his tree. After seeing Kevin visit last week, we learned in a flashback this week about just why they chose this tree. A little while ago, Rebecca had a cancer scare. After a trip to the doctors, Jack took her there while they waited for the results. He told her it was his favorite tree, while in reality he just chose it because he knew there was a payphone near by. In this moment, Jack tells Rebecca “you are going to live forever.” He knows in his heart that he is going to die first, and he lets her know that he wants to be cremated when he does.

At Jack’s tree, they reminisce a bit. They talk about how he called this his tree, how he was the worst at movies, and how he always seemed to be so sure of what was going to happen; that everything would be okay. Rebecca makes a bit of a speech to her kids, which is very touching. She tells the two boys that neither of them has to be the man of the house. She wants them to keep being teenagers. She also tells Kate that she knows she’s going to blame herself for what happened, but that Jack was a grown man who made a decision. She promises to spend the rest of her life assuring her daughter that it’s not on her, if she has to.

They spread Jack’s ashes in an extremely emotional moment. Afterwards, Rebecca tells the kids that Jack had bought them Bruce Springsteen tickets for tonight (she’d found them in the car earlier) and she thinks they should go. They all agree, and head off to honor their father and his resilient way of living life.

Other small things I wanted to say:

During the driving lesson flashback, Randall rightfully pointed out that Jack never talks about his childhood. While Jack has a strong comeback mentioning the struggles he had with his parents, the preview for next week makes it seem like we’re about to learn a lot more about Jack’s past.

The doctor that delivered the Big Three was at the funeral! Very sentimental moment. He talked to Rebecca about how Jack wasn’t completely “fearless,” as she calls him. He used to stop by and talk to the Doctor about his fears about being a dad. So sweet. “You made one of the sweetest damn pitchers of lemonade I’ve ever seen.”

There is also a small flashback where we see Rebecca being scared of driving over a bridge by their house. On their way to see Bruce, Rebecca drives fearlessly over it.

I’m so proud of how strong Rebecca is!! It made me very emotional to watch.

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