It’s no secret that we pretty much bawl at every episode of This Is Us. Sometimes we cry because the show is just so darn sad (the episode when William died, for example). But more often than not we mist up in a cathartic way because something sweet and awesome happens, like Toby pulling out a grand gesture to win over Kate, or Rebecca making Jack a birthday, banana-bread cupcake with frosting squeezed from a Twinkie.
Tuesday’s second-to-last episode of the season, “What Now?” was that second kind of crying episode, and after watching William die in the episode before that, we really, really needed it.
The episode picked up about a week after William’s death, with Beth and Randall finding a note under their daughter’s pillow with specific memorial instructions: William didn’t want his remembrances to be a sad affair, which is why the girls were to be in charge of planning the whole thing.
And plan it they did. Rather than filling the day with somber reminders and speeches, Annie and Tess decided the entire Pearson clan was going to recreate a typical William day. That included a breakfast bar where they could all partake in their grandpa’s favourite meal of the day, a nice walk around the neighbourhood in William-inspired hats and hand-crafted Blue Hawaiian drinks (they misunderstood that Blue Hawaiian was William’s favourite strain of weed, not drink).
If you ask us, that’s the way to honour someone’s life. Being reminded of William’s awesomeness stuck with Randall too, since he took his biological dad’s words and rehabilitated way of living to heart. Towards the end of the episode, he stormed into his office and finally quit the job that was sucking so much out of him. Apparently his boss sending him a bushel of pears, which he’s allergic to, and an impersonal, typed-out card from “the team” in response to his father’s death was the final straw. Who knew?
Of course those weren’t the only heartwarming moments of the episode. Now that Randall has managed to get his anxiety under control Kevin was finally able to get on with the play. In the premiere night he absolutely killed it, even though the critic he begged to come refused to waste his time on a second showing after Kevin didn’t show up for the first one. No matter though, because Ron Howard just happened to be in the theatre to appease his daughter who was a huge Manny fan. And he offered Kev the role of a lifetime in his next flick. The only hurdle? Taking it would involve leaving New York and his newly resurrected relationship with Sophie. It wasn’t a sad moment though, more a jubilant one topped by a mini-cliffhanger.
In fact the only truly sad moment of the night was in the past, when Rebecca took off on tour and Jack refused to give her a proper goodbye. In the last moments we learned that Jack decided to take a young Kate’s advice and go and fix things with his wife, except that he decided driving drunk to her show two hours away was the way to do it. As the station wagon veered dangerously on the road, Kate in the present day admitted to Toby that her dad’s death was her fault.
And cue the credits.
So was Jack’s death really Kate’s fault? Did he die in the car on the way to Rebecca’s show? We’re sure to find out in next week’s finale, but we’ll all be holding our breath until then.