Surprise! Jack Pearson didn't die in the fire.
We kinda thought we were being tricked when Jack emerged relatively sorta kinda unscathed from the burning house with the dog in his arms at the start of tonight's "historic" Super Bowl episode. But alas, we were not being tricked. Jack is dead, and he was killed by the fire. Just not in the fire.
And as cavalier as we're trying to be right now, that's not how we're feeling. That was incredibly devastating in so many ways, but mostly because of Mandy Moore's Emmy-worthy performance. This was her episode to shine and Rebecca's to both fall apart and stay so impossibly together.
The first couple minutes were wildly terrifying, with Jack rushing to save his family from the fire, lowering them out of a second story window on a rope made of sheets or shielding himself and Kate with a mattress that was only kind of working.
Then, he ran back in to get Kate's poor dog, which is exactly how everyone assumed Jack would die. But then, after way too long, Jack came back out with the dog and a few important family belongings, like a photo album and the video of Kate singing. The EMT told him to go to the hospital because he needed burns treated and he inhaled a lot of smoke.
Aside from the fire, the hardest part of the episode was watching Rebecca try to make hotel reservations and call her kids at a payphone and seeing that something was clearly going on in the background. The smoke inhalation apparently was so hard on his lungs that he went into "catastrophic" cardiac arrest and died while she was arguing with a hotel and making fun of Randall on the phone.
Her last interaction with her husband was sticking her tongue out at him when he joked that she was in front of the TV. She laughed at the doctor and stuffed a Twix bar in her mouth when he told her what had happened, and only believed it when she got to Jack's room and saw him lying there.
The entire grown-up family spent the episode dealing with the 20 year anniversary of Jack's death. Kate wallowed, watching the audition tape Jack made of her, while Randall tried to be positive, throwing a Super Bowl party for his daughters and their friends until a dead lizard ruined the day a bit.
Rebecca made Jack's favorite lasagna and ate it while watching the game. She invited Kevin to join her, but his strategy involved ignoring any and all things dad-related. When that didn't work, he ended up going to Jack's tree and having a talk with him.
And then, obviously, the episode couldn't leave us without another twist.
While Randall and Beth were waiting for a call telling them they had a new foster kid and comforting Tess over her fears that her dad wanted a new life, we saw a young kid talking to a social worker who explained that she had found him a new family. We were led to believe that the new family was Randall and Beth until a white couple arrived, and an assistant arrived to tell the social worker that her dad was there. In walks a much older Randall, there to hang out with social worker Tess.
Meanwhile, back in the present, Deja had returned to the Pearson house.
That was just an incredible, beautiful hour of TV, but what's new?
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.
(E! and NBC are both part of the NBC Universal family.)