[Spoiler Alert: This recap contains spoilers from "The Car," Episode 15 of This Is Us Season 2.]
After Sunday's Super Bowl episode of This Is Us, it's a wonder that we were even able to make it to Jack's (Milo Ventimiglia) funeral.
In "The Car," the Pearsons face the hardest day of their lives with the strength we've come to expect from this resilient family. As they travel to the service, Rebecca, Kate, Kevin, and Randall find themselves reminiscing about Jack and different moments from their happy past.
Rebecca (Mandy Moore) rushes her children out of their motel with the hope of getting to Jack's service early. However, their protests make it clear they're not ready to say goodbye to their father—and neither is she.
Papa Pearson is not going anywhere anytime soon.
Throughout the drive and the memorial service, Rebecca is in a daze, while her children exhibit their own stages of grief, from anger to sadness and everything in between.
From there, the episode is broken into so many Pearson family memories—all related to Jack's enduring legacy—it's best to present them individually. Read on below for the defining moments in this emotionally-charged installment of This is Us.
- It all started with a car, and in true Jack fashion, he works out a deal with the car salesman at the dealership to purchase a new Wagoneer. Initially, Rebecca and Jack agree that it's better to aim for something cheap, but that bold choice of Jack's sets their lives on a course unique to them. In the end, we find out that Jack's deal was made by stressing to the dealer how much he wants his family to be OK. In a car like the Wagoneer, he knows that all the bumps, spills, and challenges they face will be manageable.
- After some time with the Wagoneer, the Pearsons are seen heading to a Weird Al concert when they approach an old bridge. Rebecca makes her fears of the rickety structure known, grabbing Jack's hand and shutting her eyes. Kevin, Kate, and Randall all do their best to distract their mother by singing, and Jack encourages her with soothing words. When she later confronts that bridge again after Jack's passing, she goes full speed ahead, proving how powerful she still is in the face of this tragedy.
- In another memory, Rebecca is freaking out over an MRI test, so Jack takes her to his "favorite tree"—the same one Kevin visited to speak to his late dad in the previous episode. On this night, Jack promises Bec that her scans will be clear, before making the ominous prediction that she'll outlive him. "How's the snow gonna fall if you're not here to see it?" he asks. He also tells her, "Don't put me in the ground, leave me outside," and now we know why cremation was his choice.When she inquires about why it's his favorite tree, he says it's the tree where she finds out that she's going to be OK.
We're still recovering from Jack's heartbreaking death.
- Another part of sharing a family car is teaching children how to drive in it—just as we see Jack doing with Randall. Meanwhile, Kevin taunts his brother from the backseat, which almost causes an accident. To teach his sons a lesson, Jack makes them walk home (five miles!), and when they finally return, he opens up about his own strong relationship with his deceased brother. He emphasizes that the boys and Kate have only each other after he and Rebecca are gone. Unfortunately, that wisdom didn't stick because, during the funeral, Kevin becomes furious when he sees Randall wearing Jack's watch and causes a scene. But nothing is irreparable, as by the final scene, they share an arm squeeze and a smile.
- Kate's moment with the car is a little less dramatic: Her disapproving dad catches her skipping school to get a CD signed by Alanis Morissette. Still, perfect papa Jack takes her to the record shop, and during their ride, they chat about music—his opts for Bruce Springsteen, while she doubles down on her fave '90s songstress. Later on in the episode, Jack tells his family he has a surprise for them the following Saturday—a day that winds up being his funeral. That surprise? Bruce Springsteen tickets, and they decide to go in his honor.
Plus, Milo Ventimiglia teases more to come from the Pearson patriarch.
- Finally, we have the return of Dr. K (Gerald McRaney) who attends Jack's service with his new wife—perhaps a sign that, over time, Rebecca could (and does) also find love again. The wise old man listens to the widow as she expresses her fears that she won't survive without her husband. Dr. K assures Rebecca that she'll make it, pointing out that she's already made the "sweetest pitcher" of lemonade out of those sour lemons she was handed with the loss of her third triplet. He also reveals that Jack would visit him for advice, proving that the Pearson patriarch had many fears that he didn't show. This finally gives Rebecca what she needs to collect her kids and visit Jack's tree to spread his ashes.
Jack's hopes for the family car came true in this episode: The vehicle "tells the family's story"—one filled with both sadness and happiness. The simple things and moments are what ultimately make up our stories.
Sadly, the next set of episodes don't pick back up until February 27, after the Olympics. At least the sneak peek confirms that Jack's story is just beginning: We'll dive into his time in the Vietnam War , and in present time, Déjà returns to Randall and Beth's home. So hold tight, fans!
This Is Us returns Tuesday, Feb. 27, 9/8c, NBC