Rebecca and Jack take the sourest lemon life has to offer (Pilot)
The Pearsons’ reaction to the dread news that one of their triplets hasn’t survived is devastating, and evidence, even at this early stage, of your complete emotional investment in This Is Us. How they choose to respond in the gloriously unexpected events that follow is just further confirmation that you’re witnessing something very special indeed.
Rebecca lays down the law (Episode 2: ‘The Big Three’)
Jack’s drinking and absenteeism come to a head when Rebecca sits him down, and refuses to continue letting him let their parenting down. “They’re cute kids, they deserve ‘9’ parents. And the thing is, I feel like I’m there, Jack. I feel like I’m operating at a 9… I’m done letting you lower our score.” If you’re in any doubt that she means it, just watch Mandy Moore’s unflinching eyes; they’re not bluffing.
Jack gives his son a lift (Episode 9: ‘The Trip’)
The bond between Jack and his adopted son is powerfully illustrated by the scene in which he literally carries Randall on his back. We already know Jack would do anything for his child, but this simple and surprising ritual somehow manages to prove his commitment better than words ever could.
Dr K can’t say goodbye (Episode 12: ‘The Big Day’)
Gerald McRaney has won considerable Emmy buzz for his role as the sage doc with the heart of gold. His grief-stricken performance in ‘The Big Day’ deserves to seal the deal. “Baby, I don’t think I can keep doing this without you anymore… I’m really not sure that I want to’’, he tells his dearly departed, before duty calls him away to a significant birth, and death gives way to life.
Jack’s funeral (Episode 13: ‘Three Sentences’)
The bombshell of Jack’s death fresh in our minds, flashbacks of his funeral begin filling in some of the much-discussed blanks. It’s Kate memories we’re seeing, and the juxtaposed present-day scenes of her at a weight-loss camp, banging sticks, screaming in anguish as she desperately tries to expel her pain, are Chrissy Metz’s best of the season.
Kevin comforts Randall (Episode 15: ‘Jack Pearson’s Son’)
With the curtain about to open on his new play, Kevin feels an instinctual pull somewhere else: to his brother Randall’s side, whose world is coming apart at the seams. It’s a tender moment between brothers with a complicated history, and the perfect answer to the potent question: ‘What would Jack Pearson do?’.
William pays his respects (Episode 16: ‘Memphis’)
Halfway on the road trip to his final destination, William requests a detour to where Jack’s ashes were scattered, wanting to pay his respects. “Thank you for doing what I couldn’t, for raising him to be the man he is,” William says. “I’m sorry I didn’t get the chance to meet you, brother. I would have liked to have heard that laugh. I would have liked to have met my son’s father. Yeah. Cool.”
William’s final moments (Episode 16: ‘Memphis’)
No foreshadowing of William’s death can adequately prepare you for the actual moment, as Randall channels his adopted father in order to sooth his biological one. “You’re good. Just breathe,” says Randall, cradling William’s face in his hands. “Come on now, breathe with me.”